On Your Side: Gym Membership Troubles

By: Jeff Anderson Email
By: Jeff Anderson Email

News 12 at 6, June 19, 2008

AIKEN -- Several Aiken women say they all they wanted to do was lose weight, but instead they say they're just losing money.

And it appears the organization that's taking their money isn't authorized to do business in South Carolina anyway. That's because physical fitness businesses in South Carolina have to be registered with the state. If they aren't, your contract with them isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

Melissa Gamble and a number of other women all claim to have a similar goal. Losing weight and getting healthy again.

"We've done Gold's, Curves, Weight Watchers." she said.

So they all tried an Aiken gym called Unique Physique. Many of them got that membership through a company called Amerishape. A company they say promised a lot, but little was delivered.

"There was no trainer, no nutritional counseling." she said.

All while most of them had been locked into a 9 month contract and had paid hundreds of dollars already.

So they called 12 On Your Side for help.

We did some checking, Amerishape and Unique Physique are separate companies.

Amerishape was hired by Unique Physique to boost membership. It's a company that promises to help customers lose weight and get healthier.

But when we did some digging, a quick search found it has an unsatisfactory record with the Better Business Bureau. And South Carolina's Physical Fitness Services Act of 1985 requires all physical fitness companies be registered with the state.

The Department of Consumer Affairs has no record of a business by the name of Amerishape.

Something that the owner of Unique Physique didn't seem to know.

"I guess I assume with the big company that they're reputable. They came in and did what they said," said Sherrie Northgard.

But it appears Amerishape had no business doing business in South Carolina. And that means any and all contracts signed by people with them in South Carolina are null and void.

As for Melissa and her friends, they're disappointed by all of this, but now they'll just have to find some new workout help.

"I thought this would be different." she said.

Amerishape did not return repeated phone calls and the gym, Unique Physique, is closing tomorrow because of financial reasons.

The rules for health clubs are just about the same in Georgia. If you are going to sign-up it is good to check with your state department of consumer affairs.

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