After looking into joining a gym, I can't help but notice that all of them require a credit or debit card or a checking account number to join. I've also noticed that the contracts they require you to sign are very wordy and borderline shady. For example, you have to send a written notice to the gym via certified mail within 45 days of the billing cycle you wish quit, or you they have you go through some hoops in order to quit. I'm guessing this is to get another two or three billing cycles out of you before they decide to quit debiting your account. None of the gyms I've been to have said that I could pay cash for a membership. At one gym the salesman kept leaving and coming back with an altered contract. I asked for a one year contract without automatic renewal but he kept rewriting it with the automatic renewal box checked.
Is there any gym out there that accepts cash for X number of months and gives me a receipt for that payment and the only document I have to sign is perhaps a medical release form?
If the business model it takes to run a gym is that shady, then it must be borderline legal. Why do the sales people have to be so shady at these places?
I have considered getting a pre-paid credit card and thoroughly reviewing the contract before signing it (and reviewing any copies I get on the spot.), but it seems that these places are scandalous, and I don't trust any them (i.e. they would keep trying to bill the credit card after the contract had expired and then try to hold me liable because I had missed something the salesman pulled over on me...).
What's the safest way of paying for and signing up for a gym membership?