At the gym, lose the love handles not your money

Published: Thursday, January 5, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 4, 2006 at 11:38 p.m.
Losing weight and getting fit are popular New Year's resolutions for many people.
But if you don't do some research before signing a health club contract, the only thing you may lose is money, said Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson.
Bronson is urging consumers to familiarize themselves with the Health Studios Law, which spells out the rights and responsibilities of gyms and consumers. The law requires health clubs to register with the Department's Division of Consumer Services.
The law also requires many of the clubs to post a bond that can be used to repay members if the facility goes out of business. The department collected $67,000 in fines against health clubs for violations of the law, including registration and advertising problems.
"Joining a health club can be a positive, but costly endeavor," Bronson said. "(People) need to know exactly what they are getting for their money."
To see if your health club is registered or to check its complaint history, call the department's help line at (800) 435-7352.
  • Mugger at large: Gainesville Police have a description. And local activist Doris Bardon has been released from the hospital.
    But officers have no new information about who mugged Bardon downtown last week.
    The 86-year-old was injured when a man grabbed her purse, throwing her to the ground Dec. 28 at E. University Avenue and NE 1st Street.
    Gainesville City Commissioner Jack Donovan saw the struggle and tried to catch Bardon's attacker. He saw the man get into a waiting older-model SUV, driven by another man who seemed to be in his 50s and was wearing a cowboy hat.
    But, in spite of Donovan's description, police have no new leads.
  • Fires on the rise: Gainesville firefighters saw 10 residential fires over December, causing them to light red bulbs on wreaths outside fire departments.
    The wreaths were part of the agency's "Keep the Wreath Green" campaign. The annual program highlights fire hazards during the winter holidays when firefighters see many blazes caused by items related to the holidays such as candles or Christmas trees.
    The number was higher than in 2004 when there were eight residential fires, according to Gainesville Fire Rescue spokeswoman Krista Ott. This year's blazes caused more than $200,000 in damage and displaced 16 people.
  • DUI enforcer: He's hailed as the Gainesville Police Department's "DUI machine."
    And after Officer Scott Ferrel made 118 DUI arrests in 2005, he's earned the title.
    Ferrel is the first GPD officer to make so many arrests, said GPD spokesman Sgt. Keith Kameg.
    Ferrel will be recognized by Gov. Jeb Bush later this year for the accomplishment at a Mothers Against Drunk Driving event, Kameg said. In order to receive the recognition, officers must make at least 100 DUI arrests, Kameg said.
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