It’s fall and in anticipation of the upcoming holiday season (and all the delicious food), I’ve been thinking about joining a gym. But I have questions for myself – including whether I can commit to going on a regular basis to make the membership worthwhile. Do you have the same questions? Well, read on to learn what to ask if you are considering joining a gym.
When you purchase a gym membership, you are entering a type of contract called a continuing services contract. We have more information on this type of contract on our website. These contracts usually also apply to dance lessons, personal training, weight loss programs or karate lessons. At Consumer Protection BC, we are responsible for regulating specific parts of these contracts – including consumer cancellation rights and what information must be in the contract.
Monthly fee plus…what?
When you are signing a contract, take a look to see if there are additional fees such as maintenance fees (sometimes payable all at once or at certain times of the year), or enrollment fees.
Tip: add these fees to the proposed monthly membership cost and see if it still fits into your budget.
How long is the contract for?
Does the contract run on a month to month basis or bind you for a certain period of time (one or two years)? If it’s not a month to month contract, ask yourself whether you can commit to staying with the same gym for the duration of the contract. For example, if you are in school, is there a possibility of you moving to another city at any point? These factors may be important so you can weigh your options.
What is not covered under membership?
The gym you are interested in may have state-of-the-art weight machines…but do you know how to use them or do you need to hire a personal trainer? You may want to check and see what kind of services cost extra. Classes may also not be covered so ask these questions before you sign the contract.
What if I go away on vacation?
You might be planning to go on a trip this winter. Are you able to defer your contract or do you have to keep paying for the membership even if you are out of town? If you have plans to go away a lot, you may want to consider paying for drop-in fees rather than getting a membership.
Wait, what if I change my mind?
You are pumped about your decision to get a membership but what if you realize that you aren’t able to commit to a gym routine? You have until 10 days after you receive a copy of the contract to cancel for any reason. If you do, the business must provide a refund within 15 days of cancellation.
We hope this information helps! For more information about your rights and responsibilities when it comes to gym memberships, please visit our website.
Joining a gym? Here’s why you should “sweat” your membership, first
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14 thoughts on “Work out the details of your gym contract before signing!”
I signed a gym contract without a fixed term, the cancelation clause is three months notice or the equal payment. Before signing the owner and I had a talk that I could walk away at any time, that they normally give exceptions to the cancelation few to students. Instead of sticking to what was on the contract, that is the three month notice clause, I believed the owner. Now I am stuck paying the fee. Is there any tips for none fixed term contracts such as mine?
Hi Patrick, thank you for your question. Would you be able to send an email with when you entered the contract and why you canceled it? If you could send in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with that information, our inquiry centre may be able to assess your situation better.
Hi. I signed up for a gym in 2014. It has since changed names and I recently noticed the monthly price went up. I cancelled it two days ago and they are trying to tell me I owe a fee for early cancellation when I wasn’t even informed it was changing, plus I had been paying for the past 5 years. Is that legal to increase the price without warning? Thanks, Sam
Hi Sam, thanks for reaching out to us here. Businesses are allowed to increase the costs, however it is good practice to inform their customers of the change. You should be able to cancel your contract, however, you may have to pay a cancellation fee if that is laid out in the terms and conditions of the contract. I know this wasn’t the answer you were looking for, but I hope it’s helpful to you.
We joined a gym at our local recreation centre when we moved to this city. Several months later, our preferred gym opened up a branch near our home. We would like to cancel our current gym membership at the rec centre to join our preferred gym (better hours, equipment, location, etc). We joined the rec centre in June of 2019 and signed a 1-year contract. We were told that there is no way to cancel the contract unless we move away or have a dr’s note. Is there no way to pay a cancellation fee? Are we simply locked into this contract with no way out?
Hi Tara, thanks for reaching out to us here. Yes, that is accurate – it sounds like your gym is aware of the laws around cancelling these types of contracts. When you enter into a contract that is ongoing and physical in nature, it is known in BC as a continuing services contract. By law, you have cancellation rights with these types of contracts – but only in specific situations:
1. When you first sign up, you have 10 days from the day you receive a copy of your contract to cancel for any reason.
2. The law gives you the right to cancel if there is a change in your circumstances. For example, if you have moved more than 30 km from the facility, or you are mentally or physically unable to participate in the activity you signed up for, you have the right to cancel. Like your gym said, you must provide proof of the material change (like a doctors note or proof of address change).
3. If the business has changed the services that were originally offered, it is considered a material change by the supplier. For example, if the business has closed or moved, or an amenity like a pool is no longer available you have the right to cancel.
Outside of those situations, you may be locked into the contract. This is why it’s so important to read the details of your contract before signing. I hope this is helpful to you and best of luck.
What if the gym never gave me a copy of the contact? I have paid for two months of a 24 month contract. They say that if I cancel I still owe the remaining 22 months (so really I can’t cancel at all). But they never gave me a copy of the contact. Is it still binding?
Hi Kathryn, thank you for contacting us. Assuming that you have just signed up two or three months ago, you should be able to cancel your membership. The law gives one year to cancel if you never received a contract. Please also note that if your gym had sent a contract via email, that is considered providing a copy. To cancel your contract, you can use our form (you can access it from here) and make sure to follow the steps outlined on this page under the “how do I cancel my contract?” header. I hope this information is helpful to you!
Thank you. What kind of penalties are they allowed to charge me? They say I can cancel, but want me to pay out the whole contract.
Hi Kathryn, the amount would depend on what was said in the contract if you received one. If you didn’t receive the contract, you should be able to still cancel without penalty. If you are unsure and would like more assistance, please feel free to submit a formal complaint form on our website. Someone will get in contact with you.
Can a gym cancel a client’s membership without dispute or client redress, and/or refunding the remaining contract membership fee?
Hi Dave, it would really depend on the situation. For example, situations like a client moving away (more than 30km) or the gym changing classes they offer would all be considered “material change”. We have more information on this on our website and here is the link. Take a look at the page and if you have further questions, please feel free to contact us.
The gym contract I signed is fixed for 1 yr (5 months in). The contract doesn’t specify any terms related to cancellation of the contract. Do I assume the gym has the right to not cancel my membership, unless I give proof that my situation has changed?
Hi Mar – thanks for reaching out to us here! If your contract is fixed for a certain time period (and not month to month like some are), you likely agreed to the length of the entire contract when you signed up. When you sign those types of contracts, there are only specific situations that give you cancellation rights under BC law – this is why it’s so important to understand the your cancellation rights before signing a contract. However, the first step in finding out your cancellation policy would be to speak with the business directly or check out their website for details about cancellation. You can learn more about when you are entitled to cancel your fitness contracts on this page on our website: https://www.consumerprotectionbc.ca/consumer-help/cancelling-a-gym-membership/#. I hope this helps!