The Legal Ways To Cancel Your Gym Membership

Once you've signed a pesky gym contract, you're legally on the hook to keep paying that membership, even if you don't use it. But all hope is not lost. There are some ways to wiggle out of a gym contract.

Image by HealthGauge.

Five Strategies That Gyms Use To Hook You In And How To Avoid Them

Year after year, one of the most common New Year's resolutions is to lose weight. Hitting the gym is a great way to keep active, but joining a gym in January means you may encounter high-pressure sales tactics. This is the busy season for gyms, and fitness companies are eager to take your money during the post-holiday gold rush.

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These big businesses know that letting you cancel willy-nilly is cumbersome for them, so theirĀ contracts are glutted with complicated clauses and fine print to lock you in. Barring few extenuating circumstances, like disability or death, you'll find it difficult to escape until your contract terms are up. There are few instances where you can still cancel, however:

  • You were duped by false or misleading information: If you were promised something at the time of signing but didn't get it, or felt aggressively pressured into signing and you have a record of it, contact your state's consumer protection agency or the ACCC to file a complaint.
  • You are still in the "cooling-off period": This is a brief window of time after signing where you are legally allowed to change your mind and cancel, no questions asked. Normally, they'd say this at time of signing.

Additionally, the Thrillist article suggests:

The path of least resistance is to speak with your manager before 'flexing' your rights (I can pun). Often, you'll find that if you have a legitimate reason for cancelling, such as disability, you're moving, or you are seriously upset with the services offered, a manager will be willing to work with you and find a solution. Personally, I've found that many gyms are willing to 'freeze' your contract in certain circumstances.

If you're not able to cancel your membership and you just decide to stop paying altogether, the gym could sell your balance to a debt collector, which isn't fun.

A Lawyer Tells Us How to Get Out of That Damn Gym Contract [Thrillist]


    With Fitness First, I negotiated that I could cancel anytime I chose to, and they wrote it as a note in the contract.
    few months down the track, I want to put it to use, show them the note. guy no longer works there, they claim, anyone could have written the note, and signed for it. refuse to cancel.

    I cancelled my credit card, and never heard back from them.

      Exactly the same as the situation i am in right now. Just about to call ANZ to see if they can cancel South Pacific as a provider rather than cancel my whole card.

    I just find it completely bizarre that you should need legal advice about a gym membership contract. What a shady industry.

    Contracts... ergh. These are barriers to entry to products/services for us normal folk being leveraged against us by mostly everyone these days. In other words, the only way in to say a gym, or telecommunication medium, is to sign a contract that serves the company, and not the customer/consumer.

    Imagine if McDonalds made us verbally agree in a contract when entering their stores to buy a big mac meal. When you agree and get inside, the place is horrific and serve substandard food. Clearly you leave with ordering, BUT, you still have to pay!

    Governments need to break these strong-arm tactics by companies utilised daily on the public.

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