How to cancel your gym membership – a general guide

July 28th, 2009 24 Comments By Vince Wong

gymmembership 300x225 How to cancel your gym membership   a general guideLast week, we gathered your thoughts, opinions, and experiences on cancelling your gym memberships. We’ve since compiled your best stories, tips and tricks with ours into this general guide on how to cancel gym memberships. Here are a few things to bear in mind, starting with the most obvious:

1.  Read your contract. As a couple of readers pointed out in our non-randomised single blind control survey, we often don’t have an exit strategy before we sign on the dotted line. But it is important to know that these contracts are essentially credit agreements (you can read more here about credit agreements and how they apply to all kinds of paperwork you sign). So before you even sign the contract in the first place, make sure your read its T&Cs.

Having said that, there are certain terms and conditions and extenuating circumstances in which you can cancel, which we will cover generally below. Gyms are also legally obligated to show you your contract upon request, so if you don’t have a copy, feel free to ask for one. Just cancelling the direct debit is not only risky, but perfectly entitles the company involved to sue you in court for the money, and leave you with a CCJ to ruin your credit rating.

2. Shorter contracts. It should be pointed out that not all gyms run 6 month or year long contracts with 3 month cancellation policies. So shop around like the savvy consumer that you are, and join a gym with a shorter contract duration with better terms. You can also check out our previous guides (as pointed out by BW reader Acecatcher) to cheaper gym memberships and home gyms. We cover some of these gyms in part 2 of the guide and the deals they offer.

3. Check. Most of us join a gym for the sake of joining a gym, only to find ourselves attending no more than 1.5 visits a month. For those of us slightly more diligent, check your bank statements to ensure you are getting charged appropriately. Reader Chris was in for a bigger surprise when after 18 months after cancelling his membership, he discovered that he was being charged at £30 a month, amounting to a hefty £540 lesson. I personally had a similar situation after freezing our gym membership on holiday, only to find out months later that we had been direct debited for months on end at the full rate. Buyer beware.

4. Complain. If within the contract period, the gym fails to provide a satisfactory quality service, you might be able to cancel without penalty and void your contract by showing that it’s illegal or unfair under your local law or by showing, under your local law, that you were misled when you joined. Also, if you join online or by phone – and people do – then you have the right to a seven day cooling-offer period during which you can cancel your membership without any penalty.

5. Relocate. If you are moving, and the distance to the gym is impossible, some gyms have clauses that let you out. Reader Stephanie suggests looking for ways to prove that you are moving far away, as this could potentially get you out of your contract without paying any penalties. You could also ask your boss to write a note on headed paper saying you are being transferred. But you can probably get pretty creative with this…

6. Redundancy. Times are tough. But don’t just cancel your Direct Debit. BW reader Simon was made redundant over Christmas and did this only to find out weeks later that debt collectors were chasing him for fees plus a £50 collection fee on top of that. He was then forced to pay missed fees while not being let back into the gym for the month. A better approach would be to get hold of an employer letter stating your redundancy along with a P45 as evidence.

7. Health If you have an injury that prevents you from physically using the gym, get a doctors note explaining this. This does not necessarily have to be an injury; for a woman, that might mean pregnancy. It depends on your contract, of course, but the odds are that you’ll still be liable to pay for the length of the contract, but these changes when backed up with evidence often mean you increase your chances of cancelling your membership sooner without penalty.

The above is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but simply a compilation of options for you to consider so hope you find it helpful in some way. Hopefully, this help us consumers be a bit more wary with the small print we often fail to notice when taking out a gym membership. If you have anything else to add to the above, or manage to get out of your contract using any of the above tips and tricks, please share your story with us in the comment below.

Comments (24) Jump to most recent comment
  1. Posted by Nobby July 28, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Take a shit in the sauna.

  2. Posted by TV's Dave Benson-Phillips July 28, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    I bloody love that acecatcher bloke. He’s such a talent. I see big things happening for him in the world of childrens television

  3. Posted by Vin July 28, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    I joined my Gym last year December.. met with an accident around Christmas.. was on bed for couple of month.. I didn’t goto gym until April 2009… so basically I missed 4 months.. anyway I can get refunded for the direct debits taken through those month or atleast get the 4 months back towards end of my gym contract?

  4. Posted by Jase July 28, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    @Vin

    Sorry mate, I don’t think you have a chance.

    If your gym is – or is anything like – Fitness First, then they think that the very first thing you’d do after an accident is contact them. They want you to phone them, and then get a dated note to then from your GP, stating why exercise is unwise / out of the question. And they’ll most likely want you to produce one for every month you require your account freezing (for free).

    Because the incident was so long ago, I doubt they’d take it into consideration…even if you could get a note from the GP. The incident has passed afterall.

    Gyms are a business, and you between Dec ’08 and April ’09, (and especially previous reader Chris) were their favourite type of customer! Afterall, the best kind of gym subscriber is the one that coughs up the money but never steps foot in the building.

  5. Posted by Vin July 28, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    I think I’m wasting so much money at Gym.. the cost is freaking high @ £60/Month on direct debit 12 Months contract. And yes.. I visit harldy 1 or 2 times a gym in a month.. considering the fact that I haven’t been to gym since December.. I have wasted 6 months.. only wasting £60×6! And rest £60×6 is only helping me use Gym 6 days.. I know this is a total screw up. I only wish everything in life wasn’t DIRECT DEBIT with CONTRACT – which sucks!

    Thanks for your reply though Jose, much appreciated.

  6. these guides are awesome vince…thanks for the mention also

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  10. Posted by Hasmita September 23, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    I joined Village hotel gym last year for a 1 year contact. My 1 year has finished therefore I called to cancel. The guy on the phone said yes your years up and you need to come in and cancel. So 5 days later I want to the gym to cancel. However this is became a problem as they say I didn’t cancel the membership in time and now its gone into my second year of membership. I have tried calling the accounts department and no-one returning my call I have left 3 message today. In the meantime I have cancelled my direct debit. Will this be a problem for me? Can I come out of this contract, as I was not aware that it runs into another contract for a year.

  11. Check your copy of your signed contract. If it has language about how long you have to cancel and HOW you must cancel, you may be out of luck. It seems some of these contracts are designed just to get more money from people. We are all so busy and stressed that things like this sometimes get past us. If a gym truly valued and cared for its members, this type of thing would not happen. They would call you and speak to you directly to inquire if you were ready to start again and would ask for an okay to continue auto-billing.

  12. Posted by Sahana November 19, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Hi there,

    My 2 hoursmates and I joined LA Fitness a month ago over the phone, The Sales assistant promised us the world and after we signed the contract the promises didn’t transpire. He is now denying he ever promised us anything! I feel so stupid for not checking the contract thoroughly. They also took more payments than they said they would. The thing I signed the contract on behalf of my housemates so I guess their contracts aren’t valid are they? Can they cancel their direct debits and ask for a refund?

    I obviously signed my own contract so can I get out of it somehow trying to prove I was misled?

    Thanks for your help!

  13. Posted by mets December 8, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    Hi,

    I just had the same situation with Fitness first,

    teh guy promised I have a right to cancel my contract when I want as long as I give them one month notice,

    now the guy have left Fitness first the manager and the people think it is a 12 month contract,

    and the contract states 12 but I was misled,

    lcan anybody advise how can I fight this,

  14. Posted by Keyser February 4, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Hi, I need to cancel my contract with Total Fitness after having it for three years, The original contract was for 12 months but if not cancelled with 4 weeks notice near the end of the contract then the contract is valid again for another 12 months! Not bothered about that as used the gym for the last 4 years on a 3-5 day basis so got my use of it! So i think i am OK now to just give them 4 week notice and then cancel my DD on the exact date? And as i haven’t signed anything other than a twelve month contract i shoud be OK.. Anyone disagree?

    Ta

  15. Everyone always encourages proper form yet no one still seems to do it. This is because they don’t understand why. They just want to lift heavy weights. The purpose of an exercise is to fulfill a certain goal such as isolate a muscle for stimulation, improve a fitness component such as agility, speed or co-ordination. If we are not doing an exercise properly, we are not working to achieve this goal.

  16. Posted by Laura July 22, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    I joined a gym and signed a contract of two years. I moved to Los Angeles so I called the gym telling them about my situation and asked them if it was possible to cancel my membership. I did not want the membership anymore. I did not want to attend the gym and I did not want to pay that ridiculous fee to cancel it. They told me that they have allied gyms I can transfer to throughout the nation and the only possible way to cancel my membership was by providing proof of address and that my house had to be out of the 25mile radius from any allied gym. I looked up the gyms and guess what???? there are so many of them everywhere throughout the USA. There is no place to live where there isn’t one within 25miles. I have been unemployed for 3 months ad they have taken out all the money I had in my bank and I actually owe the bank $200 and there’s a $35 fee every 5days.

    I know a doctor’s note won’t help for a membership cancellation, at least not for my gym. One of my friends (who also had a membership at the same gym) got injured. She tried to cancel her membership and they rejected her request. They only added the time that she had been absent to the end of the contract. She did not attend the gym for 2 months and that’s all she got, two months were added to her contract but she was still paying when she wasn’t even using the gym.

    So I really don’t know what to do. I don’t have a job. I’m bankrupted and that debt keeps increasing.

    Any advice?

  17. Posted by celeste July 19, 2011 at 9:00 am

    hi just wondering if you could give me some advise on fernwood womens gym – I initially signed up online taking advantage of a special offer , after paying by credit card and agreeing to terms and conditions i got emailed a copy of the agreement , on it it states that my direct debit fortnightly payment will be $0.00 ( a fault on their part) and when i went in for the first time after this i was asked to sign the same contract ( $0.00 again , i have since lost the document that I signed, may be able to get another copy) and they looked over it and did not notice anything evem after I pointed it out. Since they are not cancelling my contract and are still taking money from my account even though my account is on hold, could I bring this up to them and make them refund me or cancel my membership?
    if anyone has any suggestions it would be great thanks!!

  18. Posted by katie connor March 8, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    I joined total fitness yesterday can I cancel within the 7 days?

  19. Posted by lynsey March 24, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    I joined LA fitness at the end of last year. I entered a 2 year contract but i never physically signed anything. Is setting up a direct debit as binding as signing a contract? Can i cancel? Adivce would be appreciated. Many thanks

  20. Posted by Human Fly August 30, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    Just cancel your Direct Debit. They can buzz for their money. Losers!!

  21. Posted by Nikki osborne November 14, 2012 at 9:25 am

    If a gym loses your contract and all your details, could I just leave?

  22. Posted by Sam T November 19, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    Does anyone know the accepted distance to cancel the contract, stating I am moving away? I’m worried that I am not moving far enough away (about 2 miles), but because I am moving I can’t afford the payments, so need to cancel soon!

  23. Posted by Matt January 27, 2013 at 11:30 am

    2 days ago I joined a gym. Admin were useless and unhelpful throughout.

    I spoke to them on the phone 3 times before deciding to join to explain my needs, which included taking my 2 year old swimming each week, so they could recomend a particular membership. For January there was no joining fee, and the only cost that the sales team ever mentioned was the £52 per month. When I called to join and pay, they gave me a total that did not add up, this was because of the admin fee they said.

    I was feeling cheated, but decided to go ahead anyway. I explained my frustration (all over the phone) and asked if there were any more hidden fees, cancellation, reoccurring admin charges etc. and I was assured that there was none. Yesterday, for the first time, I visited the gym with my child to go swimming. They hit me with another fee to allow her access even tho she is 2 and the club says children under 4 can use the pool for free with a member.

    I have payed the first payment and set up a DD already and said I was hacked off already and would cancel if they did it wave the fee. Sorry no canceling they said.

    My only saving grace is that the admin were so useless, they have not got me to sign anything or even showed me the contract.

    What are my options, I would like to be a member, but hate that they have their hand in my pocket

  24. Posted by Matt Green October 18, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    If you want to leave any gym, then just cancel your DD, ignore any letters and phone calls and I promise they will eventually ‘do one’ they use scare tactics and that is all. If anybody disputes this, I can only assume you are employed by a gymnasium….

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