/ Health

Joined a gym this January? What if you want to cancel?

Treadmills in gym

January is traditionally the key time for signing up to a gym membership – but do you know what you are signing up to and how you could cancel if your circumstances change?

When January arrives I can hardly get near the treadmills at my gym. No, not because I have eaten too many mince pies over Christmas, but because they are taken over by new members that have signed their contracts in January. But before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you know your gym contract rights – as they may surprise you.

For example, did you know that if you went into your gym and signed up, but changed your mind when you got home, you don’t have an automatic right to cancel your membership?

Gym contracts in need of a workout

Our survey revealed that an increase in membership fees was one of the top reasons people wanted to cancel – but you also can’t necessarily cancel if your gym puts up its prices.

Although, don’t worry, this doesn’t mean your gym can charge whatever they like. Any clause that allowed a major price increase, but didn’t allow you to end the membership, could be construed as unfair.

Our new research has revealed some of the problems people are having with cancelling their contract – have you experienced any of them?

Before you start to think of this debate as a great excuse to stay on the sofa rather than sign a gym contract – it’s not all doom and gloom.

Exercising your rights

A High Court ruling in 2011 opened the door to the argument that contracts over one year could potentially be challenged as unfair.

Fallen ill or lost your job? You’ll also be pleased to hear that an Office of Fair Trading (OFT) investigation in 2013 secured commitments for extended member rights. This included the chance to cancel your contract early should your circumstances change in a way that makes attendance at the gym difficult or unaffordable.

The gym groups themselves also committed to greater transparency about key membership features, including initial membership periods and cancellation rights, and for those to be provided upfront as part of the sales process.

Have you ever tried to cancel your gym contract or has the commitment of a contract put you off signing up?

Richard Brown says:
24 January 2014

There is more than one way to skin a cat. If your gym won’t let you cancel, then max out on the member benefits to make sure you still get good value, even if you never go. http://www.imemberapp.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/getting-your-gym-membership-fee-back.html

Steve Gardner says:
14 February 2014

I attempted to cancel family David Lloyd membership on 9 January and was told that need to pay up to 30 April. This is approx £600.

They show no interest in negotiation. Just want money and threaten debt collection agencies.


Hi Steve –

Sorry to hear you’ve had problems with cancelling your gym membership – it sounds like you may need more specific advice depending on the specifics of why you have needed to give this length of notice.

We do have a Consumer Rights Advice Line, which is a paid service where you can speak to an adviser. Find out more here – http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/action/which-consumer-rights-advice-line—call-our-helpline-for-advice

Steve Gardner says:
14 February 2014

Their terms and conditions for normal memberships are 3 calendar months notice. They claim that they worked with the OFT to ensure that their terms and conditions are more favourable to members!

They stress that there was no ruling in the OFT v Ashbourne Management Services case that a 3 month notice period was unfair.