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Gym Contracts Explained

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 19 Sep 2018 | comments*Discuss
Gym Contracts Explained

If you are thinking about becoming a member of a gym or health club then reading the contract thoroughly is advisable. Gym contract have had a bad press in the past but most fitness clubs are now shaping up with regards to their contracts and contract terms and conditions.

The Gym Contract

Most private gyms will make new members sign a contract and pay a fee to use their facilities. Within the contract will be a number of terms and conditions that gym members must abide by as part of their membership agreement. In the past, health clubs have had membership contracts that were biased in favour of the health club.

For instance they would often charge a years’ payment and then not supply a refund if the member quit at some point before the year was up. This type of bias gym contract has been investigated by the Office of Fair trading. Health clubs were told to shape up and get their contracts amended so that there was no bias in favour of the gym.

Included in the Gym Contract

There is a list of terms and conditions in a gym contract that lay out exactly the requirements of both the gym and the member. If any of these conditions are broken then a member can be banned from the gym and have their membership revoked. Terms and conditions detailed in the contract will include:
  • Details of price and length of membership.
  • Details on notice needed to cancel membership.
  • Refund policies if a member cancels their membership.
  • Insurance details covering death and theft of membership possessions while using the gym facilities.
  • Consequences for non payment of membership fees.
  • Terms of any financial agreements between the member and the gym.
  • Commitment terms of actually signing the gym contract.
  • Personal details and bank accounts details, if required.

Read the Gym Contract

Gym contracts are similar to any other form of contract and do constitute a legally binding document that both parties must agree to. However, private gyms will sometimes try to slip certain terms and conditions into the contract that the member is unsure of. It’s true to say that not everyone reads the contracts that they sign. It is vital that members thoroughly read the contract in order to be aware of the applied terms and conditions.

If any of the clauses are unclear, ambiguous or strangely worded then the potential member should receive clarification before signing. If a contract has been written in an unclear manner it may not be enforced in a court of law.

Conditions to Be Aware Of

One major clause to look out for is the notice required to cancel the gym membership. Make sure you understand and agree to the amount of notice needed to cancel your gym membership. A normal gym membership cancellation period would be around a month. Longer than that may seem unfair and you should be sure that you can commit to the membership period otherwise you may end up paying and not using the gym.

Commitment and Gym Contracts

You may have been committed to getting your body in shape just after the festive period but many people join a gym and then give up after a few months. Gym contracts will usually have terms on how long you are committed to the membership.

Some gyms will make you pay in advance and will not give a refund if you decide to cancel your membership. Make sure you can commit to the length of membership time in the contract. Paying in advance and not using the facilities will leave you out of pocket.

Automatic Renewal of Contracts

Be very wary of gym contracts that state automatic renewal. This means that when your membership expires your contract will be renewed and charged whether you wanted to renew or not. When you sign the gym contract you are agreeing to abide by their terms and conditions and by signing you will have said yes to automatic renewal. If you don’t agree with this term then don’t sign the contract or make sure you can stop the renewal in advance.

Gym contracts are similar to other contracts in so much as both parties must abide by the terms and conditions. If either party breaks any of the rules and conditions then they can be in breach of contract and legal action can be taken. Make sure that gym contracts are thoroughly read and understood before signing, and if unsure don’t sign.

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I joined a gym last year on a monthly contract I wish to leave as prices have increased ,I thought that as a monthly contract I would only need to give a months notice but have been told that I must give 2 months notice is the right ..
Sharon Hicks - 19-Sep-18 @ 9:12 PM
I joined the toning suite at my local gym, signed a year contract but after 5 months I was having back problems and my doctor gave me a letter saying it was advisable to discontinue going as it could aggravate the injury. I have tried to cancel my contract but they have said I need a letter from a consultant as it says so in there rules which unfortunately I had not read properly. I also did not realise that I had signed up to a finance company when I joined who apparently run the membership side of things. I am now being pursued by debt collectors who coincidentally have the same directors as the finance company. I have been to citizens advice who have bee very helpful but because I signed the agreement it is binding.
Rosemary Ann saul - 3-Sep-18 @ 8:09 PM
Hello, I joined a heath club on a 6 month contract. I stopped going to the club after 2.5 months as i didnt have the time for it, but i continued to pay my agreed contract. Now my contract has ended, i have cancelled the DD they are saying i need to give a notice in writing that i no longer want to be attached to thier gym. Even though we had a signed agreement of 6 months and that is all paid in full. is this correct? i have pushed back quite hard on them about paying this thus far, as when i signed up they told me very clear if i cancel before the time then i have to advise at front desk then pay remaining balance but there was nothing said for after the contact was finished.
LloydC91 - 16-Jan-18 @ 1:55 PM
Duffers - Your Question:
I joined Fitness first on behalf of my grandson. He never went so I cancelled my membership with them and at the bank.They sent him a fifteen year old, a threatening text from a debt recovery agent and are now pursuing me for three months membership.The debt recovery text was addressed to my wife who is a fully paid up member.Do I have to pay ?

Our Response:
You would have to read the terms and conditions of the membership. It doesn't matter if your grandson went to the gym or not, if you signed and agreed to a set membership period, you are required to pay.
ContractsAndAgreements - 11-Jan-18 @ 12:45 PM
I joined Fitness first on behalf of my grandson. He never went so I cancelled my membership with them and at the bank. They sent him a fifteen year old, a threatening text from a debt recovery agent and are now pursuing me for three months membership. The debt recovery text was addressed to my wife who is a fully paid up member. Do I have to pay ?
Duffers - 10-Jan-18 @ 5:26 PM
Hi, joined shapers gym in Bromley in October 2014. Used it for apx 4 months wasn't happy with how it was run and also found out I was pregnent. I wasn't to concerned as it was a 12 month contact so I thought I would wait and cancelled my membership in branch at 12 months. Now I have seen on my direct debits after some digging as the direct debit is under another name that I have still being paying for this membership two years after the 12 months exspired. I contacted the gym in question told them I had a 12 month contract and I went in branch and cancelled. They said they had no record of this and that it was a rolling contract. I explained I was pregent at the time, I had moved over an hour away by car from the gym 1 month after I cancelled an that I am 7 months pregnent now and the fact that I had only used their gym for a short period of time so would make no sence for me to have continued with it. But they will not have any of it although there branch manager agrees it makes no sense. They also told me i signed up on line but I didn't I went in branch. They also called me a number of times to renew my membership in 2016 which I declined and they have on record yet they still won't budge as they said my word against theirs. I have requested a copy of all information on my file from them including my contract but nothing. Can speak to anyone above local branch manager and no one is answering my emails. Any help or advice would be great
Lisa - 26-Jul-17 @ 12:06 PM
@Insideouthead - just cancel the direct debit and write asking to prove they sent a letter and ask for a refund. There is no way they can expect you to continue your membership after that amount of time and no way they should without contacting you first, plus that is 'bribery'. If they don't refund you the money threaten them with the small claims court.
Fiona - 5-May-17 @ 11:54 AM
I was a member of a gym for many years when it was flooded in December 2016, it was part of a hotel chain and it closed indefinitely. I contacted at the time of the floods and told i would be contacted when the gym would be reopened. This was a large flood and they could give no timescale. So, needless to say most members joined another gym. My contract had become a rolling membership many years before on a monthly basis. To me, this was now over as they no longer provided a service. Then 12-months later with no contact to myself i find two months direct debits taken out, the gymsaid I was still a member. I told them I was cancelling my direct debit. I have since received a debt letter for the following month. I have contacted the gym who insist that basically as they never had my up to date contact number they couldn't contact me, ridiculous as I live at the same address. They state that they will write off the debt if I continue my membership. As far as I'm concerned I have no membership and they owe me money!!!! They broke the contract, am I correct?
Insideouthead - 3-May-17 @ 7:27 PM
Hi I joined a private gym the start of January they asked me for cash up front for the the first month then a direct debit would be set up from February onward . They have advertised a no contract memeber ship where you pay slightly more so your on a month contract . When I 'signed up' they only gave me a direct debit form no terms and conditions or a contract . I cancelled the memebership with my bank but the company doing the memberships are saying I need to pay for February and I can only cancel once I pay that payment. I have contacted the gym owner and she has now said I have to give a months notice - I thought a no contract membersship meant you can cancel at any time . The owner of the company never gave me terms and conditions and I never signed a contract so I don't know where I stand ?? Please help
BTibb - 3-Feb-17 @ 7:20 PM
Hi, I joined the gym in June 2016 and was never advised it was a 12 month contract, now I have cancelled my membership the gym are trying to claim back £189.89 to clear my account. I asked for a copy of the contract I signed and they advised that I don't have a contact, the terms and conditions are the contract. I never saw terms and conditions however they somehow have a box ticked on their system saying I did. Then, just to 'double confirm' they send you them via email and you get 14 days to dispute them. I never received this email either - I have checked my spam, inbox, junk and deleted and have no email of the sort. They are still trying to make me pay this £189.89 - is this legal? I never signed anything and therefore I do not think it is - I was clearly wrongly advised and someone has ticked a box on a computer screen 'on my behalf' without advising me of the terms because they couldn't be bothered hoping not many people would contest this - and if they did they would just give up. I will not - any advise would help please! Thank you in advance.
natg - 9-Sep-16 @ 2:43 PM
I have recently signed up for a gym membership and am not sure wether I can cancel it? I was assured by the gym that my membership will not start until i do an induction. I am still waiting for funds to do the induction as my car is now in repairs leaving me with an unexpected large bill to pay. So can I cancel a signed contract before my membership has actually started and no payment has been made?
Leeanne1990 - 20-Nov-15 @ 9:07 PM
I am being charged for a gym membership even though I did not sign the contract are they allowed to do this
Holly Jane Dunham - 19-Nov-15 @ 2:03 PM
@Ji - I think in this instance you should speak to someone directly,as it seems to have become rather complicated. You can contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for some free advice, link here. I hope this helps.
ContractsAndAgreements - 5-Feb-15 @ 1:05 PM
Hi,I previously wrote seeking advise regarding gym memberships in December 2014.I paid a further two months subscriptions of £75 for December and January (£150.00) for services that I did not receive -I recently wrote to them advising that I wouldn't be returning to the classes as he had changed the format and that I had cancelled my subscription.I received a response from the owner which I have detailed below:- "Sorry to hear you've put the blinkers on and you've decided to leave without embracing the idea that having teams shouldn't be demotivating as you are still working for yourself but just have the support of others. The two remaining payments shouldn't have been cancelled by you as you agreed to a 6 month period as a fanatic's member so you still actually owe £150. (No contract was signed). This can be paid by bank transfer if you wish?Can you confirm that's the route you'd like to go down". Do I still need to the £150.00? I might add that his PA forwarded my email to him and her comments regarding me were quite derogatory - he failed to remove them before replying to me.
Ji - 3-Feb-15 @ 6:48 PM
@sherry - you would have to check the gym membership age policy, it should be in the terms and conditions.
ContractsAndAgreements - 20-Jan-15 @ 11:36 AM
Thanks Alistair for your comments. Is the contract binding in view that I was 17 years old.
sherry - 18-Jan-15 @ 4:48 PM
@sherry - if the contract specifies is is automatic renewal, then it will automatically renew yearly . If it says you have to give a months notice in order to terminate your contract then that is what you have to do. Unfortunately, if you have left the contract to roll on and not cancelled it then that is your responsibility and you have no claim.
Alisha - 16-Jan-15 @ 11:54 AM
I signed a gym contract whenI was 17 years old. Is the contract valid? There is an auto renewalof subscription in the contract. Is that valid too? If it is not valid, can I get a refund of the auto renewal subscription. The contract did say that a month notice must be given to terminate the renewal subscription.
sherry - 16-Jan-15 @ 3:02 AM
@Ji- I think you should ask for a copy of the terms and conditions, as you will need to know anyway unless they decide to claim against you if you don't pay. At the same time if you haven't had any, or more importantly signed anything, you stand a better chance of not having to adhere a contract(dependent upon what information was given in the texts etc). Have a look on the gym website, there may be something on it which might help. Also we have another page regarding verbal agreements which should help you link here.
ContractsAndAgreements - 11-Dec-14 @ 11:39 AM
Thanks for your feedback, I actually don't remember receiving any terms and conditions and I'm a bit wary of asking for a copy of them.Everything was done over the phone, online and text messaging. Once again thanks for your feedback. Kind regards Ji
Ji - 10-Dec-14 @ 6:59 PM
@Ji - you will need to read its terms and conditions. Usually if you have signed up for a period of time and you pull out, I'm afraid you are liable for the costs.
jem - 10-Dec-14 @ 12:29 PM
@Ji - you will need to read its terms and conditions. However, usually if you have signed up for a period of time and you pull out you are liable for the costs.
ContractsAndAgreements - 10-Dec-14 @ 12:28 PM
I had a 6 months verbal agreement with a kind of "Boot Camp", and agreed to pay £75 each month to attend approximately 12 classes per month.I duly attended the first month which I paid for, then I arranged with them that I wouldn't be attending the next month as I was going on holiday for three weeks out of the four and they agreed that they would skip the payment for that month.On return from my holidays I found that I was unable to attend the classes due to family committments but I duly paid the £75 for the next month.I knew that my next payment was due to come off so I sent an email to them explaining that due to family committments I was unable to continue attending any further classes and could they advise me of the process to cancel my membership. I was advised that the payment for this month had already been requested from my account and that they would check as I still had 3 months of my contract left to run. They have been advised that they are looking for a further 3 months money.Seeing as I have already paid for two months (that I haven't used their services), is there any way I can get out of paying for the further three months??
Ji - 9-Dec-14 @ 7:35 PM
last year my son was told at the age of 34 he was epileptic. he and a friend went to local fitness centre WATCHED a class and decided it might be what they wanted to do, signed a form (no terms or conditions anywhere on this form) but decided not to give direct debit details as they wanted to make sure it was what they wanted to pay for. My son was informed by his doctor the next day NOT to partake in any kind of self defence classes etc until his CT scans were done, and that he would not be returning to work as expected but would be on sick pay, bully boy at fitness centre informed of this, which began demanding letters phone calls after phone calls demanding the d/d details. He was told numerous times what had happened still constant demands. I asked for a copy of the terms and conditions, all that came back was a "gesture of good will , pay me £60 instead of the £180 demanded and I will rip the" contract" up" Again he would not listen that my son would not have a wage but sick pay, the other lad was so petrified he paid the £60 to stop bully boy coming to his house.As bullyboy could not give me any of the documents I requested by email, nothing more was heard from him since nov.2013. June 2014 for the reason only Yahoo will know, my sent emails dating back to sept.2013 have been resent in june 2014 (not by me ), and yes my last email dated nov 2013 that was sent to bully boy that he never answered was again sent to him, his response " don't know why ive got this email but im taking him to court" sure enough bully boy has gone on line and sent HIS copy plus a letter to my son telling him he has done this, and now wanting £225. The proper "court" papers arrived yesterday. my son is still on benefits still epileptic and still not wanting to have anything to do with this bullyboys fitness centre, but how does he word it correctly for the court papers please. any advice
katybay - 13-Jul-14 @ 11:21 AM
For over a year I have attended the gym very little. Not because I am too busy, not because I can't be bothered. But because te classes are fully booked. I have paid to sit on a waiting list. On average I have paid £20 per class.
Tina - 28-May-14 @ 9:18 PM
Question? how do I get out of a gym contract ? Answer.. I am a gym owner of 25 yrs experience and I hate the contract gym culture. I will drop the answer in and if it makes sense to you copy and paste it globally ..a contract is a 2 way obligation so the "gym" you joined focuses on "your" obligation to pay? But! The gym can terminate your membership IF you do not obide by "it's" rules ...so..walk in your gym with a can of beer and ask for the smoking area? Scream or sing out loud, when you workout out. If you want help from the staff shout out "oi you" and let the staff know you are racist and have a phobia of being around fat people..and if the staff come over to warn you about your behaviour (?) tell them you think you have the onset of Tourette's and tell them to f*** off. If your a male make sure you workout with no shirt on .. And walk in with muddy boots etc etc GUESS who will terminate YOUR contract..kind regards 24hrgym x
Guru - 20-Feb-14 @ 1:45 AM
Most standard gym contracts will mention some form of rules in their contract even if they don't specify what these rules are so make sure you look over your contract with a fine tooth comb!! If you are sure that there is absolutely no mention of rules and regulations in your contract then legally you are not bound by it as you did not enter into any such agreement with the gym regarding these specific rules.
jrea133 - 4-Jun-12 @ 7:33 AM
Hi, I just had a question. I live in New Zealand and I recently joined a gym, I paid for six months as there was a good deal for it. While there were no rules outlined in the contract I signed, I discovered later that there were a list of 'rules' pinned up on a wall that I would not have even seen if I had not used the toilet - this was after I joined the gym. The notice stated that if I didn't comply with these 'rules', my membership would be terminated with no refund. Could you please tell if this can actually be enforced? It wasn't in the contract I signed so i had no idea of such rules. What could I do legally if the gym terminates my membership with no refund if I don't comply with those so-called 'rules'. It really annoys me how places don't state these things in their contract just so that they get clients, and then they spring it on you when you've already signed up.
Danny - 25-May-12 @ 10:24 AM
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