Gym members will be able to cancel their contracts more easily, after the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) struck a deal with LA Fitness, Dave Whelan Sports and gym management firm Harlands Group. The companies have agreed to let customers terminate their membership agreements if they lose their job or suffer an injury, and have pledged to make it clearer when a fixed-term contract will be renewed automatically. Other providers such as David Lloyd, Fitness First and Bannatyne Fitness have already vowed to do this.
However, you do still need to be careful when entering into a gym contract so here’s what you need to know before you sign on the dotted line:
1. How long is the contract? This will be a fixed one year term, a rolling monthly contract or pay-as-you go. Getting yourself stuck in a one year contract that you cannot get out of early will always be a bad move.
2. Can you cancel the contract early if your circumstances change or if you change your mind? Before you sign ask the gym to confirm, "in writing", that you can terminate the contract early if i) you lose your job ii) you fall ill or iii) you are injured. If they won’t do this you’re at the wrong gym.
3. Will the contract be automatically extended after the initial membership period? Most contracts for gym membership automatically continue once the initial membership period has expired. If this is the case, make sure that you diarise the date by which you need to inform them if you want to cancel (it may be a few weeks before the end of the contract date).
4. Sales patter Like all sales representatives, the sales person from your potential gym will be telling you all of the reasons why you should join. If you’re made any promises during this (for example: you can terminate early if your financial circumstances change or you can use any of their other locations for free) get them to confirm this in writing.
If you arestuck in a gym contract that was fixed for one year or more, here's how to get out of it:
If any of the above applies to you, write to the gym and clearly explain your reasons for wanting to cancel. Tell them that you will report the matter to the OFT if they do not allow you to cancel.
For more information visit Dean Dunham's website.