Should We Get A Gym Membership?

by Sherrian Crumbley on February 16, 2012

in Personal Finance

Cancel A Gym Membership

My husband and I have been eating better and exercising for the last few months, and while we have seen progress, we are limited in our work out options at home.  We live in a second floor condo, and so we have to be considerate to our neighbors downstairs with the hours we choose to exercise, and also what type of exercise we perform so we are not stomping on the floor or making too much noise with the pulleys on our home gym.

{Khaleef here: So far I’ve been sticking with my marine workout, and the 100 push ups challenge!]

For these reasons, we have discussed joining a gym on a few occasions.  The topic came up again recently in a discussion with a friend, and while there are positives to joining a gym, I have some serious concerns.  Well, I have one very serious concern.

Impossible To Cancel A Gym Membership?

Gyms are notorious for trapping people in their contracts!  There are countless tales of the nightmares consumers have gone through to cancel a gym membership: the months of money stolen from them while getting the runaround regarding lost cancellation letters, the unreturned emails and phone calls, and ultimately the frustration of being unfairly sent to collections.

I went online and read reviews of the gyms in our area, and unfortunately they have less than 3 out of 5 stars, and the main complaint is what I was concerned about – gym membership cancellation policies.  The commenters have dealt with ‘lost’ cancellation letters, unreturned phone calls, lost emails.  They have been bounced between the local business and the corporate office, and finally, the collection agency that receives their account.

In our conversation, I had the bright idea of using a prepaid credit card to cover the cost of the membership for the contract term.  My thinking was that it would prevent us from being charged after the contract period has ended.

Unfortunately, in reading a little more about the problems people experience, it seems my idea may not work because they are within their right to continue to charge a member after the contract period has ended if that member has not terminated their contract ‘correctly’.

Many who have canceled credit cards and closed bank accounts in retaliation of this practice have been sent to collections, and many end up paying the collection fee out of sheer frustration at dealing with the situation.

How To Cancel A Gym Membership

If you have entered into a gym membership contract, please be prepared to cover yourself once the contract is nearing its end!

  1. Send your contract termination letter to the correct address stated in your contract by certified mail.  Do not send it by regular mail, email, or verbally cancel – as all these methods can be lost, forgotten, or denied
  2. Send a second termination letter to the financial institution handling the charges for the gym membership
  3. Check your local laws because you may have grounds to terminate/void your contract which supersedes what the gym contract states (for example: The gym may say you cannot cancel your membership if you are moving, while the law states the contract is void if your new residence is not within a reasonable distance from the gym)

As for myself, I think the best way to avoid this well-documented and reprehensible hassle is to not enter into it in the first place!

I had a gym membership once in my life and it was a very good experience.  The difference was that it was a small family-owned business, and while the expense was a bit more than the “$20/month” deal one of our local gyms are toting, at least I did not have to be concerned about a contract designed to eventually trap or steal from us.

A final tip: If this feels like too much of a hassle, you can also cancel online by using cancelwizard.com’s gym cancellation service.

image credit: photostock

What About You?

What has your experience been like dealing with a gym contract?

Have you ever suffered trying to terminate a gym contract?

Have you found any ways to successfully combat the horrors others have experienced in navigating a gym contract and/or terminating one?

© 2012 – 2014, Sherrian Crumbley. All rights reserved.

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