Ah, January, the month of best intentions. If you have overindulged during the festive period and are looking to get back on track with health and fitness, you may have considered taking out a new gym membership.

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While this is all well and good in January when you have the best of intentions, you do not know what the rest of the year will hold. You may find that work commitments mean you don’t have the time to use the gym as much as you would like to, or the opening hours may no longer suit your working pattern. You may even find yourself in financial difficulty and unable to pay for the luxury of a gym membership. However, it may be possible to cancel your gym membership without fear of penalty; here we look at what the law says about gym membership cancellation fees and penalties.

Gym Membership Cancellations and the Law

If you have entered into a contract with your gym for membership, you will normally have to pay the full cost of membership if you are looking to cancel the contract early. This means that if you enter a contract for a year and with to cancel after four months, you will be required to pay the remaining eight months of membership fees unless your contract states otherwise. You should firstly consult your gym membership contract to find out what the penalties are for early cancellation. However, there are a number of circumstances where you may be able to cancel your gym membership without penalty, but it is likely you will be required to give a notice period.

Cancelling Gym Membership After Serious Injury or Illness

If you have suffered a serious injury or have a serious illness that prevents you from exercising, your gym should permit you to cancel the contract. You will be required to produce medical evidence that proves that you are unable to use the gym. If you find yourself in this situation, you should speak to the manager at the gym about your circumstances. If the gym refuse to let you cancel your membership, you should make them aware that the Competition and Markets Authority has made clear that a gym contract is unfair where it does not let a member cancel as a result serious injury or illness and that the contract may be unenforceable.

Cancelling Gym Membership Where you Can’t Afford to Pay

If your financial circumstances have changed and you can no longer afford the monthly payments for your gym membership, your gym should permit you to cancel the contract. However, the change must be something significant such as losing your job or becoming burdened with a lot of debt. You will need to provide evidence of this change in circumstances to your gym. You should speak to the manager at your gym about your situation. If your gym refuses to let you cancel, you should make them aware that a failure to permit you to cancel where your circumstances have changed which means you can’t afford the membership will mean the contract is unfair under the law, and thus may be unenforceable.

Cancelling Your Gym Membership Where You Believe the Terms are Unfair

Where the terms of your contract about cancellation are unfair, they may not be legally binding and thus, you may be able to have the gym permit you to cancel your contract. Examples of unfair contract terms include:

You should speak to the manager at your gym where you feel a contract term is unfair and prevents you from cancelling. If they do not permit you to cancel, you should remind them of your rights under the law. This will depend on when your contract started.

If your contract started before 1 October 2015: The term in your contract may be unfair under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 and thus, should be removed from the contract, allowing you to cancel membership.”

If your contract started on or after 1 October 2015: The term in the contract preventing membership cancellation may be an “unfair term” under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and thus, should be removed to allow cancellation of the contract.

For more information read our consumer rights guides.