Cancelling a gym membership

A gym membership is a legally binding contract. Once agreed, you are usually legally bound by any terms and conditions for the duration of the contract. This applies whether you have read those terms and conditions or not.

If you want to cancel your membership, the first thing to do is check what your contract says. Most memberships require you to give a period of notice (e.g. 30 days), during which you must continue to pay.

If you have agreed to a fixed-term contract and want to cancel early, you will normally be required to keep paying until the end. If you do not, the gym could decide to pursue you for breach of contract and ask you to pay the remaining cost in one lump sum. If you do not pay, the gym could issue a claim against you in County Court.

Some gyms instead allow for early cancellation but charge a fee to release you from the contract. Check your contract for details to find out how much you’ll have to pay if you cancel early.

 

When you can cancel without paying

 

  • If you’re injured or have a serious illness

Your gym should let you cancel your contract if you have a serious injury or illness that is preventing you from exercise.

You will usually need to get evidence from a doctor or medical professional to prove that you can’t exercise.

Talk to the manager at your gym. If they won’t let you cancel, you should say the following (or put it in writing):

“The Competition and Markets Authority advises that a gym contract is unfair if it doesn’t let a member cancel through serious injury or illness.”

  • If you can’t afford to pay any more

Your gym should let you cancel your contract if you’ve had a change in circumstances that means you can’t afford the monthly payments. It would have to be something significant, eg you’ve lost your job or suddenly found yourself in a lot of debt. You’ll need evidence to prove this to your gym.

Talk to the manager at your gym. If they won’t let you cancel, you should say the following (or put it in writing):

“The Competition and Markets Authority advises that a gym contract is unfair if it doesn’t let a member cancel because they’ve had a change in circumstances which means they can’t afford the membership.”

  • If you think your contract terms are unfair

It’s possible that the contract terms dealing with cancellation are unfair. If this is the case, those terms might not be legally binding so you should try to get the gym to let you cancel.

The terms of your contract could be unfair if they, for example:

  • allow your contract to be automatically renewed without your permission
  • set a minimum contract term that’s more than one year
  • allow the gym facilities to change significantly
  • allow the price of the gym to change significantly mid-contract

For example, if the gym significantly changes the price of the membership mid-contract, you could argue that you should be allowed to cancel without penalty.

Talk to the manager at your gym if you think there’s an unfair term in your contract that’s preventing you from cancelling. If they won’t let you cancel, you might want to mention the law that deals with your rights in this situation. Choose the relevant law depending on when your gym contract started.

If your contract started before 1 October 2015, you should say the following (or put it in writing):

“The term in the contract that’s preventing me from cancelling is an “unfair term” under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999. It should be removed from the contract, allowing me to cancel my membership.”

If your contract started on or after 1 October 2015, you should say the following (or put it in writing):

“The term in the contract that’s preventing me from cancelling is an “unfair term” under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. It should be removed from the contract, allowing me to cancel my membership.”

 

Cancelling your membership because of coronavirus closures

Your right to cancel your gym membership without charge is still legally as per the advice above and you will need to check what your contract says about cancelling in the event of a closure beyond the gym's control. Given the unprecedented nature of current events, you may be able to argue that you should be released without charge because you cannot access the service. There is an argument that any term saying otherwise is unfair and that you never anticipated it to cover such extreme circumstances.

If the gym won’t let you cancel

If you think you have the right to cancel but the gym won’t let you, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133.

You can also use the online form.

Contact Student Advice

Advice@cardiff.ac.uk
+44 (0)2920 781410

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