Exercise your Rights when Joining a Gym

Exercise your Rights when Joining a Gym post image

It’s that time of year again. The annual new year rush to join the gym. Health and fitness clubs will sign up more members in January than at any other time of year, and in your enthusiasm to join, you will probably sign there and then without reading through the all important Ts and Cs of the contract. You will then get to Easter, realise you’ve only been three times and want to cancel.

Many people have found themselves in this situation and been shocked to discover they have signed up to an initial 12 month minimum term, which cannot be cancelled. Those slightly better off face a three month notice period or an extortionate cancellation fee, but in each case, most people say they would not have joined if they had known about these terms. For years, the OFT have been keeping a close eye on contracts for gym membership with reference to this lack of clarity concerning membership, cancellation and other unfair terms. But above all, the advice is to read and fully understand what you are signing – because there is no cooling off period.

  • Take the time to read through the Ts and Cs. Take it away if necessary – it is your right to have reasonable opportunity to familiarise yourself with the contractual terms before signing.
  • Take particular note of clauses in relation to tie-ins, notice periods and cancellation penalties. Do not mistake the notice period for cancellation with the length of the contract.
  • If the contract contains clauses which refer to automatic membership renewal, ask for this to be removed, or make a note of the date by which you should inform them.
  • By law, the contract must be presented in simple, jargon-free language. if you are unsure about anything ask for full clarification
  • A contract is a two-way process. Don’t be afraid to ask certain clauses to be struck out if they seem unreasonable or you are not happy.
  • Take extra care with introductory offers and special deals. Clubs may waive their joining fee but still charge you the equivalent as an ‘admin’ fee. Always read the small print.


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11 comments… add one
  • alison zammer 6 January, 11:28 pm

    I am a member of David Lloyd Leisure. My husband signed the contract on my behalf as he began paying as a Christmas present last year. The monthly fee of £68 by direct debit is paid from our joint account.
    He was sent a letter last week -dated 2nd January to say that due to a processing error that he was overcharged and that the money would be refunded back into the bank account by Wednesday 7th January and as a compensation that a guest pass would be issued on production of the letter.We assumed that the overcharge would only be a small amount (£10 or so) but when I checked our bank account I found that £729 had been taken which left this account overdrawn and over the overdraft limit. My husband phoned Barclays Bank who said that he would receive bank charges of £22 and would be charged another £22 if the account remained over the overdraft limit for more than 5 days.
    He also contacted David Lloyd Leisure (phoned twice) but no one got back to him.He then went there in person to find out what was happening. Neither the manager or the deputy manager were available and sent a young girl out to explain that this had happened to several other members and that someone in head office was at fault and had been dismissed. My husband explained how he had phoned twice (she said that they were too busy to phone back!) how their error had left us with bank charges and that the compensation offered was derisory. The David Lloyd person said that he couldn’t possibly have any more guest passes and did he realise that they are actually worth £15 each!And that although she was sorry for what had happened that basically it was tough!
    He is going to Barclays in person tomorrow to sort out the bank account (previously just phoned their general number – probably India). We are so cross about this that we would just like to leave now, but we have to give 3 months notice or face a debt collector.Has the gym broken their contract with us? Please advise.

  • valerie 12 December, 2:35 pm

    .. I’m also david lloyd member just as myy mum.. Finaly cancelingg it.. Is there anything under UCTA 1977 / UTCCR 1999 to say dat its against law to not let memnbers cancel wifout charges or 3 mnths in advance? N dat wen ur ill charges shouldn’t be taken and its allowed to have such a high price? Ohh they have breached thecontract since the prices went up… That’s a condition which gives u as customer right to cancel – the VAT went up does dat count? The services are shit commpared to twitingham, in sudbury staff rude also under 0data Protection act its against de law to give member information out right.. Well since staff are all friends and when interest about someone the receptionist tells age,address, name , photo to other staff or they just come in and check themselves.. I really want to due david f lloyd , is there a court which does dis for free in my law class there was a mention of this court without paying nothing to enter consumer tribunal I think it was, others courts must be minimum sue amout of £5000 so dis can be given n no loss for u to pay, and if there are weeks even months u don’t attend they should not take money or give free pases .. Right? When sausa steam is not working that’s breach of contract when there are private parties or events gym and pool facilities close at8.. Not at 11 why we must bekicked out when we pay to use this! I’m sure a lot of people will want tagree with me on this and want to take dese b to court, esppecially being member for 5-6 years now treating old members so badly, food is microwaves and exppensive.. Known to be fresh.. Dats another breach, I fell many times in pool aarea cuz so slipery cleaner don’t wipe the floor… I damaged myself another breach, studio is out of bounds for members because dey don’t want any1 to use the stereo… But excuse me we pay for the whole gym and studio is facilites for those who want to dance/ box/ do yoga privatly and there is more room, besides we should be allowed to put cds in stereo not js for class teachers, cuz one emmber boxed and it hit the stero which corrupted it now they lock it.. Everyone must suffer, is it possible to sue for all these sufering years where they like bats sucked blood from us, all that money refunded? And all dese unfair unreasonbale cheats want direct debit so can take wen n how much dey want… If freeze ur card must pay if cancel straight away must pay a lot, …..

    • Angie 31 July, 10:57 am

      If you want help; have you thought about typing English, so we know at the hell your on about?!

  • Kareshma 7 January, 11:39 pm


    i have a gym membership, but due to my current circumstances i am unable to pay for the gym. besides, i have move into a diffrent area where the closest gym is 8 miles away from my home and i have not use the service for more than 6 months now. the gym has get in touch with an independent body to chase me up for the fees. i am not earning as much to maintain my daily cost of living and besides i am very stress with these people chasing me for money. they even say they will pass my case to their solicitor. is there any ways i can get out of this mess.

    thank you

  • Nikki osborne 14 November, 11:23 am

    If a gym loses my contract and information can I just leave?

  • AAMIR nawabi 8 November, 6:11 pm

    I don’t want my membership because I have got my from today so that’s why

  • pawan kumar 9 November, 5:05 pm

    Hi I want to cancle my membership of gym because of my busy working days. That’s why I can’t come .Please cancle my membership as soon as posible. Thank you very much…..

  • Brendan Cassidy 1 July, 1:28 pm

    I join a gym on the 29th June 2014 .phone up on Tuesday the 21st July 2014 their say that their is no cooling off period and I’ve signed up for

  • Coral 5 February, 4:24 pm


    I signed up to a 12 month gym membership (July 2014). After a couple of months, I found out that I was pregnant and that I am due in early May 2015. I notified my gym around November 2014 that after the eight month stage, I would be cancelling my membership, due to maternity leave and was told that this is fine and I should let them know 2 months prior to me leaving.

    Early February I email them notifying them and was asked for proof of the pregnancy, so I email them again along with my MAT B1 form.

    I then received the following email:

    Thank you for the medical evidence supplied via email forwarded to our Head Office from our Tower 42 club received on the 3rd February 2015.

    Unfortunately the medical evidence provided is not applicable for cancellation, please refer to Clause 6(f) of your terms and conditions which outlines the specific requirements.

    If you should wish to forward further medical evidence which clearly states that you are unable to use the gym facilities for a minimum of two calendar months, we will be more than happy to review your request further.

    If you should require any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us.

    Yours sincerely

    Terms and conditions:


    My question is…. Is just about to give birth and giving birth and proof of this good enough to end gym contract? The fact they have no clause about pregnancy too, means that my terms were never considered?

    Please help!

  • brendan 23 March, 7:21 am

    Unfortunately once you sign a contract with a gym. The only way can cancel before your 12 months is up is by death .
    I’d email back asking what proof they want. Gyms will fight tooth and nail to keep you from leaving!!!!!

  • glynne may 15 December, 3:28 pm

    Ihave been a member of this health club for over 2yrs(quality hotel,Boldon,tyne&wear) and have had a rolling contract which i paid in full every 6 months the rate has been the same all this time in fact a close friend reapplied a week ago and was given the the same rate,when i spoke to the new manager he refused to honour our previous aggreement i feel this is not in the spitit of the law what do you think ?