Anyone fancy joining a gym where you lose pounds by quitting…?

Surely it is not possible to quit a gym and continue to lose pounds? Well, according to the terms of one company that acts for over 700 gyms in the UK, you can…..but your credit rating goes with it and the pounds are (unfortunately) not weight.

For those of you who have been, or currently are, members of a gym you will have (we anticipate) at the start of your membership been presented with the gym’s terms and conditions. There were likely a range of membership options and provisions relating to length of membership, your right to terminate etc. Some of you may have joined the gym with the good intention of using your membership frequently, but after the initial 2 months realised that you are paying a lot of money each month for what works out as a 30 minute run, an exercise class or two and a few ‘free’ juices.

Do you have any options to terminate the membership that you are not using? What rights does the gym have to keep you to your initial get fit plan?

The High Court has considered the terms and conditions of membership of one company that manages over 700 gyms. The OFT claimed that the terms were unfair due to minimum membership conditions, early termination charges and the company’s practice of reporting ‘defaulting’ members with credit reference agencies (even where the member had challenged the fairness of the company’s claim).

The Court considered that the company in question was aware that although at the start of their membership members regularly attended the gym, after an initial period a large amount of members stopped attending. The Court considered that the company had therefore deliberately structured the business model (which included minimum membership) to take advantage of members of the gyms. In addition the judge agreed that reporting and threatening the members with being reported to credit reference agencies was too aggressive and unfair.

This ruling does not give all gym members the green light to successfully argue their way out of their membership however. One year memberships were said to be ordinarily fair provided that the members can terminate in situations such as illness, injury etc. In this case the two and three year contracts were said to be unfair, but the judge highlighted that the position would have been different if there had been some options to terminate. The overall position is that the minimum term must not be excessive and any terms that look to be unfair on the part of the consumer should be looked at individually to see whether both parties’ rights are balanced.

For those in search of a way to lose pounds without going to the gym, unfortunately your search continues, but keep an eye on those gym t’s and c’s and make sure you are not signing up for anything giving the gym an unfair advantage.