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Here’s how to cancel your gym membership without breaking a sweat

Most people sign up for a gym membership with the best of intentions. They want to get fit, lose weight, build muscle, and improve their overall health. But lack of time, slipping motivation, prohibitive costs or a global pandemic can lead to these ambitions falling by the wayside.

At this point, another type of effort begins – a longer struggle to break up with your gym, which is notorious for using contracts designed to make parting ways difficult. Fortunately, canceling your gym membership doesn’t always have to be this hassle. (Remember, it will likely be a hassle. Just not an absolute one.)

In most cases, gym memberships commit to using their facilities for a monthly or annual fee, and there isn̵

7;t much recourse to someone who has simply changed their mind and decided that those services are no longer needed. Gyms and their contracts usually only make exceptions if disability, death, relocation or the gym do not provide the services specified in the contract. Without either of these reasons, cancellation without payment of the remaining balance may be at management’s discretion.

The best way to start the process is to send a letter by registered mail informing the gym of your desire to cancel your membership with as much information as possible. Your name, address, payment information, and account information should be provided along with your reason for cancellation. This will ensure that a paper path is created that you can refer to in case the gym claims they did not receive your request.

In some franchise fitness studios like Equinox, members can cancel at any time if they have been a member for at least a year, with at least 45 days’ notice. Planet Fitness bills monthly and asks you to give about one week’s notice. Without any of the major life events listed above, these places could attempt to pay a cancellation fee or a prorated balance to which you are entitled. Aside from speaking to management, there isn’t much you can do about it.

Gyms may still charge you fees even after you cancel. If so, you should dispute the charge with your credit card or bank and contact the gym on your behalf. (To avoid the charge, don’t cancel a credit card as this could result in your account being turned over to a debt collection agency.)

If written inquiries are ignored and your gym is part of a national chain, you can write to corporate headquarters with details of your problem and hope they can provide an immediate solution.

The pandemic has made this already entangled process more wrinkled. If you’re not happy with returning to a gym, many sites should be willing to lock your membership on hold until you decide to return. (If a gym is following state reopening guidelines, it can be difficult to cancel.)

If you are in a higher risk category, getting a doctor’s letter can go a long way in solving membership issues.

In summary: keep a paper trail. If possible, offer a valid apology. Be prepared to cover some of the fees involved. And only sign the next fitness contract after you have carefully examined it.

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