It’s become one of those unshakeable facts of life. Just mention the words “gym membership” and people shudder, thinking of the byzantine rules and policies that make the very thought of cancelling as painful as the thought of actually getting on that treadmill. Even when you think you’re in the clear, a hidden fee sneaks up to make the situation that much more discouraging.
But surely death is enough to get you out of even the most binding gym contracts, right? Here’s how six top fitness chains in America handle that particular situation along with others circumstances that are often less severe (like moving).
For more information on the ins-and-outs of canceling a gym membership read what our Co-founder/Co-CEO Abby Schneiderman wrote on Forbes.com: That New Gym Membership Could Cost You When It Comes Time To Cancel
24 HOUR FITNESS
If you have a basic month-to-month membership with no minimum term, you need only provide 24 hours notice (which is very on-brand). If you’re committed to a year-long membership, you may have to pay 50 percent of the remaining balance, but there are provisions for relocation, disability, military deployment, and, yes, death.
Each of the more than 2,000 locations is independently owned, which means cancelation fees can vary (or be much more complicated) depending on where you signed up. According to the Anytime Fitness FAQs, check the membership agreement for your specific location to find out “cost to cancel, how to cancel and more information on any additional termination fees you may incur.”
THE BAR METHOD
They seem to have a fairly straightforward cancellation policy, but their terms of service do not address emergencies, life changes, or death. They really only discuss voluntary cancellation in their terms of service stating:
“You may cancel your membership at any time, for any reason, by following the instructions on the ‘My Account’ page. You may cancel your membership at any time online by logging into your account and on the ‘My Account’ page and click the ‘Cancel’ button under my subscriptions. Your account will stay active for the remaining time paid for by your latest payment. Example: If your last payment was on the 15th of the month and you cancel your account on the following 20th, your account will continue to be active until the 15th of the upcoming month. If you cancel a membership, you will enjoy member benefits until the end of your then-current commitment, following which your membership benefits will expire. However, in no event will you be eligible for a refund of any portion of the membership fees paid for the then-current membership commitment.”
Crunch asks for 10 days notice before cancelling a typical membership, but they also do directly mention instances of death in based on this contact from a Los Angeles location:
“If, by reason of death or disability, you are unable to receive all of the services for which you contracted under this Agreement, you and your estate shall be relieved from the obligation of making payment for services other than those received prior to your death or the onset of your disability. If you prepaid any sum for services, so much of the sum as allocable to services not taken prior to your death or disability shall be promptly refunded to you or your representative.”
If you’ve been an Equinox member for one year, they actually allow you to cancel at any time - provided you can give them at least 45 days notice. If you haven’t been there that long, their official policy lists two possible exemptions: Relocation or Injury.
Essentially, if you have to move and you’ll no longer be close to an Equinox gym, you’re allowed to cancel. But you will have to provide proof of your new address via a gas bill or letter from your HR department confirming your move, or something similar. They also provide cancellation if you can prove - via doctor’s note - that you are unable to exercise for six months or more. There is nothing in their terms of service that mentions death, but it seems like a safe bet that that qualifies as “more than six months.”
Planet Fitness is a little more lenient in some respects than Equinox - they only ask for seven business days’ notice in the event of cancellation. Per their terms of service: “To cancel your monthly membership and stop the billing of the Monthly Membership Fee on or around the 17th of the month, the club must receive written notification delivered to the club by the 10th of the month either in person or preferably via certified mail to the club address listed above. Please note it may take up to seven (7) business days for any membership or billing changes to take effect.” You will be charged $58 if you paid for a year in advance and cancel well before that time is up.
Unlike Equinox, however, Planet Fitness does address death: “In case of death, your estate must provide written evidence.” So, again, a death certificate, or even a doctor’s note, should suffice to cancel someone’s membership post-mortem.
See A Pattern?
Even though a gym may be independently owned, or have different rules based on each location, it’s all relatively similar. If you want to cancel because you simply no longer want to go, there’s almost always a fee. If you move (including military deployment), have a provable health issue, or die, there should be no fee. The major hassle: canceling almost always requires a visit to the location; in the case of death, it can be an executor or representative for the estate with the necessary paperwork. If you’re not sure of what to bring apart from the death certificate call in advance so you don’t have to make another trip.
Not see a gym you’d like included on our list? Got any tips on canceling a membership? Let us know here.