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Types of membership
There are two main types of membership contract, fixed term or periodic. Some gyms also offer casual visits, a trial membership or month by month option if you don’t wish to be locked in for a longer period of time.
This agreement is where you sign up for a fixed period. By law, the period cannot be more than 12 months. Additional fixed-term contracts can only be negotiated when there are less than three months to run on an existing agreement.
This agreement can continually roll over, a bit like a periodic rental agreement. The agreement can't be any longer than three months.
Before you sign up
Before you sign anything, you should:
- check what's included in the membership offer - some packages exclude things such as a personal trainer, specific classes or pool access
- visit the gym before you sign up - check if the equipment and facilities will suit your needs
- check the hours you can access the gym (some gyms offer 24-hour facilities)
- be clear about how much you will need to pay and when - by law, gyms cannot ask you to pay more than 12 months in advance
- find out about any cancellation terms and conditions - eg can you cancel if you're not able to visit the gym due to an injury or extended vacation?
- consider any pre-existing injuries or health conditions you have - you may need to get advice from your doctor before starting a new exercise program
- make sure your contract is in writing and includes certain information - eg is it a fixed term or periodic agreement, all fees and charges, a warning about cancelling any direct debits
- read your contract in full before you sign - make sure you understand exactly what you're signing up for.
Cancelling a membership
You can cancel a membership and ask for a refund if there is a major problem - eg the equipment is always broken or the pool is green.
If you cancel for other reasons, you may still have to pay for the membership. Check the contract to see if there are any penalties for cancelling or suspending the contract.
If you sign up for a periodic agreement for three months, you can terminate at the end without having to a pay a penalty.