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20 December 2023

5 tips for joining a gym

A new year and joining a gym go together like salt and pepper. Yet though signing up is easy, sticking it out on the treadmill can be hard. Follow our five tips for choosing a gym and cancelling your membership when you get tired of it.

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1. Make the most of free trials

Most major gym chains will offer you a free trial or session to check out the facilities and service. It’s worth making use of these freebies to see if the gym’s right for you, or to get your New Year’s resolution out of your system

2. Compare budget vs high end

There’s a huge difference between what you’ll pay at budget gyms versus their high-end counterparts.

Gyms that position themselves at the budget end of the market make a big deal about their 24/7 access: you can work out at midnight if you want. But they’re unlikely to have the same bells and whistles as pricier outfits.

If you’d rather have a self-directed gym experience, a cheaper gym that doesn’t offer any group classes might suit you better.

Behind the headline prices for gym memberships, there can also be extra fees so make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully.

3. Watch out for cancellation fees

To get the cheapest deal, you’ll normally have to sign up for a fixed term. But if you throw in the towel early, cancelling your membership is likely to cost you.

Check the terms and conditions to see how much the cancellation fee will set you back before you sign the dotted line. If you’re not sure how committed you are, sign up for a monthly membership instead.

4. Beware of unfair terms

Alongside steep cancellation fees, unfair terms can also be lurking in gym contracts. It pays to read the terms before you sign on the dotted line.

Some contracts reserve the right to change their services. If the changes don’t suit you, you should get the option of cancelling your membership without penalty.

Contracts can also require you to go into the gym to give notice to cancel your membership, or to fill in a particular form. We think this is unfair, and so does the Commerce Commission.

In 2017, the Commerce Commission told the industry to get rid of terms that risked breaching the Fair Trading Act. Despite some improvements, we’ve found unfair terms continue to turn up in gym contracts on a regular basis.

If you think your gym is trying it on with unfair terms, tell it to shape up. Let us know too, by emailing [email protected].

5. Don’t forget your rights

Gyms must provide their services with reasonable care and skill. If your gym doesn’t – and it can’t fix its failure or the failure is substantial – you could have grounds to cancel your contract under the Consumer Guarantees Act. If this is the case, you won’t have to pay a cancellation fee.

Your gym is also bound by the Fair Trading Act. It can't mislead or deceive you about the services it offers or the prices of its memberships. Think you've been misled by your gym? Make sure you're familiar with your rights when it comes to misleading conduct.

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