Gym contracts

Joining a gym? We’ve gathered fees for seven gyms and explain some of the potential fishhooks in their contracts.

Woman using leg press machine at gym

Want a gym “to help you achieve your fitness goals” so you can “live the life you want to live”? While signing up is easy, getting off the treadmill may cost you.

Budget vs high-end

There’s a huge difference between what you’ll pay at budget gyms versus their higher-end counterparts. At the seven gyms we assessed, membership costs ranged from $412 to $3432 a year.

To get the cheapest deal, you’ll normally have to sign up for a fixed term. City Fitness had the lowest price ($6.99 a week plus $49 joining fee) but it’s only available if you sign up for 12 months.

18mar gym contracts gym

Gyms that position themselves at the budget end of the market (less than $10 a week) 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.

Behind the headline prices for gym memberships, there can also be extra fees.

Snap Fitness Wellington advertises its 12-month gym membership at $16.95 a week. However, a direct debit fee of $1.49 is tacked on to this price. The gym also charges a $29 joining fee and $49 for an access card. All up, the cost is $1036.88 for a year, or $19.94 a week. Snap Fitness fees can vary from branch to branch.

At the other end of the price scale is F45 – the “leader in functional training and sport science”. The gym advertises high-intensity classes, claiming to burn “up to 750 calories per 45-minute session”. F45 charges $66 a week on an open-term contract.

Cancellation fees

While it’s easy to sign up, getting out of the deal is often the hard part.

With most gyms, if you’re on a fixed-term contract, you’ll have to pay to quit.

Jetts will sting you with a cancellation fee of 90 percent of the remaining membership fee if you quit before the contract is up.

Les Mills requires you pay 33% of the money due for the rest of your membership term.

City Fitness charges $200, or the balance of fees for the remainder of your contract (if that’s less). Snap Fitness charges 25% and requires 30 days’ notice.

If your circumstances change and you no longer want your membership, Habit will consider requests to cancel on hardship grounds. You’ll need to provide evidence of your situation. The gym will decide whether it will give you a credit, let you suspend your membership or transfer it to someone else.

If Habit approves a transfer, you’ll be charged a $50 admin fee.

Unfair terms

Alongside steep cancellation fees, unfair terms can also be lurking in gym contracts.

Some contracts reserve the right to change their services. Habit’s contract states “we reserve the right to change, alter or adapt our opening hours, timetables or facilities at any time”. While the contract states you’ll get reasonable notice of the changes, if they don’t suit and you want to cancel your membership, you need to provide evidence of being disadvantaged and give a week’s notice.

You shouldn’t have to jump through these hoops if the gym isn’t providing the service you signed up for. If your gym changes its services, hours, or location, you should get the option of cancelling your membership without penalty.

Contracts can also require you to give notice to cancel, even if you’ve come to the end of your membership term. City Fitness and Snap require 30 days’ notice to quit when your term is up.

Jetts contract requires you to give “written notice” to cancel at the end of the term if you pay by direct debit, stating “you are not able to cancel your membership in club, by phone or by text”. It also requires you to give at least two weeks’ notice to cancel.

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.

If you think your gym is trying it on with unfair terms, tell it to shape up. Let us know too, email playfair@consumer.org.nz.

Fees compared


Tips for getting the best deal

  • 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.

  • While you can get a better price and perks signing up for longer, you should factor in what you’re up for if you want to cancel early.

  • Some gyms have short cooling-off periods in their contracts. Check the time limit before signing on the dotted line.

  • Gyms have to provide their services with reasonable care and skill. If your gym falls short, you could have grounds to cancel your contract under the Consumer Guarantees Act.

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Amanda K.
08 Aug 2020
CityFitness joining fee

Correction to your article on gym memberships. The table showing comparison prices for an open term contract shows CityFitness $13.99 (Black membership) as having no joining fee. There is a joining fee of $49, plus there's an extra $6 tacked onto your first payment. So to startup I paid the joining fee $49 plus $33 for first fortnight.
Amanda