There are some things in life that seem beyond the comprehension of the average person: brain surgery, particle physics and gym membership contracts all tend to rank pretty high on the list. In many ways, a gym membership contract is like entering into a marriage. There are some wonderful promises about all the things you will get out of the relationship, a great honeymoon period of perks and new experiences, and then a lengthy legal dispute if you ever want to end it.
So what should you do if you find yourself dealing with gym contracts when moving out of state?
Moving more than 25 miles from the gym?
This is the easy get-out clause for a lot of people. Most gyms are not so stubborn about their contracts that they will insist that you see it through to the end, or at least pay the remainder, if you move a considerable distance away. They know that you aren’t going to commute over state lines for the privilege of their facilities. Most interstate relocations will meet this requirement.
However, there is often a caveat to this clause: 25 mile away AND when you can’t transfer your contract to “a comparable facility”. Essentially, they will be happy to let you amend a current contract if you switch to another branch of the gym to see out the remainder of the period. If you are still keen to continue your fitness regime in the new city, this could work out fine.
Pay attention to the small print
The issues of clauses and caveats reminds us about the importance of small print, and of reading a contract carefully. Ideally, we will all do this in detail before we sign up, not when we are trying to opt out. Those of us that glance over it at the beginning can get a nasty shock when we see the length of the document. Also remember that each gym will have its own rules. If in doubt, contact their customer support directly and find out your options. Don’t make assumptions that will come back and bite you.
Don’t ignore it all and refuse to pay
Some people will just assume that they can cancel their direct payment or refuse to continue paying because they are no longer an active patron. It doesn’t work like that. You promised to pay a certain amount, in a certain set of increments, up until a determined end date of the contract. The gym are upholding their side of the deal by allowing you to train and work out with their facilities for this period. Refusal to pay could lead to nasty legal implications and debt collection. This won’t end well.
In the end, it helps to be open with the gym about your circumstances, to listen to what they have to say about the clauses in the contract, and to play nicely. The easier you make it for them to find a way out of the contract for you, the more inclined they will be to do so. If you are moving to another state and want to remain a loyal customer of the brand, you shouldn’t have too big a problem. Still, it is better to expect some difficulties than an easy ride.
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