Gyms across Australia are temporarily shutting their doors on the advice of various government and health officials, affecting the daily routines of many fitness buffs around the country. And since it’ll be a while before we can all get back to hitting the weights, there’s one big question on many Aussies’ lips — what will happen to gym membership and payments?
To help you understand what’s going on, we’ve reviewed policies from a variety of gym franchises to shed a light on how the government’s new measures around COVID-19 will affect you.
Consumer rights with gym closures
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) states that if your gym closes, you may be entitled to a “refund or other remedy for the period of closure” if you’ve made an upfront payment to your gym, while for those who make a regular or recurring payment “further payments should not be processed during the closure”.
The ACCC also outlines that the “Australian Consumer Law prohibits businesses from taking payments for services when there are reasonable grounds to believe the services won’t be applied. This applies whether or not your contract allows you to suspend payments”.
However, it’s best to check with your individual gym and franchise, and monitor the ACCC website for updates.
Can you cancel your gym membership?
The ACCC makes clear that gym-goers have the right to stop making payments to their gym during the coronavirus outbreak because gyms will not be able to provide the service you’re paying for. Should a payment have already been deducted from your bank account, you should contact the gym directly to have the payment refunded. Should the gym re-open in the future, it’s likely that you’ll be obliged to complete the term of your contract.
Can you pause your gym membership?
The goods news is that most gyms allow for memberships to be paused, sometimes without you even having to give a reason. However, the length of the pause may depend on the individual company, so be sure to ask about your options.
Gym closures & membership costs
Here’s an outline of what various gym franchises say in their membership agreements, plus additional statements about COVID-19. If you have a specific question, or just want to cancel or pause your gym membership, it’s best to contact your regular gym.
When we reached out to Fitness First, a spokesperson gave the following statement: “Fitness First acknowledges the current situation with regards to coronavirus and the health and safety of our members is our main priority. We understand the need to take preventative measures to reduce further illness during this time. We fully support any members’ decision to freeze their membership and have therefore updated our Time Freeze policy in line with this.”
Anytime Fitness’ Membership Agreement states that members “may temporarily suspend or freeze membership for any reason for up to three months (provided you have at least two weeks left on your Fixed Term Agreement).”
Anytime Fitness also tells members “you can cancel your Fixed Term or Periodic Agreement at any time by telling us in writing if you cannot use the Facilities and Services because you contract a serious illness or a permanent physical incapacity during the term of your Agreement”.
In Goodlife’s terms and conditions, the policy outlines that “payments may be frozen for a minimum of two weeks at a time for whatever reason so long as the total time frozen within 12 months does not exceed four weeks”.
It adds: “The period of any membership freeze will be added to its Minimum Term so that the sum of the installments payable for the Minimum term shall remain the same regardless of any membership freeze.”
However, Goodlife’s Terms and Conditions also requires a $5/week freeze charge.
Whether you can freeze your membership with F45 depends on each individual franchise, meaning it’s best to get in contact with your local F45 to see what your options are. An online search suggests that membership freezes must be for at least seven days, have an end date, and be submitted at least 14 days before the proposed start date.
According to its website, Snap Fitness won’t bill its members for the duration of the gym closure and will pause all bills. Pre-paid members will have their membership expiry date extended by the equivalent of the closure.
The Jetts Fitness website declares it “fully support[s] any member’s decision to put their membership on hold and have therefore enabled our gyms to place memberships on extended hold periods”.
In its terms and conditions, membership agreements and freezes are at the discretion of the individual clubs, so it’s best to get in contact with your local gym.
In its Membership Terms, Fernwood states that members may defer membership for a minimum of two weeks. The “deferral may be for any reason (including personal, holidays, medical, temporary physical incapacity, injury and illness)” Fernwood says.
Written notice must be given before membership is deferred, with a deferral fee also charged.
In its Terms and Conditions, Plus Fitness states that membership can be put on Time Hold “for a minimum of two weeks and a maximum period of three months in each year”.
In its Terms and Conditions, Plus Fitness outlines that Time Hold applications must be done in person, although this may have changed due to the circumstances, meaning it’s best to contact your local gym about potentially putting your membership on hold.
What should I do during the gym closure?
While gym closures are sure to impact your fitness goals for the year, most gyms are offering home workouts, apps and ways to stay in touch while self-isolating to keep you on track. Additionally, it’s recommended that you keep an eye on your bank balance to ensure that your membership freeze is working, and to keep an eye out for official statements on when it’s safe to return to the gym.
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