Coronavirus update

The government has instructed gyms to close ‘as soon as they reasonably can’ for an indefinite period of time from 20 March 2020.

We recommend that if you haven't heard from your gym to say its pausing your payments to contact it directly to confirm.

Before the government enforced closure, all the gyms we contacted told us they were allowing customers to freeze their memberships during the outbreak.

We’ll be getting in touch with gyms to find out what the latest announcements mean for customers and update this advice.

1 Cancelling your gym membership

Make sure you read the terms and conditions of your gym contract before you sign up to check if you have the right to cancel. 

Some gyms do allow you to cancel as long as you give one month's notice but check the terms and conditions to see what notice period is required.  

It's also worth noting that some gyms may tie you into a minimum term contract. 

2 Unfair contract terms

Unfair terms include terms that allow any trader to fundamentally change the characteristics of the goods or services on offer without good reason.

For example, if you sign up to a gym contract for use of the swimming pool, which the gym subsequently closes, this could be considered to be a fundamental change.

Contract terms that tie you in for longer than 12 months are also likely to be considered unfair. So make sure you read the terms and conditions.

Be aware that you can’t automatically cancel your membership if you find out you could get the same package cheaper elsewhere.

But, a clause which allows a major price increase, but doesn't allow you to end your membership, could be considered as unfair.

You can read more about how to challenge unfair terms in our guide.

3 Write to your gym

If you believe any of the terms in your gym contract are unfair, your first step should be to write to the gym explaining why you think the term is unfair and stating the amount of money you think you should get back.

Use our letter to your gym cancelling your gym contract because of unfair terms.

If your gym refuses, you should escalate your complaint through the gym’s formal complaints procedure. 

The next step in a dispute is court action or a dispute resolution scheme.

Unfortunately, there isn't an ombudsman for gym contracts, but this doesn't mean all is lost.

4 Small claims court

You can use the small claims court for most cases.

The total you can claim in England and Wales is £10,000, in Scotland it's £5,000 and in Northern Ireland it's £3,000.

Using the small claims court should cost you relatively little, but you’re required to pay the fees needed to take a claim through the small claims court in advance.

You also need to comply with all the steps set out in the Practice Direction on Pre-Action Conduct before you start court action.

For more information, see our guide on how to use the small claims court.

5 Complaining to the CMA

If you decide you don’t want to pursue a claim in court, you can still take steps to ensure others don’t fall foul of the same unfair term.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). will work to enforce consumer protection legislation and will tackle practices and market conditions that make it difficult for consumers to make choices including unfair terms in consumer contracts and any issues related to poor competition.

You can also report the matter to your local trading standards department. 

Please tell us what you think of the Which? Consumer Rights website.

Your feedback is vital in helping us improve this site. All data will be treated confidentially. This survey will take approximately 5 minutes to complete.

Please take our survey so we can improve our website for you and others like you.