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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > January 2015 > Ohio Consumers Have Protections When Joining a Gym

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Ohio Consumers Have Protections When Joining a Gym

Every January, many consumers enroll in gym memberships that will help fulfill their New Year’s resolution for a healthier lifestyle. In Ohio, gym memberships are generally considered “prepaid entertainment contracts,” similar to contracts for dance or karate lessons or dating websites.   These types of contracts provide consumers with certain rights such as the ability to cancel the agreements under certain circumstances.
Before signing a gym membership, consumers should be sure any benefits or features promised by the gym are included in a written contract. Only promises in writing are guaranteed. They also should read all the terms and conditions of membership prior to signing, including any fine print.
Additionally, gym goers should be aware of the following guidelines for canceling a prepaid entertainment contract:
  • Consumers have three business days (excluding Sundays) to reconsider the purchase and cancel the agreement. The gym must provide customers with a copy of the written contract containing a “notice of cancellation.”
  • If a consumer cancels within the first three business days after entering into the prepaid entertainment contract, the gym must refund any money paid, but may charge an expense fee no greater than $10.
  • To cancel a gym membership, consumers should notify the gym by postal mail or in person. They should return the “notice of cancellation” provided with the written contract, or otherwise put the cancellation request in writing in the manner specified in the contract.
  • If a consumer enters into a gym membership prior to the facility opening for business, the consumer has seven days to cancel from the first day the gym is open to customers.
  • If a customer moves 25 miles or more away from the gym, or if the gym relocates at least 25 miles away from a customer, the customer has the right to a refund based on the time remaining on the membership, unless there is a similar facility located within 25 miles of the area of relocation.
Fitness centers that fail to give proper notice to consumers may be in violation of Ohio’s consumer protection laws.
In 2014, the Ohio Attorney General sued South Beach Fitness of Westerville, LLC and its owners for violations of the Prepaid Entertainment Contracts Act, alleging that the defendants failed to give proper notice regarding the facility’s opening date, required excessive payment, and failed to honor refund requests.  That case is ongoing.
If you suspect an unfair business practice, report it to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515.
Joining a gym can be one of the first steps toward being healthier in 2015. By applying the tips in this article, you will be better protected as you work toward your fitness goals.