Gyms are all good and well while you’re an active member, but how do you end your membership without getting hassled?
Canceling a service when you’re finished using it is one of the biggest drawbacks of signing up for the service in the first place. Gyms are no exception. Whether you’re quitting because you just aren’t able to use your membership as much as you’d like, you have achieved your fitness goals, or it’s just too darn expensive, canceling that membership can be a major headache and an awkward situation for everyone.
It’s never as easy as just going up to the front desk and saying “I’d like to cancel my membership effective immediately,” and the staff replying “No problem, you’re all set!” You are guaranteed to hear pitch after pitch, plan after plan, to get you to stay on in some regard, probably a lot like one of these:
“What we can do is take you down to the Silver Plan, that will save you $7 per month.”
“For just $12/month we will put a freeze on your membership so you don’t have to pay the $89 processing fee when you decide to rejoin.”
“Well, I can cancel your membership, but it does require 30 days notice, and today is the 13th, so you’ll be paying through the end of September.”
“May I ask why? If you’re not getting enough out of your membership, I’d be happy to give you two free spin class credits. Or two free guest passes.”
Ways to get out of the membership without hearing the pushy sales pitches
If you want out—no questions asked—you need a foolproof excuse that cannot be questioned by the staff. They have been trained to handle these types of situations and have a comeback for every normal response. If you say something ordinary like “I don’t have the time” or “it’s too expensive”, you could either be arguing with them for the next thirty minutes, suckered into taking some sort of offer, or—worst—be talked into signing some sort of extension.
Consider these exit strategies to avoid any pushback.
- Research the locations of this gym across the country and find a black hole—an area where there are definitely none of this gym nearby—and say you are moving there. “I’m sorry, I love this gym but I have to cancel. I’m moving to northwestern Nevada. I already did the research and the nearest Brad’s Gym location is 393 miles.” They can’t argue that!
- Say that you or someone in your immediate family have taken a job with a rival gym. “My wife was just hired as assistant manager over at Lloyd’s Gym, so obviously I get a free membership over there. You understand.”
- Call pretending to be a loved one and tell the staff that you are in jail (or even paralyzed or dead, depending on how morbid you’re comfortable going). If they believe you physically cannot under any circumstances get to the gym, they can’t try to win you back.
- Rather than quitting, get banned. This may require doing something obscene like openly peeing in the shower, smoking in the sauna, making repeated passes at an employee, or yanking people’s towels off, but now the shoe is on the other foot!
- Bring your attorney (or someone pretending to be your attorney) with you when you cancel. Most salesmen would rather avoid getting into a whole thing at that point.
- Become unwanted. If you aren’t comfortable doing something that will outright get you banned, you can at least just become a miserable jackass that the staff loathes seeing. You might use a lot of profanity, spew conspiracy theories, talk people’s heads off incessantly, or traipse in a lot of mud or snow.
- Be mean. It may not be within your nature, but the ruder you are to a salesperson, the less likely they will want to continue their pitch. “I said no, damn it! I just want out! I swear to God, I’ll call corporate on you, Trish!”
- Stop paying. Easier said than done, especially if you’re on an auto-payment plan, but you could cancel your credit card so that no more payments will go through.
If none of these ideas are something you feel comfortable with, you may just have to face the music and listen to a pitch or two. Just stick to your guns and say “no” to any offer proposed.
My Hot Take
This is my #1 reason for not currently belonging to a gym. I’d rather not go at all than worry about how I’ll get out of it if and when the time comes.
I used to go to a Lifetime Fitness in Minnesota back in 2006 and I loved their facilities, but I was on a very tight budget right out of college and frankly just wasn’t very concerned about my level of fitness at that time. Quitting was next to impossible. I got talked into some sort of free personal trainer session and some cheap gym bag and wound up having to go through the quitting process a second, more painful time.