Before you join a gym, read the contract closely

Let this woman's story be a warning.

New Zealand All Blacks Gym Session
Getty Images | Phil Walter

A woman is dealing with a gym contract nightmare after a serious sports injury. And it is something everyone who joins a gym should know.

Most of us assume you can get out of your contract if you can’t walk anymore. It turns out things are not that simple at most clubs.

On crutches for months

Sarah LaCombe is on crutches these days, and will be for several months to come, after tearing her ACL during a lacrosse practice.

So she figured she’d have no problem getting out of her gym contract, where she was paying over $100 a month for workouts and a trainer.

She says employees told her, when she first joined, that “the three options to get out of the contract are to move 25 miles away, or injury or death.”

But when she called LA Fitness to end her plan, she learned her contract actually said something else.

Injury not enough to cancel

“I asked why wasn’t it canceled, and she said I need to be permanently disabled,” LaCombe said.

We checked the fine print, and indeed it lists “disability,” not “injury” as a reason for cancellation. The result?

“I have to continue paying month to month until my year is up,” she said.

This is common with many gym contracts.

We contacted her local gym which after we got involved, agreed to let her out of her contract due to her injury.

How to protect yourself

The website Credit.com says before signing up for a gym:

  • Ask about penalties if you cancel.
  • Don’t believe verbal promises from an employee when signing up.
  • Pay by check or credit card: Don’t give them your bank account number (or debit card number) in case of a billing dispute.

LaCombe was just hoping for some extra consideration as a member who obviously can’t use the treadmills for a while.

Her story is one to remember if you are joining a gym, so you don’t waste your money.

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“Don’t Waste Your Money” is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. (“Scripps”).

 

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