Armed with goals of upping their health and fitness, this is why you should read the fine print before joining a gym.
Armed with goals of upping their health and fitness, this is why you should read the fine print before joining a gym.

New way gyms are ripping off thousands

Callous fitness centres are refusing to cancel contracts, even after members suffer broken bones and develop serious health conditions.

Upset gym goers have complained of unfair tactics at some businesses, with more than 2000 Victorians finding fault in their selected service since 2016.

Some claim medical certificates have been ignored, with operators demanding they still stump up money despite doctors' orders to stop working out.

They just a few of the hundreds of gripes being reported to the state's consumer watchdog about the industry annually.

In total, almost 2200 complaints and inquiries have been logged with Consumer Affairs Victoria over the past three financial years.

Hundreds of complaints are made about gyms and fitness centres each year. Picture: Supplied
Hundreds of complaints are made about gyms and fitness centres each year. Picture: Supplied

Grievances include:

DEMANDS that a man pay out the remainder of his 12-month contract despite providing a doctor's certificate requesting membership cancellation because of the sudden onset of an illness that limited exercise.

REFUSAL to accept a doctor's written opinion about a woman's broken wrist and instead insisting on a specialist's certificate.

A CONSUMER ordered to pay a cancellation fee even though promised personal training sessions were not performed.

A WOMAN pursued by a debt collector for payment even though she told the gym she did not want to proceed during a 24-hour cooling-off period.

Consumers should carefully check contract terms and conditions. Picture: ThinkStock
Consumers should carefully check contract terms and conditions. Picture: ThinkStock

Australia's fitness industry is worth an estimated $2.5 billion a year.

Fitness Australia CEO Barrie Elvish said most of the nation's five-million gym members had no problems, but there were a small number of legitimate concerns.

The peak industry body is pushing for all gyms to be forced to adopt its code of practice, which promotes professional and lawful conduct.

CAV said contracts should avoid unreasonable terms and conditions, as there were laws designed to protect consumers from unfair treatment.

Consumer Affairs Minister Marlene Kairouz said those signing up to memberships should carefully read the fine print.

"Make sure you understand the terms and conditions and don't be afraid to exercise your rights, as well as your body," Ms Kairouz said.

"Finding the right fit in the gym is important - but make sure your contract is also the right fit."

In some cases, people have slipped up by failing to read clauses about giving notice before cancelling contracts when they change their mind. Others have misunderstood whether they can suspend payments temporarily.

Before committing, consumers are encouraged to fully understand cancellation rules, membership costs, and whether the gym meets your needs and lifestyle.

Members should also be given the chance to read through the entire contract before joining, and be given a copy.

karen.collier@news.com.au

@KarenCollierHS