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Gyms Rely on Making It Hard to Cancel

It’s in their best interest to make it difficult to cancel a membership. It’s a simple strategy. The longer gyms can keep users paying every month, the more money they can make. There’s a lot of studies and articles out there that go into the details of how many users at a given gym actually use that gym actively, for example https://www.statisticbrain.com/gym-membership-statistics/ puts the number of users with gym memberships that never use them at 67%! That’s quite high.

In fact, when you think about how many memberships are sold at a given gym and the space that the gym has inside, you begin to realize that there is no way that all of those people could even fit inside the gym at the same time. So not only do gyms make money keeping members every month but also they sort of rely on keeping the number of active users low.


Most gyms don’t allow users to cancel over the phone or through their website. Instead, they typically require that the customer goes into the gym themselves or sends a custom drafted letter specific to that gym’s format through certified mail. Let’s face it, if you’re not already going to the gym on a regular basis, you aren’t likely to go into the gym to cancel either. And, let’s say you did go in. There’s stories spread through the internet (just google some! they’re pretty bad/funny/entertaining) about people going into their gyms and getting the run around when they try to cancel.

For example, you just got off work, you go to the gym, wait for someone to see you when they say their busy, wait longer, finally see someone only to find out you have to come back during specific hours when a “manager” is there who has permissions to cancel you. So you take time off work the next day, go in, wait longer because “the manager is busy” until he or she comes back and tells you the unfortunate news, “the system is down right now.” So you come back the next day, go through the same stunts but this time the manager tries to sell you on an alternative like suspending instead of cancelling, or taking money off your membership for a short period. Some time later after just trying to cancel you might finally be able to or you might run into another excuse. There’s lots of scenarios I’ve read about and some are rather interesting.

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