More than a million gym members have been given new rights to cancel membership contracts, after a study by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
Three of the UK’s biggest gyms have agreed to allow their members to cancel their contracts early, should their circumstances change.
Until now many gyms have been notorious for locking people into lengthy contracts.
The three gyms involved are Bannatyne Fitness, David Lloyd and Fitness First.
The new rights will allow contracts to be cancelled if members can no longer physically get to the gym or if they can no longer afford to pay.
This would allow a gym member to end a contract if they suffered an injury, or if they lost their job.
“We were concerned that contracts could unfairly lock people in if their circumstances changed, forcing them to continue paying even if they had lost their job,” said Cavendish Elithorn, of the OFT.
The three gym chains involved have also agreed not to describe memberships as being of “fixed duration” when they often roll over such memberships into another period.
The OFT says some customers were misled into thinking that a year’s membership would end after 12 months, for example, whereas such contracts are often extended without the customer’s explicit consent.
The companies have also agreed to be more transparent about membership periods and cancellation rights, and for such information to be provided at the time a customer signs up.
The three gym chains concerned, which have more than a million members between them, have all welcomed the changes.