Avoid being stung by gym fees

February 3, 2024



It has emerged that some gym contracts will be investigated by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) over long contracts and unfair cancellation policies.

Even though the OFT will not name the companies implicated in the investigation, it can confirm that there have been concerns raised over the complicated terms that gyms can use to get their hands on your hard-earned cash for as long as possible.

Image by Farhad sh

This will no doubt be a sore point for many people at the moment, as those who hastily got themselves into a gym membership contract on the back of an ill-fated New Year’s resolution will now be paying the gym each month for a service they rarely, or never, use.

Now excuse me as I climb up onto my soap box here. I have nothing against gyms, and if that’s what you’re into and can stick with it, more power to you. However, they’re just not for me.

I would much rather go for a run in the fresh air for free than run on the spot and pay for the privilege.

However, gyms do have their uses. When I got injured last year I joined one for a month so I could use their cross training equipment, which worked out a lot cheaper than buying the kit myself. But as soon as I was feeling better, I was back outside again.

I was lucky in the way that I was able to find a gym that was willing to do a temporary membership, but I know that these are not always easy to come by. The latest OFT investigation just goes to prove that.

There is a lesson to be learned from this. My advice? Don’t just jump in with an annual gym membership – try and commit to as small a timescale as you can. It takes around 21 days to form a new habit, so a month’s membership is ideal to see if you can stick it out.

Or, even better, try and find forms of exercises that are free. Running in your local park is fun, refreshing and costs you diddly squat. If after a couple of month of regular sessions  you’re still desperate to pound the treadmill instead, then by all means, go ahead and get yourself signed up at a gym. You’ve already proved to yourself that you can commit to regular exercise, so it’s less likely that money will go to waste.

In short: don’t go for a gym membership unless you are 110% positive that you will follow through. Otherwise, you may find that it is just money down the (communal shower) drain.

Are you signed up at a gym but never use it? Do you have experience of a lengthy contract you didn’t want? Tell us your story in the comments below.


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