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How to adjust a gym membership during a pandemic

Our best intentions to work out in 2020 came to a halt once coronavirus hit. Just as gyms reopened, cased surged. Here are tips on adjusting your membership fees.

SAN ANTONIO — Many of our New Year’s resolutions to work out have not worked out at all because of the novel coronavirus. 

Gyms began to reopen just as virus cases began to surge, and local leaders even cited gym facilities as a major contributor to the virus's spread in San Antonio. Many gym-goers are now looking to adjust their memberships they are paying for, but not using. 

It's not always an easy adjustment to make, but one provision might help you.

Aleksandra Francis enjoyed working out three days a week.

“It was so amazing,” she said. “The main reason I signed up seven years ago is for the childcare because it was free. They also had a pool. They had a basketball court. They had classes with yoga.”

That changed to no workouts for months once the coronavirus hit. Her membership was frozen and she paid no fees. Even once gyms reopened, she wasn't ready to return.

“I was really scared,” she said. “I did not want to go. I pretty much called them the very first day because I figured once they open up, they start charging. I called them trying to see if I can freeze a little bit longer.”

She was told she could continue to freeze her membership, but she would be charged half her monthly fee. But she didn't think she should have to pay to hold her membership when she did not feel safe using it.

“They are not providing 100% services, either,” Francis said. “They only give you 25% of their equipment and the facility.”

So, she tried to cancel.

“I hate to do that because I love the gym, but I really feel like I had no other option,” she said.

Then she found out there is a fee for that, too. That is because there is a 30-day cancellation policy and she would get charged full price for that month’s membership.

“To me, it’s just you can’t really charge people extra 30 days in a pandemic,” Francis said. “You know, some people lost their jobs and worry about paying extra days of the gym membership that they’re not going to go to. They are scared. In my opinion, they should be waived due to the pandemic. If you want to cancel, just cancel on the spot.”

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) said a 30-day cancellation notice is standard. If you want to cancel your membership, now is the time to review your membership agreement whether it is a contract or a month to month arrangement. 

Here is what you want to look for:

 “The force majeure clause is really, really important,” said Jason Meza, the regional director for the Better Business Bureau. “That’s an act-of-God clause and nobody anticipates having to use it, but if it’s there, then the gym can’t use it as a defense. You can opt out of it. They can’t say, 'Well, you’re in breach of contract.' So, if it’s in your contract, that’s a very important legal option for consumers.”

Carefully read your gym agreement. The BBB advises talking with your gym manager to find out your options and see if they can accommodate your request, whether it is freezing your membership, prorating fees or canceling altogether. Francis’s gym did ultimately offer to freeze her account for another three months at no charge.

File a complaint with the BBB or the Texas Attorney General consumer division if you are having problems negotiating with your gym.

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