What is the legal situation when it comes to terminating your gym membership?
As a rule, gyms have contractually defined their own termination regulations in their general terms and conditions (GTC). However, these clauses don’t always hold up under judicial review. A contract with a gym is an agreement designed to be permanent, a so-called continuing obligation. Relationships of continuing obligation may be terminated extraordinarily – i.e. without observing notice periods and dates – if unacceptable extraordinary circumstances arise. The right to terminate the contract for good cause cannot be limited by an individually concluded contract. Good cause thus gives customers the right to extraordinarily and immediately cancel their membership contract at any time if the customer is not at fault for the reason and if it was not foreseeable at the time the contract was concluded. Here are the most important reasons for an early termination.
You are ill long-term and would like to terminate the membership early:
There is good cause if you can no longer use the gym because of a long-term illness. The gym can ask you to submit the corresponding medical certificates. Shorter-term illnesses such as the flu do not fall into the risk category and are not considered good cause for an extraordinary and immediate termination.
You have to move for work and would like to terminate the membership early:
A change of place of residence, which was not foreseeable when the gym membership was concluded, can be deemed cause for extraordinary termination if the distance to travel to the gym is no longer reasonable. A distance of more than 30 kilometers between the gym and your place of residence is generally considered unreasonable.
You are pregnant and would like to terminate the membership early:
Whether a pregnancy occurring after the contract has been concluded legally justifies a termination has not been definitively clarified. There is no court ruling from a higher court to settle this issue. We recommend reading the exact wording of the general terms and conditions (GTC) of your gym. Some gyms allow for a break in the membership in the event of a pregnancy. Moreover, it can be helpful in many cases to talk to those responsible for membership at the gym to find a good solution for both parties.
Your gym has cut back on the services it provides and you would like to terminate the membership early:
If the gym owner does not fulfill their contractually defined obligations, for example by cutting courses without a replacement or shortening opening hours, this is considered cause for terminating the contract early. However, an early termination is only justified in the case of especially serious limitations. If the limitations are less severe, you can demand a reduction in the membership fee.
What should I do if I would like to terminate my membership early?
Gym membership agreements are not restricted to a certain form and can also be concluded orally. As a rule, however, there are preformulated contracts that comprise the general terms and conditions (GTC) and house rules. The way in which you can terminate the contract is also listed in the GTC. Refer to that document for information on what is required in your case.
If there is good cause for why you need to cancel your membership, you should send your gym the extraordinary termination within a few days of learning of the reason. To prove the gym has received the termination, we recommend sending notice to your gym by registered mail. Alternatively, you can personally submit a written termination notice to the gym. For reasons of proof, you should have the gym staff confirm receipt of the original in writing on a copy of the notice (dated and signed). The gym must then refund the prorated annual fee.
Gym membership contracts often set out that at the end of the contractual term the contract is automatically extended for a period of 6 to 12 months if notice is not received within the applicable notice period (e.g. one month to the end of the month). The extension clause is legally valid. For this reason, it is important to always keep the notice periods in mind.
To make early termination easier, we have attached a template for a termination letter.
Would you like to know how the certificate requirement affects the cancellation of your subscription? You can find the information in our article Certificate requirement - new requirements from 13 september 2021