Legal situation in case of cancellation of the fitness studio contract
General terms and conditions and right of termination
Legal situation Fitness studios usually have their own right of termination contractually regulated in their General Terms and Conditions (GTC). However, these clauses do not always stand up to judicial review. For example, the clause on the exclusion of the right of termination for good cause is invalid. The fitness contract is a debt relationship designed to be permanent, a so-called continuing obligation. According to prevailing doctrine and practice, continuing obligations may be terminated extraordinarily - i.e. without observing notice periods and dates - if unacceptable extraordinary circumstances arise. Contracts with fitness studios often provide that the contract is automatically renewed after e.g. 6 or 12 months if not cancelled within the notice period (e.g. 1 month to the end of the month). Such renewal clauses are legally valid. It is therefore important to always keep an eye on the notice periods.
Termination without notice for an important reason
The existence of an important reason which makes the continuation of the contractual relationship unreasonable is thus a necessary precondition for extraordinary termination. The right to terminate the contract for good cause cannot be limited even with an individually concluded contract. An important reason therefore always entitles the Customer to terminate the fitness contract extraordinarily and without notice, provided that the reasons asserted are neither self-inflicted nor were foreseeable at the time the contract was concluded.
Cancellation without notice due to illness
An important reason can be, for example, an unforeseen illness of the fitness studio member, if this illness permanently excludes the use of the fitness studio. In this case, however, the fitness studio may demand the presentation of appropriate medical certificates. Short-term illnesses fall within the gym member's risk area and do not constitute good cause for extraordinary termination without notice.
Extraordinary termination due to change of residence or pregnancy
A change of residence that could not be foreseen when the fitness studio contract was concluded may also constitute an extraordinary reason for termination if the member can no longer reasonably be expected to use the fitness studio due to the distance. Until now, case law has set strict requirements for the criterion of the unforeseeability of a change of residence and has denied it, in particular in the case of a change of residence due to loss of employment.
The opinion of the respective court is also decisive with regard to the reasonableness of the journey. As a rule of thumb, a distance of more than 30 km between the fitness studio and the place of residence is probably to be regarded as unreasonable. Whether a pregnancy occurring after the conclusion of the contract justifies an extraordinary dismissal has not yet been completely clarified. A doctrine states that pregnancy can be a reason for extraordinary termination. However, there is also a counter-opinion that does not want to allow an extraordinary dismissal in such a case. A court ruling on this issue by a higher instance does not yet exist.
We recommend that you study the general terms and conditions of your fitness club. Some fitness clubs state in them that, for example, it is possible to take a break from the fitness subscription if you are pregnant. In addition, in many cases a clarifying discussion with the person in charge of the fitness studio will help to find a common solution.
Cancellation without notice due to reductions in benefits
An extraordinary reason for termination could also exist if the fitness studio operator does not fulfil his contractually owed services, for example by cancelling courses without substitution or shortening opening hours. However, only in the case of particularly serious restrictions could an extraordinary termination be justified. If the restrictions are less severe, a reduction of the fitness subscription amount would be the main issue. If an important reason exists, it is advisable to declare extraordinary termination within a few days of becoming aware of the important reason or the changed circumstances. The gym must then reimburse the member for the annual fee on a pro rata basis. To date, there are practically no court rulings on fitness studio contracts in Switzerland. In the event that a court does not recognise a reason for extraordinary termination, the standard form, purely as a precautionary measure, therefore includes ordinary termination together with extraordinary termination.
Procedure for cancellation of the fitness subscription
The gym contract does not require any special form and can also be concluded orally. In practice, however, it is customary to sign a pre-formulated contract that refers to general terms and conditions (GTC) and house rules. The written form requirement for termination is usually also provided for in the GTC of the fitness studio contract.
In order to be able to prove receipt, it is advisable to send the notice of termination by registered mail to the fitness studio. Alternatively, the written notice of termination can also be handed in personally at the fitness studio. In this case, for reasons of proof, the staff should confirm receipt of the original on a copy of the notice of termination in writing with date and signature.