Health Club Membership Contracts
Many New Yorkers join health clubs each year by signing membership contracts. Some health clubs use high-pressure sales tactics to get you to sign. Take your time and ask all the questions you need. Do not sign until you feel comfortable. Research other health clubs to compare options. Ask the Better Business Bureau about complaints against the health club.
The Health Club Services Act regulates health clubs in New York. It prevents deceptive practices and high-pressure sales tactics related to health club memberships. For instance, you have the right to cancel the contract for any reason within three days after you sign. You also have the right to cancel the contract at anytime for certain other reasons. You can cancel a health club membership at any time for the following reasons:
- You moved more than 25 miles away from the health club;
- The health club stops providing the services contained in your contract;
- You have a doctor’s note stating you cannot use the services due to an injury for more than six months; and
- Your estate can cancel the contract upon your death.
A health club contract cannot extend longer than three years. It cannot cost you more than $3,600 per year, unless it is a contract for racquetball or tennis facilities. If you pre-pay membership, the health club must refund your money if it closes down. If it does not, you may be able to recover money from a bond posted with the Secretary of State.
If your health club contract does not meet the legal requirements, it is not enforceable. If you suffer damages because of an illegal contract, you can sue in Small Claims Court. You may be able to recover as much as three times your actual damages as a penalty against the health club.
Legal Editors: Mark Grossman, Esq. and Edward E. Klein, Esq., May 2018
Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.