Thinking about joining a gym to reach your fitness goals? Nova Scotia’s Consumer Protection Act has special rules for contracts when you join a gym, health or fitness club. These include rules about what must be in the contract, initiation fees, payment plans, and cancelling or renewing the contract. These rules are discussed below.
This page gives legal information only, not legal advice.
What information must be in the contract?
Your gym membership contract must be in writing, and it must include the following:
- Your name and address;
- the name and address of the business;
- a clear description of what services you will get;
- the price of the services; and
- rules for renewing or cancelling the contract.
If you are paying by installments, the contract must tell you the number of payments you have to make, the amount of each payment, and any additional cost for paying by installments.
If any of the services are not available when you sign the contract, then the contract must give the date when services will be available.
Read the contract very carefully, and make sure you understand it before you sign.
Can my gym charge an initiation fee?
Yes. A gym can charge an initiation fee on top of the membership fee. However, your gym cannot charge you more than one initiation fee, or charge an initiation fee that is more than double the membership fee.
Can I pay by instalments?
Yes. A gym must offer you the option of paying membership fees and any initiation fee in monthly payments over the contract term.
If you pay by instalments the gym is allowed to charge you up to 25 percent more than the total would be if you paid up front. The contract must include the number of payments you have to make, the amount of each payment, and any additional cost for paying by instalments.
Is there a cooling off period?
Yes. There is a 5-day cooling-off period. This gives you a chance to try out the facilities at the gym or fitness club, and change your mind about joining if you decide it is not right for you.
You can cancel a gym membership contract within 5 days of signing the contract, or within 5 days of the services becoming available, whichever is later. You do not have to give a reason for cancelling. You must cancel the contract in writing. You may want to deliver the written notice of cancellation in person, and get a signature proving receipt, or send it by registered mail. Registered mail is a good idea as you will have proof that it was delivered. Keep a copy of the proof of cancellation.
If you cancel within the 5-day cooling-off period you are entitled to a refund of any money you paid. The gym must refund your money within 20 days of cancellation of the contract.
What if I don't want to renew my membership?
Your contract may be renewed automatically if the gym follows certain rules.
The gym must send you a written reminder that the gym has a right to renew your contract automatically if you do not respond to the renewal notice. They must send the renewal notice at least 30 days, but not more than 90 days, before the end of the contract.
Do not ignore the renewal notice. If you get a renewal notice you must notify the gym in writing if you do not want to renew the contract. You must notify the gym before the contract ends. You may want to deliver your notice of non-renewal in person, and get a signature proving receipt, or send it by registered mail. Keep a copy for your records.
Service Nova Scotia helps resolve consumer issues, and administers the Consumer Protection Act. Contact Service Nova Scotia at 902-424-5200 or 1 800 670-4357, or visit Service Nova Scotia online.
For further information on consumer issues visit Canada’s Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA) at www.ic.gc.ca
Reviewed July 2021