How 5 Philly-Area Gyms Are Handling Memberships During COVID Closures
From cancelling memberships to continuing billing, here's what five gyms in the Philly area are doing to manage your account.
Just about seven weeks ago, Tom Wolf closed gyms and other non-essential businesses due to the escalating coronavirus outbreak. Even though Wolf has recently outlined a general three-phase reopening plan for Pennsylvania, it’s unclear when exactly the Philly area will be given the literal green light, allowing fitness centers (among other public spaces) to reopen.
With that said, now seems like a great time for you to know the different ways big box gyms have handled memberships, especially if you haven’t heard from your gym or looked into their action plan yourself. To help you better understand your rights, here’s a look at the COVID-related membership policies of five corporate gyms in the Philly area.
First and foremost, no gym in Pennsylvania is allowed to continue billing you for services they can’t legally provide you while their doors are shut. According to the state’s Health Club Act, gyms that are closed for more than 30 days with no open alternate facility within 10 miles are obligated to refund anyone who cancels their membership. So folks, if you don’t want to wait for re-openings and need your refunds now, you’re protected under the law. You can read more about getting refunded, plus filing a club complaint to the attorney general here.
When gyms were forced to close, City Fitness gave clients the option to keep their memberships active, meaning members would continue paying dues in exchange for complimentary Thrive and WE/FIT sessions. On April 14th, though, the Philly gym chain made the call to suspend all billing until reopening. For those who kept their account active, they’ll be credited in the form of rewards like training sessions, shakes, and gift cards once the lockdown lifts. These rewards can also be put directly toward dues.
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PSC has gotten a good amount of grief for charging for services not rendered, going so far as to “refusing to honor cancellation and freeze requests or imposing onerous fees and conditions on such requests,” according to the attorney general’s website. Yikes. Late March, Josh Shapiro had to demand that PSC’s parent company, Town Sports International Holdings, automatically freeze memberships at no-cost to members, to which they agreed. You can read more about the showdown and positive outcome here.
On March 16th, LA Fitness emailed members informing them that all of their clubs would officially close that day for the foreseeable future. In the email, they stated that, “all memberships will be extended to cover the time the clubs are closed,” which is especially noteworthy for those who have prepaid in full. However, 10 days later, they stopped billing, put a complimentary freeze on everyone’s accounts, and waived the $10 monthly fee “until one or more clubs in [your] market reopens, at which time [your account] will be reactivated.” On their website, LA Fitness provides clear information regarding cancelling your membership during this time.
As of April 2nd, Life Time stopped charging members any new dues, saying they’d resume billing until after they’re able to reopen. All accounts were credited for closure March dates, and these prorated credits can be used for future account charges. They are also making cancellation fairly simple by accepting membership request changes via email. For more information regarding changing or cancelling, go here.
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Similar to PSC, Sweat Fitness was slow in supporting members during COVID closures. On March 16th, they posted on their Instagram that they’d be officially closing at 5 p.m., and that they’d be sending out an email to clients about their membership options. Well, many members claim they never received that email, and instead, had to reach out to the gym themselves for more information (and were often met with an unresponsive line). On April 14th, they began suspending all billing (though, personal training memberships are not included in this suspension). According to their website, “members will receive a credit for any unused portion of their membership charges since the closure…with the option to cancel with a waived notice period/cancellation fee.” To process a cancellation, you’ll need to contact Sweat’s billing company, ABC Financial, which you can do so here.