Thursday, January 17, 2013

I Want to Quit The Gym

I joined Bally Total Fitness last February with my head full of marathon training plans and Spin class dreams.  Right after they ran my credit card for a 13-month membership, I tore my adductor (inner thigh muscle), and was more or less out of commission for nearly three months.

I also discovered in that time, that it wasn't just a fluke that it took me twenty minutes to get to and from the gym, and that 40 minutes round trip travel time means that I just don't want to go to the gym.  I'd rather spend almost an hour doing other things, and my membership was languishing.

So I tried to cancel it, and here's where things get weird.

In spin class one morning, people were talking to the instructor about the gym being sold to another company.  I asked my co-worker who goes to the same gym about this, and she confirmed it.  Since I signed a contract with Bally, I assumed that I still need to cancel my membership with them, so I followed the instructions on the back of the contract, sent them a letter in the mail and requested that they cancel my membership.  The contract stated that I could get out early if the club was sold to other entity, so I said that was why I was canceling.

No response.

Finally, I emailed them and asked what was going on, and they said I would have to cancel with the current owner.  Then I got lazy and didn't do anything about it until last month since they told me I would have to physically go to the club and fill out a form then make a phone call (of course).  I finally filled out the form, and then called the number on the form from my car just in case I needed to go back inside and yell at someone.

According to the woman I spoke to on the phone, my membership was actually cancelled back in June when I sent that letter to Bally--you know, when they said that they could not cancel my membership?  The new club says that they don't have my refund money, Bally does, but when I emailed Bally, they said they needed proof of the June cancellation in order to issue me a refund.

Simple enough, right?

Of course not.

I emailed Blast! Fitness (the new club owner) and asked them to send me proof of cancellation so that I could send that on to Bally.  I didn't think this was an overly complicated request, but so far I've dealt with six people who have been unable to help me.  Another fun thing, when there are a lot of responses to an email, their system deletes the previous ones, and the new person I'm dealing with doesn't have any of the clarifications that the previous person had gotten.  And you can't email a person directly, just the generic info@ email.
They're friendly, but completely unhelpful
 So we've been going back and forth for quite a while.  They've send me numerous confused responses and a copy of my contract in the mail (which I already have a copy of and can print off at any time since it's in my email).  Finally, one person wrote back and basically said, "I'm showing your membership was cancelled in June, what is it that you want?"  This was even though in the email I sent her I said "I need PROOF OF CANCELLATION" In bold letters, in caps and in a slightly larger font.

Finally, Bally said that Blast! Fitness should just contact them directly, and that's where I'm at right now.  If it wasn't a sizeable amount of money, I would have given up already, and I'm sure that's what they're hoping for, but $120 is walking around money, so I will continue to fight.

If you are considering joining a gym, I beg you to consider three things:
  1. How far is it from your house?  If it takes a long time to get there, you will probably not go.  The gym I used to belong to was far away from my house, but close to work, and that made all the difference.  This gym is close to nothing, and even though it's technically only 3.5 miles from my house (according to google maps), it takes forever to get there.
  2. Do you really need a gym membership?  Can you work out at home/outside?  Is there a nearby place where you can hike or walk? Can you find a place that doesn't make you sign a contract?  Can you buy a treadmill/elliptal/stationary bike?
  3. Quitting the gym is an arduous task--do you have the mental fortitude to do it?  It doesn't actually burn calories to be so exasperated, which is a real shame.


  1. My gym membership ended in November and I didn't renew it even though it's walking distance from our house.
    I've found that I actually prefer group exercise classes and none of the classes at the gym really fir with my schedule (plus they don't have cycle classes there, which I liked the best). I now focus on getting groupons for a variety of workouts, like barre, boot camp, yoga. It keeps it more fun, and every now and then, I find a class that I like so much I actually stick with it, like barre.

  2. I want to try barre so bad, but I haven't found one around here. I'm with you though, I like going to classes, but I dread the elliptical.