Refund rules: when your gym has to give you your money back


For many of us, going to the gym is a healthy feature of our weekly routine. Yet in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, it can be the exact opposite.

On Monday, the federal government ordered the closure of gyms - though outdoor training groups of 10 are still permitted - leaving many wondering about the status of their memberships.

Most of the big gym chains have either put their memberships on a time-freeze, or will allow memberships to be frozen. Fitness First, Snap Fitness, Plus Fitness, Fernwood, and Goodlife health clubs have automatically paused all client memberships.

coronavirus refund gym membership

Anytime Fitness provides the option of continuing to pay $2.50 a week in exchange for access to online training or freezing their membership, while Jetts members will continue to be charged $3.50 per week "to provide our franchise owners with enough funds to keep their heads above water".

Australian consumer law clearly states that businesses can't receive funds for services not rendered - so direct debits should stop and, if they haven't, you should be entitled to a refund.

"A business isn't allowed to keep charging you for a service that they're unable to provide. Your gym should offer you a suspension of fees or cancellation as they close. If you've paid fees in advance, talk to your gym about your options," says Jonathan Brown from CHOICE.

However, up-front payment is less clear, and depends a lot on the terms of your contract.

"Look closely at your contract and see what options are available - many gyms are providing proactive refunds or credit notes for future use," Brown says.

We're cutting through the confusion to help you manage your money during the coronavirus outbreak. Click here for more on how COVID-19 could affect your job, budget, super and investments.


David Thornton is a journalist at Money magazine. He previously worked at Your Money, covering market news as producer of Trading Day Live. Before that, he covered business and finance news at The Constant Investor. David holds a Masters of International Relations from the University of Melbourne.
Valerie Barbara Garton
April 21, 2020 3.27pm

I have a memebership with Vision Gyms. I cannot find anything on the internet re this brand of gyms. I have sent several messages to the owner, the manager and the trianer at Vision Gyms, Five Dock and still do not have a reply. I was asked to concisder their situation which I have done but I am still waiting.

I joined in August and in September I injured my neck which continues to give me trouble. The gym was aware of my situation but continued to take fortnightly payments out of my account, despite being told they had stopped, until the last payment on 24 January 2020. I am out of pocket for all this amount of money with no contact till 23 Mar 2020 when I was sent a copy of their studio ploicy - which I had never received and a bit too much for me at my age, 83 , to contemplate. I am finacially out of pocket $1,133.90 for monies paid for no visits.

Sorry to be so long winded but I hope you can tell me what to do, your very appreciative Valerie B Garton

Alex Riley
May 25, 2020 6.41am

Contact your bank and they can cancel the direct debit. You don't need to wait for the gym to do it. Contact the ACCC and they can hopefully contact vision and get you your money back.

Valerie Barbara Garton
May 25, 2020 11.02am

Thanks for your reply. I have been in contact with Fair Trading and they say as I have never received any paperwork Vision is at fault. So now I wait and see what happens next - not a good time at the moment. Valerie

Jessica Spencer
June 15, 2020 3.48pm


Now that gyms are reopening, is there a way of cancelling the membership before they start charging fortnightly again due to Covid19? Or is this still dependent on each individual contract and gym?



April Che
July 25, 2020 11.33pm


I would like to know the same. With current positive Covid-19 cases in a few gym, I feel uncomfortable training. there. Is it possible I can cancel the gym contract without a penalty? Thanks April

August 5, 2020 8.22am

I also would like to know what the fair trading department recommends in this instance.

i.e. Gyms running at a limited capacity or needing to close due to restrictions, does that mean customers need to pay the normal termination fees ?

Michael Shafran
September 14, 2020 4.23pm

There was just another outbreak at a Fitness First in Randwick, and it's reinforced my discomfort about working out in a crowded indoor gym. I work out nearby at Fitness First Darlinghurst, but the main office have made it incredibly hard to get in touch with them, and are not allowing customers to cancel, and are holding firm to the contract period. It's a health risk, so I believe the contractual rules don't apply, as there is precedent that their spaces are not safe, healthy environments. Their only suggests are to pay out a hefty cancellation fee, pay $5 a week to put the membership on hold, or to sell the membership to someone else. But that's still not an acceptable result. In the middle of the Covid pandemic, their customers should be able to cancel without a penalty. I don't recommend joining Fitness First, since their priorities are obviously profits over the health of their customers.

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