By the end of 2028, it’s predicted that revenue for the U.S. fitness industry will reach $434.74 billion. In anticipation of this growth, it’s important for gym owners and operators to be extra vigilant about their membership contracts. This also includes other legal documents to ensure they limit risk, liabilities, and protect both the facility and its members.
What is a gym contract?
A gym contract is a legally binding document that defines the terms of an agreement between the gym and the people who use the facility (customers/members). Most gyms and fitness centers require customers to sign contracts as the first step to becoming a new member prior to using any of the facility’s equipment or fitness services.
A membership contract typically outlines the pertinent information of the agreement—for example, the length of the contract, the monthly fee, and any other conditions or rules that both parties agree to. Gym contracts will also include a variety of terms and conditions that gym members must follow as part of their membership agreement.
Why do you need a gym membership agreement?
Additionally, gym membership contracts are used to reduce the facility’s risk and liabilities. By having the membership agreement in writing and signed by all parties involved, there is proof that everyone has understood and agreed to the terms and responsibilities.
Other benefits of a gym membership contract include:
- It outlines and clarifies the roles and expectations of both parties
- It helps you maintain a list of current customers that you can use to project revenue
- It defines when and how membership dues will be paid
What to include in your gym contracts
Your gym’s membership contract should outline all of the rules and regulations of your facility. It should also state the rights and responsibilities of both the gym and its members.
Here are some key components you’ll want to include:
Name the parties involved
This section should always be at the top of your membership contract. It should list the name of the person who’s joining your gym, followed by the name of your facility, as well as the location of your gym.
You should also include other critical information such as the date of the agreement, contact number, contact email, and emergency contact information.
At the end of the contract, include a section with a signature line to show that both parties have read and agreed to the terms mentioned therein.
As with any contract, defining the length is essential. This includes telling members the duration for which they’ll need to make payments. This can also help you create more appealing packages for customers who chose to opt for longer contract periods.
You can structure the length of the contract by a specific time duration, or with the pay-as-you-go option. Both of these have pros and cons, so you’ll need to assess what makes the most sense for your business.
Payment methods and billing schedule
Your gym membership contract needs to outline payment information. For example, which payment methods are accepted, the refund policy, the payment schedule, and the penalties for any missed payments.
It’s wise to create a separate section to stipulate whether the contract has automatic renewals. If so, you’ll need to clearly define the conditions for them. Your customers will need to know the deadline for cancelling their membership if needed, as well as the date they’ll be charged for automatic renewals.
Be aware that state governments have laws in place to protect customers from unfair renewal policies. Always make sure you include this information in a place that’s clearly visible. You should even consider highlighting the renewal clause and all the terms and conditions associated with it.
Cancellation and refund policies
It’s no surprise that there’s a bit of a negative stigma around gyms and difficult cancellation policies. For this reason, it’s important to design this section carefully so you can actually improve the member experience.
Clearly define the cancellation types, such as suspensions versus terminations. Next, include other pertinent details like the length of notice required for cancellation, any termination fees, and any conditions that would allow you to cancel the customer’s membership.
Legal terms and conditions
Safety is a very important aspect for gyms and fitness businesses. Your membership contract should clearly state the compensation agreement in the case of a personal injury suit, as well as the circumstances in which your gym would be liable for a customer’s injury.
Additionally, you should include the type of compensation you’ll provide if you are liable. For example, you can stipulate whether you will pay the medical bills or a lump sum.
Best practices for gym membership contracts
Now that you know what to include in your gym membership contracts, let’s review some best practices to keep in mind.
A gym contract should clearly state what the facility expects from its customers in terms of behavior and the use of facilities. Similarly, it should also explain what the members can expect from the gym in terms of its offerings and amenities.
Outline terms for breach of contract
When creating your gym membership contract, be sure to specify the terms that classify as a breach of contract and what the consequences are. This will help both parties avoid unnecessary litigation and legal fees in the future.
Customize templates to your needs
You can easily find generic gym membership contract templates online—and they’re great to use as a reference point—but it’s important to customize your gym membership contract so that it addresses your facility’s specific services, terms and conditions, and other policies that are unique to your gym.
Allow electronic signatures
You can help make your customers’ experience more convenient and hassle-free by offering electronic signatures. E-signatures allow members to sign documents electronically while they’re still in their original form, rather than sending them back and forth from one person to another.
If you use a gym membership management system like EZFacility, you’ll be able to easily access and track all your facility’s membership information, including copies of customers’ signed gym membership contracts, whenever and wherever you need. Our cloud-based software solution can help you create custom membership plans, manage customer relationships, contracts and renewals, easily access waivers, and automate fee collection.
By utilizing electronic signatures, you can also decrease business costs by saving on time and space. If you operate a small gym or fitness studio, this can be a huge added benefit as you may lack the storage capacity for paper documents.
Consult with legal experts
Before you finalize and implement your gym membership contract, it’s imperative to get it reviewed by a lawyer; however, legal fees will likely apply. Despite the fees this is a necessity as legal experts will be able to spot any potential issues to ensure your contract is airtight and thoroughly protects your facility.
Keep it simple
Frequently revising your membership contracts can create a lot of confusion and be off-putting to customers. Additionally, it can make it difficult for you and your members to know what the terms and conditions are, or what’s changed from the contract they previously signed.
If you do need to make revisions to your gym membership contracts, you’ll need to inform all of your customers of the changes and explain the reasons for doing so. Before implementing any changes, be sure to consult with your lawyer.
Tools to simplify membership contracts
Gym membership contracts are legally binding documents between your facility and its members. We recommend consulting a professional legal team to assist you in designing your contracts to reduce risk and liability.
After your contracts are reviewed by your legal team and ready to go, there are tools available that can help streamline distribution and make membership management easy.
Member management software
EZFacility is the complete solution for gyms and fitness businesses. From membership management to facility scheduling, point-of-sale, invoicing, online registration and more—our robust set of tools does all the heavy-lifting so that you can focus on what matters most—your members.
Affordable, paperless, and integrated with EZFacility, Smartwaiver provides customizable, digital waivers and releases that can be signed at your location or online from any computer, tablet or mobile device.
When new or existing members sign your waiver with EZFacility’s Smartwaiver integration, the member will be created or updated in the EZFacility database, saving your staff valuable time.
Want to learn more about how integrating EZFacility and Smartwaiver can streamline your waiver signing process? Schedule a free, no commitment demo and product tour today.