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Gym membership fees and policies vary amid COVID-19 closures

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Posted at 2:09 PM, Apr 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 19:54:44-04

INDIANAPOLIS — If you belong to a gym, you might want to check your bank account to see if they’re still charging you a monthly membership fee amid COVID-19 closures.

Call 6 Investigates found policies vary depending on the facility.

For example, the YMCA is still charging its members a monthly membership fee unless they contact the YMCA and opt out.

A nonprofit organization, the YMCA is using member fees during the shutdown for emergency childcare for workers, participate in blood drives and food distribution.

The YMCA is also using the money to create and offer online family, cooking, workout, sports and dryland aquatics classes and activities, as well as virtual challenges via the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis app and daily devotions.

“We are so thankful for our many members and donors who are choosing to stick with us during this difficult and uncertain time," said Derrick Stewart, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Intdianapolis. "Their support is fueling our ability to respond by providing virtual workouts, chronic disease prevention and family programming, outreach to senior members, emergency childcare for essential workers, sites for blood drives and food distribution, and more.”

Jessica Falvy works out at Orangetheory Fitness in Downtown Indianapolis and said she understands many people may not be able to pay a gym membership during these times.

“There’s a lot of people without job, so I would definitely check your account,” Falvy said.

Falvy said Orangetheory immediately froze her membership amid the pandemic, which made things much easier for her.

"I reached out to freeze it for 30 days and they were like, 'No we do it for you for as long as this lasts, so you don't have to worry about it,’" Falvy said. “It was really great how they handled it the way they did.”

Orangetheory Fitness studio owner Katie Douglas told RTV6 it was the right thing to do.

“As soon as classes ceased and we closed our doors, Orangetheory Fitness automatically froze every member’s account,” Douglas said in an email to RTV6. “We know this is a time of uncertainty for everyone and the last thing we wanted to do was add more stress to our members. During this time, no membership dues are being charged and any sessions that were paid for prior to our closing will remain on members accounts upon reopening.”

Orangetheory is also offering an at home workout series for both members and nonmembers to stay fit during the pandemic.

Call 6 Investigates checked around and found many gyms are freezing charges and if they did charge, they will extend your membership benefits for the amount of time the gym is closed.

The Indiana Attorney General’s office has received a handful of complaints about gym memberships amid the pandemic, and they say you can file a complaint with their office if you feel you’ve been wrongfully charged.

STATEMENT FROM DIRECTOR OF CONSUMER PROTECTION BETSY DENARDI

“A gym may be covered by Indiana’s Health Spa Services Act. It provides consumers whose gyms no longer provide contracted for facilities or services the right to receive a pro-rata refund for the amount of time the gym's facilities or services are no longer provided for use. The Act can be found at Indiana Code chapter 24-5-7 and states that consumers become entitled to this right at the time the facilities or services become unavailable. The Attorney General encourages consumers who believe they have been wrongfully charged for gym or other health spa services during the pandemic to file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division by visiting https://www.in.gov/attorneygeneral/3523.htm.”

GYM POLICIES AND INFORMATION

YMCA

Charges customers a monthly membership fee unless they opt out. Money goes toward creating and offering virtual classes and online activities, child care for essential workers, blood drives and food distribution and outreach to seniors.

Orangetheory Fitness

Customer accounts were frozen immediately.

LA Fitness

The following information was provided to members:

We realize many of you were charged for monthly dues in late February or March, but then were not able to access the club for the entire month associated with those billings. We have already put the process in place to automatically extend the end of your membership to compensate for the period of time you did not have access, but we’d like to do even more by offering you your choice of one of the following two options:

  • OPTION 1: A free additional one-month extension to the end of your membership; or
  • OPTION 2: A three-month membership (valued at over $175) for you to give to a friend or family member, which will give them access to all of our clubs.

Please click here to make your selection.

If you have questions or want to talk to us about these offers, we can still be reached at (949) 255-7200. We would appreciate your patience and suggest that if you don’t get straight through, please take advantage of the call-back option as we have limited staff at this time. We will have more details available for you as we get closer to reopening. We are all in this together, and we will all come out of it together. We hope you are as eager to return to your club as we are eager to welcome you back and help you return to the routine that is so essential to preserving your health and fitness.

Anytime Fitness

The following information was provided to members:

Membership Suspended

Starting today, all membership charges will be suspended until the government-mandated health club restrictions are lifted and our gym resumes normal operations. We will inform you when our gym is ready to reopen and memberships will start billing again. We will add the length of time your membership is suspended to the end of your agreement term. There is no action needed from you at this time.

Supporting You at Home

Catch our daily series, Coach. Care. Connect, featuring live workouts delivered via the Anytime Fitness Facebook page at 9:30 a.m. EST found here: www.facebook.com/anytimefitness. Also, check out our club's Facebook page for workouts posted by familiar faces from our local team. We are also excited to offer you virtual coaching options so you can receive 1-on-1 guidance and support from one of our trainers, all from the comfort of your home. Please contact us for more details.

Hancock Health

All billing to members will be suspended until further notice.

Lifetime Fitness

Member accounts have been credited for the number of days in March that the club was closed and we will not charge dues again until your club reopens.

Planet Fitness

“As your long-term partner in fitness, we have proactively frozen all memberships on your behalf, and you will not be charged any fees during this time [see our FAQs here].”