So, you wanna quit the gym? (2023)

Fawnia Soo Hoo, who used to work out almost every day at her local franchise-owned Crunch gym, was happy when the gym froze her membership in mid-March. Gyms across the country shut down abruptly once it became clear that the coronavirus was spreading through US communities, and Fawnia (a friend of mine who lives in Brooklyn, New York City) didn’t want to pay for something she couldn’t use. Then, when gyms were allowed to open with restrictions in early September, the usual $49 charge appeared on her credit card.

She began emailing addresses she found on Crunch’s corporate site, but got a message back noting that “our systems are frozen and our staff is minimal.” When her gym outpost opened, she called directly to cancel but was told she had to visit in person to do so. Frustrated, she did what many people do in situations like this — she angry-tweeted:

Hey @CrunchGym, ironic that you're making me go in-person to freeze my membership, when the reason behind freezing my membership is because I'M TERRIFIED TO GO INSIDE A GYM and catch Covid-19. Why do you not have remote customer service to handle this?

— Fawnia Soo Hoo (@fawnianewyork) September 2, 2020

After getting only automated responses to her various emails questioning this requirement, Fawnia finally went in. She was given a form indicating she would have to pay a fee to freeze the membership. Eventually she was told the fee would be waived, but at that point she just wanted to cancel, having been so frustrated by the “bad customer service and inconsistent information.” Ultimately, she was able to cancel without any sort of financial penalty. (Crunch did not respond to requests for comment.)

As for when she might consider going back to a gym to work out? “There has to be a viable vaccine, so I guess I’m probably not going back for like two years,” she says, adding that she loves group fitness classes and misses doing them in person. “It sucks.”

As gyms around the country started reopening in recent weeks, members have been questioning whether they feel safe going back. Gyms, by their very nature, include people huffing and puffing in very close proximity. There’s increasing evidence that aerosol transmission is an important factor in coronavirus infection, meaning that social distancing might not be enough in poorly ventilated areas. Although masks can theoretically help, they can be uncomfortable to wear during hard cardio workouts, their efficacy decreases as they become wet and sweaty, and not every state requires them. We’re in a golden age of at-home streaming workouts, and many gym buffs are opting for that instead, at least for the short term.

In the last few months, several gym chains have been slapped with lawsuits after members alleged they were still being charged while the gyms were closed. Chains have also been declaring bankruptcy at an unprecedented rate. Fawnia’s experience trying to cancel isn’t uncommon, but hers is actually better than some. Every state and municipality has different rules, making the process a free-for-all.

The pandemic has added a layer of frustration and hoop-jumping to a process that was already fraught and opaque and difficult for consumers even in the best of times.

It’s always been hard to cancel a gym membership

There’s a Friends episode that features Chandler bemoaning how difficult it is to cancel his gym membership. Ross offers to go with him for support but ends up joining the gym too. Chandler says, “We’re doomed. They’re gonna take fifty bucks out of our accounts for the rest of our lives.”

(Video) 60 Friends Chandler and Ross 'Quit the Gym and the Bank'

Yep. That’s the model, and it’s been that way for decades. (The boutique fitness model, which allows people to pay per class or for packages, upended that a bit in recent years, but a contract is still the main way most gyms make money.)

In California, there’s a consumer protection law for gym members that dates back to the 1960s. “You’ll see decades-old history of how much flimflammery there has been historically in the provision of membership to gyms. They decided this was the economic model they wanted, contracted as long as possible,” says Ted Mermin, the interim executive director of the Berkeley Center for Consumer Law & Economic Justice and a former deputy attorney general in the state. “If you see gyms as folks who want to make a buck, you’ll see various reasons for why they might structure their contracts the way that they have.”

A lot of gyms require members wishing to cancel to show up in person or send a certified letter. Contracts are often worded in such a way that they’re impossible to break, unless you move or have a serious medical condition. Through the years, people have initiated lawsuits against Equinox for “unreasonable” cancellation policies, Orangetheory for hidden cancellation fees, LA Fitness for misrepresenting its monthly-membership renewal policies, and Washington Sports Clubs for “deceptive” cancellation and billing policies. The Better Business Bureau website is filled with lists of hundreds of complaints against gyms by people who claim they’re being blocked from canceling.

But what about when there’s the potential to contract a serious medical condition at the gym?

Canceling a gym membership during a pandemic can be even harder

“I do feel bad,” Fawnia says of canceling her membership. “I’m sure Covid hitting was not great for them.”

The pandemic has been near catastrophic for gyms. There are 40,000 to 50,000 gyms that serve about 73 million people in the US, according to a spokesperson for the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), a trade association representing the industry. The spokesperson noted that while gym attendance is limited to 25 to 50 percent capacity in many states, gyms are still required to pay 100 percent of their costs. The IHRSA estimates that without financial relief, 25 percent could close by the end of the year. So they need every penny right now.

Some chains — 24 Hour Fitness, Gold’s Gym, and Town Sports, which owns New York Sports Club and Boston Sports Club, among others — have already declared bankruptcy.

Then there are the pending lawsuits members have filed. LA Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness, Town Sports, and Planet Fitness are all facing potential legal action from members who say they have been charged even while the gyms were closed. Town Sports earmarked as much as a reported $850,000 to pay back members.

So, you wanna quit the gym? (1) John Lamparski/Getty Images

YogaWorks, a chain of yoga studios owned by private equity firm Great Hills Partners, has been attracting ire on social media, mostly from people who are being charged and can’t get through.

“Due to the unprecedented nature of the Covid pandemic and the extremely rapid location closures and associated staff furloughs, there were large points of contact gaps where customers just didn’t know where to go because their normal studio location and associated point of contact went offline,” CEO Brian Cooper wrote in an email to me when I reached out to ask about the complaints. “No student has been denied a refund or cancellation or purposely ignored, we are just dealing with a backlog issue and closing any communication gaps.”

(Video) Friends- I want to quit the gym ....

How to get gyms’ attention

If you’ve been getting charged and your gym isn’t open, it’s fairly straightforward that, unless the contract is pretty draconian, gyms probably need to reimburse you or credit you. Many gyms are extending memberships to credit months they were closed. But if you want to cancel, first figure out whether your gym is franchised — meaning it’s owned by an individual owner — or corporate-owned. You should call or email any pertinent contacts you can find. Sometimes the corporate office can help you find a more direct line of communication with the franchisee.

Once you do find a contact, it may be necessary to send a stronger message to gyms. Berkeley’s Mermin recommends that “when you send your letter to the gym describing in detail what happened, CC those people whom the gym would really like not to hear the story,” like a local attorney general, district attorney, department of consumer affairs, or even the FTC, the Federal Trade Commission. (Although the FTC did not return a request for comment for this story, so maybe they’re too busy.) He also recommends searching for company executives and the company’s general counsel via Google and LinkedIn and escalating your complaints up the chain of command.

Mermin also recommends checking in with your local assembly person or state senator. Those officials may have some guidance for residents or may already be aware of problems at local establishments and can assist. Filing an official complaint at the Better Business Bureau will get the attention of companies, too.

It’s a little muddier when gyms are technically open and start charging you but you don’t want to go, like Fawnia’s situation. I’m a member at Equinox, and I was shocked that after reopening, they cancelled with no questions asked when I requested it.

“The most ethical will allow you out and they may also be the most clear-eyed,” says Mermin, meaning that perhaps gyms realize that they don’t want to alienate anyone willing to pay luxury membership fees, because they’re going to be competing for those members once they feel safe to come back to the gym.

While contract law differs in every state, according to New York State law, a member can cancel membership “after the services are no longer available or substantially available as provided in the contract because of the seller’s permanent discontinuance of operation or substantial change in operation.” Gyms in NYC aren’t allowed to have group classes, so that’s a potential argument that they aren’t providing full services. In the worst case scenario, you may need to consult an attorney, depending on your state’s laws.

Finally, forums like Reddit are full of advice that you should cancel the charge with the bank that holds your credit card. A representative for Mastercard said in an email that card holders and gyms enter into a contract, and there may not be recourse to cancel. But the rep said to call your bank directly. Canceling your entire credit card is the nuclear option, but then you may incur fees from your bank for doing that.

And if worse comes to worst, there’s always rage tweeting. “Shame ‘em,” says Mermin. “It’s a valuable tool.”

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So, you wanna quit the gym? (2)

(Video) Friends - How To Quit The Gym?


Why do I want to quit the gym? ›

Two of the top reasons people cancel their gym memberships are that they lose motivation or that they're not seeing the results they expect.

Is it OK to quit the gym? ›

So, if you have fallen out of love with the gym – it is OK to quit. And it doesn't mean you won't be able to make fitness part of your life anymore, or that you have failed at anything. Sometimes the strongest thing you can do is to recognise and take action when something no longer works for you.

What episode of Friends does Chandler try to quit the gym? ›

"The One With The Ballroom Dancing" is the fourth episode of the fourth season of Friends, which aired on October 16, 1997.

Do most people quit the gym? ›

90% of People Quit After 3 Months of Hitting the Gym, Here's How to Be the Exception - LifeHack.

Why do most people give up gym? ›

A new survey by Better has found that a lack of time and a lack of confidence are the main reasons people give for not going to the gym. Vanity reasons such as losing weight and toning up are important motivators to gym goers but over 11% are motivated by the positive impact exercise has on their mental health.

Why do so many people give up on working out? ›

The most common reasons why people start and stop an exercise program are well documented: 1) a perceived lack of time, 2) exercise-related injuries, and 3) exercise is not fun (which often is due to starting at an exercise intensity that is too high for their fitness level).

How many people quit gym? ›

One study found that up to 73 percent of people who set fitness resolutions end up quitting before hitting their targets.

Will a week off the gym hurt me? ›

Typically, I recommend that people take a few days off from exercising every six to eight weeks, assuming you work out at a good intensity and are consistent. This gives both your mind and body a chance to recover and adapt to the previous weeks of training.

Is 2 weeks off from the gym bad? ›

After one or two weeks off, you won't suffer a significant drop in strength, power, body mass or size – or witness a noticeable gain in body fat. And it takes even longer to see any decline in aerobic capacity, stamina or VO2 max.

Why is Chandler barely in season 9? ›

Apparently, on the day of the reunion filming, Matthew Perry had to undergo emergency dental surgery and was in a lot of pain, resulting in the slurred speech seen in the final edit of the reunion. No actor wants to perform after surgery, but Perry decided that the show must go on and joined the reunion special anyway.

Why is Chandler so heavy in season 8? ›

Originally Answered: In Friends, why chandler became so tan and fat? Matthew Perry had addictions problems and was in rehab during a few seasons. This is one reason why his weight changed a lot.

Why does Chandler keep losing weight? ›

Matthew perry was an drug addict and Perry completed a 28-day program in 1997 for a Vicodin addiction. His weight fluctuated drastically over the next few years and once dropped down to 145 pounds (66 kg). He lost 20 pounds in 2000 due to pancreatitis.

At what point does the gym become unhealthy? ›

The biggest sign that your exercise habit is actually unhealthy is if you're exercising too often and intensely in order to compensate or punish yourself for your daily food intake, or what you perceive to be true about your body.

What gender goes to the gym more? ›

According to a recent survey, around 54% of gym members are men, while 46% are women. Are there any differences in gym attendance between men and women? Studies have shown that men, on average, are more regular with their gym attendance than women. However, individual habits can vary significantly.

Did gym change your life? ›

When I started exercising, I found I felt “normal” again, and running was the only way I could get my brain to turn off, even just for an hour. And that made all the difference. Exercising gave me a moment to breathe, and afterwards, I always felt a little more in control and able to process the day with a clear head.

What percentage of gym members actually go? ›

Gyms typically lose about 50% of all new members within the first 6 months. About 8% of male gym-goers quit their membership after a year. About 14% of female gym-goers quit their membership after a year.

Are gym goers happier? ›

Feeling blue lately? New research shows people who set aside time to exercise are actually happier than those who don't. Not only are they happier (75 percent vs. 25 percent), but they also report being more successful (74 percent vs.

What percentage of people actually go to the gym? ›

Gym usage statistics

Despite 6.3% of Americans never using their gym memberships, the number of people visiting gyms at least twice a week is an impressive 49.9%.

What stops people from going to the gym? ›

The most common reasons adults aren't more physically active are:
  • Lack of time.
  • Lack ability.
  • Inconvenience of exercising.
  • Find exercise or training boring.
  • Lack self-motivation.
  • Injuries (real or feared)
  • Don't find it enjoyable.
  • Lack of social support.
Oct 24, 2018

What percent of people hate working out? ›

Top 10 reasons Americans more frequently
I don't have time42%
I don't like exercising25%
Work gets in the way23%
I feel too old23%
I don't see results22%
5 more rows
Jan 13, 2019

Does working out ever get easier? ›

Our bones, muscles, tendons, heart, and lungs, will adapt to the stress exposed to it. This means if you undertake exercise that's physically challenging, your body will adapt to this stress to ensure the same activity feels slightly easier in the future.

What percent of Americans don't go to the gym? ›

Approximately 25 percent of U.S. adults are not active at all. Physical inactivity is more common among: Women than men. African American and Hispanic adults than whites.

Why do people enjoy gym? ›

There are numerous reasons people join a gym. For some of us, it's about packing on muscle to improve strength. Other members may be looking for a more natural energy boost than caffeine. And some simply want to treat their body with respect.

What happens if you leave the gym for 2 months? ›

Time away from the gym

What would happen if you took an even longer break from exercise – say, 2 months? One study found that 2 months of detraining in elite athletes resulted in unfavorable changes in body composition, impaired metabolic function, and development of cardiovascular risk factors.

Will I lose gains after a week off? ›

The 'muscle loss' you experience from taking a week off weights isn't actually muscle. When you take a break from weights you start to lose water and stored muscle glycogen, thus giving the appearance that your muscles have decreased in size after a week. As soon as you hit them weights again, it'll come straight back!

Is 5 days a week at the gym ok? ›

Is working out five days a week too much? Not at all! Working out five days a week is typically ideal for health and fitness. Just be sure to keep your workouts varied so that you use different muscles and apply different stresses to your body.

What happens after quitting gym? ›

Your Body Responds

As muscle cells get smaller, fat cells tend to get bigger. After all, the muscles aren't working hard enough to burn away calories. This can lead to weight gain as soon as 14 days (or earlier) once you stop exercising, according to Men's Journal.

What happens if I skip gym for a week? ›

If you miss a week of working out, your muscles start to stiffen up and your heart and lungs lose 5 per cent of their fitness. Your fat levels start to creep up because your metabolism has slowed and lost around 10 per cent of its capacity to use oxygen, which ultimately helps us burn calories.

Will I lose muscle if I don't go to gym for 2 weeks? ›

If you take a few weeks off from exercising, your muscle strength won't take much of a hit. We know that skeletal muscular strength stays about the same during a month of not exercising. However, as mentioned above, athletes can start losing muscles after three weeks of inactivity.

What season was Chandler on drugs? ›

Writing in his forthcoming memoir Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing (viaThe New York Times), explained that he was receiving treatment for his addiction while filming season seven of the show, which included the episode “The One with Monica and Chandler's Wedding”.

Did Chandler get fired? ›

The team's issues with Chandler were brought to Below Deck's Captain Lee Rosbach multiple times, and the captain eventually realized Chandler wasn't a good fit for the crew. Lee decided to fire him and promoted Ross from lead deckhand to bosun. However, Chandler was relieved when Captain Lee let him go.

What disease does Chandler have? ›

Chandler's disease otherwise known as Idiopathic Avascular osteonecrosis of the femoral head (ANFH or ONFH) is a rare condition in which the bone cells in the head of the femur (FH) die due to lack of blood. This disease is caused when blood flow is reduced to the part of a bone near a joint.

What happened to Chandler's voice in season 7? ›

Apparently, Matthew had emergency surgery before filming, which caused the slurred speech.

Why did Chandler's face change in season 7? ›

Matthew Perry suffered from pancreatitis in 2000 (before 7th season) and lost 20 pounds. That's why he looked different in the beginning of season 7.

Is Rachel pregnant in season 8? ›

One of them was the pregnancy of Rachel Green. The viewers find out about Rachel's pregnancy in the season 8 premiere, but the identity of the father is not revealed until later. At the time, the actress Jennifer Aniston herself wasn't pregnant.

Did Chandler lose his teeth? ›

One of the many bombshells he's discussed is the fact that his front teeth fell out while he was biting into peanut butter on toast, which is why he had to have them all replaced.

How did Chandler lose his toe? ›

Monica tries to seduce Chandler by rubbing various objects, including a knife, against her skin. It comes off as unnatural and she accidentally drops the knife, which severs his toe.

What drugs did Chandler take in season 3? ›

Perry, 53, shares that by the end of the third season of the hit NBC sitcom, on which he played Chandler Bing, he was trying to obtain 55 Vicodin a day — otherwise he'd get “so sick”.

Is it OK to take 3 weeks off from the gym? ›

"Based on research, an active person can go up to three weeks without working out and it will not have too much of an impact on their muscle size or cardio output. Take the vacation—when you're in a relaxed head space, it works wonders on the body, too." So yeah, that break is about so much more than recovery.

Do you lose progress if you stop going to the gym? ›

Research suggests that muscle strength fibers remain unchanged after a month of inactivity, but you may see a loss in sport-specific power. But it's totally normal to feel weaker (which is why you want to ease back into your training routine after taking time off).

Will I lose all my progress if I stop going to the gym? ›

Your endurance will come, but it takes longer. Of course, it will take more time the longer you go without exercise. For cardio, it takes less time to break down your fitness; as stated above, it could take years to lose all your muscle.

How long should I stop from gym? ›

One study found that it took 72 hours of rest — or 3 days — between strength training sessions for full muscle recovery, while research from the ACE Scientific Advisory Panel says that a recovery period could be anywhere from two days up to a week depending on the type of exercise.

How much fitness will I lose in 2 weeks? ›

In the first ten days to two weeks of inactivity/de-training, there is a measurable loss in cardiovascular fitness, but even this level of decrease is only about 2-3% drop in values such as VO2 Max, MAP (maximum aerobic power), or FTP (functional threshold power).

Should I feel guilty for not working out? ›

Guilt can be a good motivator to exercise more, but you don't have to feel guilty for skipping a workout when you genuinely have a good reason to do so. However, be mindful of excuses when you know that you could have gotten to the gym or fit in some activity at home. Then make a plan for tomorrow!

Do we gain weight after leaving gym? ›

Detraining has been found to have negative effects on body composition, with an associated weight gain and a decrease in metabolic rate. A few factors may contribute to an increase in your body fat when you stop working out: First, your calorie requirement will decrease.

Can I skip gym for a month? ›

However, athletes typically lose less overall muscle strength during a break than the average gym-goer. In general, it's said that you can take up to three or four weeks off without seeing a noticeable drop in your strength performance.

How long does it take to get out of shape? ›

Muscles. The body likes to hold on to strength for as long as it can. Inactivity for most people (non-athletes) will result in decreased muscles strength at a rate of one to three percent per day with noticeable strength loss occurring after about two and a half to three weeks.

How long does it take to get in shape? ›

And if you exercise regularly, over time you will gain even more fitness benefits. “At 6 to 8 weeks, you can definitely notice some changes,” said Logie, “and in 3 to 4 months you can do a pretty good overhaul to your health and fitness.” Strength-specific results take about the same amount of time.

What age do you start losing strength? ›

Muscle mass decreases approximately 3–8% per decade after the age of 30 and this rate of decline is even higher after the age of 60 [4,5]. This involuntary loss of muscle mass, strength, and function is a fundamental cause of and contributor to disability in older people.

How long is too much at the gym? ›

Workouts should last no less than 60 minutes and no more than 90 minutes. This is sufficient time to challenge your body with quality reps. Anything more, and you'll see diminished returns for your efforts. If you feel inclined to train longer, it's best to split up your workout.


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