Fitness centres, yoga studios and other “continuing services contracts”

What are my rights?

My yoga studio changed the type of yoga they offer. Can I get out of my membership?
  • Yes
  • No

When you join a fitness centre or yoga studio, or sign up for dance classes or self-defence lessons, special rules apply. The contract must include certain information and you have special cancellation rights. Learn about the law around what's called a continuing services contract.

What you should know

Special rules apply

If you join a fitness centre or yoga studio, sign up for dance classes or self-defence lessons, or become a member of a travel club, you’re making what the law calls a continuing services contract. Under these types of contracts, you receive services and make payments on an ongoing basis.

In addition to the rights you have when making any contract or making any purchase, special rules apply to continuing services contracts.  

The contract must include certain information

A continuing services contract must include the following information:

  • the business’ name, address, and telephone number

  • a detailed description of the goods or services to be supplied under the contract 

  • the total price under the contract, as well as an itemized breakdown of the price and any taxes, shipping, and other charges 

  • a notice of your cancellation rights

  • the date(s) for the supply of the services

  • if there are periodic payments under the contract, the amount of each

  • where the services are for a specific number of hours or sessions, the contract must state the period of time, in months, over which you can reasonably expect to receive the services

The contract can’t be for more than two years

A continuing services contract can’t last longer than two years. It can include a renewal provision. If it does, you can renew by consenting in writing within one month of the contract’s expiry date. 

The business must give you a copy of the contract

For the contract to be legally binding, the business must give you a copy of the contract within 15 days of it being agreed to.

You can cancel the contract during the cooling-off period

After signing a continuing services contract, you have a 10-day cooling-off period when you can change your mind. During this period you can cancel the contract for any reason.

If you cancel during the cooling-off period, the business must provide a full refund within 15 days.

See below under work out the problem for the steps to take to cancel the contract.

You can cancel if there has been a material change in your circumstances

After the cooling-off period ends, you can cancel a continuing services contract at any time in certain situations. 

One is if there has been a material change in your circumstances. For example:

  • You’ve suffered a physical, medical, or mental disability that makes your continued participation unreasonable

  • You’ve moved, and your new home is more than 30 km farther away from where the services are offered 

If you cancel the contract because of a material change in your circumstances, you can get a prorated refund based on how much of the services remain unused, minus an amount to cover the admin costs. 

Be prepared to prove your reason for cancelling. For example, be prepared to provide a written note from a medical practitioner of any disability that affects your participation, or proof of your new address if you’ve relocated.

See below under work out the problem for the steps to take to cancel the contract.

You can cancel if there has been a material change in the services provided

“I signed up for a one-year membership at my local fitness centre. The membership included weight training, cardio machines, and unlimited spin classes. I got off to a great start, going to three spin classes a week. Then after two months, the gym announced they were no longer offering the spin classes. Thankfully, I learned I was entitled to cancel the contract because the gym made a material change to the services they were providing when they stopped offering the spin classes.”

– Becky, Victoria    

You can also cancel a continuing-services contract at any time if there’s been a “material change” in the services themselves. Examples of a material change in the services are:

  • when those services are no longer “substantially available as provided in the contract, because of the supplier's discontinuance of operation or substantial change in operation”

  • when a business relocates more than 30 km farther away from you, and it doesn’t provide reasonably comparable alternative facilities within 30 km of you  

If you cancel the contract because of a material change in the services provided, you can get a prorated refund based on how much of the services remain unused, with no deductions.

See below under work out the problem for the steps to take to cancel the contract.

Work out the problem

Step 1. Notify the business you want to cancel the contract

If you decide to cancel a continuing services contract, tell the business in writing. You can use a notice of cancellation form provided by Consumer Protection BC:

Send the notice by email, fax, or registered mail so you have a record of when you sent it.

Keep a copy of the notice of cancellation and proof of delivery (for example, a registered mail receipt). 

Step 2. Wait 15 days

You’re entitled to a refund within 15 days after you give notice that you’re cancelling the contract.

Step 3. Make a complaint to Consumer Protection BC

If you don't get your refund within 15 days, you can contact Consumer Protection BC to make a complaint.

Prevent problems

Step 1. Do your research

When you join a fitness centre or yoga studio, sign up for dance classes or self-defence lessons, or become a member of a travel club, doing a little advance research may prevent legal problems down the road. 

Gather information from credible sources about the business. Check with the local Better Business Bureau

See what other people are saying about the business. Search online for their name and the word reviews or complaints.  

Step 2. Is it a trial offer or a contract?

Some fitness centres, yoga studios, and travel clubs offer introductory or trial memberships. Find out if you’re entering into a contract that continues after the trial offer, or if it’s a true trial (with no obligations after the trial period ends).

Step 3. Read the contract

Before you sign, be clear on the terms of the contract. Make sure you understand the contract length and the cost details. Is there a renewal provision? Is there a charge to cancel part-way through the term? 

Step 4. Keep a copy of the contract

Keep a copy of the contract for future reference. This will help if you want to clarify your cancellation rights or the renewal terms.

Common questions

My two-year fitness club membership is ending. Does it automatically convert to a month-to-month basis?

Not necessarily. It depends on what your contract says. Some businesses include a clause in their continuing services contract that allows the service to switch to “month-to-month” after the initial contract term ends. If your contract includes such a term, the gym can bill you on a month-to-month basis until you cancel. After the original contract term expires, you can cancel at any time at no cost by giving 30 days’ written notice to the business.

I signed a contract with a yoga studio on a tablet. Is my electronic signature valid?

Yes. Signing a continuing services contract with an electronic signature has the same legal effect as signing with a handwritten signature.

As with any continuing services contract, the business must give you a copy of the contract within 15 days of your signing on. If they didn't, the contract isn't legally binding.

Who can help

Helpful agencies

Consumer Protection BC
Assists with some consumer problems, contracts. Includes online complaint form.
Better Business Bureau
Receives complaints about local businesses that are members.
Competition Bureau
Deals with complaints about false or misleading advertising.

  • Reviewed in January 2020
  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada
  • Time to read: 6 minutes

Was this helpful?

Also on this topic

Work it out

Online shopping

Work it out

If there is a problem with a purchase

Work it out

Warranties and guarantees

Work it out

The basics of making a purchase

Work it out

If you change your mind

Still not sure what to do?

If you're looking for advice specific to your situation, there are options for free or low-cost help.

Options for legal help