Are you looking to subscribe to a fitness and weight management centre? The following tips may be of interest to you before you sign a contract.

Fitness and weight management centres must have a permit from the Office de la protection du consommateur.

To get this permit, the centre must provide a deposit to the Office. This deposit protects the sums of money you paid to the centre if it cannot fulfill its commitments. For example, if the centre were to close its doors, the Office could use the deposit to refund you.

How to know whether a centre has a permit

Before purchasing a membership, get informed about the centre using the tool Getting informed about a merchant. By entering the name of the fitness or weight management centre, you will find out:

  • if it has a permit;
  • if the Office has previously intervened with the merchant;
  • if the merchant has received formal notices from other consumers.

Fitness and weight management centres must provide a contract that details the conditions of your membership. By law, this is known as a “physical fitness studio contract.” Make sure this contract accurately reflects the merchant's promises to you.

Contents of a fitness or weight loss contract

The contract must include:

  • the number of the permit delivered by the Office de la protection du consommateur;
  • the merchant’s name and address;
  • your name and address;
  • the place and date the contract was signed;
  • a description of the services to be provided;
  • the date on which the services will start being offered;
  • the address where the services will be offered;
  • the duration of the contract (for a maximum of one year);
  • the total amount you will have to pay;
  • the terms of payment;
  • a clause that explains the cancellation terms. This clause is presented in section 47 of the Regulation respecting the application of the Consumer Protection Act.

The centre must give you a copy of the signed contract, along with a cancellation form. You can use this form if you wish to cancel your contract.

Renewal clause

Does your contract contain a clause that states it will be renewed automatically for a fee? Caution: it is prohibited to include such a clause in a fitness or weight-management contract. The Renewing a membership page provides further information on this topic.

"Lifetime" memberships

Some fitness centres offer "lifetime" memberships. A high membership fee is charged for the first year, and the contract is renewed automatically in subsequent years. The fitness centre is then required to provide you with a new contract every year or complete the renewal procedure in accordance with the terms provided for by regulation.

The Office wishes to caution you against this practice. If the centre were to close its doors in the near future, you may have problems getting your money back.

Total value of the contract

The contract must indicate the total amount you will have to pay. This amount includes:

  • the cost of the membership or session;
  • membership, registration, evaluation and administration fees, as well as fees charged to open a file, if applicable;
  • taxes.

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A fitness or weight-management centre cannot:

  • collect payment or a deposit before you start receiving services. You start receiving services when, for example, you have access to fitness equipments or when a fitness program starts;
  • collect payment in one instalment. The total amount of the invoice must be paid in at least 2 approximately equal instalments. The instalments must be claimed at regular intervals, for example, at the start and midway point of your membership. A merchant cannot offer a discount in exchange for a payment made in one instalment.

Exceptions: payment made in one instalment

A merchant can demand payment in one instalment in either of 2 situations:

  • the total value of the services is $100 or less (including taxes);
  • the services are provided over 3 days or fewer, regardless of their total value.

Before registering for a fitness or weight-management centre online or by phone, find out more about the merchant’s offer.

Information that must be provided by the merchant

Before you completing your registration, the merchant must provide the following information:

  • their name and contact information, including their phone and fax numbers and email address;
  • a detailed description of the services offered;
  • the total amount of the sums to be paid, that is to say, the service fees, other fees that may be added, and taxes;
  • the date on which you will start having access to the services;
  • the terms of payment;
  • the description of additional fees that could be requested;
  • the transaction currency (Canadian dollars, US dollars, and so on);
  • the cancellation and refund policies.

From the moment you enter an agreement with a merchant, the merchant has 15 days to send a paper copy of the contract. The paper copy must contain the same information and all other mandatory notes.

Purchase made on a group purchasing Web site

If you purchase a prepaid card or a voucher that can be redeemed for a membership in a fitness or weight-management centre on a group purchasing Web site, you enter into 2 different and distinct contracts.

The first contract is between you and the company that manages the group purchasing Web site. It is in fact the prepaid card purchasing contract. This contract must include all the information related to the purchase of the card, for example, the terms of use.

The second contract is the one that the fitness or weight-management centre will provide. This contract must feature all the mandatory information that must be included in a fitness or weight-management contract.

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You are free to purchase the equipment required by your fitness or weight-management program (clothing, nutritional supplements, and so on) wherever you would like, even if the merchant sells it.

If you decide to purchase the equipment from the merchant who is also providing the fitness or weight-management services, and the value of that equipment is over $100, the merchant must provide a written contract. This type of contract is called an “incidental contract.”

Information that must be included in an equipment purchase contract

The contract must contain the following information:

  • the merchant’s name and address;
  • your name and address;
  • the place and date the contract was signed;
  • a description of the equipment purchased;
  • the price of each article;
  • applicable taxes;
  • the total amount that must be paid;
  • a section explaining the cancellation terms. The information that the cancellation section must contain is presented in Article 50 of the Regulation respecting the application of the Consumer Protection Act.

Before purchasing a membership at a fitness or weight-management centre, find out more about the cancellation terms.

The Consumer Protection Act provides the maximum penalty that can be charged if you cancel a contract but only if you do so in a timeframe shorter or equal to a tenth of the contract’s duration.

Last update : February 28, 2023

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The information contained on this page is presented in simple terms to make it easier to understand. It does not replace the texts of the laws and regulations.