Equinox Pressured to Offer Online Membership Cancellations Amid Trump Controversy

If New York City Councilman Keith Powers has his way, New Yorkers will soon be able to swiftly cancel their health club memberships online.

On Aug. 9, Powers tweeted that he is drafting membership cancellation legislation after The Washington Post's report that Stephen Ross, founder and chairman of The Related Companies, which owns Equinox Holdings, was hosting an Aug. 9 fundraiser for President Trump's 2020 re-election campaign. The news has since spurred protests in-person and online from celebrities and members of Equinox Holdings' club businesses (Equinox, SoulCycle, Blink and Pure Yoga), who are uncomfortable with Ross' support of Trump.

"For the New Yorkers that tried to cancel their Equinox membership, they ran into a familiar wall: there’s no way to cancel online," Powers tweeted on Aug. 8. "Subscription businesses, like gyms, should provide easy online cancellations. This way, consumers no longer get the run around.

"I am drafting legislation that would make it easier to cancel memberships at businesses, like gyms or fitness clubs," he continued on Aug. 9. "The recent Equinox experiences highlighted what many New Yorkers experience daily—a complicated maze just to cancel a single membership."

Powers told CNN he is aiming to introduce the new bill to his city council colleagues after Labor Day. Under the legislation, all club businesses operating in New York City would be required to allow customers to instantly cancel memberships online, he said. Additionally, any subscription-based business would be legally obligated to communicate with customers when auto-renewing a contract.

Powers was critical of Equinox-owned Blink Fitness' cancellation policy when he spoke to the New York Daily News on Aug. 9, noting that the company does not accept phone or email cancellations and requires notification in-person or via certified mail.

Equinox does not accept online membership cancellations, according to its website. Additionally, a FAQ page explains that members within the first year of their membership may only cancel for two reasons: relocation or medical. For the former, members must provide Equinox with proof of their relocation, which must be more than 25 miles away from any Equinox club. For the latter, members must provide Equinox with a physician’s letter verifying that the member is unable to exercise for more than six months.

Powers' recent tweets received more than 40 replies primarily from New York City residents and Equinox-affiliated club members who said they favor his proposal based on personal experience.

On Aug. 8, an Equinox spokesperson provided Club Industry with the following statement about the recent controversy surrounding the company:

“Neither Equinox nor SoulCycle have anything to do with [Stephen Ross’] event later this week and do not support it. As is consistent with our policies, no company profits are used to fund politicians. We are committed to all our members and communities we live in. We believe in tolerance and equality, and will always stay true to those values. Mr. Ross is a passive investor and is not involved in the management of either business.”

Equinox opened its first hotel in New York on July 15.

Equinox ranked No. 4 on Club Industry's Top 100 Health Clubs of 2019 list with $1.43 billion in estimated 2018 revenue.