Nearly 100 New York-based health clubs accused of violating state law have agreed to settlements with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Schneiderman's office announced on Thursday.
The 96 clubs paid a combined total of $38,600 in penalties and fines to resolve Schneiderman's investigation of compliance with New York's Health Club Services Law and General Obligations Law. The clubs have also signed assurances of discontinuance, agreeing to modify member contracts to comply with state laws.
Prominent clubs on the settlement list include Anytime Fitness, Gold's Gym, LA Fitness, Planet Fitness, Retro Fitness and Snap Fitness. The settlement sums ranged from $250 to $6,750. The entire list provided to Club Industry, including settlement amounts, is available at the bottom of this page.
Schneiderman's investigation revealed various violations of the state laws. Violations included failure to make required disclosures to consumers, compliance with obligations required of health clubs under state law, and inclusion of unenforceable release and/or waiver of liability provisions in membership contracts.
"Many people opt to sign up for a gym membership in January – and then, you hope, actually go to the gym," Schneiderman said in a statement. "Today my office announced settlements with dozens of health clubs across the state to ensure members are treated fairly and clubs comply with state law."
Schneiderman's investigation into health club compliance with New York law remains ongoing. The announcement also included advice from Schneiderman directed at potential health club consumers. Tips included being a more educated consumer, reading contracts carefully and not giving into high-pressure sales tactics.
New York State's Health Club Law requires, in part:
- No health club contract can exceed $3,600 a year.
- No health club contract can be for a term longer than 36 months.
- All health club contracts are cancelable within three days of the signing of the contract, and at any time for any of the following reasons: if the health club ceases to offer the services stated in the contract; if the consumer moves 25 miles from any health club operated by the seller; and if upon a doctor's order, the consumer cannot receive the services as stated in the contract because of significant physical disability for a period in excess of six months. Such notices must appear on all health club contracts. The health club must provide refunds within 15 days of such cancellation.
In November 2015, Planet Fitness settled with Schneiderman's office to avoid litigation over alleged illegal tanning practices. Planet Fitness paid $50,000 in costs and penalties, and will not offer "unlimited" tanning as part of its premium Black Card membership as part of the agreement.
In 2013, Schneiderman investigated SoulCycle, Flywheel Sports and The Bar Method for unpaid sales taxes.
In 2011, Curves International settled with Schneiderman and agreed to reimburse members of more than 60 Curves clubs that closed in New York.