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IHRSA Criticizes FTC’s Proposed Gym Membership Rule

IHRSA Criticizes FTC’s Proposed Gym Membership Rule

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IHRSA said a proposed FTC rule allowing consumers to cancel memberships with the press of a button should not apply to brick-and-mortar gyms and studios.

The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) voiced its concerns with a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rule proposal that would make it easier for consumers to cancel gym memberships, saying the proposal “fundamentally misunderstands” the business model of fitness centers.

On March 23, the FTC proposed a rule that would require sellers to include a “click to cancel” provision allowing consumers to cancel memberships with the press of a button. The FTC said the provision would apply to gym memberships.

Liz Clark, IHRSA President and CEO, criticized the Biden Administration for seeking to adopt a “one size must fit all rule” to membership cancellation.

“This proposed rule demonstrates that FTC and Biden Administration officials who support it, fundamentally misunderstand the nature and reality of the brick and mortar gym and studio business model,” Clark said in a statement.

The FTC’s proposed rule may be right for online products and services, Clark argued, but not “physical gym and studio locations where consumers regularly visit.”

“Online abuses and junk fee situations are rife in some app and online service areas of the digital universe, but not the brick and mortar space of gyms and studios that are Main Street businesses with a physical presence in every corner of the country,” Clark said. 

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IHRSA, a not-for-profit trade association representing over 200,000 health and fitness facilities and their suppliers, is no stranger to making its stance known on federal legislation.

In March, the association praised federal lawmakers for introducing the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act. The bipartisan bill would allow flexible spending and health savings accounts to be used for physical activity products and services, as well as youth sports.

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