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NJ Passes Gym Cancellation Law but IHRSA Secures Key Language

NJ Passes Gym Cancellation Law but IHRSA Secures Key Language

Canceling a gym membership in New Jersey may soon be as easy as the click of a button, but fitness operators won some flexibility

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has signed a consumer-friendly law streamlining gym membership cancellation policies in the Garden State, preventing in-person-only termination rules and allowing consumers to terminate automatic gym renewal subscriptions easily. IHRSA, a not-for-profit trade association representing the global health and fitness industry, initially expressed concerns with the law but said it was able to work with the state to secure a “workable solution.”

Starting April 8, gym memberships and subscription service contracts that are entered into online in the Garden State must require an online cancellation option that is not only accessible but prominently displayed on the website, in the account profile of the fitness consumer, or can be terminated through an email template provided by the gym or fitness service.

“By signing this bill into law, New Jerseyans will be protected from confusing, misleading, and inflexible subscription cancellation policies,” Governor Murphy said. “For too long, members have faced difficulties when attempting to cancel a membership they entered into online.”

Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, a primary sponsor of the bill, noted that he had heard many consumer complaints from those having trouble canceling gym memberships, especially during the pandemic. 

“If a gym can accept new members online, those members should also be able to cancel online,” Moriarty said. “Now that this bill is law, they’ll have an important financial protection.”

A Complex Legislative History

First introduced in 2022, the ‘click-to-cancel‘ bill became the cause of concern for some in the fitness industry. IHRSA submitted written testimony to the New Jersey Senate, urging officials to hold consideration of the bill, such as the “administrative burden” that online cancellation of auto-renew memberships and month-to-month accounts may cause for certain gyms and health clubs.

Mike Goscinski, VP of government affairs for IHRSA, testified before the New Jersey Senate Commerce Committee last month, noting that the passage of the bill would particularly impact smaller and independent fitness operators.

Goscinski worked with the New Jersey legislature to reword the bill to clarify that it is “click to initiate termination,” allowing “opportunities for saving memberships and reminders of agreement terms for processing final payments before cancellation.”

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Model for the Future?

“We appreciate (Senator Gordon M. Johnson’s) willingness to collaborate with IHRSA on the final language signed into law this week,” Goscinski told Athletech News. “We are excited that our advocacy efforts have resulted in a public policy victory, providing a workable solution for the health and fitness industry and establishing a model for how states should approach legislation regarding membership cancellations.”

Referring to it as a “workable solution,” IHRSA emphasizes that the new law only applies to memberships entered into online and that it has secured flexibility regarding cancellation methods and its location on business websites. IHRSA also advocated and secured a 90-day implementation timeline, giving businesses until April 8 to comply instead of the originally proposed immediate enactment.

“IHRSA Government Affairs plans to leverage this success as a template when engaging in discussions with state elected officials, advocating for business-tenable solutions,” Goscinski wrote in a note to IHRSA members.

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