Health club membership is a great way for people to stay in shape, practice healthy habits, and connect with their local communities. It’s important for health club patrons to understand Maryland health club definitions and rules in order to protect their rights as consumers.
The Maryland Health Club Services law states that each sale of a health club services agreement that violates any of its provisions is an “unfair or deceptive trade practice” under the Maryland Consumer Protection Act, which may entitle you to file an action for damages.
Keep reading to learn more about Maryland health club policies and laws that could affect your consumer rights.
1. What Is A Health Club?
Maryland has a specific statute called the “Health Club Services” law. It defines a “Health Club Service” to include any “health spa, figure salon, weight reduction center, self-defense school, or other physical culture service enterprises offering facilities for the preservation, maintenance, encouragement, or development of physical fitness or physical well–being.”
However, health clubs in Maryland don’t include any club run by a government body, a school or university, or a non-profit organization such as a church or the YMCA.
2. Health Clubs Must Be Registered
Any business that sells health club memberships must register their health club with the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General.
This is true even if they do not sell long term memberships or collect money upfront.
Before committing to a membership at a Maryland health club, check whether the health club is registered. This can protect you from shady business practices and ensure that you’re working with a legitimate health club.
To check whether a health club is registered, send an email to email@example.com or call 410-576-6350.
3. Health Clubs Can’t Force You to Agree to Automatic Renewal
If you have a long-term membership with a health club (aka more than three months), then you cannot be required to agree to automatic renewal of your membership at the end of the term.
You can choose to agree to automatic renewal, but you cannot be required to.
Learn more about your consumer protection rights here.
4. Health Clubs Can’t Make You Pay For COVID-19 Closures
From March 16th, 2020 to June 19th, 2020 all Maryland health clubs were closed due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. But can health clubs charge their members for those months of lost time?
“the Fitness Center may either extend the membership period for a period equal to the length of the closure, or provide a prorated refund of the amount paid by the member during the closure.”
If you have a month-to-month membership, you should not have been charged during the closure, and you could be entitled to a refund if you were charged.
You are not required by law to ask for these things, either. They should happen automatically.
However, if your health club isn’t following the law, you should complain about it. And if your health club won’t fix the problem, you can take your complaint to the Attorney General’s office.
If you’re still having problems, a consumer protection lawyer could be your best bet to getting what you’re owed.
5. Health Clubs Must Tell You Your Rights
Health clubs are required to notify their members of their rights when they sell their services.
Here are standard forms that come straight from the Attorney General’s Office that explain the rights of various health club members:
Maryland Health Club Membership: Know Your Rights as a Consumer!
So, what is a health club? It’s more than just a fitness center.
Maryland health clubs are pillars of the community providing programs, support, and healthy activities for Maryland residents, families, and friends.
But just like other businesses, health clubs are required to follow the law to protect consumer rights.
If you’re having trouble with your health club membership or you think that your consumer rights were violated, the Holland Law Firm can help. It doesn’t matter to us whether it was a mortgage broker, a hospital, or a health club that violated your rights. All that matters is making things right again.
Don’t give up. Give us a call. Contact us here to set up a consultation.