A rack of gym weights

Three Customer Service Lessons from Quitting the Gym

There comes a time in every man or woman’s life where they need to make a change. They need to take that step to end a relationship so they can move on to something else, whether for the better or for the sake of change. That’s right, I’m talking about quitting the gym.

The well-earned reputation of fitness centres making it difficult for you to end your membership is legendary. Yes, they even made a Friends episode about it.


I recently felt the need to make such a jump, from one gym (cough GoodLife Fitness cough) to another. It wasn’t for any particular reason, I just wanted a change and felt one might motivate me (FYI – it never works). There’s nothing wrong with change for the sake of change…the only problem was I had to quit a gym. Crap.

To be honest, I did go in expecting a battle so as a pre-emptive strike, I tried a more passive-aggressive tactic. Instead of just walking in and saying, “I Quit!”, I went with this approach:

“Hi, could you tell me whether I signed up for a year membership or month-to-month.”
“Absolutely. Well, it looks like you signed up for a year and that it actually expired two days ago. Would you like to re-sign up?”

(I couldn’t have planned a better opening)

“Actually, no. I’d like to quit.”

And then what you would expect…the staff immediately asking if I was in a hurry because they needed to sit down with me and fill out some paper work. I told them I was actually in a hurry but that didn’t seem to matter much. I told them I wasn’t interested in trying to be convinced to stay. The staff member assured me that wasn’t what was going to happen.


Three things I learned while ending my relationship membership:

  • I sat down and waited, not too long but longer than cancelling my membership should have taken. When the employee sat down, she apologized for the wait (nice) and then started with some of the most forced small talk I’ve experienced in a while (“So, nice weather out there” “Any plans for the weekend?”). Sorry, but I’m breaking up with you. That process is awkward and so is this.

Lesson One: Ending a relationship doesn’t have to be awkward. You both know why you’re there. Make it as easy and as understanding as possible. 

  • Though I was quitting and my contract had ended, the last membership payment I owed was scheduled in two days. This mean they couldn’t cancel it. In order to cancel payment, they need 10 days. Yes, 10 days to cancel a bank transaction. Sorry, I’ll try to be calm here but… WHAT YEAR IS THIS?! When I asked for the reason for this, their response: “Because we do everything on paper it takes forever.” (Now, keep in mind, we’re both sitting at a computer for her to review my membership while she says this.)

Lesson Two: Don’t stick to prehistoric business processes that hurt the customer experience. Who are you serving?

  • Because they couldn’t cancel my upcoming payment for a few days and I had paid first/last month when I joined, I was good to use the gym until the middle of June (though if I do my math correctly, I should be good until the END of June). Unfortunately, I was then told my keycard to gain access is only good for another two weeks. To recap: good for a month but my access is only available for 2 weeks. Their answer for this one: sorry, old technology.

Lesson Three: If you have to apologize repeatedly for your business processes, someone needs to fix your business processes. 

Thankfully, I was able to actually end my contract. So no more of this gym for me. And though it wasn’t a great experience, I thought it would have been much worse because I’ve been through much worse when quitting a gym.

But a customer experience not only includes the ongoing relationship, but also the end of it. Ending someone’s contract should be an easy process. In this case:

  • Step 1: End payment.
  • Step 2: Cancel my access keycard.
  • Step 3: …there needs to be a step three? If you work at a gym, could you tell me I’m wrong? Please?

But gyms have to go through this song and dance to look for opportunities to keep you or make quitting so painful that they just don’t. A great parting gift would be an exit interview to better understand how they did as a business, where their strengths and weaknesses are to be a better company. That I would stick around for.

The funny thing is if you, as a gym, are good to your customers when they leave, they are more than likely to come back or recommend you. Wouldn’t you rather be seen as the reliable friend who’s there when you need them rather than that person who made it really uncomfortable when you broke up?

What’s the best and worst experiences you’ve had quitting the gym? Please share below.



  • Thanks for your post. I agree with everything you said in your article. The business policies of GoodLife are terrible! I’m only trying to be healthy, but it seems more like they are trying to rip you off anyway possible. To them it is just $50 a month, no biggie, but when they time comes for payment they take it like a storm. They have hidden cancellation fees, Not Sufficient Fund fees (of $25 extra if you don’t pay up in time) and worst of all they play all these wired games when you try to cancel. For example, you have to give them x amount of time of notice before quitting! What are you an employer? How is me leaving, even if it is abrupt, going to strain your business? Anyway, the conclusion is: pay only for what you use and you will avoid any gym scams. Alternative, go to the Y.

    • Thanks for sharing your comment (and I can tell by your user name that you may not have been a fan).
      Gyms have a reputation of being difficult to quit, almost comically so, and in the case, Good Life Fitness continued to hold up the cliche.

      • Thank you for noticing. My user name is an exact reflection of what I think about GoodLife. The biggest problem is that they don’t care about what situation you are in. No sympathy, might as well take the blanket and don’t forget the pillow. The worst part is, if you go their change rooms, you will see how they are sympathetic towards people with health problems (posters on the walls) but if you’re so humble then why screw other people over? Anyway, that’s my two cents about this company.

    • ofcourse they take your payment like a storm, they are a business. and the nsf fee is not a hidden fee, nor is the cancellation fee hidden. it is written on the contract. perhaps you did not read it and are blaming your problems on others?

      • I fail to see how being business automatically gives you a privilege card to take cruel advantage of your clients. When I was a student, I worked for a gym and they did not by any means pressure clients or offer promotional deals with hidden catches. Gyms do not have to be this way -_-

  • goodlifehater, you’ve hit the nail on the head by stating “No sympathy”. I was stupid enough to commit to x training sessions to get a discount on the per session charge, which then locked me into a commitment of x sessions for which payments are taken out bi-weekly. I will not go into details about the trainers’ inadequacy and how useless the sessions are as that’s a whole other topic. I’ve never missed a single payment, however, I have recently ran into some financial problems and decided to call up the head office hoping they would be able to work something out with me (since I’ve dropped a pretty penny thus far and have been good about the payments); I’ve explained my situation and made it clear I did not want to cancel anything, but rather put the payments on hold for a month or two until I get my situation rectified. To sum it up, in a polite and calm voice, I got the finger. They were not interested in hearing any of it, didn’t even bother asking my name of membership number, if the payment bounces it bounces, if we have to take you to collections, we’ll take you to collections. So the question is, what is so Good Life about this company?

  • I’m a first time writer on here and only a member at GoodLife for 5 weeks now and i’ve run into two things that really irk me. Firstly i pay monthly cash and they promised me before i signed anything that no money would be taken out of my account..well sure enough i go to pay for the next month and they tell me they’ve taken money out of my account already UGH when i was paid for the entire month ahead. Then today..i go and no treadmills are available all being used and the weight area has personal trainer classes going on so i could not use anything. I watched as they placed their water bottles on the benches and walked away to use other machines and i was told i couldn’t use a bench(that i would have only needed to do 3 reps of 15). So i go on the treadmill finally for 35 min and wait another 35/40 minutes and still not one bench was free. I was fed up after an hour and 15 min of bullcrap that i complained and they said they will leave a note for the manager and i was told the training sessions come first..apparently all the rest of us there pay for just the treadmill. Not acceptable for me..i told her they need to have more benches if they are allowing these training sessions to take over their ENTIRE WEIGHT AREA. God i am frustrated already.

    • Hi Katie,
      Thanks for sharing your frustrations. Sounds like a resource issue (ie not enough treadmills, not enough space for weights) and a communication issue (what other resources could you be using to mixup your exercise routine?). Did anything come from that manager’s note?

  • I was hired at Goodlife a week ago as a personal trainer. My background is in bodybuilding and powerlifting and I ACTUALLY want to help people reach their goals. I was excited about this opportunity but wow, all they’ve taught me during me week of training is how to sell personal training to people. I don’t mind selling but this company is just horrible! Personal Training cost 7000+. But what really bothered me was that they DO NOT want their clients to know how to do exercises. We are not allowed to teach them anything. We have to make them useless stuff so they DO NOT actually reach their goals, so they are dependent on the personal trainer for the next 2-3 years. I want to actually provide a good plan based on my client’s SPECIFIC goals and needs but the company forces their personal trainers to use the SAME plan (Foundation, build, burn, strength) for EVERYONE. Most of the personal trainers working there have NO background in training people, they have a background in sales. I hope this helps anyone reading this. Please spread the word and SAVE your money and your friends money. Look into private personal trainers in your area on kijiji or go to a smaller gym that is not so pushy and useless.

    • A foundation, build, burn, strength program can be designed with a multitude of different exercises. You probably just weren’t cut out for the job. Have you ever seen the testimonials of all the people who have seen progress? And obviously to train someone and change someones life you would have to sell them a package first 🙂

    • Hey, I do not know how terrible your management staff were but at the Goodlife I work at, all my clients get results. they allow me to build my own programs and coach them to the full extent of my ability. I have my Teir 1 CPTN, GLPTI and Canfit pro, as well as my COATS certification. I walked in with a full bag of things to offer and I was hired as a level 3 trainer.

      Every Goodlife has different management staff. to say that one club defines the whole company is a very bad thing to say. I’ve worked for pushy managers and I’ve worked for managers that were focused on members needs. you will find this in any work place.

  • Angela Rafuse

    Thanks for sharing your story Russel, and it is disturbing – especially the personal stories below. I cannot do business with companies who lack integrity or don’t share my values, so good to know. I will ensure I share this information so people can make educated choices about their wellness.

    • Please remember that this is just ONE Goodlife club. Like any corporation, you have good management teams and bad management teams. Depending on the region, the HR person involved in hiring trainers may be 100% sales driven. There are many Goodlife clubs that although they have a quota to meet ( Every business has quotas and sales goals) they still strive to provide excellent service WITHOUT focusing on the sale. Every club in my region has created dedicated areas for the trainers so that they do not interfere with members who have not purchased training. They have also set new standards for sales in the 2015 year to address many of the issues outlined.You do not become the third largest fitness organization in the world by offering terrible service. Yes there are bad apples in any company. Sometimes it takes time to get rid of them.

  • Hi, I actually purchased the 14-day trial pass online.
    They called me to come and meet them the next day, I’m like sure.
    As I only wanted to test the gym and see if I should/worth it to get the membership.
    Anyways, the goodlife employee sat down with and started talking and going though my goals ect, where I work ect…(NEVER tell them where you work or any personal information at first)
    The employee tried to sell me the personal trainer package but I was like, I don’t think I need the personal trainer (trying to hint them that its too god damn expensive and I do not want it!) Anyways she kept saying “With your goals, you NEED the personal trainer” and kept going on…and I don’t know I am not a up-front attitude kind of person so …. I gave in (but I REALLY DIDN’T WANT IT)
    So than the employee tells me to pay everything including the the personal training sessions. As I did not have anything on me at that moment I had to go home and go back to the gym to start the process, anyways I didn’t go back to the gym to PAY.

    I only wanted the 14day trial and that’s all. I told my friends this and she does go to goodlife as well and she said wow..this is so shady.
    Cus they didn’t even give me the 14day trial? So I paid the 14day trial online for 14$ but cannot even use it without paying the full damn membership with PERSONAL TRAINER that cost 249$ (I do not WANT especially with the post below!!)

    Sigh…I am just kind of furious….I really wanted to test the gym out without getting a membership…

    • this makes no sense. you were sold the training because you yourself said that you gave in because you couldnt say no. They cannot legally deny you your 14 day trial and nor can they force you to pay for the full membership with a personal trainer……. you are furious but it really is your mistake

      • It’s the clients fault for being manipulated? It’s clear the employee tried to confuse this person. You are probably a good life employee. Great way to promote your company by blaming the customer despite the term “the customer is always right”

      • I too went through the same thing and was manipulated. I obviously did not pay for a trainer. I did pay for membership, which I wish I hadn’t. If you’re clever you’ll notice that all the systems in Canada are designed to mentally persuade you and when they find a weak spot, they’ll screw you over.

        I’ve noticed this with George Brown College, The go transit, gym membership, rogers, bell…, its everywhere which is why people try and screw them over in return. The best is when immigrants complain of a bad culture, or anything bad they’re told…. we didn’t force you to come… well you know what f u.

  • Ihategoodlife

    Amen! I come from a small gym and signed up at Goodlife after I relocated to a new city. Never liked it for all the reasons all of you listed. I found a small/private gym and signed up. Adios Goodlife! Good riddance.

  • Check out this rating from a former employee of Goodlife Fitness:


  • i have been a GoodLife member for 5 years now, and have had a personal trainer for 2 of those years. Every single business will always have people who love it and the people who hate it. you have to consider if you are being just unreasonable or if you are a rational human being. I lost 95 lbs with my trainer and i am in the best shape ever so no not all trainers take your money and watch you fail. And why would they be sympathetic to your lives and waive cancellation or nsf fees?!?! they are a BUSINESS at the end of the day and need to make a profit too. Do all of you have jobs? Thats where your income comes from. it takes 10 business days to stop a payment because it involves their accounting department to contact your external bank and request a stop payment. When you go to your bank to process transfers to another branch it also takes 5 to 10 business days. They still use paper so that they have a copy of your changes and so that you have one as well, so that when you have an issue, you have PROOF OF CHANGE. Anyone reading this should not be ignorant and base their own decisions on their own interaction. Like i said, there will always be people who hate or people who love

    • I thought I was the only one reading this who actually liked goodlife. I have a trainer and she’s awesome. Explained everything when buying a package and when I’m doing exercises she tells me which muscles I’m using what the exercise does and why I’m doing it with the other ones I’m doing. The person who said they’re told not to get results is silly!

      In the end they’re a business and have to make sales. All the staff at mine are awesome (womens club) and make me feel better the second I walk in the door. That’s what matters to me

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