Paying For That Missed Workout Class Hurts More Than Just Your Wallet

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By Alena Hall

Workout classes are fickle friends. They approach you with open arms (after you shell out the cash and arrive in spandex from head to toe) and they really can make you feel like a rockstar. But on the days that life gets in the way, they don’t hesitate to turn their backs on you. No amnesty card. No “it’s OK, we understand.” Just unforgiving cancellation fees that make you feel equal parts angry and insecure.

Now the purpose for these fees makes sense on paper. Speaking as someone who used to work as a personal trainer in a corporate gym club, I get it. Late cancellations or not showing up at all is bad for business, because it leaves an empty seat in a room that could have been filled by another customer had they known the availability existed. It keeps the space and the service under-utilized, and it can dock certain employees’ pay. For example, instructors are often compensated based on their class attendance, and personal trainers (unless they have a cancellation fee policy) make a whopping $0 if their client chooses to bail on their 6 a.m. appointment. Many of them genuinely care about members achieving their fitness goals (I know I did), but that doesn’t negate the fact that they need to pay their rent and put food on the table.

However, understanding this business model doesn’t make it feel any less sucky. I am the one attending these classes now and LIFE JUST HAPPENS. I can still wake up with a fever and not want to infect the entire yoga class with whatever I’m fighting off. I can still experience family emergencies or face urgent calls from my boss. And I can still be so sore from my workout the day before that it’s actually not a good idea for my body to push through another one so soon.

These fees for our workout plans hold us accountable in a way we aren’t for other aspects of our lives. Let’s face it — we will cancel brunch before we cancel a spin class. But that distinction, whether intentional or not, can sometimes make us feel like we are being taxed for being lazy on the occasion that we do need to cancel. We don’t miss class because we just don’t want to get out of bed, but the fees don’t discriminate against the reasons why we aren’t there when the studio doors shut.

We logically understand the basis of these fees (heck, some of us even rely on them for the integrity of our own businesses like doctor offices and salons), but they still take an emotional toll. Just because our intentions on a Monday don’t always translate into our reality on a Tuesday doesn’t mean should feel penalized for our fitness “misbehavior.” But alas, we are now left without a workout and an empty wallet, and life double sucks.

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