Another one brought to my attention by Justin Harter. SB 291 seems to be an attempt to prevent gyms from locking people into contracts as a condition of using their services. That on its own is probably overreaching, but the motivation behind it is laudable enough. There have been gym owners who have engaged in some seriously sketchy behaviors with respect to membership contracts — for example, making them difficult to cancel and continuing to charge credit cards after a member has taken the actions necessary to cancel them. Even when strictly legal, they prey on peoples’ aspirations to get healthy with the knowledge that a lot of folks will quit, never show up, and still be on the hook for monthly fees. The legislation is in a part of the Indiana Code that imposes restrictions on what these gym membership contracts can look like. And, much of the legislation is focused on membership contracts. However, as written, SB 291 appears to go much further than even preventing the use of membership contracts.
A health spa is defined as, among other things, any business entity that provides instruction or facilities for exercising. Under this legislation, “a health spa may not require an individual to . . . pay dues, fees, assessments, or other charges of any kind as a condition to use the health spa’s health spa services.” I know some fitness professionals who probably won’t be excited to provide their services or use of their facilities for free. This was assigned to the Rules committee, so I expect it’s safe to say that this one is not going anywhere.