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March 28, 2011

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Judges call for tighter rules in setting up gyms

MORE stringent rules governing setting up gyms are required, said judges who have recently dealt with three lawsuits after exercise centers closed without warning.

"These gyms shut down suddenly due to poor management and deficits. They elected to avoid responsibility unilaterally when they couldn't provide a service any more," said Yang Keyuan, a judge at the Minhang District People's Court. "In these cases, a number of gym members were involved."

In one case, a woman surnamed Sun signed a one-year membership contract with a gym last October and paid a 1,500 yuan (US$229) membership fee.

On December 17 last year, the gym in the South Shopping Mall closed without warning, due to a lease dispute with the retail center.

The gym said it would aim to resume business before January 25, but if the operation couldn't continue, it would transfer membership to other branches of the gym or offer a refund.

Sun, unwilling to wait until January, sued for a refund.

The court ruled the gym had violated its contract with Sun as it was unable to provide an exercise space in the agreed location.

Sun had the right to terminate the contract and get back the unused money on the membership card, which was 1,202 yuan, said judges.

To tackle these problems, the government should strengthen supervision of gyms and raise standards for their registration, said Yang.

The judge also advised residents looking to join a gym to choose big brands with a good credit history and study contract clauses carefully before signing up.


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