5 On Your Side

85-year-old woman felt 'pressured' into signing pricey gym contract

Posted November 18, 2015 6:26 p.m. EST
Updated November 18, 2015 6:29 p.m. EST

— An 85-year-old Angier woman uses a walker to get around but said she was pressured into paying thousands of dollars at a local gym.

"I came in to do the yoga," Barrie Doyle said.

Doyle was interested in a senior's yoga class that was covered by her insurance but instead ended up signing a $3,400 contract for six months of personal training sessions at an O2 Fitness in Fuquay-Varina.

"Whether you call it high pressure or what, but immediately he was talking about what he could do to help me before my surgery, we'd do away with the walker," she said.

Doyle said she had reservations but felt pressured to sign the contract.

"It was a $20 discount if I did it that day," she said.

According to Doyle, the trainer told her that with a doctor's note, she could cancel at anytime.

"I kept telling myself not to do it, and he said 'Let's go, let's go, where is your credit card?'" she said.

Doyle said, by the time she reached her car, she knew she had made a mistake.

She brought in a doctor's note requesting the gym release her from the contract because of a current health condition and an upcoming surgery. The note said "she will be unable to safely participate," but the gym manager said, because Doyle's ailment was not permanent, they would not cancel the contract.

Afterward, two of her children contacted the manager but got nowhere.

5 On Your Side made a trip to O2 Fitness with Doyle as she left a second doctor's note outlining multiple health issues. General Manager Denise Doty told WRAL News the trainer told Doyle she would "feel better and see improvement" after the training sessions.

Chief Operating Officer Shawn Stewart said he "would never want someone to feel that they are pressured into something."

Soon after, O2 Fitness contacted Doyle, canceled her training contract and refunded her account.

Doyle said she hopes her experience will resonate with others.

"If I'm the only simpleton that went in, that would be all right, but I wondered if there may be others," she said.

The manager of O2 Fitness said they have more than 1,000 people in the senior's program - Silver Sneakers - which is free through their insurance. As for paid sessions with personal trainers, she said many seniors work with trainers and get help using the machines.