Start by assessing your chances of a painless cancellation. Reading your membership agreement terms should offer details like how long you're locked in, cancellation procedures and any early-exit fees, Mokhtarzada said.
"Some gyms are actually totally friendly," he said. "Others are unreasonably difficult to cancel."
Some of the tougher contracts may only allow for cancellation if you move more than a certain distance from the gym's nearest outpost, or have a doctor's note detailing an illness or injury that prevents you from exercising.
Be mindful that if your gym is a franchise, the policy may be different than that of corporate-owned locations, said Jessica Monsell, executive director of advocacy site ConsumerSense.org.
Look to your state to see what additional protections may be in play for gym contracts, said Troy Doucet, a consumer litigation attorney in Dublin, Ohio. Many give you the right to cancel a gym contract within a few business days of signing, and set limits on the length of gym memberships.
Once you've done your research, arm yourself with any documentation you might need to make your case, like that doctor's note or a copy of your membership agreement. If your cancellation hinges on a change in policies or services — say, you joined for the boot-camp class, which the gym no longer offers at a time you can attend — make note of that, too, Monsell said.
Bring your request to cancel to the gym manager first. They often need to sign off on cancellations anyway, she said, and may have more leeway to be lenient on terms and fees.