Find a place you love (and can afford!) so you can lose big pounds without spending big bucks. Plus, how to painlessly break up with your gym. How to Save Money on a Gym Membership

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    Name-Drop the Competition

    «I SAVED $204.» SELF reader Bristel Bowen from Austin, Texas, mentioned a deal from Anytime Fitness to lower the price at her 24 Hour Fitness. «They matched the deal. I pay $20 a month instead of $37.» These days, thrift is in, and übercheap clubs with monthly fees as low as $15 have sprung up, forcing midpriced chains to negotiate to compete, says Pamela Kufahl, editor of Club Industry. Point out a competitor’s offer to see if a gym will match it or come close, she says.

  • Be a Social Networker

    Daily deals sites, such as and, offer big local savings. (SELF saw a recent Groupon deal for an 87 percent discount on the first two months of membership at a Chicago club.) These are often blink-or-you’ll-miss-’em offers, so act fast. Stay alert, too, for social-networking promotions that let you test a new gym: At Crunch Fitness, nonmembers who check into a Crunch on get a free one-week guest pass, no strings attached. 24 Hour Fitness offers a similar carrot—a three-day freebie—on its Facebook page.

  • Front the Cash

    «I SAVED $150.» When she joined a gym in Santa Barbara, California, Andrea Woroch offered to pay in full for a year; in exchange, the club waived its $150 initiation fee. Paying in advance instead of monthly can trigger a major discount. At Costco, you can snag a two-year contract to any 24 Hour Fitness for $320. That works out to $13 a month, versus $37 when you pay in installments.

  • Gather a Group

    Send an all-call work email for gym joiners. At Gold’s Gym, 10 or more coworkers who sign up together receive an automatic 10 percent discount. And ask if your company has a deal with a local fitness chain for a group of employees joining en masse.

  • Try a Family Plan

    Bally Total Fitness cuts its fees by up to 33 percent for friends-and-family memberships; simply name your relative or pal who’s a current member. Some clubs even allow roommates to use a discounted family membership, Kufahl says. FINAGLE A FREE YEAR Inquire about incentives for referrals. «We give members a free month for each friend who signs up,» says Adam Kilpatrick, New York City and New Jersey’s Club H Fitness vice president of sales. «I’ve seen people accrue a free year from referring buddies.»

  • Your Gotta-Have-It Checklist

    Because a gym is not a bargain if you never go. A locale on your regular route. Convenience is king. Hours that mimic yours. Also, do a walk-through to make sure it’s not overly crowded at your usual time. Fit favorites. Request a few free day passes to test your go-to classes—Spin, kickboxing, kettlebells or Zumba. You can get to know the instructors and see if they impress you. Sanity-saving amenities. If child care, free towel service or TVs on every cardio machine will make or break your workout, write those necessities down on your list to tick off when you visit. A solid first impression. Eye the equipment; take a shower; use the bathroom. Then ask a regular what she thinks of the club. A candid, unbiased opinion can be the best indicator if a gym is for you.

  • Joined the Wrong Gym?

    These tips make a split as painless as possible. Pull the plug quickly. Thirty-eight states have mandated a «right of cancel» clause that lets you opt out of your contract within at least three business days of signing it. Dig out your paperwork. Your contract includes info on how to quit (likely in super small print!). «Some clubs require you to send in a cancellation via registered mail or give 30 days’ notice before terminating,» Kufahl says. Know the legal outs. Some states have clauses that allow a clean break, like moving 25 miles from a club in the chain or having a medical condition that lasts three-plus months, says Edgar Dworsky, founder of Really stuck? Try the resale market. You can post your membership on Craigslist, and allows you to create an ad to sell your membership for $16. One caveat: You’ll need to get your gym to approve a sale. 6 Easy Moves to a Sexy Upper Body The Hottest New Workout Classes

SELF does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional. Health insurance, electricity bills, Netflix – the number of recurring fees we have to pay in life is steadily increasing, draining us of every last cent in our bank accounts. So, how can we combat these financially demanding times and more specifically -how can you save money on gym membership? The best ways to save money on a gym membership are to do your research and negotiate a better deal, use a gym membership broker or deal website, sign up with a family member or friend, during a promotion or for longer periods of time, or to sign up to a limited membership. As a teenager I absolutely loved working out – however – because I did not have a steady income, it was difficult to afford an ongoing gym membership. I have tried countless strategies to try and save money on a membership, and these methods are based on my own experience of trial and error. I also now work in the fitness industry myself as a fitness coach and digital marketer, so understand how gyms work and the amount of money they spend on advertising. At the end of the day, most gyms – especially larger ones – crave new members, so standing your ground is important. Some of these strategies are more effective than others based on your fitness goals, circumstances and what type of gym you’re hoping to sign up to, so you’ll have to decide which methods are best for you.

  • Thoroughly Research Gyms in Your Area to Find the Best Deal
  • Negotiate a Better Deal (It CAN be done)
  • Use a Gym Membership Broker
  • Sign Up with a Family Member or Friend
  • Use Student or Senior Discounts
  • Sign up During a Promotion
  • Sign up for a Longer Period of Time
  • Sign up for a Limited Membership
  • Jump Around Free Trials or Use a Gym Deal Website

Thoroughly Research Gyms in Your Area to Find the Best Deal

Doing your due diligence and research is fundamental to getting a good price on your gym membership. You need to have a solid understanding of what you want out of the membership by identifying your fitness goals, budget, what service(s) or perks you want, level of access, etc. Understanding yourself is pivotal, because you can leverage what you want and equally – what you don’t want when you negotiate with the gym membership consultant. For instance, if you know you don’t care about using the group fitness classes, you can use that to negotiate a cheaper membership. Start to make a table of the different gyms in your area, outlining their various costs – price per week, sign up fees, annual fees, cancellation fees, etc. Also take note of all the benefits the membership offers – is group fitness included, is it 24/7, do I get some free personal training, etc. A table allows you to compare gyms against each other. Your table might look a little something like this.

Gym Fees Pros Cons
Boss Fitness $15.00/week, $99 Sign Up 24/7 Access Very basic equipment
Functional Fit $45.00/week, $25 Sign Up Quality classes Expensive weekly fees
Jack’s PT $50 per session, No Sign Up Personal training included Expensive, 15 minute drive away

You may find this article helpful, as it compares all the major gym chains, including prices, sign up fees, access and other important factors. Now that you’ve identified what you want out of gym membership and done your research, it’s now time to negotiate the best deal.

Negotiate a Better Deal (It CAN be done)

It’s time to go shopping. Based on your research, identify the gym that’s the best fit for your circumstances, most notably, your budget. Print out your research and have it handy, in case you have to refer to it. It’s important to walk in to a contract negotiation looking confident, calm and like you know what you’re talking about. Many gym salespeople prey on a lack of knowledge and self-awareness. Lucky for you, you’ve come prepared. Almost always, gyms can offer a cheaper price than what they advertise on their website and socials. Some gyms are also more flexible than others – for example – in my experience, Genesis Fitness, Crunch Fitness and independent gyms are happy to lower the cost if you are firm, whereas bigger gym chains like Fitness First and F45 Training are not. If there are certain aspects of the gym membership you don’t care for – tell them. Many gym salespeople will try and sell you on all of the benefits, which many of us never even use. At the end of the day, don’t be afraid to ask straight up:

  • Can you do any cheaper?
  • Can you waive the sign up fee?
  • Are there any added benefits I can get for this price?
  • Can I get any ‘free weeks’?

Gym membership consultants are often paid on commission, and so will certainly be motivated to get your membership over the line. Use that to your advantage and don’t be afraid to walk away and come back at a later date if you need to give it some extra thought.

Use a Gym Membership Broker

Gyms spend thousands and thousands of dollars each year on advertising and marketing in the pursuit of ‘qualified’ leads. This is where a gym membership broker comes in – as they allow gyms (and prospective members like you) to save money by cutting out the ad spend. A gym broker often gets their clients cheaper prices than a typical membership, and can also negotiate gym prices on your behalf. At Get Gym Fit, this is a free service we are beginning to offer as we build relationships with gyms around the country. If you’re interested, email [email protected] answering the following questions:

  • What is your name?
  • What are your fitness goals?
  • What do you want in a gym membership?
  • What don’t you want in a gym membership? E.g. what don’t you care about
  • Where do you live & how far are you willing to travel?
  • What do you want to pay per week?

Sign Up with a Family Member or Friend

Some gyms – most notably council gyms and local recreations centres like the YMCA – offer gym membership discounts if you sign up with a family member or friends. Many commercial gyms also offer seasonal promotions which enable you to save money when you join up with someone else. Like we mentioned earlier, this is also something you could bring to the table when negotiating your contract, as gyms would have an even bigger incentive to sign up two members at once.

Use Student or Senior Discounts

Similar to the previous point, many council gyms offer student and senior discount, which can vary from 10 to 30% cheaper than a standard membership. Health Care cards and concession cards are, on occasion, another avenue where savings can be had, however, this is a lot rarer.

Sign up During a Promotion

Perhaps the smartest and most conventional strategy for saving money on a gym membership is waiting to sign up during a promotional period. Promotions come in all shapes and sizes, including waiving of sign up fees, free weeks, lower weekly fees – the list goes on. But importantly, more often than not, negotiating a lower membership price is equally, if not more effective, than simply waiting to buy during a promotional period as gyms can usually always give out a better deal no matter when it is. Some common promotional times throughout the year are:

  • New Year
  • Every quarter
  • Approaching winter
  • Approaching summer
  • Coinciding with state/national events or long weekends

Sign up for a Longer Period of Time

Committing to a gym membership for a longer period of time is a sure fire way to save money on your weekly rate. You’ll want to ensure you’re definitely in for the long haul though, as cancellation and not attending a gym you’re paying for are clearly going to cost you. Take it a step further and some gyms also give you the ability to pay a lump sum of money upfront for a 12 or 18 month membership. These work out to be far cheaper than any other membership option, but do carry some risk. A couple friends of mine purchased lump sum memberships upfront, right before a 7 month lockdown due to Coronavirus. Many gyms did not extend the memberships my friends paid for, costing them hundreds of dollars. This can also happen if your gym closes down as they may not have the capital to refund you, so ensure you proceed with caution!

Sign up for a Limited Membership

Another strategy for saving money is to sign up for a limited membership – which can come in many forms. For example, many gyms offer reduced rates if you don’t participate in their group fitness classes or if you only attend during quieter periods of the day – usually ~ 10am – 3:00pm – rather than the peak periods. Many gyms offer many ‘bells a whistles’, like spa access, 24/7 access, massage, etc. for an extra cost which more often than not, aren’t something you’ll actually utilise. Don’t bother with them, instead, go for the basic option and you’ll be more than fine.

Jump Around Free Trials or Use a Gym Deal Website

This is a tactic I used to use in my younger years which served me well for a period of time. I was using every voucher, free trial and freebie I could get my hands on, until a lady at a big gym chain called me out on it, rather unimpressed. In the short term, using free trials can be a good strategy, however, if you’re hoping to work out regularly over the long term, it won’t be long before gyms start to identify you as being a cheap skate. Luckily these days, there are a lot more gyms around than when I was a teenager, meaning you could probably go a considerable amount of time before having to actually sign up to a membership. Do keep in mind that the more you give your details out to different gyms, the more follow up calls you’ll get, which can be a big nuisance. Websites such as local fitness, Groupon and Scoopon can be a good way to find gym deals and coupons anywhere from 1 day to several months. These are better than free trials from the gym themselves, which are usually shorter in duration. ClassPass can also be a cheaper alternative if you like different types of gyms/services and don’t want to pay for multiple memberships at the one time. Arm, Human body, Shoulder, Hand, Joint, Elbow, Wrist, Eyelash, Poster, Neck, Getty Images; Katie Buckleitner The desire to join a gym won’t help you get into shape if you can’t afford your dues. Here’s how to save on membership fees. 1. Compare prices for gyms closest to your house and work. When you’re on a budget, affordability can trump the convenience of having a gym in your backyard. And since gyms often cost more in urban areas (i.e. near your office), it’s worth price-checking gyms in your office and home neighborhoods. If you’re planning to exercise on your way to or from work, anyway, neither option should be too far out of your way. 2. Actually ask for the best possible rate. If you show up with your sneakers and credit card, all ready to swipe and sweat, you might miss out on current promotions being advertised to recruit new members who aren’t quite as eager. Make them sell you on a good deal. Frank Pasquale, a regional sales director for Crunch, suggests asking super specific questions like, «Are you running any online promotions?» or, «Will there be any further discounts offered later this month?» 3. Request a discount (without being a dick). While you should always ask about discount rates, demanding lower rates probably won’t get good results, according to fitness trainer Bill Dorton, manager and director of group exercise at PurLife Fitness Center in Delray Beach, Florida. Instead of acting entitled, use logic. Tell the membership manager why you’re on a budget — aren’t teachers so underpaid?! — and ask if she’d be willing to offer you a lower rate. Heather Rudolph, brand and campaign director of Anytime Fitness, says many gyms offer discounted rates for students, teachers, and civil servants like fire fighters, police, and veterans. 4. If you have a flexible schedule, consider an off-peak membership. Many facilities offer discounted memberships for access outside of peak hours — i.e. during the day on weekdays or late at night. If noon is your hour to shine, or you’re into midnight sweat sessions, you and your bank account might appreciate a membership that lets you sidestep the crowds. Giphy 5. Max out on free trials before whipping out your wallet. Before purchasing a membership, sign up for a free trial, which can range from a day to a week, at each of the gyms you’re considering. It’ll give you a feel for each place for a more informed decision and buy you some free workouts. 6. Opt out of bells and whistles. Some gyms, like certain New York Sports Clubs, offer memberships that exclude group fitness classes and even towels (which you can rent individually if need be) for lower rates. If you’re more of a treadmill person and don’t mind bringing your own towel, ask for a bottom-of-the-barrel rate. 7. Offer to pay for a full year in upfront. Certain gyms offer major discounts to members who pay for multiple months in full when they join. It’s a bigger chunk of cash at first, but if you can afford that, it’s less in the long run. 8. Bundle your membership with other gym extras. If you’re planning to treat yourself to personal training sessions or spa services, paying for those upfront could land you with discounted monthly rates. Again, cheaper in the long run if you know you’re going to use the extra services. Giphy 9. Join with a group. “Groups of people get discounts more often than individuals,” Dorton said. Show up with a few friends or family members and offer to sign up all at once in exchange for a discount, and you’ll be more likely to score a great deal. 10. See if your employer offers a discounted rate at certain gyms. Some employers negotiate group deals so you don’t even have to do the dirty work. Just ask your HR department how to cash in, or mention your employer’s name in the gym’s membership office. 11. Check out your insurance benefits. Some health insurance plans may offer general gym discounts or money toward your gym membership if you visit the gym a certain number of times in a month. 12. If you’re not that committed, ask if you can pay per visit. Gym-goers who enroll in a monthly or annual membership pay 70 percent more — that’s nearly $300 more a year — than those who pay as they go, according to a 2014 University of California at Berkeley study. So if a nearby gym offers day rates, ask yourself how many times you’re really going to get to the gym each week — and be honest! — then compare the total cost to monthly rates. YouTube/Giphy 13. Join at the end of the month. That’s when gyms are looking to fill their sales quotas, so they’re more likely to offer even lower membership rates to entice you to join. Pasquale says you’ll get the best deals if you join in the last five days of the month — and some gyms will even waive the cost of those five days. 14. Wait until summer to join. Because fewer people join gyms when the weather is nice, facilities offer reduced rates in the summer. If you’re a student, even better: Clubs offer lots of student discounts when school is out. 15. Freeze your account when you’re out of town. If you’re planning on traveling for an extended period of time, or just need to take a leave of absence from the gym (say if you’re injured), ask to freeze your account. You’ll be charged a lower monthly rate while you’re away and can return to paying your normal rate when you’re back to hitting the gym. (If you just cancel your membership and join again later, you’ll have to pay cancellation fees and start-up fees, so freezing is usually cheaper.) 16. Refer a friend. Many gyms offer referral programs in which existing gym members can lower their monthly fees — or even get a month or two free — by getting friends to sign up. After all, there’s nothing better than a ~workout buddy~. Follow Elizabeth on Instagram and Twitter. Elizabeth Bacharach
Elizabeth Bacharach is the Assistant Editor at Women’s Health where she writes and edits content about mental and physical health, food and nutrition, sexual health, and lifestyle trends across and the print magazine.

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