Fitness Articles

10 Ways to Save Money at the Gym

Get Insider Tips from a Gym Expert!

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Joining a gym is not a decision you should take lightly—especially since it affects your wallet. Fitness centers come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges, offering everything from basic workout equipment to upgrades like massages, tanning, and even laundry service! But most of us are pinching our pennies and stretching our dollars these days, so you may think that a gym membership is unaffordable. Don't throw in the (sweaty) towel just yet! I have some money-saving ideas that will help your cut your membership costs. As a trainer and wellness coordinator, I spent several years working in public and private fitness centers, so I know all the secrets! Here are 10 insider tips to getting a good deal while keeping a little more money in your pocket!

Shop during the Slow Season
When looking to purchase a membership, consider the time of year. Thanks to New Year's resolutions, gift certificates, and renewed resolve, the first few months of the year are the busiest—and best—times to be a membership director. Similarly, the colder months are also busier than warmer months because people can't exercise outside. Because they're selling so many memberships, gyms don't need your money and they're less likely to cut you a deal. But the opposite is also true: Membership slides during the summer and toward the end of the year, so that is the best time to make your move. Look for specials and discounts at this time, and don't be afraid to ask for a better deal.

Join at the End of the Month
Gyms and fitness centers typically have membership goals for each month. They want to gain new members and retain the ones they have. At the first of the month, these sales goals don't seem as daunting to employees as they do in the last week of the month. So go at the end of the month, when most gyms are willing to make a deal with you so they can hit their goals!

Check Out the Competition
In most cities, there is more than one game in town, so shop around to find out what each gym has to offer. Once you have narrowed the list down to the places you like, go to each gym and speak to the individual responsible for memberships. Explain what you want and what you've seen at the other gyms you visited. (Make sure you are looking at comparable facilities when you do this.) If there is a difference in price, ask if they would meet or beat the monthly fees of their competitors. If they cannot beat the monthly fee, find out what they are willing to offer you instead. Don’t do this over the phone. When you meet in person, it will be more difficult for them to watch you walk out if you can’t strike a deal.
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About The Author

Jason Anderson Jason Anderson
Jason loves to see people realize the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. He is a certified personal trainer and enjoys running races--from 5Ks to 50K ultramarathons. See all of Jason's articles.

Member Comments

  • Yes even with a doctor's and a lawyers note my son Erik's gym continued to debit is account once a month. We had even taken in pictures that showed Erik was in serious condition, doctors note stated he had a Traumatic Brain Injury. and LA Fitness continued till I closed the account. So beware and aware when you try to cancel.
    - 10/18/2014 10:13:47 AM
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  • DENNISPARKER
    Good article! Thank you so much for sharing this post. Your views truly open my mind. I will share it with other people.
    - 11/12/2013 6:05:32 AM
  • BOB11FRANK
    I joined a gym when I was around 45 at $50 per month for my wife and myself. Their policy is to never increase your rate so at 68 I am still paying $50 per month for my luxurious gym. - 9/12/2013 11:07:14 AM
  • Don't you have to be a certain age for Silver Sneaker for the insurance to pay for it. - 9/9/2013 2:52:27 PM
  • BLUEMOON_
    I'm fortunate enough to have medical insurance through Blue Cross (I am self-employed & think we should have a single payer system, but - I'll spare you the rant! :D). In our area, we're eligible to join Healthways Fitness Your Way which is network of 8,000 fitness centers that I was able to join for $25 registration fee & then dues of $25 a month, which is significantly lower than my YMCA membership. https://www.blue3
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    Not all fitness places participate or know about it, but you can nominate one although it is their choice of whether or not to join & there is probably other complicated requirements (I nominated mine). It's like a Silver Sneakers network & I really, really hope it spreads everywhere & that many more people can take advantage of it.

    Using this now I can hit the gym when I travel, whether it is the next town or a state away. I started at Curves last week, now I'm going to add cardio at a different place with equipment & tomorrow I may do a yoga class in the neighboring town. Classes may be extra but they would be discounted. I think it's genius & I am happy to see these health insurance premiums partially defray the costs when you are trying to add healthy routines to your life, they should all do it.

    Good luck!
    - 2/12/2013 12:17:40 AM
  • 45632B
    Enjoyed this article and advice as well as reading comments from the experience of others, it will help with my decision in choosing a fitness group. - 10/28/2012 1:37:55 PM
  • DELORISCOLE11
    There are some Medicare Advantage Plans that pay for gym memberships. SilverSneakers Classes are worth checking out. - 10/17/2012 12:48:59 PM
  • MEPHYLE
    This is great advice, but from my own experience, I would encourage anyone not to rule out group classes until they have tried them. You may know for a fact that group classes aren’t your thing, but if you haven’t tried them, I can tell you that they may not feel the same way as they look.

    You can’t judge accurately whether you will like it or not from only “seeing” without “doing.” It’s completely different being in a class doing the movements than it is to be outside the class watching other people do it. - 10/17/2012 12:09:21 PM
  • The YMCA is a little more pricey then most gyms in my area (but cheaper than the JCC!!) but I feel like they do a lot of good for our community so I don't mind paying a little extra. Besides, they have a pool and track...something the other gyms don't have. - 10/17/2012 11:03:05 AM
  • Goodlife (largest fitness chain in Canada) also offers a FREE membership to those who would like to volunteer a measly 2 or 3 hours a week in their JUMP (child care program) facility or general cleaning/tidying/
    front desk work. Check with your local club for details. I will definitely be checking into this when I am on maternity leave! - 10/17/2012 8:22:59 AM
  • The YMCA by me supposedly offers financial assistance-- but they quoted me $99 to sign up and $29 every month after that, even after showing them that I'm unemployed, on food stamps, etc. That's entirely out of my budget, I don't know how they thought I would be able to afford that! I went to them because they have a pool I can swim in while I wait for my sprained ankle to heal, but I think I'll save my money and go to Planet Fitness for ten bucks a month. - 5/31/2012 9:41:54 AM
  • I'm with TRIXI11 - look into the YMCA in your town. Ours is a great deal, plus it has stuff for the whole family. - 2/20/2012 11:07:06 AM
  • I would suggest joining Groupon and other group-coupon sites in your town. I was able to try out a local health and wellness center for one month for only $25, and then at the end of the month I was given a $100 towards their $125 membership joining fee, so it only cost me $25 to join.

    Of course, not every gym in every town will decide to do a Groupon, but it can't hurt to sign up (it's free).

    Even though I normally wouldn't think I could afford a gym, I rationalized it that if it helped me lose weight and be more fit, I would save money in the long term. - 8/21/2011 8:26:20 PM
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