Are you planning to improve your fitness in the new year? If so, you’re not alone; getting more exercise is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions. It also poses a problem – gyms are often expensive. What are you to do if you want to regularly work out, but not pay a fortune each month? The answer is a cheap gym membership.
Yes, you can exercise at home or outside. You can even use one of the best free workout apps to help you establish a routine.
But, this causes two problems – you’re limited by what you have at home, and where you live may not always be conducive to outdoor exercise.
A low-cost gym membership is an excellent solution. Amid gyms that charge joining fees and high monthly costs, there are options to exercise for cheap. Thankfully, it doesn’t take a lot of work to find gym membership specials.
Our guide shares a few of the best ways to save money at the gym.
Ways to Find a Cheap Gym Membership
Are you looking for ways to get a cheap gym membership and having no luck? It’s frustrating to find a gym that doesn’t charge a king’s ransom in fees before you have your first workout.
It’s also difficult to know what you should pay to go to the gym. In my research on looking for the average gym membership, I found rates ranging from $40 per month to more than $100 per month.
It varies mostly on where you live and what you’re looking for in a health club membership.
If exercise is a part of your plans in the New Year, below are the seven best ways to get a cheap gym membership.
1. Groupon and LivingSocial
One of the best ways to save money on exercise is to find gym membership deals. Sites like Groupon and LivingSocial are valuable resources to use for specials, especially at the beginning of the year.
These discounts can vary, but they’ll typically save you at least 20 percent.
In my area, for example, Groupon was offering half off aerobics classes at one of my local gyms. Instead of almost $200 for ten classes, I would only pay $99.
Not a bad deal if that’s something that interests you. That’s just one of the examples that I’ve seen in the last few months.
Both Groupon and LivingSocial offer different deals at different times throughout the year. So, if you want to grab a discount on a gym membership or try a few gym classes for free, you want to check in often.
Some of the best times include the beginning of the year and right before the summer.
2. Join a Low-Cost Gym
Another great way to get a low-cost gym membership is to join a cheap gym. While there are some fancier gyms with state of the art equipment and spas, those can cost a fortune.
Instead, you can join an inexpensive gym. It may not have state of the art everything, but it will have what you need and may come with perks. Here are just a few of the gyms that you can join for less than eating out.
The gym advertised as a “Judgement Free Zone” is one of the cheapest gyms that you can join. For just $10 a month, you’ll get access to their equipment, 24/7 access (if your gym is open 24/7), and no-contract commitments.
Want something a little fancier? Planet Fitness also offers a $20 to $22 membership (depending on your location) that gives you access to additional perks, including:
- Unlimited use of massage chairs
- Unlimited guest privileges at all locations
- Half-priced cooler drinks
You’re also able to go to any Planet Fitness location in the U.S. with this membership option.
With over 600 locations in the United States, you’re likely to have an LA Fitness in your area. Not only does the gym offer a five-day pass for you to try it out, but they also have gym membership options for less than $30 a month.
While you may have to pay a $49 to $99 membership activation fee, gyms often waive during promotions or if you sign up for a contract.
LA Fitness has quite a few perks too. You’ll get access to workout classes, heated pools, and more for no extra cost. You also get access to all LA Fitness gyms around the country.
So, if you’re traveling, have to move, or need to go to a different gym for any other reason, they have you covered.
As the name suggests, Anytime Fitness is a gym that’s open 24/7. While you can receive a free seven-day pass to try them out, the gym isn’t particularly expensive.
For less than $40 a month and a $49.99 initiation fee (which may be waivable during promotions), you can become a member.
It is also worth noting that Anytime Fitness does require you to sign a contract. So, if you’re not a fan of contracts and prefer a month-to-month option, they may not be the best option for you.
Anytime Fitness offers equipment, classes, tanning, personal training, private showers, and more, typically at no extra cost to the member.
To know what your local gym offers specifically, you can always call them or email them to see what they have.
These gyms are great options to start with, but they also offer quite a bit for the monthly fee that you’ll pay. If you don’t know where to look, do an internet search with the term ‘low-cost gym near me” to find suitable options.
3. Go to Costco
Costco members can receive steep discounts on gym memberships. For example, Costco is currently offering $40 off a two-year 24 Hour Fitness membership.
While it may not seem like much, you can further increase your savings if you combine that with promotions.
Costco offers gift cards and discounted memberships throughout the year based on who they partner with. While you do need to be a member to take advantage of these discounts, it’s one of the best ways to save money at Costco.
Similarly, Sam’s Club is also known to carry discounted offers for local gyms in their gift card section.
4. Use Work/Health Insurance Benefits and Discounts
Many employers offer wellness benefits and cheap gym memberships for their employees. Even if your employer doesn’t list this perk as part of your employment package, they offer you something.
Just ask your Group Benefits representative for what your employer offers.
Even if your employer doesn’t offer benefits or discounts for gyms, you may be able to use your health insurance to get them.
When I had traditional health insurance, they offered Weight Watchers for a steep discount and 50 percent off of a gym membership with one of the gyms they contracted with.
It was a great incentive, and I didn’t have to pay much more out of pocket to take advantage.
If you have health insurance, log into your account online, and check your benefits for available discounts. Give your insurer a call if you do not see gym membership discounts listed to learn what’s available.
5. Get College and Student Discounts
One of the more overlooked ways to get a cheap gym membership is through your school. Many colleges have gyms, and fees to use the facility are often included in your student fees.
Even if you take one or two classes at a time, this isn’t a benefit you want to miss.
Are you an alumnus and live near the campus? Many colleges offer discounts to alumni as a perk. Just go to the recreation center and ask about what gym membership deals they offer to former students.
Do you want to exercise off-campus, or find that the gym isn’t open during convenient hours? Thankfully, you’re not out of luck. If you’re a high school or college student, you can receive student discounts to numerous health clubs, including:
- 24 Hour Fitness
- Gold’s Gym
- New York Sports Club
While discounts will vary, you can typically save at least a few bucks each month. You may also be able to get membership joining fees waived and other perks.
6. Use Your Local Community Center
I don’t know about you, but in my community, our community centers are incredible. We have five in our area, and most include pools, state of the art equipment, soccer fields, and more.
All of them have excellent rates for the residents.
Even if your local community center doesn’t offer that, you can typically still get a great workout in via classes or their weight room. Some also offer childcare so you can bring the kids and have someone keep an eye on them while you exercise.
Many community centers offer discounts for residents. You can typically also get a day pass or hole-punch cards that allow you to check out the gym for less than a monthly membership.
Some community centers even offer memberships just for classes, just for the gym, or even just for sports teams. If any of those suit your fancy, you can get your membership for quite a bit less than a general one.
7. Negotiate a Lower Price
One of the best ways to get a cheap gym membership is to ask for a lower price. You may not like to negotiate, but it’s as simple as asking how they can save you money.
One of the first things that you could try is to ask for any of the current promotions they’re running. It doesn’t always work, but if you’ve been a member for a while or ask nicely, they may lower your price.
These promotions may mean that you will receive a few months for a discount, get a month for free, or whatever else they’re offering.
Something else to try is downgrading your membership. Doing so is especially helpful if you love certain aspects, but not all.
For example, you may enjoy working out on the machines, but don’t like taking classes. You may be able to negotiate a few dollars off every month since you don’t use that perk.
Other Legit Ways to Save Money on a Gym Membership
Finding a cheap gym membership to a local health club is an excellent way to save money. However, it’s not the only way to save money on exercise.
Below are some other ways to save money at the gym:
Only sign-up for what you need. Gyms love to sign you up for classes or training sessions. If you need or want these, that’s great, but if you don’t, it’s a waste of money.
Only sign up for what you need to ensure you don’t spend more than you want.
Sign up at the end of the month. Gyms are businesses too, and they often run month-end promotions to reach a particular goal. If you join near the end of the month, just ask for what promotions they’re currently offering.
Ask for a trial membership. It’s a bit unrealistic to expect you will like a gym without first using it. Before signing a contract, ask the gym to provide a free trial membership. If you find you don’t like the gym, it will save you money.
You can even try this at a few gyms to find the one that works best for your needs and budget.
Join with a friend. Again, gyms are a business. They need new members to stay in business. Bring a friend that’s looking for a gym and ask for a lower price for the both of you.
There are no guarantees, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to try.
Gyms are often quite expensive, but not every health club is that way. Amidst the expensive ones, there are low-cost gyms that let you exercise at a reduced price.
It may take some work to find a cheap gym membership, but with the possibility of saving half or more, it’s worth the effort. If you want to start your new year right, keep your body in shape, or just need accountability while you run on a treadmill, you can do it affordably.
How much do you pay to use the gym? What’s your trick to find gym membership specials? Which national chain is the cheapest in your area?