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
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.
|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@example.com 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.