How (And When) to Get the Best Gym Membership Deals

Joining a Fitness Center? Check These Money-Saving Tips


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Whether you’re preparing a New Year’s resolution to work out more often or you want a gym membership simply because it’s too cold to exercise outside, you’re likely to be seeking some great deals on joining a gym. Fortunately, you can find them as long as you know where to look and you’re ready to read contracts very carefully.

Check out the following considerations when evaluating gyms where you might want to sign up for a membership.

Establish Your Budget

Gym rates can vary widely, depending on such factors as location, amenities, personal training options, and hours/availability. Typically you won’t find rates below $10 per month, but you should crunch your budget and figure out how much you’re comfortable spending before you search. Then, once you start gathering membership fee costs, you can rule out the gyms that charge more than you’ve budgeted.

If you approach a gym that has membership fees above your target price but you really like the place, you might consider working out a deal with the manager.

Many gyms will work to accommodate your budget if it’s within a few dollars of their charges. For instance, if a gym is $20 per month on a month-to-month basis but you only want to spend $15, the gym might agree to charge you $15 if you agree to sign a one-year contract.

Know When to Visit

You’re sure to find deals at the gym during the month of January when fitness centers know that many potential new customers will be inquiring about pricing. You’re also likely to see good prices near the end of the month. Much like you’ve probably heard about car dealers and other sales quota-based businesses, gyms are often interested in selling a certain number of memberships per month, and if they haven’t made those numbers by month’s end, they’ll be more interested in looking to make a deal.

In addition, some gyms are apt to offer bargains during the months when people are eager to exercise outside. Although people flock to gyms in the winter months when it’s too chilly to take an outdoor jog, that’s not as likely in May, when people are eager to hit the running trail at the park. Therefore, you can sometimes find great gym bargains during the spring through early fall.

Consider A No-Commitment Trial

Many gyms offer you an opportunity to try before you buy – sometimes this will be a one-week trial, and other times you might be able to visit a specific number of times, such as a five-visit pass. This is a great way to determine whether joining the gym would be a good idea for you and whether you like the amenities, location, hours and other members before you lay down any money.

If you do choose to embark on a free trial period, make sure to read the fine print.

Some of these will charge you retroactively if you choose not to join after the trial period ends, while others might say the trial period is actually a free month for those who agree to join afterward.

During your free trial period, be sure to check all aspects of the gym, and visit at varied hours. Rather than just hitting the treadmill and free weights and heading out, you’ll want to take a look at how the courses run, whether the locker room is clean, if the front desk staff is friendly, whether the towels are fresh, and other factors that are important to you.

Ask Your Employer

Many employers offer to reimburse fitness center fees, but most staff members don’t take advantage of this benefit because they don’t realize it exists. If you aren’t sure whether your office will kick in money toward your fitness fees, contact the human resources department and ask. If so, often this will just require you to submit a copy of your contract showing what your fees are and the benefit will show up in your paychecks.

Always Read the Fine Print

If you do agree to join a gym, don’t simply operate on the handshake of $15 a month and sign on the dotted line. Read the gym’s contract extremely carefully to ensure that no fine print ropes you into staying a member for a longer time period than you’d like. In addition, there should be a way to get out of the contract if you move to a new city, get injured or can’t exercise or other reasons.

Make sure you know the cancellation policy, as well as any fees associated with leaving before the contract ends.