How to Save Money on a Gym Membership

You could say that I’m a gym rat.

Over the years, I’ve belonged to high-end fitness centers, community recreation facilities, yoga and barre studios, boutique cardio centers, outdoor boot camps – you name it. I’ve also worked out with personal trainers and tried out just about every new fitness class imaginable.

What I won’t do is work out on my own. Sure, I’ll get in my 10,000 steps (as long as it’s not freezing outside), but I simply can’t motivate myself to exercise with an app or use fitness equipment in my home. Yup, I’m the one who used my former elliptical machine as a clothes hanger.

And, while fitness memberships can be expensive, I need to belong to a gym to stay accountable to my own health and wellness.

If this sounds like you too, here are four ways to save money and determine whether a gym membership is worth the price.

1. Shop around

As I mentioned above, I’ve been to my fair share of gyms. They are not all equal. Prices and facilities can be like comparing night and day.

Notably, even bargain gym membership prices can vary drastically. A Boston YMCA, for example, costs about $54 a month, while a Planet Fitness bare-bones membership costs $10 a month. So, do your research and find a gym membership that fits within your budget. If all you want is a no-frills fitness center with ample equipment, Planet Fitness may be a good solution for you.

2. Look for deals

I am the queen of fitness deals. If I can find a bargain work-out to save money, I’m in. Here are my two favorite savings hacks:

  • Sign up for a Groupon account. You will get bombarded with emails offering deals to gyms and boutique fitness studios. Yoga, Pilates and group training programs constantly offer unbeatable prices for class packages. So, this is a great way to try out studios for a rock-bottom price. Last year, for example, I scored a deal to a new cardio gym and this winter, I bought a 10-class Groupon to a new barre studio – for less than half the normal price.
  • Many fitness centers offer trial weeks or even one month free. If there’s a fitness center you’ve been eyeing, why not take it for a test drive before forking over your hard-earned cash? L.A. Fitness, for example, offers five-day workout passes but if you have a friend who is a member, the gym will extend a two-week pass. And, remember, everything is negotiable and if you are seriously about joining, you may be able to get even a longer trial period. L.A. Fitness has clubs located in many states and offers an array of group fitness classes, as well as other wellness services. If you do join, you can do so for as low as $24.99 a month.

3. Make sure you like the gym or fitness program

These days there are gyms and then there are other gyms. Huh?

As mentioned above, you can join a regular fitness center with all sorts of equipment and classes, or you can join a small gym or boutique fitness studio. But, before joining any gym, try it before you buy it (this is where steps #1 and #2 above come in handy).

Full disclosure: I know a thing or two about this. I owned a yoga studio for 12 years and often students bought passes, came once, and never set foot in the studio again. It baffled me to see them waste their money, but yoga just wasn’t their thing. The bottom line: Make sure you like the facilities or classes offered at your gym. This way you’re more likely to stick with it.

And here’s another important pro-tip: If you join a gym and don’t go, cancel your membership right away. No need to waste money you could be saving or using toward a gym membership elsewhere.

4. Determine your priorities and adjust your budget accordingly

Here’s the deal: You can join the cheapest gym in town and never go. This is wasted money. Period.

But, what if you invest in a pricey gym and you go every day? And, what if that gym also offers a cafe with high-speed WiFi, child care, a pool, spa and more?

The point here is this: If you are getting value out of your gym membership, this is better than spending less money on a fitness center that you don’t use at all. For example, after scoring several gym deals for the past year, I joined Lifetime Fitness, an upscale fitness and lifestyle center where membership prices vary depending on where you live. Memberships in Indiana, for example, start at $39 a month if you’re 26 or under. In the Boston area, memberships start at $139 a month. Yikes.

But, hear me out. I joined the club a month ago and have been there almost every day. Not only do I take the group training classes, but I enjoy the yoga and the myriad of other fitness offerings there. Plus, my new gym has a spacious, light-filled cafe with free high-speed WiFi. So, I often take a class and then plant myself in the cafe, where I sip a protein smoothie and get a jump on my work day.

Better yet, I canceled my co-working membership which was costing me $250 a month. I get more done in the gym cafe and canceling my workspace membership allowed me to free up money in my budget to afford my ideal fitness membership.

The result: I’m actually saving money while getting in shape. It’s a win-win!

Are you ready to join a gym?

While gym memberships can be pricey, the cost of your wellness can be, well, priceless. By following these four tried-and-true tips, you’ll be on your way to finding the best gym for you, saving money, and getting value out of your fitness club membership.

Are you ready to hit your fitness and savings goals? We thought so!

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