The ever-increasing price of gym memberships may have you running for the hills, but if outdoor recreation doesn’t give you everything you need in a fitness program then try these eight tips to get a great deal on a membership at a gym in your area.
1. Try before you buy. With any relationship, it’s smart to test the waters before making a long-term commitment, and it’s no different with a gym membership. Don’t sign a contract unless you like the atmosphere, classes and available equipment, and you shouldn’t have to pay to try it out. Most fitness centers offer guest passes on the house, and a site called GymTicket can help you find guest passes in your area. Get a FREE 7-day pass to Gold’s Gym or print one for 24 Hour Fitness.
3. Join a low-cost gym. The rise of no-thrills establishments with equipment and locker rooms, but little else, is the latest trend in fitness. Many of these gyms are locally owned and operated, so it’s tough to include a full listing here, but nationwide options like Planet Fitness and Anytime Fitness offer uncomplicated memberships that won’t break the bank. At Planet Fitness, pay just $10 a month for unlimited club use, or upgrade to $20 a month and receive perks like free tanning, free massages and guest privileges. There’s no juice bar or child care, which keeps prices low, and its welcoming Judgment Free Zone philosophy encourages people of all fitness levels to work out comfortably.
4. Go back to school. Get more from your degree by taking advantage of alumni pricing at your alma mater. Prices vary, but we checked a few public and private universities and found yearly memberships priced from $240 to $300. Contact your school for accurate information.
5. Get a benefit from your benefits. Depending on your insurance company, you can save big on fitness club membership dues. CareFirst from Blue Cross Blue Shield offers up to 60% off membership fees, Select Health nets you discounts at Utah gyms, and Aetna’s Wellness Plan provides price cuts on gym and home fitness options.
6. Save in big cities with AHFA Passbook. If you live in New York, Chicago, Houston or Los Angeles, purchase an American Health and Fitness Association Passbook for $75 and receive vouchers for FREE admission to your city’s best gyms and Pilates or yoga studios. The New York pass alone includes more than 600 visits. But the best thing about Passbook is that if you buy a one-year membership to any partner location within the year, you’ll be refunded the entire $75 fee, making your passbook free.
7. Take it outside. Last summer, Merrell and Lifetime Fitness joined forces to offer to offer FREE outside fitness classes all over the country up to three times a week. These classes combine outdoor elements with boot camp-style exercises for a killer workout led by personal trainers. The classes are over for now, but Lifetime’s fantastic fitness center offers a FREE trial. You can also find free outdoor fitness classes in many communities, and some city parks have workout equipment.
8. Consider community recreation centers. Community centers offer all the perks of regular gyms like free weights and fitness classes, but additional features like climbing walls, swimming pools, water slides and kids’ programs make them an especially attractive option for families. In my hometown, a membership for two costs $400 a year, but you can add additional family members for just $25. Or if you don’t plan to use the center regularly, you can pay each time you visit. Expect to pay around $6 for adults and $4 for kids. Check with your city’s recreation center for details.