Fiscally Fit: How to Snag a Cheap Gym Membership

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Dumbbell, water bottle, towel on the bench in the gym.

Don't Weight

Is having abs part of your New Year's resolutions for 2024? Or maybe you're trying to be more consistent about working out, but don't want to be roped into a contract or have to pay a ton of money for a gym membership? We've outlined methods (and loopholes) to help you get a gym membership for cheap — or even for free — so you can get to work on that beach bod. Do you have more tips? Share them in the comments.

Related: 10 Costly Mistakes You're Making at the Gym

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Sign Up for Free Trials

Many gyms offer free trials to potential members with full access to their amenities, classes, and workout equipment. While most trials last only a few days, some can last several weeks, or even a month. Pro tip: Sign up for trials at multiple facilities so you can decide which best fits your needs; each day you get to work out for free equals more money in your pocket. 

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Get Your Health Insurance to Reimburse You

Since maintaining a healthy lifestyle will likely result in fewer trips to the doctor — lowering the chances of a provider having to pay for your health-related visits — your health insurance might reimburse you for the cost of a gym membership. Inquire with your provider to see if this is an option, and how much of the membership fee can be covered. 

Mature Gym Goer Signing Up For Personal Training Sessions

Sign Up at the End of the Month

Since gyms are required to meet a monthly sales quota, signing up for a gym membership at the end of the month will most likely help you snag the cheapest price. As at other businesses, sales agents at gyms must try and entice as many people to join as possible — giving you more leverage to negotiate a better deal. Chains such as Planet Fitness also routinely offer discounts; ask about these the next time you go in. 

Related: Is Planet Fitness' Black Card Membership Worth It?

Diverse People in GYM

Ask for a Family or Group Discount

Some gyms will offer discounts to special groups such as seniors, veterans, members of the police or fire department, and even teachers. Some gyms also offer bundle deals for larger groups, families, and corporate referrals. Reach out to a salesperson or manager to ask about these options, as they likely won't be heavily advertised. 

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Compare Prices Online

Since gyms are always trying to get as many new members to join, prices may differ online vs. in-person. If you find a lower price online, take a screenshot and ask gym staff to honor the price. 

Happy woman smiling and working out in gym

Put Your Negotiator Hat On

The fitness industry is a profitable one — pulling in more than $30 billion, according to Statista. And while it may feel awkward to bargain, remember that gyms want you to join so they can make money off you; you shouldn't be shy about asking for the best deal. You might be surprised at how much you can save by just asking. 

Shot of a young man filling out paperwork while assisting a client in a gym

Ask for Payment Options

For most businesses, cash is still king — and gyms are no different, especially for smaller facilities. With a smaller gym, you may get a better rate by offering to pay in cash or upfront, rather than monthly. "One way to try and get a better price on a gym membership is to ask if there is a discount if you pay in full for three months, six months, or even a year," advises personal trainer Kate Meier

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Download Fitness Apps

Though not exactly a gym membership, fitness apps such as ClassPass and FitOn can grant access to workout classes near you. Signing up is easy and the all-in-one subscription offers users a wide range of options, from pilates, yoga, and cycling to wellness and even beauty treatments. (Of course there are also online-only apps, or free online tutorials that can help avoid the need for gym's hefty fees for services such as personal training sessions and classes.)