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The Best Ways to Save Money on Gym Memberships

4 minute read

Cora Walker

By Cora Walker

One of the best investments you can ever make is in your health. That may mean different things for different people, but one option is to join a local gym. Full of expensive equipment, services, and fun classes, gyms often have resources that we don’t have access to at home.

There’s no question about it — for a lot of people, gyms are a great option for trying to get fit. However, finding the right gym for you is essential to making sure your new routine becomes a habit. A big part of that is gym culture and services, but this venture also needs to fit into your budget. Membership fees can add up over time. You don’t want to end up back on the couch just because you can’t afford those monthly rates.

While many gyms are currently shut down, that won’t last forever. Let’s look at some ways you might be able to save money on your next membership and make the most out of it.

When Gym Searching, Take Advantage of the Free Trial

The number one way to avoid wasting money on a gym is to actually like the gym you end up joining.

Start your search for a gym by saving money with a free trial. Most gyms offer them in the the form of a 3- or 7-day pass. This makes a lot of sense, as you usually need to use a gym before you really know if it’s the right environment for you. Anyone looking for a gym is generally unwilling to dive into a contract without first using the equipment or attending a class. Reading online reviews, investigating the “About Us” page on a website, or even chatting to a salesperson won’t necessarily give you a sense of how good of a fit it will be.

The last thing you want is to end up paying for a membership you don’t use. You might as well just set that money on fire. Plus it can be demoralizing to your fitness and financial goals. While it can be hard to predict everything in advance — like the commute, whether or not you are comfortable there, or anything else that might turn you off to a new space — taking advantage of a free trial should always be Step One.

Take Advantage of Subsidies (From Your Job or Health Insurance)

Research consistently shows that exercise is good for you both physically and mentally. In an age of repetitive strain injuries and numerous illnesses linked to sedentary lifestyles, giving people opportunities to move is the humane thing to do. It’s also makes sense from a financial perspective. Checking with your employer or health insurance is a great indirect way to save money on a new routine.

Good, affluent employers will often support employees in their health and fitness. Sometimes this comes in the form of small stipends to help you afford a gym in the first place. Other times there may even be a gym in your office building that many companies take advantage of.

Likewise, health insurance companies often know that the best way to save money is to help make sure people don’t get sick in the first place. Many will offer discounts for gym memberships or fitness programs.

Locate and Use Coupons

They aren’t just for groceries! Many gyms advertise special promo codes online as part of sales drives. This is especially true during times of the year where they expect to get more signups. Sites like Groupon are a great place to check. Looking for coupons is an especially good option if you’re interested in trying out a bunch of different classes or fitness experiences but aren’t really sure what’s right for you yet. HIIT? Zumba? Karate? Yoga? The sky is the limit at any age. Browsing coupons for free or discounted one-time experiences could lead you to activities you never would have considered.

If you’re already a part of a gym, joining their mailing service can bring your attention to discounts on classes as they come up. Smaller outfits are very invested in keeping people involved year-round. For example, the kickboxing gym I go to is family-owned and regularly has sales on punch cards around the holidays and during the summer.

Look For Discounts

Veterans, students, or senior citizens are often eligible for a little extra support from all kinds of local businesses. And yes, that typically including fitness centers and gyms of all kinds.

If you’re a member of one of these groups, it’s worth asking your gym if there is a discount for you. Keep an eye out for any special promotions that may apply to you too. People in these groups are most likely to get some kind of lower monthly rate or benefits, so you might as well take advantage.

Sign Up in The Summer

Gym signups tend to be highly seasonal. You can use this to your advantage. Summer is notorious in the fitness world for lapsed attendance. When the weather gets nice, fewer people sign up or maintain their memberships. Even if they love their gym, beautiful sunshine and blue skies might just be too tempting.

However, if you’re in the market for a new place to hang your towel, this trend could present a great opportunity. You might be able to negotiate a lower monthly rate or catch some bonuses for signing up in July or August. Gyms are always looking to make a profit. Their salespeople have quotas they need to hit every month, just like any other business. Besides, working out in an air-conditioned space during the summer also comes with some distinct advantages — even if the view isn’t quite as good.

Gym Members Running on TreadmillShutterstock
Cora Walker


Cora is a Northwest-based writer and editor who wants to make information as accessible as possible in the internet age. Video games are this writer’s primary vice. With a degree from the University of Washington as well as 5+ years of experience in web writing and publishing, Cora is here to share financial tips from experts and talk about good habits.


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