10 Ways to Cut Your Gym Membership Cost

Cut Gym CostsI’ve only paid for 2 gym memberships in my entire life and I remember how frustrated I was each time with the costs.  I only use the free weights and occasionally the basketball court. What I end up paying for though is the entire gym. At least this is the way it feels when they walk me around the entire place trying to sell me on it and then say what fantastic prices they offer. My #1 goal is to get fit and cut gym membership costs while at it.

The first time I shopped around at the local gyms and collected all the prices. I looked online for promotions and then called each gym to see if they’d price match. I ended up getting a good deal (at the time) and stuck with them for 3 years. My second gym was much simpler because my friends were going there and they offered roughly 25% discount for veterans. I was sold!

To cut gym membership cost you have to go in prepared. You’re most likely feeling desperate to get in shape. Be careful though because gym’s have salesman and saleswoman that will get you to pay more than you want. Keep these 10 tips in mind to cut gym costs.

1) Free Trial

Every gym offers 1 or 2 week trials. You have to ask though. Do you have a friend with a gym membership? See if they can pick up a free pass for you. You can also go directly to a gyms website and look for free trials there. If you feel like you’re being cheap by using their free trial, you’re not.

2) Look for sales and Promotions

Costco, Groupon, Living Social, Yelp and many other coupons are available online. It’ll only require some research on your part. Don’t forget to check the gym’s website and then actually look at all the signs at the gym when you go in. Some promotions are available in Flyer form so ask your friends to keep a look out.

3) Signup during slow season.

Look at the end of the month when they’re looking to meet a quota. This is one of the best times. I also hear that January is when the best promotions come out because they’re trying to capitalize on new  years resolutions.

4) Check with HR

At my company we get a 20% discount. As a veteran though I get roughly 25% off. Make sure to check with your HR to see what deals you have in your area. If you’re negotiating a new job make sure to ask about these benefits.

5) Signup with no initiation fee

The first gym membership I signed up for years ago had a $100 signup fee. This made me stick around longer than I wanted when a newer and bigger gym opened up nearby. I felt stuck and “trapped”. I don’t know for sure if I could of gotten out of the initiation fee since I had already scored a good deal. But it never hurts to try.

If you hear that a gym in the area is building a new location or upgrading see if you can get grandfathered in. It’ll be cheaper this way because you’ll be paying the cheaper price while everyone else pays the new cost.

6) Avoid the contract

They’re going to tell you that contracts are required. They might call it an “agreement”. Signing a contract can also make you feel stuck if you end up not happy with the gym. At all costs avoid the contract. Comparing the competition will help make them bargain for your membership.

7) Get Quotes by checking out the competition

When making a significant purchase it’s important to know the quality of the service you’re purchasing. Check out each local gym and see what they have to offer you. You may be paying them but they better be doing their part to make fitness fun and comfortable for you. Make them price match and bid for your membership.

8) Be Wary of the “specials”.

I remember both times I signed up at a gym they tried to get me to buy some personal training sessions. They’d offer 2 or 3 free sessions if I bought a package of 10. This will make you think you’re getting a great deal. But unless you have no clue on how to work out you’ll be better off skipping these “specials”.

9) Freeze Your Account

If you’re going on travel for over a month make sure to “freeze” your account. One job I had a few years ago had their own gym so I didn’t need my gym membership. But because I didn’t know how long I’d be at that job I decided to freeze my account. If I remember correctly it was about 25% of the normal monthly fee.

10) Check Your Insurance Plan

I’ve never had a discounted gym membership through my insurance plan but I hear some do offer this. Especially for those who are self-employed. It never hurts to check. Even if you only cut your gym membership cost by $5 that’s $60 after one year.

If you want to cut your gym membership cost try some or all of these tips. It’ll be worth it!


  1. During budget reviews where I’d try to find my clients more money to save, I’d routinely ask them if they’d checked with HR about specials on things they were already buying. It was amazing to me how money money people saved by just asking one question at work: can I get discounts? At medium and large companies, it’s often “yes.”

    • So true! I remember when I first found out and felt a little silly not knowing earlier. Some orientations don’t bring it up or arent’ thorough so you have to do your research.

  2. Great tips John! We try and avoid contracts for the gym at all cost. This is part of the reason why we like going to the YMCA as opposed to another chain-style gym. They allow us to go month to month and have some great programs for our kids.

    • Good suggestion! I have a friend who also goes to the YMCA. I heard if you volunteer with them you can use their facilities free too. I actually thought I included this in the article under “Month to Month” but looks like I removed that point to keep it at 10.

  3. We live in a college town. Apparently, the general public can get into the university gym for $5 a visit. If you go frequently, it’s more expensive than a regular gym membership, but if you are only going to go once or twice a month, it saves a lot of money.

  4. Great tips! Especially about signing up during slow seasons when they are desperate for new members. Thanks for this.

  5. I agree with John and Ed. The municipal rec center is super cheap. If you can deal with maybe a little more mess and lots of kids in the swimming pool, it is a super deal. Maybe they don’t provide towels, but the equipment is as good as any local gym,and I can buy lots of towels for the difference in price.

  6. Going to the gym is great, if you can keep it a part of you regular routine, if not it get really expense to just pay and never use.

    For those that live in a climate that is nice and warm, the outside makes a great gym!

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