Best Gym Membership Deals

January 8, 2012

Gym membership deals seem to be everywhere this time of the year. We’re one month into a new year – you promised yourself it was time to get healthy as part of your New Year’s resolutions, but have you?

It isn’t too late to start now. Gyms usually see a large influx of customers in January as we all promise to get healthy and fit every year. If you’ve waited until now you can still get a good deal, and the crowds will be slowly going down moving further into the year. You’ve missed part of the “resolution rush”.

Join the Right Gym
Before you can start looking at gym memberships you need to know what you are looking for in a gym. Do you want to run on inclined treadmills? Are you interested in a wide variety of classes (aerobics, spin, etc.)? Are there specific weight-based workouts you are looking to do?

All of these factors determine which gym is the right one for you. If you’re looking to take a wide range of classes and you pick a gym that doesn’t offer many classes, you’ve lost. And you’ve probably locked yourself in a long contract to boot!

Gym Membership Deals
Once you’ve picked out the type of gym you need you can start comparing offers from gyms in your area. Here’s a look at what some national gym chains are offering:

Bally Total Fitness Discounts

Bally Total Fitness: $27.99 per month, pay first and last month, plus a $29.00 card fee. No long term contract and access to 300+ fitness centers around the world. You can also use Bally coupon codes to save $5 off enrollment.  At one point you could get a Bally discount if you were a recent college graduate.  You can also get a Bally free trial to test out the gym with their 7 day guest pass.

Golds Gym Discounts

Gold’s Gym: Promotions vary by gym. For example, One location in Murfeesboro, TN offered $14.99 per month memberships with no contract; a gym in New Bern, NC offered memberships at $29.99 per month with $21.54 in start up costs and a 2 year contract. That’s a huge difference!

Gold’s Gym also offers a 7 day VIP pass that gives you a golds gym membership trial to see if you like it.

Curves Discounts

Curves: Each location is a franchise so promotions are laregely determined by the owners. Many do have a Curves deal where new members get a week free as part of their “Wildly Effective Week” promotion.

24 Hour Fitness Discounts

24 Hour Fitness: $29.99 per month and you can use 24 hour fitness coupon codes for a $0 initiation fee. In addition to the 24 hour fitness free trial for 14 days, they also offer coupons for 30 or 90 day non-member offers.

Local Gym Deals

You won’t want to forget local gyms either. “The Rush!” is a somewhat regional chain in the southeast with locations in Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina. Their New Year’s special is $1 per day ($30 per month) with no up front costs. My local YMCA offers a single adult membership for $49 with a $30 join fee, but the family membership is only $73. If you had multiple people using the membership your cost per person drops dramatically.

As you can see it really pays to shop around to find the best gym. Prices for no-contract memberships seem to range in the $28 to $30 per month range. Going on contract might save you money in the long run, but only if you use the gym heavily.

Most every gym out there offers a 7 day free membership pass to get you to try the gym out. The hope is you’ll get enough out of they gym during those seven days (when your motivation to work out is highest) that end up joining at the end of the week.

Compare Gym Costs and Perks
Once you’ve narrowed your list of prospective gyms down, it’s time to try them out. Use the 7 day pass, but commit to not committing until you’ve tried out every gym on your list.

After you’ve tried all the gyms it is time to get down to negotiating and comparing the costs with the perks. You’ll need that list of things you thought were important in a gym from earlier.

Did you use any of the classes like you thought you would? If so, the gym that costs $1 more per month but has three times as many classes as other gyms is probably worth it. If you didn’t, then a gym like that might not make the final cut.

Narrow the list down to two target gyms, then call them up and ask for the best deal. Better yet go in person and tell them you’ve got an offer from one of their competitors and want to see if they can beat that deal. You’ll get a lot of fluff about why they are better than the competitor, but remember you’ve already narrowed down to two gyms that you would be happy to join. It’s all about dollars and cents now.

Don’t Forget Corporate Discounts
Fitness centers have smartly teamed up to offer discounts to employees of corporations in their areas. Corporations are looking to cut back on their healthcare costs, and employees that regularly go to the gym are likely to be healthier than if they didn’t go to the gym. It’s a win-win for the employer and the gym.

24 Hour Fitness Discount Code

For example, some corporate wellness programs will give you a 24 Hour Fitness discount code that you can enter into their website to save money when you sign up, as shown here.

These relationships can also be a win for the consumer, but only if you do your price shopping. The corporate discount at one gym may be more expensive than the rate you could negotiate to at a different gym. Either way it is a good place to start as you try to make your selection.

It’s not just corporations that get in on the gym discounts, some government organizations offer them as well.  For example, the New York Department of Education has a partnership that earns Golds Gym discounts for all of it’s employees.  And at one point Curves was offering all Indiana State Employees Curves membership discounts at certain locations. You’ll probably need some sort of proof of employment for similar deals, usually an employee ID or recent paycheck stub is enough.

Membership Clubs

Another way to find gym membership deals is by being part of a club or organization.  For example, if you have a Costco membership you can get a 24 Hour Fitness discount by buying a year or two at a time.

Or you can get a Golds gym deal if you’re a member of AARP – a discounted enrollment fee and discounts on monthly membership costs.

So, as you can see there are multiple ways you can save money on a gym membership.  Before you signup, check out the deals and see how much you can save.


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Kevin Mulligan is a debt reduction champion with a passion for teaching people how to budget and stay out of debt. He's building a personal finance freelance writing career and has written for, Discover Bank, ING Direct, and many others.

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15 Responses to Best Gym Membership Deals

  • M. Sukkar

    Do AARP members get a special family plan at any LA fitness Center. Please respond urgently, making decision this weekend. Thanks.

  • Eric J. Nisall - DollarVersity

    Bally’s is no more. They were bought out by LA Fitness a couple weeks ago, and from what I hear, the trainers and clients aren’t too happy with the way the transition is being handled.

    Some of the local/regional gyms have great deals. There used to be a California Fitness near me that offered $10/month rates with no contracts (while they were still around), and a place like Planet Fitness is pretty similar and seem to be almost nation-wide.

  • Kevin @ Debteye

    I have a membership @ 24 hour fitness and pay $29.99/month without any contracts. Not a bad gym at all. You can always usually negotiate gym memberships!

  • Jeff Crews

    My gym costs are $0 also. However, it does help being part of and getting free gear. I like how you say that it depends on what the person is looking for. My dad just bought a treadmill because that is all he needed. Even though he ended up using the local park track.

  • Janen

    Gym memberships are expensive that’s why not many people would prefer just exercising at home or go for a brisk walking in the neighborhood.

  • Cheapskate Jake @ My Personal Finance Journey

    Another thing to be sure to keep in mind is that many companies offer workout gyms on their campuses. And, typically, if you work for or attend a university, you can get a good discount or workout for free at the on-campus exercise facility.

  • Janet

    My monthy workout fee is $0 … but I did have to pay upfront costs for my workout video collection. And running shoes aren’t free. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Ben

      Yes, but do you live in the Midwest where it’s cold, dark, and miserable outside all winter ๐Ÿ™‚

      Of course, if you have the space, one option is to buy a treadmill. Costs more up front but if you use it for a few years, and it doesn’t break down, it would be cheaper than paying for a gym membership.


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