Personal Finance

6 Ways to Get a Cheap Gym Membership

Girl at Gym
William Perugini /

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Living on the Cheap.

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 tips to get a great deal on a membership at a gym in your area.

1. Try before you buy

Motivation, two men working out
michaeljung /

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 FreeFlys can help you find guest passes in your area. Get a free seven-day pass to Anytime Fitness or Gold’s Gym or print one for 24 Hour Fitness.

2. Join a low-cost gym

Teen girl working out in the gym
Rob Marmion /

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 $23 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.

Anytime Fitness says that pricing will vary depending on your location, but the average cost of a monthly membership is $41 in the United States and $53 in Canada.

3. Go back to school

Older student in a college classroom
Monkey Business Images /

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.

4. Get a benefit from your benefits

medical insurance /

Depending on your insurance company, you can save big on fitness club membership dues. Aetna’s Wellness Plan provides price cuts on gym and home fitness options.

Call your insurance company to find out if you have access to gym or fitness club memberships.

5. Consider community recreation centers

Rido /

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.

6. Get a ClassPass good at hundreds of studios

Podushko Alexander /

If you prefer fitness classes to gym memberships, purchase a ClassPass for $79 a month and get access to a network of high-priced studios without paying for expensive classes individually.

The pass is based on credits that are applied to your classes (each class costing four or more credits).

Many large cities are currently participating and the network is continuing to grow, but visit ClassPass to see if your city is participating. You can sign up for a free first month and receive 40 credits to use toward classes in your area.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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