What's the Most Affordable Time of Year to Join a Gym? We Investigate

Lindsey Metrus
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Nike

So it's January. A new year sets the framework for all of the things we're planning to improve (hi, waking up earlier and digital detoxing). But easily one of the most popular resolutions made far and wide is going to the gym more—which is why it's impossible to get a treadmill come January.

If you're one of the many other Johnny-come-latelies looking to hit the weights and machines more often than you did last year, is this actually an economically beneficial time to sign up? Do gyms take advantage of the resolution-makers and jack up the prices? We decided to investigate. 

"You actually get a better deal in December going into early January, and you get a really good deal in the summer," says Tim Keightley, executive vice president of operations for Gold's Gym. Gyms are making more money in January, so they're more likely to have members pay a lower monthly fee leading into the New Year when business is slow and have people commit by January 1. But since we've already passed the December timeframe, many gyms are still trying to compete with one another for the most members in the New Year, so they'll likely offer reduced enrollment, free months, or discounts on access to amenities.

However, this is also situational and depends on your gym of choice. For example, Todd Magazine, president of Blink Fitness tell us that "membership rates at Blink Fitness are low all year long, not only after the turn of the New Year."

What about those planning to gear up for the summer season? For gyms whose prices fluctuate, the summer season is a great time to join. Especially on the east coast, more people are heading to the beach for the summer, and nationwide, kids are home from school, so the daily gym grind starts to dwindle. However, traffic is usually very busy in the early spring (Magazine says March is their busiest month), so wait until late spring (usually around May) to sign up when there are fewer bodies and you won't be fighting for a bike.

In terms of package type, Magazine says you should listen to your instincts because, let's be real, a lot of times going to the gym is easier said than done. "Deciding which package is best for you is really dependent on what you're ready for. If you need flexibility, you could consider Blink's Gray membership, which has a month-to-month commitment and offers single-club access to the location of your choice. If you're trying to establish a new routine and incorporate fitness into your lifestyle, it may be best to create an incentive for your own discipline. Committing longer-term could encourage you to stick with it." 

Another bonus of committing to a longer contract is that you'll often have a lower monthly fee. If you don't think it's realistic to commit, however, you could end up teetering into cancellation fees, or worse, paying monthly fees even though you haven't been setting foot inside the gym (been there, done that). 

You can also look for memberships that offer free guest access (they exist!). Says Magazine, "Every Green and Blue Blink Fitness membership comes with unlimited guest privileges, so you can always bring a friend at no extra cost." So you and a friend could technically split the cost.

The bottom line is this: Yes, there are sales throughout the year at many gyms, but do your research and make sure that you're buying a package that fits your individual needs, and be realistic with your schedule and actual willingness to work out.

Need some motivation? Here's how to trick your brain into craving exercise.

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