A new year sets the framework for all of the things we're planning to improve (hi, waking up earlier and digital detoxing). Though easily one of the most popular resolutions made far and wide is to go to the gym more—which is why it's impossible to score 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 an economically beneficial time to sign up? Do gyms take advantage of the resolution-makers and jack up the prices? Scroll on for some easy ways to save money on your gym membership.
Meet the Expert
- Tim Keightley, executive vice president of operations for Gold's Gym.
- Todd Magazine, president of Blink Fitness.
Join at the End of the Month
"You get a better deal in December going into early January," says Keightley. 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, Magazine tells us that "membership rates at Blink Fitness are low all year long, not only after the turn of the New Year."
Look for Summer Markdowns
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. "You get a good deal in the summer," says Keightley. 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 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.
Find Out if There are Individualized Discounts
Are you a student, senior, or military personnel? If so, check for discounts that many gyms offer for individuals in those categories. Don't be shy to ask if you don't see it openly advertised, too.
Certain gyms, like Blink Fitness, may instead offer different price tiers for those on a budget. "Gym membership prices vary considerably—as do the benefits you receive for the price of a gym membership," said Magazine. "At Blink, we offer several levels of membership, with prices designed for any budget and starting at just $10 per month and an annual maintenance fee for a 12-month commitment."
You may also be qualified for a discount depending on your employer. Healthcare workers, first responders, and other essential employees are likely to have that reduction in cost as a "thank you" for their hard work.
Check for Health Insurance Coverage
Your health insurance may be useful beyond the times that you visit your doctor. Many health insurance companies pair up with gyms to either cover full or partial membership costs. According to the CDC, those who participate in regular activity can reduce their risk of chronic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Therefore, offering a gym membership incentive could potentially save the insurance companies money in the long term.
"We have connections with three major healthcare partners: Tivity (Silver Sneakers & Prime), ASH (Silver & Fit, Active & Fit), and Renew Active," states Magazine. "While I cannot speak for other gyms, we are proud to have connections with these networks to give our communities more opportunities to live active, healthy lifestyles."
Try the Free Trial
Basically, try before you buy. "For those interested in becoming members at Blink, we offer a free trial providing a 1-day pass that can be used anytime within 30 days," states Magazine. This gives you the chance to test out the equipment and feel out the environment before committing fully to a gym. If you like it, you're more likely to utilize the membership and not waste any of your hard-earned money!
Try out trials at multiple gyms before settling down with the first one you try. This allows you to create a pro and con list to determine which is your fave.
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 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.
Split With a Friend
You can also look for memberships that offer free guest access (they exist!), so call up your friend that will go halfsies with you. 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 and have a gym buddy. Win-win!
Freeze Your Membership When You're Away
You wouldn't just throw away money, so why keep spending it on something you're not using? If you're taking a trip or don't see yourself going to the gym for a long period, many gyms will let you take a hiatus. "Following the challenges of 2020, we wanted to make the road to fitness was simple and frictionless," says Magazine. "With this in mind, we recently launched Worry-Free Benefits, a program allowing members the ease of requesting to freeze, unfreeze, or cancel their membership online or in-gym."
Keep Your Eyes Peeled for Promotions
Get more bang for your buck by being in the know when promotions pop up at the gym. Maybe a new personal trainer is taking on gym-goers for a short time, or there's a new class you can try out for free. Either way, taking advantage of promos gives you a little something more than what your standard membership includes.
With Blink Fitness, Magazine states "new members are offered a free 30-minute startup session with our certified personal trainers after joining to help them in the start of their fitness journey." Sign us up for that freebie!
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.
Physical Activity Prevents Chronic Disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated May 14, 2020.