How to Get the Best Deal on Your Gym Membership

Steps to help you torch fat without breaking the bank

Whether you enjoy scouring the market for best deal or dread the amount of choices and pressure to buy, getting a good deal on a gym membership is a challenge. Gyms don’t typically advertise their prices and even when they do they often leave out fees and clauses that appear in small print on contracts. Tack on the fact that some gyms pay commission for signing new members or set monthly quotas for membership, and it’s quickly become a high pressure situation.

Taking the first choice that comes along before you have a chance to explore your options can lead to regret. Don’t be pushed into signing a contract and handing over a ton of money, we’ve done the research, just follow our steps to find the best deal.

Set a budget before you shop around. Decide what you’re willing to spend on a membership per month. Be realistic. Some gyms cost as little as $10 a month and others can top $2,000 a month. Obviously not many people have two grand to spend on a gym and even fewer are invited to join, but it’s important to know what you can afford. The point is to focus on your workout, not your mounting debt.

Know what you’re looking for. If your immediate answer is “a gym, duh!” You need to spend some time reflecting. Some things to consider are your fitness goals, the location of the gym, your must-have amenities/equipment and what works best for your schedule. There’s no sense in paying for spin classes that you can’t attend or steam rooms that you won’t have time to use.

Explore your options. Now that you have a good idea of what you’re looking for and have a realistic list of options, get out there and try them out. Any reputable gym or fitness center will allow you to test their product, and if they’re resistant to giving you a trial period that’s a huge red flag.

The trial period will let you see when the gym is busiest, if the locker rooms are clean and what the culture is like. The only thing worse than regularly waiting 20 minutes for a treadmill is getting nasty looks from rude members—or worse, staff.

Know when to buy. Just like anything else you purchase, there is a good time to buy—when the demand is low. Once the weather gets warmer people will opt for outdoor exercise and the number of members at the gym will drop. Gym managers still need to bring in new members, so the warm weather could be your opportunity to land an awesome deal.

If you can’t wait and need to start your work out plan as soon as possible (like, yesterday), you should buy toward the end of the month. The membership quotas put stress on employees to hook new members and you could use that as an opportunity to save some money.

Ask the right questions. If the memberships are comparable, will they meet or beat competitor’s prices? Is the daycare program well organized? Do they offer qualified personal trainers? Is there a penalty to cancel? Can you really cancel?

What happens if you’re in some horrific Prancercise accident and can’t use the gym, can you cancel then? These are the important questions you need to be asking.

Don’t blindly sign. So you’ve done your research and you’ve found the one. Congratulations, but don’t let your excitement get the best of you. Don’t sign the contract on the spot. Let’s say it again, don’t sign the contract on the spot. Ask to take it home and review it, this will allow you to actually see what you’re agreeing to, make any changes and it will give you additional time to sleep on the decision. Some of the contracts can lock you in for a year or more, be sure of your decision and walk away from any overbearing pressure.

They need members to keep the doors open and the iron pumping; you could workout at home if you wanted to. They need you more than you need them, so don’t rush into a bad deal, remember to follow those steps.