It’ s that time of the year again. When people start thinking about getting fit and joining the local gym. Gyms can get expensive though. Luckily Scratch is here with my favorite tips of how to save some dough.
Name-Drop The Competition
Midpriced chains are now forced to negotiate to compete with super cheap clubs with monthly fees as low as $15. Point out a competitor’s offer to see if a gym will match it or come close, she says.
Use Social Networking
Daily deals sites, such as Groupon.com, LivingSocial.com and Amazon Local, offer big local savings. The only catch is you have to act fast. Stay alert, too, for social-networking promotions that let you test a new gym. 24 Hour Fitness offers a similar carrot—a three-day freebie—on its Facebook page.
Get Free Trials
Most gyms let nonmembers visit on a trial basis for a week or two. Use passes to try out all the fitness centers near your home or workplace. You’ll get a sense of how each club works with your schedule and fitness needs—and several months of free workouts—before committing to a membership.
Paying in advance instead of monthly can trigger a major discount. At Costco, you can snag a two-year contract to any 24 Hour Fitness for $320. That works out to $13 a month, versus $37 when you pay in installments. Sometimes, they’ll even be willing to drop the initiation fee.
Try A Family Plan
Bally Total Fitness cuts its fees by up to 33 percent for friends-and-family memberships; simply name your relative or pal who’s a current member. Local rec centers often offer this deal as well.
Ask About Referrals
Inquire about incentives for referrals. “We give members a free month for each friend who signs up,” says Adam Kilpatrick, New York City and New Jersey’s Club H Fitness vice president of sales. “I’ve seen people accrue a free year from referring buddies.”
Read the Fine Print
Be aware of what is included with your membership. Many have services built in. If you’re not going to use them, see if you can take them out to lower your bill.
Pay Month To Month
See if you can pay monthly as it can be cheaper. A study in the American Economic Review that surveyed nearly 8,000 gym members over a three-year period found gym-goers who paid per visit—rather than paying monthly—saved an average of $600. Further, members who paid by each visit were 17 percent more likely to stay enrolled beyond 1 year compared to members who committed to a year upfront. Start off with a month-to-month plan, and switch over to a contract for a year or longer if you’re confident that your fitness regime will stick.
Check At Your Job
Gym discounts and reimbursements are a fairly common employee perk, so check in with your company’s benefits department.
Review Your Insurance
Insurance companies typically offer some fitness club discounts. Oxford Health Plans participants get up to 30% off monthly dues at Bally’s Total Fitness, Gold’s Gyms and Curves, among other fitness locations.