Membership prices for health and fitness clubs vary considerably, depending on factors such as the size, type and location of the centre. While small, independent providers often have the cheaper deals, gym membership for many people still proves costly.
Recent studies estimate over 8 million people within the UK currently hold a gym or fitness centre membership. A significant proportion of members could find better deals elsewhere, or at the very least, cut costs to something more manageable. Below are 6 suggestions on how to save money – and still get fit.
Value for money
The first thing to do is look to see if your current membership provides value for money. Ask yourself this: Do you take full advantage of the classes on offer? Do you make use of all the facilities? If the answer is “no”, it may be worthwhile considering other options. It can also be helpful to make a log of how often you visit the gym, since there’s no point being tied into a contract and then only visiting occasionally. (In which case a pay-as-you-go deal may be more appropriate).
Throughout the year, it is not uncommon to see various promotions intended to attract new members. In many cases, gyms will offer a number of months free of charge if you register for a year. Seasonal offers are also highly popular, especially in January after the Christmas festivities. You may find some good value deals around these times, but also in quieter months, as providers seek to drum up new business. Note: it is often said that the end of a month is an excellent time to sign up, when companies scramble to meet their monthly membership quota.
Free gym pass
Before committing to a membership, it is worth seeing if you can get a free guest pass, such as the one provided by LA fitness, Nuffield Health, and Fitness First. Alternatively, if you have friends who use the gym, they may be able to use their membership to refer you. In which case (depending on the gym’s terms), both of you may benefit.
Not all deals are as they first appear. We therefore recommend you thoroughly shop around. Consider how much you’ll spend in a year, rather than simply looking at the initial promotion. This way, you can better judge the offer in its entirety.
Perhaps the most obvious of suggestions. A cheaper gym will clearly save you money. And it is worth pointing out that cheaper locations are not necessarily poorer quality. Likewise, there is no guarantee pricier gyms will be superior than cheaper counterparts. Often their decor and outward appearance are up-to-date and modern, but as far as getting results goes, it’s largely down to the individual and specialist advice given. Therefore, facilities, location and cost will be the determining factors. If you don’t need fancy changing facilities, jacuzzi or gym cafe – why pay for them?
Many people have invested in a home gym as an alternative to paying membership prices. For a few hundred pounds, it is possible to obtain a core selection of equipment. Cardiovascular exercises can be done almost anywhere, and is often an ideal excuse to get outdoors. Similarly, college/university gyms and those provided by employers (usually at a discounted partnership rate), are gaining popularity and can be a great alternative to working out at home.
Check the fine print
Most gyms – especially the larger ones – require customers to sign a contract or agreement. The terms and conditions of these agreements often stipulate regular monthly payments, and also details on when the membership can be cancelled, and how much notice you’re required to give. Some providers allow members to put membership on hold for a period of time. This can be particularly useful if you go abroad, or if you need to save additional cash.
However, this facility is not universal and it makes sense to thoroughly check the fine print before committing to any deal. Equally, be sure to check if you are able to downgrade or upgrade packages as and when needed, since this is a great way to meet your requirements while saving as much as possible.
Before signing the agreement, ensure you have covered the basics discussed in this article and answered the question: “do I really want to be tied into a deal?”. Remember: you may be highly motivated for the first few months, but what if your enthusiasm drops? Being in a contract means you’ll still have to pay. Often pay-as-you-go or other options may be more suited. Weigh up all the options before committing – then go for it!
Ensure you’ll get value for money and make use of the facilities provided. Don’t commit to a contract until you’re sure. Read the membership agreement thoroughly. Seek out discounts and member promotions. Consider cheap alternatives or a home gym.