Money Advice

How to Choose the Best Gym Membership – Costs & Ways to Save

It’s no secret that the charges of weight problems in the U.S. are staggering. According to the National Institutes of Health, greater than two-thirds of American adults are chubby, and extra half of these people are clinically overweight. Carrying further weight is related to a bunch of well being issues, together with coronary heart illness, stroke, diabetes, and even some varieties of most cancers. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), these issues are behind a few of the most typical – and most preventable – causes of dying.

Paradoxically, as weight problems charges climb, so do the charges of Americans heading to the health club. In 2013, the final year for which statistics can be found from Statista, almost 53 million Americans held health club memberships – that’s round 22% of the grownup inhabitants. Another 5 million or so don’t have lively health club memberships however visited gyms or well being facilities (utilizing visitor passes or whereas staying at a resort) a minimum of as soon as over the course of a year. The U.S. additionally has extra gyms than ever, with greater than 30,000 well being and health facilities scattered all through the nation.

The well being and health business is cashing in on our propensity for french fries. In the U.S., well being and health facilities introduced in a mind-boggling $22.4 billion in income in 2013 – round $423 per year for each one that has a membership to certainly one of these facilities. And that determine is closely swayed by individuals becoming a member of or quitting a health club partway via the year. The precise price for individuals who maintain a year-round health club membership is extra like $700 per particular person.

That determine nonetheless would possibly not seem to be a lot in case you’re hitting the weights at your health club each single morning and utilizing the health club’s scorching water for showers and their electrical sockets in your trimmer or blow dryer. But in case you’re shelling out a month-to-month price for a membership and haven’t seen the inside your health club since the day you signed up, it’s a uncooked deal.

That’s why it’s so vital to choose the proper health club and get the greatest deal doable in your membership. That method you’ll be able to attain your well being and health objectives with out sacrificing your monetary well being.

How to Pick the Right Gym

The primary motive to choose a health club is as a result of that health club has one thing – or, ideally, a number of issues – about it that can make you need to really present up. Maybe that “something” is that your exercise buddy goes to the identical health club and can assist maintain you accountable in your 6am treadmill session. Few parts are extra motivating than buddy who gained’t allow you to slack off. Here are just a few different essential elements to think about when choosing a health club.


One of the greatest limitations to train is lack of spare time. You may get a implausible deal on a membership to a beautiful health club with unimaginable facilities, however you probably have to sit in the automotive for 40 minutes to get there, you’ll seemingly have a tough time becoming it into your day. And even in case you’re somebody who occurs to have plenty of spare time in your palms, an prolonged commute to your health club can simply squash no matter motivation you may have to get there.

It’s one factor to persuade your self {that a} exercise is a good suggestion. If you may have to wrap your thoughts round site visitors too – neglect about it.

The health club doesn’t essentially have to be shut to your home so as to be handy. If you want to train proper after work, think about selecting a health club proper subsequent to your office (simply keep in mind to pack your health club garments). If you want to sneak in a exercise earlier than selecting the children up from college, choose a health club close to their college. The secret’s to choose a location that gained’t make you journey far out of your method.

My health club is just one mile from my house, and I like to run there, elevate weights at the health club, and run house. That method, I slot in cardio and weights in a single session, and I don’t even have to discover my automotive keys. Only you understand what your personal journey threshold is, however it’s good to err on the facet of a shorter commute. And keep in mind: any value you pay for a health club membership is an excessive amount of in case you by no means use that membership.


Maybe the closest health club to you is a complete dump. In that case, it doesn’t matter if it’s simply down the block. If a health club doesn’t have the atmosphere and facilities you want, you’re much less seemingly to use it.

Several vital options embody those who present the following:

  • Relaxation. For some individuals, the promise of a sauna, steam, or dip in the scorching tub following a tough exercise is simply sufficient motivation to get them out the door and to the health club.
  • Personalization. Some individuals gained’t think about setting foot in a health club except they know that they’ll be greeted with freshly laundered towels, a non-public locker, and the alternative to lie in a tanning mattress and drink custom-made smoothies.
  • Time Off. For others, nothing is extra vital than reasonably priced, on-site childcare.

Know what’s vital to you and what you’re keen to compromise on. And keep in mind, it’s not all about clear machines and glowing restrooms. Consider your personal health objectives and whether or not or not the health club affords the form of tools and courses that may assist you to meet these objectives.

The following options could also be vital to you:

  • Group Fitness. Check the schedule for group health courses to ensure that your favourite class sort is available. If there’s just one Pilates class per week and you may’t stay with out Pilates, ensure that class works together with your schedule. It’s essential to word that some gyms cost further for sure courses. Ask earlier than you join to just remember to gained’t be shelling out greater than you budgeted for.
  • Dedicated Space. Some gyms have devoted space for boxing, squash, racquetball, or basketball, whereas others don’t. If any of those actions is vital to you, make sure that your health club has it. Don’t neglect to discover out if there’s a pool.
  • Equipment. Equipment choices differ extensively by health club. It’s one factor to provide sure tools or courses, however whether or not or not these parts are accessible to you is one other matter fully. Some gyms have numerous squat racks, whereas others emphasise free weights. Some are almost all cardio, whereas others cater to the bodybuilding crowd. If you’re a cardio king or queen, make sure that there are a excessive variety of cardio machines in contrast to the quantity of people that have memberships at the health club. A small health club (fewer than 1,000 members) would possibly have the ability to get away with a handful of treadmills, however a bigger health club (5,000-plus members) typically has 20 or extra. If you’re large on free weights, make sure that there’s a couple of set of every dumbbell weight.
  • Personal Training. If you understand you’ll want just a little further push to assist you to attain your objectives, ask about personal coaching. Not all gyms provide personal trainers on-site, and those who do virtually at all times cost handsomely for the privilege. Expect to pay round $50 per hour-long session with a coach, and extra for classes with senior trainers and folks with particular {qualifications} and certifications.

You can ask the salesperson at your health club how many individuals are members and roughly how many individuals use the health club on a given day. However, a better strategy is to present up at the health club throughout your most popular train time and really see for your self whether or not your favourite tools is accessible. The variety of members doesn’t matter as a lot as the site visitors throughout the time if you’re most probably to be there.

Demand for courses is one other difficulty that warrants investigation earlier than you signal on. Even in case your favourite class is obtainable at your favourite time, it may not be value it you probably have to arrive half-hour early to get a spot. And the reverse difficulty can current issues too – ask the salesperson if a category is inclined to cancellation if too few individuals present up. Again, the best choice is to discover out when your most popular class takes place and check out to schedule a tour of the health club throughout that point.


There isn’t any such factor as an “average” health club measurement, and there’s typically variation between health club measurement inside the identical chain. For instance, some LA Fitness areas could have 500 members, whereas others have 5,000 members. Membership measurement doesn’t essentially dictate quantity or high quality of facilities, although gyms with extra members sometimes have extra courses and machines to accommodate demand.

  • Large Gyms. Gold’s Gym reportedly averages 5,000 members per web site, whereas Life Time Fitness goals for nearer to 10,000 members per web site. Both of those can be thought-about massive gyms.
  • Boutique Gyms. Some boutique gyms, akin to Snap Fitness, don’t promise to have plenty of tools or facilities. By design, Snap Fitness areas are pared-down gyms on small footprints. They’re accessible 24 hours through keycard, however are solely staffed throughout the day. The concept is having a small – not overwhelming – place to work out everytime you need. Snap Fitness gyms could have round 500 members per web site.
  • Specialty Gyms. Some gyms cater to a selected sort of health, akin to Crossfit. Crossfit gyms, or “boxes,” can get away with a lot smaller membership numbers, with 100 to 200 members per field by no means unusual.

Snap’s “small and simple” method works for some individuals. Others want the choices and vitality of a bigger health club. You want to resolve which ambiance motivates you.


Unless you’re becoming a member of a health club that’s open 24 hours, make sure that to verify opening hours for all seven days of the week, in addition to vacation schedules. But don’t cease there.

Hours for sure facilities, akin to the pool, sport courts, and on-site childcare, are sometimes extra restricted than common opening hours. Personal trainers are sometimes solely accessible throughout sure instances of the day, and, after all, group health courses are topic to a schedule. Ask for a printed copy or a hyperlink to an digital copy of the group health schedule, and don’t neglect to ask how typically the schedule modifications.

It’s funding to spend time researching these schedules earlier than you signal something at a health club. If you select a health club and signal a contract as a result of there’s a spin class provided at a time that works for you – after which the schedule modifications two weeks after you be part of, you’re out of luck.

The Costs of Gym Membership

Every year, the International Health, Racquet, & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) conducts analysis on well being and health facilities all through the U.S. and round the world. The people at the Statistics Brain Research Center analyzed IHRSA’s findings, and the outcomes are eye-opening.

In the U.S., the estimated common month-to-month price of a health club membership is $58. In actuality, the prices differ dramatically by location and by health club. If you reside in New York City, you’ll be able to anticipate to shell out a mean of $134.50 per 30 days for a health club membership. If you head down to Charleston, South Carolina, you’ll spend virtually two-thirds much less, at a mean of $48.86 per 30 days.

Here are some essential issues to have in mind when contemplating the price of a health club:

  • Initiation Fees. The month-to-month price for a health club membership just isn’t the solely price to consider. Many gyms cost a sign-up or initiation price. Sometimes these charges are waived as a part of a promotion, however it’s not unusual to pay $100, $200, or much more for an initiation price. This may be up for negotiation.
  • Surplus Charges. Remember that some companies which are vital to you (akin to tanning, lockers, personal trainers, and sure courses) is probably not included in your month-to-month price.
  • Contracts. Some gyms require a contract (sometimes for one year at a time). If you may be shifting or aren’t absolutely assured that the health club will likely be match for you, give a contract severe consideration earlier than signing – in any other case, you may be caught paying for a membership that you just aren’t utilizing. Make positive to learn the positive print to see what, if any, termination price will likely be incurred in case you try to cancel your membership early.
  • Freeze and Suspension Fees. If you enter a very busy interval of your life or are injured and can’t get to the health club, you would possibly have the ability to droop your membership with out really canceling it. This permits you to maintain your spot and never have to pay the initiation price yet again. However, bear in mind that it’s frequent for gyms to cost “freeze” or “suspension” charges, and likewise to impose closing dates, akin to six months. Some demand a flat rate, akin to $10 per 30 days, throughout the suspended interval, whereas others cost a share of your month-to-month price (25% is frequent – however in case you’re requested to pay 50% or extra, think about going elsewhere.)

Sample Costs of Gym Chains

Here are a number of of the health club chains in the United States with sufficient areas (greater than 100) to showcase a sampling of frequent month-to-month charges. Keep in thoughts that many health club chains additionally cost an initiation price (typically $100 or extra) and/or an annual price (typically greater than $40) as well as to the month-to-month price. Also, do not forget that costs change repeatedly, and infrequently differ by location inside a single chain.

  • LA Fitness. 600-plus areas. Prices could differ by location, however $29.95 per 30 days is frequent.
  • 24 Hour Fitness. 400-plus areas. Basic membership value is $49.99 per 30 days.
  • Planet Fitness. 800-plus areas. Offers a fundamental membership for $10 per particular person, per 30 days, and VIP membership (which incorporates tanning, use of therapeutic massage chairs, reciprocal use of different Planet Fitness areas, and extra) for $19.99 per particular person, per 30 days.
  • Snap Fitness. 1,500-plus areas. Prices differ by location. Individual memberships at a pattern health club (situated in Hartland, Michigan) price $29.95 per 30 days; two-person memberships price $49.95 per 30 days; household memberships price $59.95 per 30 days.
  • Gold’s Gym. 400 areas. Prices very by location. Basic memberships at a pattern health club (situated in Paramus, New Jersey) price $29.95 per particular person, per 30 days, and VIP memberships (which embody limitless group health, restricted free tanning and personal coaching, and extra) price $49.95 per particular person, per 30 days.
  • Life Time Fitness. 100-plus areas. Prices differ by location, and Life Time is tight-lipped about pricing, although I used to be personally quoted $169 per 30 days for a two-person membership that included all on-site facilities together with group health, lockers, towels, saunas, and steam rooms.
  • Anytime Fitness. 2,000 areas. Prices differ by location, and whereas Anytime Fitness doesn’t readily publish pricing data on-line, a 2013 Forbes Magazine article quotes an govt from a consulting and market analysis agency who estimates month-to-month charges at Anytime Fitness between $35 and $55 per particular person, per 30 days.

As you’ll be able to see, six out of the seven health club chains listed above provide costs at or under the common month-to-month price of a health club membership. These massive franchises are in a position to cost decrease costs partly due to quantity of memberships, however partly out of necessity since they’re all in competitors with one another. Independent gyms and those who provide specialised health choices, akin to Crossfit, can simply cost extra. For instance, one Crossfit location in New York expenses $230 per 30 days, effectively above the native common.

Yoga is one other specialised health providing that instructions proportionately larger costs. Behemoth yoga franchise CorePower expenses $205 for one month of limitless courses on the larger finish, akin to in San Francisco, and $154 for one month of limitless courses on the decrease finish, akin to in Salt Lake City.


Based on precise utilization patterns, the report revealed on Statistics Brain Research Center estimates that $39 of the estimated $58 common month-to-month price of a health club membership go to waste from “under-utilization.”

Here’s how they got here to that determine: Of those that maintain health club memberships, an astonishing 67% of them by no means use the memberships. People who maintain on to health club memberships however don’t use them are a health club proprietor’s dream. If two-thirds of your members by no means present up to use your services, you’ll be able to proceed to acquire month-to-month funds with out dealing with overcrowding, useful resource utilization, and put on and tear in your machines.

Those who do use their health club memberships accomplish that, on common, twice per week. It’s value noting that many medical insurance firms present monetary incentives for individuals who use the health club a sure variety of instances per 30 days (12 is a standard minimal variety of visits), and twice per week doesn’t minimize it.

In addition, the CDC recommends a minimal of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise per week plus full-body muscle strengthening actions a minimum of two days per week. Unless you’re partaking in terribly lengthy classes that includes 75 minutes of cardio and a full-body energy exercise throughout every go to to the health club, you’re not going to hit the minimal suggestion with solely two visits.

Ways to Save on a Gym Membership

A health club membership is an funding in your self. Obesity doesn’t simply create well being issues – it additionally prices plenty of money. According to the CDC, in a single year, the healthcare prices related to an overweight particular person are, on common, $1,429 greater than the healthcare prices related to an individual of a wholesome weight. The estimated complete price of annual healthcare for overweight adults in America is round $150,000,000 – sure, that’s $150 billion.

Fortunately, you don’t have to foot the invoice for the complete nation’s overindulgence. You do, nonetheless, have the alternative to take cost of your individual life and make more healthy decisions. And you don’t have to break the financial institution to accomplish that.

Here are a number of methods to minimize down on the price of a health club membership:

1. Shop Around
As emphasised above, location, facilities, and hours are essential elements when contemplating a health club. But if there’s a couple of health club in your space that matches the invoice, it’s in your greatest curiosity to get bids from all related areas. You may even pit the gyms in opposition to one another. Secure a bid from one health club, after which take that to the different areas and see in the event that they’ll beat the value. (I like to recommend being sincere right here, since these health club homeowners in all probability know one another – not to point out, mendacity about numbers just isn’t solely unethical, however it may backfire in an enormous method.)

2. Negotiate
There’s a motive why many gyms don’t publish costs: Different members typically pay wildly totally different quantities. Even in case your health club does publish costs, it’s value attempting to negotiate. Many of the revealed costs are an “ideal” goal in your health club, and in the event that they’re low on membership numbers, they could be very keen to go decrease.

Negotiation methods embody initially providing one thing considerably decrease than the first provide in hopes of meeting someplace in the center; asking the health club to waive the initiation price in the event that they gained’t budge on the month-to-month charges; requesting that your rate drop after a sure period of time in case you stick with the health club; and asking without cost extras, together with personal coaching, tanning, or different perks that normally incur a price past the month-to-month rate. By negotiating, I ended up paying round 50% of the value that was initially quoted to me at my present health club.

3. Share a Membership
Many gyms provide per-person reductions when a number of individuals join collectively. For instance, one particular person would possibly pay $50 per 30 days, however two individuals on the identical membership would possibly pay $80 (or $40 per particular person, per 30 days). While these shared memberships used to be generally restricted to authorized members of the family, it’s more and more frequent for gyms to allow roommates and vital others to share memberships. Just ensure that the contract is organized such that you just’re not caught with the invoice in case your exercise buddy bails on the membership.

4. Maximize Usage
If you pay $60 per 30 days for a health club and solely use it as soon as per week, you might be primarily paying $15 each time you set foot in that health club. Was that 20-minute elliptical session actually value $15? The extra you utilize your membership, the cheaper it’s per go to – and the extra seemingly you might be to obtain outcomes. If you go 5 days per week, you’re paying extra like $3 per go to – and also you’ll feel and look higher for it.

5. Consider a Drop-in Arrangement
If you do most of your train at house and solely need to attend a category right here and there, you would possibly really save money by paying per go to moderately than per 30 days. Not all gyms provide drop-in preparations, so make sure that to inquire upfront. Also, ask about “punch cards” that will enable you to purchase drop-in visits in bulk to save much more money. Of course, in case you begin utilizing the drop-ins so typically that you’d be paying much less for an infinite membership, the drop-in association shortly turns into a money pit.

6. Explore a Nontraditional Gym
If you reside close to a resort or college that has on-site health services, ask what they’d cost for an “outsider” to work on the market. Ask politely, and be ready for a “no.” Don’t argue, since the establishment could have a coverage in place that forbids outsiders to use services for safety causes. Still, it could possibly’t harm to ask. If they do say sure, be happy to negotiate. A resort or college may be keen to provide deal in case you select to train throughout their “down” durations, akin to in the summer time at a college.

Alternatives to the Gym

If you both don’t stay close to any train services that suit your wants, can’t afford a health club membership even after you’ve flexed your powers of negotiation, or just can’t abdomen the concept of sharing train tools with 1,000 different individuals, you may want to think about alternate options to a health club membership. Here are some choices:

1. Exercise Outside
There’s nothing extra releasing – or extra free – than exercising on the open highway or in a public park. If you’re a runner, you want to spend money on good high quality trainers (estimated price $100), a water bottle (estimated price $10), and a few working garments (estimated price $50 per outfit). However, that preliminary funding ought to final you thru 100 exercises or extra. Bicycling, rollerblading, and cross-country snowboarding are different outside choices, although there’s the next preliminary funding for tools. You may additionally be part of a group league to play the sport of your selection – charges vary from free at the public park’s basketball court docket, to a number of hundred {dollars} per 30 days for a golf membership membership.

2. Do Bodyweight Exercises Outside or at Home
You can get a full-body, high-quality exercise with zero tools apart from a pair of sneakers and a few snug garments. Learn how to do correct push-ups, dips, sit-ups or planks, squats, lunges, burpees, and Tabata routines, and also you’ll cover almost each muscle group. You can do these workouts anyplace, any time, without cost.

3. Use Exercise Videos
If you want just a little extra structure to maintain you motivated, you should purchase train movies to do in the consolation of your property. Prices differ dramatically, although you’ll pay considerably extra for applications with extra DVDs and extras akin to meal plans. Popular decisions embody Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred ($6.99), Insanity ($145), and P90X3 ($140).

4. Invest in Home Workout Equipment
You don’t want fancy, costly exercise tools to get match at house. With only a few items of exercise tools, akin to a leap rope, a battle rope, stability ball, and dumbbells, you’ll be able to have a wonderful and versatile setup that may principally be tucked away into the nook of a room if you’re not utilizing it. Good tools doesn’t have to price quite a bit – there’s plenty of train tools accessible for lower than $100.

Final Word

Getting match shouldn’t have to imply making your pockets sickly skinny. If you’ve been dragging your heels on becoming a member of a health club since you’re afraid of the excessive prices, do not forget that, as a possible buyer of a health club, you maintain a specific amount of energy. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. If they’ll’t meet your wants, don’t neglect that you’ve got alternate options – even in case you’re speaking to the solely health club on the town.

Whatever you do, don’t sacrifice a chance to spend money on your individual well being by selecting the unsuitable health club or paying greater than you’ll be able to afford. It’s value repeating one million instances: The greatest deal is on a membership that you’ll use.

How a lot is an excessive amount of to pay for a health club membership? How many instances per week or month do you assume you want to go to ensure that your membership to be worthwhile?

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