Enrolling in a gym is like starting a relationship: you need one that you like, fulfills your needs and wants, fits your lifestyle, and will not suck all the money out of your pocket.
With that in mind, here are some money-saving tips on new gym memberships:
Initiation Fees and Membership Dues
- Initiation fees are typically one-time payments, while membership dues are normally recurring.
- Fitness clubs at times may offer six-month or one-year commitment discounted rates. Basically, you pay up front for a given period of time, at a lower price than the current monthly rate (if added for the length of the contract).
- Don’t go for the long-term contract. If you have an injury, don’t like the gym, change address or end up not going as often you thought you would, you won’t be getting your money’s worth and you can’t get your money back.
- Stick with monthly payments. Give yourself the luxury of being able to cancel if and when you need to.
- Wait for a better time of year. If the best deal currently is the packaged offer, you are likely not getting the best deal possible.
- Ideal Best Deal = Low (or $0) initiation fees, low monthly payments.
- Realistic Best Deal = Special Offer initiation fee (maybe 50% off regular), and LOW monthly payments.
Best times of Year
- Fitness clubs will run special offers throughout the year. Popular times are summer months, right BEFORE the New Year and the end of each month. Most gyms must complete membership quotas and they cram offers at the end of the month or year if they haven’t met their sales requirements.
About Those Quotas…
- Sales representatives (real or virtual) will approach you in with enrollment or retention in mind. Though neither is better than the other, this is what you can expect:
- Enrollment: Most fitness clubs have sales representatives who must fulfill enrollment quotas. Simply put, sales reps must enroll X number of new members monthly, quarterly, annually, etc. If you expressed the faintest interest in joining, these people really want you to join their gym. They will call you, e-mail you, send you offers and leave messages. And then a week later they will do it again.
- Retention: Selective fitness centers may have retention quotas instead. The sales representatives’ performance is determined by how many loyal members they keep for the long term. This means that if you are new and show the slightest indication that you may not be with them long term, they may even discourage you (in a nice way) from joining, or say that this fitness club may not be the best fit for your wellness goals.
- Ask people you know who are members how much they pay monthly. Use that as leverage with the sales rep for your own dues.
- Compare prices with similar gyms and present the competition to the sales representative.
- Many gyms offer couple or family member discounts or account extensions with a low transfer/initiation fee. Ask about those if it applies.
- Call your health insurance. Most will offer monthly reimbursements if you attend one of their selected gyms an X amount of days per month.
- Don’t jump at the first offer. Thank the rep and say you’ll think about it. Afterwards, compare and bargain.
- Find the best fit for the least amount of money. No more, no less!
Need help unscrambling the confusing world of gym membership amenities? Check out Gym-Shopping Stress Free: Factors to Consider.