Top 6 Tips for Buying a Gym Membership

young couple talking to receptionist at gym and buying a gym membership

It's a new year, time for a fresh start and the resolve to do better. For many of us, those earnest New Year's resolutions include getting healthy and finally committing to a regular exercise routine. Those planning to get in shape may likely be considering buying a gym membership. Getting fit can be a costly proposition, but there are ways for fitness buffs to minimize costs and ensure that they are getting the most out of their membership fees. Take the time to review these helpful tips before you sign on the dotted line:

Know Your Budget And Your Options Before Buying A Gym Membership

  • As with any major expense, step one is making a realistic assessment of the monthly costs that your budget can tolerate. Then inquire about the membership fees at a few local health clubs and gyms.
  • Read some online reviews, and ask your friends, neighbors or co-workers for recommendations. Knowing your options will make it much easier to resist any high-pressure sales tactics and allow you to walk away from a costly deal.
  • Schedule a tour to get a firsthand look at the facilities. Ask if the facility offers a free or low-cost temporary guest pass so you can test the waters with a few workouts or classes.

Find The Right Fit For Your Needs And Budget

When looking at or buying a gym membership, don't pay for services and features that you don't want or need. Will you be taking advantage of group fitness classes? Are you looking for personal training or on-site child care? Amenities like a sauna and steam room or that trendy juice bar mean costlier membership fees. If you're really just in the market for some basic workout equipment, consider a small, local gym with lower fees.

Know What Is Included In Your Fee

Hidden extra costs can add up. Be sure that your monthly fee covers all of the services that you'll be utilizing. Some gyms may charge a fee for group classes or even a locker rental fee.

Opt For Pay-As-You-Go Or A Month-To-Month Membership

Despite your good intentions, are you really ready for a long term commitment? Although a deal for an annual plan may be tempting, it's no bargain if your costly membership goes unused.

  • Find a gym that offers pay-as-you-go.
  • Many gyms offer a month-to-month plan. Though it may initially be more expensive, it's your chance to try out the equipment and get a feel for the place before getting tied down to a long term contract. You'll only get your money's worth if the location, hours and class schedule work for you and you're comfortable with the facility.

Negotiate Your Fee And Look For Discounts

  • Don't assume that you can't negotiate a better deal when buying a gym membership. It doesn't hurt to ask and your salesperson may be authorized to bargain.
  • Be sure to inquire about any available special offers. Gyms often offer promotions likes waiver of enrollment fees, discounted memberships or a free month. Check on sites like Groupon to find any applicable discounts.
  • Contact your health insurance provider to determine if you are eligible for any reimbursements for gym memberships.
  • Many gyms offer discounts for military, government employees, or students.

Read That Contract!

Membership fees and contract terms can vary widely. Don't be distracted by an enticing sales pitch (remember that many gym employees work on commission). Check the fine print when buying a gym membership for important details before you sign any contract. Is there an early termination fee? Is there any provision for freezing the membership during vacations or in case an injury or other exigency keeps you from working out? Is there an out clause if you move or lose your job? Does the membership renew automatically?

Follow these smart tips, and both you and your wallet will be in top shape this year!