It’s that time of the year where everyone is still trying hard to follow through on their New Year’s resolutions, and for many people, that means going to the gym.
The problem is so many people end up breaking their budget goals in order to get in shape — but luckily, you don’t have to!
We’ve rounded up some tips from Consumer Reports on how to get an affordable gym membership — allowing you to keep both your health and budget goals in tact this year.
8 sneaky ways to save on a gym membership
1. Sign up for a trial run
Call the gyms or fitness clubs around your area and ask for a no-commitment trial to get you started. Most clubs will give you a one-week pass to try out the facility, according to Pam Kufahl, director of content at Club Industry, which is a website for fitness pros. Try any classes that might interest you and during a time you would normally work out so you can get a feel for how busy the gym might be at that time.
This is also a good opportunity to check out all the facilities like the locker room, sauna (if there is one), showers, pool and machines to see if you’re comfortable there.
2. Search for better prices online
Do a quick search around the Internet to see if there are deals going on anywhere nearby. You can also try sites like Groupon, Gilt City and Living Social to find deals in your area. There may also be a fitness and workout group online that gets special deals on memberships or gets extended free trials at gyms.
3. Negotiate a deal
Don’t just accept any deal handed to you by a salesperson. Go straight to a manager — they will more likely be able to negotiate a better deal and may be able to handle any special requests you have. Ask if you can get a free month or have the initiation fee waived, because you definitely don’t get what you don’t ask for. Also try to get additional bonuses in there — like a wellness assessment or personal training session and you should try to get your price reduced for things you might not use like childcare, classes or the pool.
Read more: 7 ways to cut your monthly bills
4. Be flexible
A club may offer you a reduced price if you use the gym during off-peak hours. This kind of deal should be carefully considered though to make sure you can actually work out at those hours. Those kinds of rates aren’t usually advertised, so make sure you ask about them!
5. Join with a group
Ask your human resources department at work if it has any special deals with local gyms or clubs. That might be cheaper than buying an individual membership. Many fitness clubs and gyms offer ‘family’ or ‘household’ discounts to two or more people who live together. Gathering a group of friends and asking the gym manager to cut a deal for the group is also a good idea. If a group discount is no good, then see if the manager will give your group a discount on classes or other additional services.
6. Check your insurance benefits
Surprisingly enough, your health insurance provider may not only provide you with health insurance, but your coverage may include a discount on a gym membership. Call your insurance plan’s member services number (often found on the back of your insurance card) to see if you’re eligible for a discount. Check to see if there are special requirements to get a reimbursement like visiting the gym a certain number of times each month or using certain services a number of times each month.
7. Read the contract
This is not like Apple where you just accept the agreement so you can get your update or buy your music. This is way more important — so reading the contract all the way through is important. A lot of language will revolve around a cancelation fee, so check to see how much notice you have to give if you plan to cancel the membership.
And actually, you’re better off not signing a gym membership contract if you can avoid it, as it can end up costing you a lot of extra money if you don’t end up using the gym as much as you plan to. Plans in January may change by summer…
8. Ask if membership fees have changed
So now you’ve joined a club and you’re having a good time. As the months start to fly by, make sure to keep tabs on how much you’re paying each month. There are some clubs that will lower their charges over time, so it’s worth looking into whether the rates have gone down — and ask a manager about it when that does happen.