It’s also possible to score better deals than what you see advertised online—if you know how to negotiate the right way and plan your approach strategically. We talked to former sales associates to get insider tips you can use to determine the best possible price.
1. Know what you are willing to spend
“You can ask for anything outside of the gym,” says Taylor White, former studio manager of F45 in Washington, DC. “Knowing your price point can help.” Knowing the maximum you’re willing to spend will help you negotiate pricing options and know when to walk away if they can’t fit your budget.
And remember to shop around: Just because the first place you visit doesn’t offer a plan that works for you, doesn’t mean another place won’t. Knowing other gyms’ rates can give you more bargaining power.
2. Read the fine print so you know the full list of costs
There are some fees that you may not get. Non-negotiables are usually corporate policies, such as late cancellation fees if you sign up for a group fitness class or membership cancellations, says Carolyn Mayhew, a former sales associate at Orangetheory Fitness in Northridge, California. But in addition to your monthly dues, there may also be an annual fee or a one-time sign-up fee, which you may be able to convince a sales representative to waive.
3. Start your membership in January or summer
While the best time to join a gym is when you’re ready—studies show you’re more likely to stick with a workout program when it’s inherently self-motivated—there are a few times of the year where you might be able to get a good deal. “Typically, I’ll see the best joining deals around May around New Year’s and early summer,” White said.
Mayhew explained that gyms offer incentives and discounts in January to be competitive when people get “an extra bump in their step to get back to the gym.”
And summer? This is usually the slowest time for many gyms as the weather gets nicer and people go outside or travel more. “Gyms are willing to do anything to retain their membership,” Mayhew says. “This can be a great time to take advantage of a free week trial or a discounted introductory month, as gyms try to get creative to attract new members.”
4. Look for discounts
Sometimes there’s something special you don’t know until you ask, so speak up. White says, “There are promotions rolling in different seasons. Both White and Mayhew recommend asking to see if there are any family, friend or first responder discounts. Depending on what applies to you (or your family members) you can be a student, teacher Or try asking about discounts for military veterans. Mayhew adds, “If you work for a large or local corporation, there may be a discounted corporate rate that you qualify for.”
The best time to ask about these is when you first sign up rather than when you’re renewing. “Ultimately, it’s much easier to negotiate or lock in a lower rate in the beginning,” Mayhew says.
5. Check for more limited membership options
When thinking about your fitness goals, be honest with yourself about how far you’ll go. “Some gyms have different contract terms,” says White. If you know you can only go to the gym twice a week, see if there are options other than an unlimited membership. Be sure to ask if you can easily change your membership if you decide to scale back or downsize later.
6. Ask for a long-term commitment
If you’re ready to make the decision and know you want to be a member for at least a year (or two), ask if you can get an agreement to sign a longer contract. Not all gyms allow this, but some do, so it’s worth a shot.
7. Research gyms that you will be using for additional types of offers
Think about what is most important to you in a gym. Do you like events that build community like “No Shower Happy Hours,” theme days, and special classes? If so, find a gym where activities you enjoy can be considered add-ons. If you want to take advantage of offers like personal training or massages, ask if you can get a complimentary session.
“Everyone has different lifestyle goals so join a gym that fits your wants and needs,” says White. Most gyms have “extras” that add value to your membership—but only if they’re something you actually want to use.
Ultimately, Mayhew’s best advice for getting a big deal is: “Just ask! Even silly questions can get you a free bottle of water, a sweat towel, a friend’s referral, or in the best case, a cheap membership.”