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How to Score the Best Deal on Your Gym Membership


Do your research before speaking to your gym manager.

Talk to your company's HR department. Today, more companies are covering gym and health initiatives as a preventative measure. That way, they don't need to shell out for expensive medical procedures down the road. In 2012, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said that if we didn't make a change, nearly 86 percent of Americans would be obese by 2030. According to U.S. News and Money, that's $1 out of every $6 in health-care costs due to obesity. Not to mention, healthier employees often equal more productive employees. Your health and well-being affect how you'll perform on the job, and companies are doing what they can to keep you working. Employers may also be able to obtain a discount on their group health insurance premiums by offering these types of health initiatives.

Check with your insurance carrier. A certain percentage of your gym membership might be covered each month. Example: Blue Cross Blue Shield's Blue365 program (which had nearly 35 million eligible members in 2012) was one of the first to offer discounts on gym memberships, running shoes, and even meal delivery.

Scour deal sites and warehouse clubs. See if your gym of choice is advertising on a discount site like Groupon or Coupon Sherpa. One caveat: You usually need to be a new member to be eligible for the discount (so no pulling a fast one on your old gym). Other discount sites like Living Social or ClassPass let you bounce between specialty studios at a cheaper rate if you aren't ready to fully commit to a contract.

Make the most of your meeting.

Time it wisely. January isn't the only time with lower rates: "Gyms tend to run special promotions or discounts the first two weeks of the month," says Casaburi.

Talk to the manager. "Most often, the manger will be willing to waive an enrollment fee or provide a promotion to accommodate your membership," Casaburi says. Making an appointment with the manager is efficient (other employees probably don't have the power to waive the fee) and shows that you mean business.

Go beyond discounts to your monthly fee. Consider other ways to save money. For instance, some gyms will offer discounts if you bring in new members later, or if you sign up with a group of friends for a "family" plan. Some studios may also allow you to work once or twice a week in exchange for a free membership.

Do your research. Who are their biggest, and most appropriate, competitors? Some gyms will match a better offer that you saw at a competing gym. Just be realistic: "If you go to a high-end facility and you try to compare prices where all the college students go, they may not be willing to price match," Woroch added.

Don't sign a contract on the spot.

Make sure what you want is included. Double check to ensure your fave workouts won't cost extra (some classes aren't always included in the monthly membership).

Test, test, test. "Free trials are a great way to introduce you to the environment without any risk," Casaburi says. Take advantage of every aspect of your free trial to see what it's really like as a full-time member. Is exercise equipment available during your ideal workout time? Are classes too crowded for your taste? What about shower lines—are you going to be able to get to work on time? This step is crucial for setting a "value" to your membership. That $10 a month gym may be great on your wallet, but if you can't sweat when you want, is it truly a great deal?

Read the contract. Sure, the manager said you can get out of your contract at any time, but did she mention it requires a fee? Is there an annual maintenance charge? Can you freeze your membership if you go on vacation or if you're sick for an extended period of time? Find out now, so you aren't blindsided down the line.