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January 19, 2014

Consumer Reports: Saving money at the gym

Joining a gym is an investment in your health, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to trim the cost, says Consumer Reports Money Adviser. Our annual New Year’s resolve to get in shape means that clubs sign up more members around January than at any other time of the year, and they’re all competing for your business.

But there’s no reason to rush. “You can often get the biggest discount if you sign up late in the month, because health clubs have monthly sales quotas,” says Andrea Metcalf, a certified trainer and health coach in Chicago. Consumer Reports Money Adviser suggests that you take the time to research your options and ways to save:

• Do a trial run. Call health clubs near your home and office to ask for a no-commitment trial. Visit at the times you’ll be most likely to work out. Ask members what they like and don’t like about the facility, and get a copy of the fee schedule.

• Keep an eye on social media. While you’re deciding where to join, look for additional deals on gym websites, Facebook and Twitter, as well as offers on saving sites like Groupon, Living Social and Gilt City. If a gym has a mailing list, sign up.

• Negotiate your best deal. When you decide on a club to join, speak with a manager, who is more likely to have the clout to negotiate. Ask what the cost would be if you paid for a year (or more) in full instead of paying month by month. Also see if you can get some things you would usually be willing to pay for — such as a wellness assessment or a personal training session — free. If the membership includes things you won’t use, like child care, classes or a pool, ask for a reduced rate that doesn’t include them.

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