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How to Save on Gym Memberships, Studios, and Classes in 2018

Find out how to negotiate better membership fees, and where to find deals on alternative fitness options.
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If you're among the 40% of Americans who make New Year's resolutions, there's a good chance that getting fit is your goal for 2018. In fact, according to a Marist Poll survey of more than 1,000 adults, weight loss and being a better person tied for the most popular New Year's resolution for the year, while exercising more and eating healthier came in second.

The concepts of getting fit and saving money don't have to be at odds with each other. While it's possible to spend thousands a year on fitness and buy $400 yoga pants, it's also possible to get fit on the cheap — and that doesn't even involve heading to the meat locker to pummel some sides of beef, Rocky-style (unless you want to).

No one wants a lighter and slimmer wallet for 2018, so check out the tips below to save money on your fitness goals this year.

SEE ALSO: 7 New Year's Resolutions That Will Save You Money


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Gym Memberships

Look for Gym Promotions
The best gym promotions usually happen in January, when health clubs are trying to lure the New Year's resolution crowds. The next round of promotions happens in the summer, when resolutions have faltered and gyms are less crowded.

Shop Around
Gyms typically offer free trials for one, three, or seven days for new customers. Shop around and take advantage of the freebies, and maybe even wait until the end of the month, when gyms are more likely to strike deals, to make your selection.

Wait Until the End of the Month to Join
About 25% of people give up on their resolutions within the first week, but those who can hold off until the end of the month may be able to get better deals. That's when health clubs are trying to reach monthly quotas and may be more willing to waive fees or throw in extras, like personal training or spa sessions.

Negotiate
Fitness insiders will tell you not to sign up on your first visit. In fact, playing a little hard to get may result in a better deal, whether it's a cheaper monthly rate, no initiation fee, or a shorter contract obligation. Don't be afraid to negotiate, especially if you've shopped around and done some homework.

SEE ALSO: 5 Strategies That Gyms Use to Hook You (and How to Not Fall for Them)

Be Realistic
Signing up for a gym commitment that spans a year or more may be cheaper than a month-to-month membership, but that's a good deal only if you actually go. About 67% of members never go to the gym, and the average amount of gym membership money wasted from underutilization is $39.

Being too optimistic about how often you'll work out can cost you in the long run. One study found that, when given an option of paying $70 per month versus $10 per gym visit, more people chose the monthly option, yet ultimately paid 70% more per visit because they didn't end up working out enough to make it a better deal.

Find Out if You Qualify for Special Rates and Discounts
Check to see if your health insurance company offers a fitness reimbursement program. For example, you could receive a partial reimbursement of membership fees at select fitness centers if you visit them a specified amount of times per month.

Colleges and universities often offer special alumni rates. Some fitness facilities, including 24 Hour Fitness, provide military discounts. It's also worth looking into hospital fitness centers, which often sell memberships to the public.

Check Out Budget Gyms
Some fitness chains offer budget alternatives. For example, Blink Fitness (from Equinox) has fees as low as $15 per month.


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Specialty Studios

Search for Packages and Freebies
Like gyms, fitness studios geared toward yoga, barre workouts, cycling, and other classes often offer steep discounts and intro packages for new students. If there's a place you're interested in checking out, following the studio on social media might alert you to specials.

Consider ClassPass
Classes at boutique fitness studios that specialize in cycling, rowing, yoga, boot camps, and other workouts can cost about $25 to $40 per visit. ClassPass gives its members access to fitness classes at a variety of studios for a flat monthly rate of $20 to $135, depending on your location and plan.

Available in 47 cities worldwide, ClassPass lets members attend from three to 10 classes per month, depending on which plan tier you choose. Be aware, though, that ClassPass has changed up its pricing strategy multiple times in the past couple of years, unexpectedly hiking rates in select markets.

SEE ALSO: Your Complete Guide to Buying Workout Clothes

Get Daily Deal Coupons
Sites like Groupon and LivingSocial offer deals on fitness class packages and gym memberships, and can give you a chance to try out facilities without making any long-term commitments.

Keep Track of Extras
Some studios offer complimentary mats, towels, and locks, but extras — from cycling shoe rentals to bottles of water — can add up. Consider investing in reusable water bottles.


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Gym Alternatives

Find Local Fitness Groups
According to the Meetup website, there are more than 16,000 fitness groups worldwide, whether you want to hike or play group sports, like soccer or basketball, or find free local group classes. Local sports leagues can provide relief from gym tedium; to find leagues in your area, check out organizations such as Sportsvite, CLUBWAKA, ZogSports, and the YMCA.

Work Out at Home
While you can always pop in one of those old workout DVDs (or VHS tapes!), streaming subscriptions that offer workouts from top trainers are a good way to keep things fresh. And don't forget gaming systems that make fitness fun.

Try Free Online Workouts
It's fairly easy to find free online workouts that require very little — if any — equipment. Fitness Blender offers free online workouts for a wide variety of fitness levels and time constraints, from 10-minute, low-impact beginner cardio sessions to a 79-minute workout that can burn 1,000 calories. Fitness clothing retailer Sweaty Betty has a free online workout series that includes yoga, ballet, and dance.

There you have it, resolution-makers! Do you have any tips for saving money on fitness? Share them in the comments below.


Contributing Writer

Josie Rubio is a Brooklyn, New York-based freelance editor and writer. She has visited five continents so far and loves to write about travel, food, nutrition, health... and pretty much everything. Follow her on Twitter at @JosieRubio.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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