How to Find a Cheap Gym Membership

Real Simple

The New Year comes with a blizzard of gym ads. Get in shape without spending huge sums. Here are nine ways which can save you nearly $600 in gym fees.

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Work Out With the Co-Eds

Many colleges and universities offer discounted gym access to alumni. Columbia University, in New York City, for example, charges $230 per year for recent graduates. That comes out to less than $20 per month!

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Ask and Ye Shall Receive … Gym Deals

Scout out other gyms in your area and ask about discounts. Then, ask your gym of choice to match. Now’s the best time to search, since so many fitness clubs have January specials. (If you convinced the gym you’re interested in to simply drop its joining fee, you could save as much as $50 to $200.)

Nick Daly

Exploit Your Insurance

Some health plans provide discounts on gym memberships, so research yours. An example: Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Care First provides up to 60 percent off membership fees. You could save as much as $360 per year, if you usually pay $50 per month.

Vladimir Godnik

Mooch Off Your Company

Many companies offer gym deals for employees, as working out lowers health care costs. For instance, Prudential allows employees to save $20 per month off memberships at New York Sports Club.

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Be Flexible (About How You Get Flexible)

Some gyms offer lower rates if you go at non-peak hours. These special rates often aren’t advertised, so ask.

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Vouch For These Gyms

The American Health and Fitness Association’s passbook costs $75 and contains vouchers for free admission to gyms, Pilates, or yoga in New York, Chicago, Houston, and Los Angeles. Depending on how often you work out, the $75 book could very well last you the entire year.

Group running cross country

Run With the Club

Runners clubs are overlooked gems. These organizations help you find races and provide a running community. Don’t worry about being Olympic-caliber; many clubs have events for beginners. Road Runners Club of America offers individual memberships for $25 per year, while the marathon group 50&DC Marathon Group USA costs $10 for a lifetime membership. Many Meetup.com running clubs are free, too, though some charge small fees.

Jamie Grill

Surf for a Workout (Without a Board)

Get your exercise on at home with free workout videos.

Courtesy of Lara Robby/Studio D

Use Workout Apps

Mapmyrun.com helps you find running routes, and its iPhone app tracks calorie usage and logs workouts. iPod Nano, Touch, or iPhone users can nab a personal training regimen from Nike for $29, which tracks time, distance, pace, and calories burned.
(See a preview of 2012 smart phones here)

 

 

 

 

 

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The Bottom Line

If you follow these tips, you can save: $571/year*

If you invested this amount today and earned an 8 percent return, you would have $12,405 by retirement.**

*Savings if you buy the Nike + iPod Sport Kit instead of paying $50 per month to a gym. Comparable savings if you use a voucher book instead of a gym membership or join a university gym for a reduced fee.

**If you are 25 today and retire at age 65.

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