We all know that there are many ways that you can get in shape for free. Riding your bike outside, going for a run, or even doing a bodyweight workout at home don’t cost a thing. But these are all at-home workouts and lets face it—exercising at home doesn’t work for everyone. There are a lot of us who need to actually go someplace to work out.
Visiting a gym allows me to add variety to my workouts by using different equipment and attending different classes. In a single week I might try indoor cycling, Bodypump, yoga and Zumba. But a major downside to joining a gym or going to an exercise studio is the cost. Health club and exercise studio memberships certainly aren’t cheap, but there are definitely ways to make them more affordable (and even free!).
Here are five ways to trim some of the cost off of gym memberships and exercises classes:
Take Advantage of Trial Memberships at Gyms and Health Clubs
Many national health club chains like 24 Hour Fitness, Gold’s Gym and and Anytime Fitness offer free passes with no obligation and some can be used for an entire week! This is a great way to check out a gym before actually signing a contract (or go turbo for a week right before or after vacation). Additionally, most exercise studios that specialize in yoga, cycling, and more will comp your first class or give you a deeply discounted trial period. For example, Core Power yoga studios offer unlimited yoga for one week for new students! Also, be sure to check out the schedule at your local yoga studios: most offer at least one donation-based or free class each week.
Be on the Lookout for Membership Discounts and Referrals
When speaking to a membership sales team member, be sure to ask about any possible discounts. Most health clubs offer a reduced rate for employees of certain corporations and members of the military. Many also offer family memberships which allows multiple family members (even if it’s just you and your spouse) a discounted rate. Be sure to ask about referrals as well. Some gyms and exercise studios will give you a discount for each friend you refer.
Negotiate Your Membership and Sign-up Fees
When it comes to the price of your gym membership, very little is set in stone. Most gyms offer their best deals in January and monthly rates can vary depending on when you sign up and any deals that are going at the time. (For example, you may get a lower price at the end of the month, when sales numbers are due.) Most gyms will try to charge you a “mandatory” enrollment fee but this can easily be haggled down (or waived completely) so start there with your negotiation. If you feel that the enrollment fee or monthly membership amount are out of your budget, let the membership salesperson know! His or her goal is to sell you a monthly membership, period, even if it’s at a discounted rate.
Find Free Yoga in Retail Stores
Several retail stores specializing in athletic and yoga apparel offer free classes to the community. If you live in the cities of Boulder, Portland, Denver, San Francisco, or Minneapolis, head to your local PrAna store and ask for a yoga class schedule or look for it online. Many locations offer several free classes each day! Lululemon also offers free yoga classes taught by instructors from the local community. Other athletic retailers, such as Nike and New Balance, are also getting in on the act, offering free run clubs and bootcamps.
Scour Online Deal Sites
Signing up for an online deal site like Groupon or Living Social is free and will provide you with a plethora of bargains every day. The sites allow you to select areas of interest including health and fitness. Many local exercise studios offer deals on Groupon and Living Social to draw in new customers. These offers are typically the cheapest that you can find and are a great way to try out a new class without buying a monthly membership.