HOWTO: Negotiate Your Gym Membership Like a Diva

Getting a gym membership without getting screwed is next to impossible, right? Wrong. Here are some simple negotiating tactics that will have you jazzercising in no time.

Knowledge is Power: The median enrollment fee for a gym membership is $150 dollars for an individual and $55 a month in dues, according to the IHRSA.

One way to reduce your monthly fee is to tell your gym of choice that you’ve found a better deal somewhere else. Say: “It’s $15 dollars cheaper down the block, and I’ll burn 3 calories walking down there to give THEM my money.” Watch them knock $15 off your dues.

Tell them where to shove the Membership Fee. Tell them to reduce or eliminate it. One good way is to tell them you know they just had a

off membership sale and you want that deal or you are walking out the door.

Contracts: What is this, a cell phone? We don’t think so. Aim for month-to-month. If that’s not possible, do not sign up for more than a year.

That’s it! Simple, no? If one gym won’t bend to your negotiating techniques, go to another one. That’s capitalism, baby. —MEGHANN MARCO

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  1. Falconfire says:

    Also look for deals with the gym that can get you a greatly reduced price.

    My union has a deal with Ballys where we all pay 300 for a year, or if your already a member you get refunded all of your membership fees and only pay the 300. Its the only reason I even signed up to a gym.

  2. DeeJayQueue says:

    LA Fitness is a pretty good gym, decent facilities, and month-to-month billing.

  3. GenXCub says:

    See if you can find local gyms that work in a local chain as opposed to national chains. I belong to Las Vegas Athletic Club. they have great modern facilities, all of their locations are in the Las Vegas area, they have free enrollment periods, women pay less when there are enrollment costs, and generally you’re not paying more than $25 per month unless you’re paying for their child care. If I went to Golds or 24 hour fitness, I’d get reamed.

  4. I’ve found if I tell them instead of the contract I’ll pay in cash for the full year right then and there they’ll knock off at least 20%.

  5. TedSez says:

    Keep in mind that some (NOT all) gym-membership salespeople are lying fratboy jocks who couldn’t get the job they wanted at the local car dealership. (You know, as played by Ben Stiller in a sweatband.) Don’t let them push you around, get everything in writing, and read the contract very carefully to make sure it still has the same terms you negotiated. And avoid plans where they debit your bank account like the plague… you may never be able to get them to stop.

  6. Another piece of advice, find someone else who wants to join and negotiate as them potentially losing two sign-ups.

    I’m with Electoral. I paid Xsport fitness here in Chicago area a full year and got a reduced fee and an extra month free. It came out to 367 dollars for 13 months at a gym that is 24/7 and has LCD tvs on every cardio machine. Not too shabby.

  7. GymRat says:

    I joined Bally’s when I lived in Detroit and I signed a 3 year membership. I moved to Lansing a year later. I finally finished paying my 3 year membership (even though I wasn’t using the gym in Lansing) and I asked for Bally’s to freeze my account. For $48/year I can keep my account active but I can not use the gym (not a problem since there isn’t a branch in Lansing). When I finally move to a city that houses a Bally’s I can restart my membership at a reduced monthly rate.

  8. bambino says:

    angry, love the handle

  9. I was going to join the local YMCA until I realized that the prices actually weren’t really as competitive as I thought they were. For some reason I was thinking it was really cheap…

  10. ckilgore says:

    If you live near a university see if they allow access to their facilities for a fee. Sometimes with that you also get the benefit of graduate students as personal trainers, etc. It probably won’t have some of the perks like spas or babysitting, but if you don’t need that kind of stuff, then it works out really well.

  11. The Unicorn says:

    My gym is the Chicago downtown Hilton, & the rates are really reasonable — $105/3 months for students (and young-looking people who are willing to engage in a white lie) & $150/3 months for everyone else. There’s no contract, the facilities are super-clean, & they don’t charge you for towel service (which I’m told Bally’s & other places do). It’s $17/day to use the gym even if you’re a guest of the hotel (which is a HUGE ripoff, but makes it an even better deal for members). And of course there’s a pool, two hot tubs, sauna, view of the skyline…

    The only drawback was that they took away one of our elliptical machines & set it up in a private room for Dubya to use when he was in town, but that’s not a bad tradeoff. I’m not sure if other major hotel chains offer memberships, but it’s worth looking into.

  12. any such name says:

    AngrySicilian – which XSport do you go to? I see they are opening one in my neighborhood… this would be more convenient than Bally’s!

    Unicorn – what the shit? How busy is the Hilton gym? Also, which Hilton (Palmer House / S. Mich / Mag Mile)??

    I mean, Bally’s is cheap, but the Century City one is crowded as hell.

  13. hipersons says:

    I signed up at ballys, but didn’t want to stay (my roommate could get me a free membership at a much nicer gym). It states in your contract that if you move more than x miles away from a ballys, you can get out of your contract. i pretended to move back in with my parents. dishonest, sure. but i could really move there if i wanted to.

    moral is: check your contract!

  14. Any such – I just started going to the one in Downers Grove now that I am living out of the City.

  15. The Unicorn says:

    @Any Such

    The Hilton gym is not terribly busy — but there are only 3 showers in the ladies’ locker room, so if you’re a girl you’re not allowed to start going there in the mornings. :) I’ve never had a problem getting a shower or a machine, but it does occasionally get more crowded if there’s a particularly aethletically-inclined group staying at the hotel — and they’re one of the Marathon sponsors, so you can imagine how bustling it was when the hotel was full of out-of-town athletes.

    It’s the one on south Michigan, @ Balbo, 8th floor. Not the hugest gym in the world, but it definitely gets the job done.

  16. Trai_Dep says:

    Expect them to screw you if given even a cat’s whisker’s of a chance. Expect them to promise anything to make the sell but nothing matters except for what’s on the contract. Expect them to try to get you to skip reading the contract before signing. Expect to laugh, laugh, laugh at this transparent ploy.

  17. the_wiggle says:

    @trai_dep: 1st & LAST time I was fool enough not to reread a contract before signing was with Ballys with my 1st husband (we were both young & ignorant). the scum added a zero to our income & used the check we paid with to set up autopay directly from our 1st Interstate account.
    We wound up having to change accounts, then banks & file a fraud complaint with the local AG. Our carbon still showed the correct income and the coupon format, not autopay format. . . .

  18. Anonymous says:

    I pay $120 a year to go to the college gym next door to my work. They have an agreement with work that all our employees can use the gym for the same price as students, w00t.