One of the first things to get the ax when people cut back is the monthly gym membership fee — which means that gyms all over the country are slashing prices in order to attract new members to replace the ones who are sloughing off.
Many gyms are offering the usual “resolution” special — waiving joining fees for the month of January, and even high end clubs may be offering special recession deals this month. The LA Times gives a few examples of deals they’ve found:
* Lapsed members of the upscale SportsClub/LA (thesportsclubla.com) were recently invited to return with no need to pay the one-time initiation fee, which can be at least $600, and no membership dues for two months, a savings for some of at least $330.
* A two-week free guest pass at Bally Total Fitness (ballyfitness.com), which recently filed for bankruptcy reorganization but says it plans to continue operations;
* One month free, then 50% off the monthly membership fee, through March 6 at Curves (curves.com);
* No enrollment fee at Gold’s Gym (goldsgym.com);
Of course, some clubs are more expensive than others, so be sure to shop around for the best deal. Also, be sure to be very, very clear on the details of your contract. Canceling a gym membership can be a pain — so it’s really best to look for a month-to-month option.
If you already have a membership and you’re thinking of quitting, contact the membership office and see what they can do for you. You might be able to freeze your membership — or maybe renegotiate it entirely.
And before you toss that membership — consider cutting back on other things and committing to using it more. Used correctly, a gym membership can save you money.
Robin Elton, 32, a stay-at-home mom in Landenberg, Pa., who’s always on a tight budget because of her single-family income, says she’d cut out her cable subscription before dropping her $78 a month family membership to the local YMCA.
“I consider it to be an investment in our health,” says Elton. “Going to the gym motivated me to quit smoking and continues to motivate me to watch my diet. The way I see it, this saves me boatloads of money later on doctor and dentist bills.”
Since joining the gym a year ago, Elton goes to the gym about three times a week and has lost 20 pounds. In addition to saving the money she would have spent on cigarettes, she quit buying junk food, too.
The gym also offers family entertainment. Rather than making a trip with her three kids to the mall or movies, where they’d spend more money, the family often heads to the Y to swim or shoot hoops.
“All in all, I think my gym membership is one of the best deals going,” Elton says.