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Gym Membership: Tips for Finding the Best Deal

Most of us have been there: suddenly, our jeans have shrunk in the wash and the bathroom scales aren’t working properly. Either we’re incredibly unlucky or we’re in denial that we’re putting on weight. The gym is calling.

Exercise is good for us; not only does it stop us from gaining excess weight but it keeps us fit and healthy and helps us to feel good. Gyms and health clubs have sprung up everywhere in the last few decades and increasing numbers of us are signing up for gym membership.

However, gym membership can be expensive. Even the cheapest gyms can cost £30 to £40 a month so you have to be sure you’re going to use it enough to get value for money before you sign up.

Why should I join a gym?

If you want to get fit, lose some excess weight or bulk yourself up and don’t have the equipment or discipline to do it at home then joining a gym is a good option. There will be a wide range of equipment available aimed at different types of fitness training such as cardio or weights and there will be staff on hand to show you how to use the equipment properly and safely and to help you set up a personal training plan.

Many gyms issue members with special keys which they can use to store all their training information. If they insert the key into a piece of gym equipment eg a running machine it will display their individual targets and achievements. Having your goals and past times in front of you can be an incentive to try to improve each session.

If left to their own devices, many people will start a fitness regime with a burst of enthusiasm and find that the enthusiasm disappears very quickly. Suddenly, that three mile run that you planned to do twice a week doesn’t seem very appealing any more. However, if you join a gym not only will you have the gym staff and your fellow members offering you encouragement, the fact that you are paying a relatively large amount of money every month to use the equipment should be incentive enough!

What do I get for my gym membership?

Different gyms offer different membership packages. Large companies with several gyms across the UK such as Fitness First offer several membership packages ranging from unlimited access to all their gyms at any time during opening hours to off peak membership at your home gym.

Some gyms will offer youth or family packages; some will have corporate membership whereby if you work for a company which has partnered with the gym you are entitled to a discounted membership package. Some gyms include fitness classes in their membership; at other gyms the fitness classes will cost you extra. Membership of a gym usually gives you access to advice from the personal trainers.

Gym membership is usually for a 12 month period initially with one month’s notice of cancelling the membership after that. Shorter membership packages are sometimes available but they are likely to cost more.

How can I minimise the cost of my gym membership?

Joining a gym can be expensive, especially if you’re unsure how much you will use it. If you’re in no rush keep an eye out for special offers at one or more gyms you’re interested in joining and take advantage of free taster and pay-as-you-go sessions in the meantime to see if you suit the gym regime.

It’s worth trying a free taster session before you commit to see if a gym workout is for you. You may find that you hate being in the gym! If you have a friend who is a gym member see if they have any free guest passes you can use until you’re sure if you want to go ahead. Many large gym companies such as Fitness First, LA Fitness and Nuffield Health offer free one-day or three-day gym passes if you register on their website.

If you’re still not sure, you could pay as you go to start with. It works out more expensive in the long run but you could end up saving yourself a lot of money if you find your enthusiasm dwindles. Many gym companies and local authority-run gyms offer this option. A pay-as-you-go pass can cost anything from around £3 to £10.

If you’re sure that gym membership is the way forward, you could consider joining one of the growing number of no-frills gyms. These are exactly as they sound – gym equipment only, no personal trainers, no complimentary towels or shower gels – but have the advantage of costing considerably less than some of the posher gyms. Monthly membership can cost as little as £10 to £20 and often there is no minimum contract period.

Some gyms offer one month or three month memberships. Whilst they work out more expensive per month than a 12 month membership it does mean you can walk away at the end of the trial period or you can commit yourself to full membership confident that you’re happy with the gym.

If you’re happy to commit yourself to a full 12 month membership contract it’s worth looking around for the best deal. It goes without saying you should compare the local gyms to see what they offer for the cost of membership. If there are plenty of gyms in your area you could try haggling and playing one off against the other to see if you can persuade them to give you a discounted deal.

You should check wither you’re entitled to corporate membership. Many large organisations such as the NHS and the BBC have established links with gym companies – the organisations encourage their members to join a particular gym and in return the gym offers a discounted membership package.

Keep an eye out for special offers at gyms. Often, newly-opening gyms offer heavily discounted packages to its first members to kick-start the business. Many gyms offer discounted packages at certain times of the year – January is often a good time to secure a good deal.

Finally, don’t go for the full membership package unless you really need to. If you’re able to visit the gym at off peak times then buy a cheaper off peak membership. It shouldn’t be a problem to upgrade your membership at a later date if necessary.

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