How Much Is a Gym Membership and How Do You Get the Best Deal?

What does it take to stick to a workout routine?

Finding the right gym can help.

Spending money on a gym membership provides extra motivation. You don’t want to waste money on something you don’t use.

Of course, you also need to find a gym that you can afford.

So, how much is a gym membership? 

The average cost of a gym membership is $58 per year, but costs vary dramatically from one location to the next.

A wide variety of factors influence the final cost. You need to consider the signup fee, geographical location, and several other important details.

If you’re ready to get in shape, you should know what you’re getting into before joining a gym.

Here’s a detailed look at the hidden costs and features that determine the impact on your bank account.

Factors That Determine the Cost of Gym Memberships

You can find a gym membership to fit almost any budget. 

So, what affects the cost? 

The biggest factor is what you find inside the gym.

If you walk into a budget gym, you may notice that they’ve only got a few treadmills or a limited selection of free weights.

Some gyms also have pools, saunas, and other amenities while others are simply large rooms with a handful of exercise equipment. 

Basically, you pay more to gain access to more stuff, but there’s more to consider.

The main details that influence the cost include:

  • Signup fees and hidden costs
  • Location
  • Gym access
  • Commitment
  • Amenities
  • Classes

Before you sign away a portion of your paycheck to a gym, you should learn more about these features and how they affect the cost.

Signup Fees and Hidden Costs

Most gym chains require a signup fee. It’s almost impossible to find one that doesn’t.

Why do they charge you an initial fee? 

Gyms know us better than we know ourselves. They understand that almost half of the people that join a gym never show up after one or two workout sessions.

If the gym allows you to cancel at any time, they’ll lose half their new signups within a month. 

To counter this little problem, they charge a signup fee. 

Out of the affordable gyms that I’ve compared, LA Fitness has the highest initiation fee – $99. 

At Planet Fitness, the sign-up fee depends on the location… 

Location of the Gym

Location matters. If you live in LA or New York, expect to pay more than someone who lives in the Midwest. 

Most gyms are franchise operations, and the franchisee can often set his or her own rates. However, this typically only applies to the signup fees. 

For example, you may find that a Planet Fitness in your neighborhood that charges a $49 signup fee, while the Planet Fitness in the next town over only charges $1 to sign up.

Gym Access – Single Gym or Multiple Locations

LA Fitness has over 690 locations while Planet Fitness has thousands. If you want the freedom to visit any location, you pay more.

With a single gym membership, you can only visit the gym that you sign up at, but you save money.

If you travel a lot, the multiple-club memberships are convenient. However, you’re going to pay a few dollars more each month. 

Commitment – Monthly or Annual

At most locations, you can choose monthly or annual contracts. 

With the monthly contract, you just pay month-to-month with no commitment. You also tend to pay a little more.

If you want to save money, you can choose the annual plan. You still typically pay month-to-month. 

So, what’s the catch? You’re locked in the year. If you try to cancel, you may need to pay steep cancellation fees.

Available Amenities 

The amenities can make all the difference when choosing a gym. 

At some places, you’ll get access to a pool, sauna, and hot tubs. 

Low-cost options, such as Planet Fitness and Gold’s Gym, are mostly just large rooms with equipment.

You’ll also find high-end gyms, such as Equinox or Life Time Fitness. These places tend to treat you like a celebrity, with snack bars, lounges, and other unnecessary amenities.

I shouldn’t need to explain this. However, you pay more to join a gym that offers lots of amenities. 

Classes and Fitness Programs

One of the final details that influence the cost of a gym membership is the available classes and fitness programs. 

For example, Planet Fitness only has a single class. It’s a basic physical education program.

At most other locations, you can find a wide range of classes, from yoga to spin class.

If you need instruction from a personal trainer or prefer to work out with strangers, look for these options when comparing gyms.

What Gym Provides the Best Value?

Now that you know what influences the cost of a membership, it’s time to find a gym.

I’ve compared some of the most recognizable nationwide gym franchises and companies. After careful research, I believe the following are the best choices:

  • Gold’s Gym
  • LA Fitness
  • 24 Hour Fitness
  • Planet Fitness
  • YMCA

So, how much is a gym membership at these places? Again, the cost varies.

Gold’s Gym Membership Costs

Gold’s Gym is one of the older and most recognizable gyms, but how much do they charge?

As with most places, the cost depends on the location and time of the year. However, the average price for the basic plan is just $9.99 per month.

You also need to pay a $29.99 signup fee and a $39.99 annual fee. Unfortunately, Gold’s Gym isn’t doing too well.

There are currently only about 31 locations in the country. 

LA Fitness Membership Costs

LA Fitness isn’t the least expensive option, but the available plans still beat the national average of $58 per month.

LA Fitness offers two types of memberships for new members. If you only plan to workout at a single club, you pay $26.99 per month. 

For just $3 more, you can work out at any LA Fitness location. 

Both options include a $99 initiation fee and a $39 annual fee. With the multi-club membership, you’ll spend about $498 per year. 

So, you can visit any LA Fitness location for just $41.50 per month. Also, I’ve LA Fitness comparison guides, comparing LA Fitness vs 24 Hour Fitness and LA Fitness vs Planet Fitness.

24 Hour Fitness Membership Costs

As with other gyms, the cost of a membership to 24 Hour Fitness varies depending on the location.

How much is a gym membership at 24 Hour Fitness? You can expect to pay about $29.99 to $34.99 per month, plus the annual fee.

Luckily, 24 Hour Fitness rarely charges a signup fee. You can also save money with a 12-month commitment, instead of paying month-to-month. 

Thanks to these features, 24 Hour Fitness is one of the more affordable options.

Planet Fitness Membership Costs

If the previous options are out of your price range, visit Planet Fitness.

The popular gym chain offers an ultra-cheap plan, starting at only $10 a month.

It’s also a no-commitment plan at most locations.

You just need to pay a signup fee and an annual fee. Depending on the current signup promotion, you may only pay $1 to $49 for the initial fee.

The annual fee is usually $39 per year, but the total cost still makes Planet Fitness one of the least expensive choices.

Of course, the $10 plan has limited features. It’s only good at one location.

If you want to visit any Planet Fitness gym, you need the Black Card Membership, which typically costs about $21.99 per month. It also includes access to the tanning beds and Hydromassage chairs.

YMCA Membership Costs

People often overlook one of the oldest fitness centers. Instead of joining a chain, you can join an organization that helps support local communities.

The YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) is a nonprofit with over 10,000 locations. 

Many of these locations have gym equipment, pools, and fitness programs. Depending on where you live, your local YMCA may even offer a wide range of classes.

The only drawback is the cost.

At most locations, you pay about $55 per month for an adult membership, along with a $49 signup fee. However, if you have family members who want to join, you may save money.

YMCA allows you to add an adult for an extra $25 per month or a child for $13 per month.

How Can Get You Get the Best Price on a Gym Membership?

If you want the lowest price for a gym membership, join Gold’s Gym. With prices starting at just $9.99 per month, it’s hard to find a less expensive deal.

Of course, you can still get a great deal at any of the locations discussed. You just need to do your research.

It’s not uncommon for gyms to adjust their prices. By the time you read this, the least expensive option may change.

Before joining a gym, perform a quick search of each option near you to determine the current prices.

You may even get lucky and find that one of the gyms near you is offering a special.

During certain times of the year, gyms may offer discounts for new members. In some cases, they may even waive the initial signup fee.

These promotional offers tend to come toward the end of the month.

According to Consumer Reports, many fitness clubs need to meet sales quotas each month. To meet these quotas, they may run special promotions to entice new members.

If you don’t want to hold off until the end of the month, try a few of these other tactics to save money on a gym membership:

  • Sign up for the gym for a trial run
  • Negotiate with the manager
  • Check the benefits of your insurance
  • Thoroughly review the contract

Many locations offer trial runs. Instead of committing to anything, you can check out the gym for a week.

While the trial run doesn’t save you money, it ensures that you find a gym that meets your needs and matches your budget.

After signing up for the trial, take advantage of it.

Show up to the gym and test out the facilities. Workout at the times that you normally workout and use the equipment that you plan to use in the future. This gives you a better sense of whether you really want to commit to a contract.

Negotiate with the Manager

If you decide that you like the gym, try negotiating a better deal with the manager. At many gyms, the staff earns commissions for signing up new members. However, they rarely have the power to offer much of a discount.

To get the best value, you need to go to the top. 

Talk to the manager about the costs. In some cases, you may have a little wiggle room for getting a lower price.

For example, some managers may offer a lower monthly fee or waive the signup fee if you pay upfront for a year. 

Check the Benefits of Your Insurance

Not everyone is comfortable haggling. If you’re not interested in negotiating with the manager, you still have another option for saving money.

Check your insurance plan. Some healthcare plans offer discounts or reimbursements for gym memberships. 

Helping to keep people healthy reduces the risk of issues related to obesity, such as heart disease and diabetes. The insurance company saves money by helping to keep you out of the hospital.

This isn’t an option for all health insurance plans, so check with your provider.

Thoroughly Review the Contract

The last step for ensuring that you get the best deal is to read the contract.

As mentioned, I’ve come across contracts that include a variety of hidden fees. Gyms tuck these fees away in the contract, in the hopes that you won’t notice.

Cancellation fees, administrative fees, and credit card processing fees are just a few examples. Some locations may even charge a fee for the towels you use in the shower.

The contract should also explicitly state what you get with your membership.

In recent years, some gyms have come under fire for not delivering on their promises. If you want to avoid a scam, read before signing.

Always Compare Options Before Joining a Gym

How much is a gym membership? At the places discussed, you’ll spend between $10 and $50 per month.

The bottom line is that the cost of gym membership varies depending on many factors. 

The selection of equipment, the location, and the initial signup fee are a few of the biggest details to consider. 

Before joining, remember to compare your options. The costs vary from one location to the next and may even change throughout the year.

To get the best deal, you need to look at a few different gyms in your area.

As a final tip, if you want the best value, you need to use your membership. Otherwise, you’re simply throwing money away.

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