Have you been putting off joining the gym? February is the thriftiest time of year to join the gym, so no more excuses!
January is long gone and so too are the over zealous New Year’s exercise resolutions. By now you should know how much you would use the gym and can work out whether it’s worth joining. So if you use the gym or pool or attend classes as a non-member currently, work out what that’s costing you a month and then set this as your spending limit. For some people, the incentive of having a membership is enough to encourage more regular attendance, but just because you’re paying for it, doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly have more time to go, so beware of the ‘I’ll be paying for it, so I’ll have to go more often’ trap.
Once you decide to join a gym, try it out before joining. Most will give you a free pass if you ask nicely. Do they have the facilities you would like? Do the classes fit with your schedule? Is the gym crazy busy at the time you would want to go? Is there a long waiting list for the classes you’d like to attend? Is it practical and cost-effective to travel there? Many gyms also offer short-term memberships, particularly over the summer, so try that and see if you’re going to get the full value before signing a longer contract.
My top ten tips for negotiating the price of a gym membership:
1. Research any partnership schemes you may be eligible for, e.g. through your employer or through your health insurance provider and bear this in mind when working out price. Some gyms (usually the council-run gyms) have a special rate for students, people under 26 and those on low incomes – ask as these often aren’t advertised.
2. Sign up to the newsletters sent by your local gyms – they often send out special promotions by email.
3. Shop around – work out the price of other gyms in the area and have this information to hand. Council-run gyms are usually the cheapest, but not always, so check!
4. Never accept the first price you’re given – I know we British don’t like to haggle, but you’ll regret it if you don’t. After the initial conversation, say you’d like to go away and think about it and ask them to email you a copy of the contract*. Then work out the cost per day/week/month and a sensible target price.
5. Find out what friends and colleagues pay and use this to guide your negotiations. This will give you the confidence to quote the lowest price you’re willing to pay.
6. Check the gym’s policy on family/friends/partner memberships – can you get a discount?
7. Never pay a joining fee – sign up to the gym’s newsletter and you’ll usually find they run ‘no joining fee’ promotions often enough to tell you there’s room to negotiate this away.
8. *Read the contract. I cannot stress this enough! Many will have clauses allowing the gym to inflate the price over the term if you pay a monthly fee. Make sure there are no hidden costs.
9. Hold out on joining until near the end of the month – they will be under pressure to meet their membership targets and you’re most likely to score a bargain.
10. Join in February – most gyms have quotas and spaces to fill after the January peak.
Now make haste to that spin class!