How to negotiate a gym membership

gym-negotiationDo you have to pay the full advertised rate for a gym membership?  Of course not!  Working out has many obvious benefits, but there’s no reason to pay top dollar (no offense Sam).  By introducing competition and negotiating at the right time, you can get a great deal on a gym membership.

Get competitive prices around town

Even if you already know the gym you want to join, it pays to shop around first.  Maybe there is only one gym within 30 minutes of your house or there’s only one with a basketball court.  That doesn’t matter, you can still bargain.  Just let the salesperson know you’re entertaining other options, and play a little hard to get.

Take the time to check out other gyms around town and get prices.  This way you’ll have some ammo and can share the better offers you received making the process competitive.

For each gym you visit, be friendly and take the tour if they make you (which they always do).  Before you leave, get a quote, a salesperson’s business card, and leave your phone number.  Visit your most desired gym last.

When to start bargaining

Don’t sign up during the first visit to your favorite health club.  Wait until the end of the month and then call your salesperson back.  Gym salespeople work on commission and have quotas they must meet each month.  The end of the month is when they are most likely to cut rates and give you a deal in order to hit their numbers.  And don’t be surprised if they call you with a good offer.

Promotions can easily differ from month to month.  If you have time to wait a few months you may see a new advertised special come up.


January thru March is the absolute worst time of year to join a gym.  Everyone signs up as a New Year’s resolution and many people want to get in shape for bikini season.  It’s much easier for salespeople to find new members during this period and much harder for you to find a discount.

How to negotiate membership fees

At the end of the month, tell the salesperson you’re interested in joining their gym.  But mention that you can’t justify paying more to them than another gym that offered you a better deal.  Be prepared with the facts and tell them your other offers.

In addition to reducing the monthly price, you can ask them to waive or reduce the initiation fee.  The typical initiation fee can be anywhere from $100-400.

See if you can get a better discount by signing up a friend or family member at the same time.  Or ask if they have corporate discounts for your company.  Better yet, if you’ve got initiative, see if you can start your own corporate program and try to round up a big group from the office.

And do your best to avoid a contract unless it comes with a discounted rate versus the month-to-month option.  One year is ok, but locking in for longer can be a huge mistake.  Here are a few more tips on negotiating a gym membership.

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