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How to get cheaper gym membership

Whether you're just in it for the snapchat fodder or you genuinely want to keep fit and healthy, here's how to bag your gym membership for less.Cheap Gym membershipAvid gym-goers not only get to burn off steam, stress and calories, but they also earn ultimate kudos too. Sadly though, ultimate kudos doesn't come cheap.

With a range of packages and options available, you could easily find yourself shelling out in excess of £50 a month on a gym membership. While we all know our body is a temple, even super awesome temples don't need that much upkeep!

We've smashed our money-saving brains together to provide you with some tips on how to snatch your gym membership on the cheap, meaning more pennies in your pocket for important things like paying the bills and getting the Jägerbombs in.

If you're more interested in the staying fit and healthy part than anything else, you could also try one of these cheap gym alternatives instead!

How to get a cheaper gym membership

  1. Use your student discount

    nusWe've said it many, many times before and we'll say it again – always make sure to ask about student discounts! Even if they aren't advertised, that doesn't mean they aren't available.

    You might need to get yourself an NUS Extra Card  before you can get any discount (not all gyms accept a valid student ID, annoyingly), but it'll be well worth it for all the dollar you'll save.

  2. Check the length of the contract

    contractimageWhile it is somewhat easier to get out of lengthy gym contracts nowadays if your circumstances change, it's not a dead cert and you do need to read through the small print carefully.

    It might work out less per month to sign up at a certain gym if you go for a 12-month contract, but this is a waste of your money if you end up having to fork out during the summer or once you've graduated and aren't around to use it.

    Always check how long the contract is, your cancellation notice period and what happens if your circumstances change (e.g. leaving your course and moving home, etc.). Also check whether your contract renews automatically every year (in which case set yourself a reminder to cancel, otherwise you might get caught up in another contract).

  3. Haggle

    carhaggleYour local gym might be run by a squillionaire, but that doesn't mean your custom isn't important to them. How'd you think that they got so rich in the first place?

    Feign interest, play hard ball and don't be afraid to walk away if the price isn't right. You'll be surprised how much you can get knocked off the 'final price'.

    We've heard of scenarios where students have even managed to dodge paying the initial sign-up fee. All you need to know is how to haggle like a pro!

  4. Take advantage of free trials

    Free TrialEveryone loves free stuff, right? Well, one great thing about gyms is that they're generally always happy for you to try for free before you buy.

    This means you're likely to have about a month of free gym sessions whilst you shop around all the gyms in your area.

    If you're not completely sure if gym-ing it up is for you, or just want some free gym time before you pay up, make sure you take advantage of the freebies whilst you can.

    Current freebies:

    Fitness First 3 day pass
    FitSpace 3 day pass
    Xercise4Less 1 day pass
    TotalFitness  1 day pass
    Nuffield Gym 1 day pass
    Anytime Fitness 3 day pass (London)

  5. Try pay-as-you-go gyms

    pay as you go gym membershipIf you're not sure whether the gym will be a worthwhile expense, or you go so infrequently that paying a monthly membership doesn't really make sense, it's definitely worth considering a pay-as-you-go gym.

    Several council-run gyms will offer this option, or you can use websites like Payasugym, which lists thousands of gyms that offer a pay-on-entry service.

    Having said that, it doesn't always work out cheaper using PAYG. If you do decide to make it a regular thing, make sure you sign up for a full membership, or you'll end up paying out extra cash unnecessarily.

    Try to take note of how frequently you go, and do the maths to see which option works out less.

  6. Use 'No Frills' budget gyms

    Exercise DVDsIf you're not bothered about having a sauna, a pool or any of the luxury frills that can come with a gym membership, there are a whole range of great budget options that offer equipment that's just as good.

    Another bonus with these gyms is that there's no contract but just a monthly payment, and you can leave at any time.

    Here's our best picks:

    The Gym Group

    the gym groupThe Gym Group are currently offering students with an NUS Extra card the chance to waive the joining fee.

    If you're signing up to a gym that costs more than £15.99 per month, you'll have the joining fee waived completely; if you're branch charges less than £15.99 per month, they'll knock 50% off the joining fee.

    Prices start from:  £10.99 per month
    Joining fee: (without student discount) £20
    Check out The Gym Group »

    Pure Gym

    pure gymPure Gym's monthly memberships currently start at £10.99 a month plus a £15 joining fee, depending on your location.

    They also offer a 25% discount to students who are verified through UNiDAYS, so this does work out a pretty decent deal.

    Most classes are free, and like The Gym Group, they're open 24/7 with no contract and the option to freeze your membership if necessary.

    Prices start from: £10.99 per month
    Joining fee: £15

    Check out Pure Gym »


    fitspaceMembership at FitSpace costs around £13 a month, depending on where in the country you sign up (although, weirdly it says your membership gets you entry to any of their gyms, so you could sign up at whichever one is cheapest and still be able to use whatever branch is nearest to you).

    You can choose to go annual, flexible monthly or value monthly.

    Prices start from: £12.99 per month
    Joining fee: £10

    Check out FitSpace »


    xercise4lessXercise4Less are a pretty big chain with around 35 branches across the UK.

    They offer 200 free classes every month for you to choose from, and a ladies-only gym.

    They've also just released a new fitness app for members that helps you reach goals and track your progress.

    Prices start from:
    Joining fee: None

    Check out FitSpace »

  7. Compare prices

    gocompareAs with pretty much anything that involves parting with your hard-earned cash, make sure you shop around for the best deal on your membership.

    Sites like TheGymWebsite offer a 'gym finder' function that allows you to search for all the gyms in your area and which ones have good deals going.

    Remember to take into account any extra expenses like travel costs, too. It won't always work out cheaper to go further afield for a cheaper membership!

  8. Assess your usage

    exerciseBefore you sign up to that all-singing, all-dancing package, stop for a second and think about what you really need. Would you ever actually go to classes? Is a sauna really essential? Will you make use of those inclusive sessions with a personal trainer?

    If you don't think you'll use a service, ask them to knock it off your package and reap the financial joy. If they won't knock it off, take your custom elsewhere (or at least pretend to) – this is all part of the haggling process!

  9. Use friend referrals

    friendsIf there's one thing gyms love more than getting you signed up, it's getting your friends to sign up too.

    Often you'll find that a gym will offer a good deal if you agree to signing up a few friends as well, so everyone's happy!

    Make sure you also check if you know anyone who's already signed up to that gym before you do, even if they're only on your "only speak to when drunk" list. There could be a cheeky discount on the cards.

  10. Try guest passes

    guestThis one's a bit less of a case of saving money, but more of a case of getting a bit more bang for your buck, but always check if you can have some free guest passes that you can dish out to some of your friends so you have some company at the gym for a session or two.

    The beauty of this, of course, is that you can offer a guest pass in exchange for a guest pass at your friends' gyms too, so you can try out a few different places if you're getting a bit bored of yours.

  11. Pay up front

    moneyIf you've got some money in savings or feel like you can budget your student loan appropriately then it's always worth paying up front, as this almost always works out cheaper.

    This does mean you'll feel compelled to go often enough to get your money's worth, though. But that's probably a good motivator, right?

    We only suggest going for this option if you are serious about going to the gym and are sure you'll keep it up. Don't fall into the trap of signing up after Christmas as an incentive to shift some turkey-induced pounds – this doesn't work and you'll probably end up only going twice the whole year.

  12. Go Off-Peak

    Off Peak GymSome gyms offer an off-peak membership (although most don't shout about it). As a student, you're in a great position in that you're able to be a bit more flexible with time than someone who works 9-5, so why not take advantage of it?

    Going off-peak does mean you'll be working out with pensioners most of the time, but this is also a good thing as you don't have to worry so much about having a face like a tomato on the treadmill.

    Off-peak gym hours are normally weekdays 9am-5pm, and from the afternoon onwards at weekends.

Best value gyms for students

ExerciseWhen looking for an awesome gym membership, you need to make sure you're looking in the right places…

University gyms

University of OtagoIf you happen to be in the process of studying one of those degree thingys, then checking out the on-campus facilities is likely to be a good shout.

You'll often find they're priced pretty competitively, and as they're run by the university, will often offer more flexible membership choices such as the option just to pay for term time, etc.

An added bonus is that you obviously won't have to travel far to get there, and could probably squeeze a quick work-out in when you're between lectures.

The low point of using your uni gym, however, is that campus gyms tend to get quite overcrowded, and you're likely to feel obliged to indulge in chit-chat with everyone you know when you're sweating from every pore and unable to breathe.

Prices start from: £10+/month (check with your university).

Council owned gyms

NewgymsatValeleisurecentres1webCouncil gyms are also a very good bet for a cheaper option. While they might not have the best equipment compared to private gyms, they usually offer a student gym membership (and who doesn't love a student discount?).

To look for gyms near you start with your local council.

Prices start from: £20+/month (Check locally).

Gym alternatives

ExerciseWhatever way you look at it, going to the gym is always going to cost you a fair bit of dollar, but that doesn't mean you can't get fit without spending money.

From DVDs and fitness apps to home fitness and taking advantage of the great outdoors by going for a run, there are tonnes of ways to keep fit without parting with any cash. So many, in fact, that we've made a list of them all for you here.

Make sure you fill us in with any tips or tricks you think we've left out in the comments below!

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