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Health & Relationships

How to get cheaper gym membership

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Whether you genuinely want to keep fit and healthy, or you're just in it for the Insta fodder, here's how to bag your gym membership for less.

two women in gym wear fitness

Credit: Jacob Lund – Shutterstock

Avid gym-goers not only get to burn off steam, stress and calories, but they also earn ultimate kudos. Sadly though, ultimate kudos don't come cheap.

The average gym membership in the UK is around £45 a month. We've put our money-saving brains together to find options that start from around a tenner – less than a quarter of the average national price.

Add saving on a gym membership to money you could make from just walking everywhere and you'll be fit as a fiddle in no time at no extra cost!

If you're more interested in just staying fit and healthy, you could also try one of these cheap ways to lose weight instead.

Best student gym memberships

Find the perfect student gym membership below:

  1. The Gym Group

    the gym group logo

    Prices start from: £119 for six months (just under £20/month)

    Joining fee: none.

    The Gym Group offers students a six-month membership from £119. The price will vary depending on your location.

    While the Gym student membership won't get you into all of their locations, it will give you access to any two of your choice. This is ideal if you're keen to join a gym both at uni and at home.

    Check out The Gym Group »


  2. Pure Gym

    pure gym logo

    Prices start from: varies by location

    Joining fee: varies by location (free at selected gyms).

    Their monthly memberships vary in price depending on where you live, but the Pure Gym student discount is still available in all of their gyms.

    It's worth checking out to see whether UNiDAYS have any special offers on memberships before joining. At the time of writing, there's a deal that gives you up to 30% off a fixed-term student membership for the first six months.

    Check out Pure Gym »


  3. Better

    better gym

    Prices start from: varies by location

    Joining fee: free for students.

    The cost of a Better membership will differ depending on where you live, but the good news is that as a member, you'll get access to all Better gyms in your area. With some membership plans, you can even use all Better gyms across the UK!

    Better's student memberships have no joining fee, no minimum contract length and give you discounts of up to 30% on activities that aren't included in the scheme.

    Check out Better »


  4. Xercise4Less


    Prices start from: varies by location

    Joining fee: none.

    Xercise4Less is owned by JD Gyms and there are over 50 branches across the UK. That said, they're most commonly found in Scotland and the north of England.

    They offer special prices for students from time to time, so keep an eye out for any deals. But even without the discount, Xercise4less' prices are never that high (hence the name).

    Membership here will get you access to free classes every month, as well as separate gym areas exclusively for women, should you wish to use them.

    Check out Xercise4less »


  5. University gyms

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

    You'll often find that university gyms are priced pretty competitively. And, as they're run by the uni, they often offer flexible memberships. For example, they may have an option to only pay for term time.

    An added bonus is that you won't have to travel far to get there. You may even be able to squeeze a quick workout in when you're between lectures.

    The downside of using your uni gym is that campus gyms tend to get quite overcrowded. What's more, 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.


  6. Council-owned gyms

    Prices start from: around £20/month (check locally)

    Council gyms are also a very good bet for a cheaper option. While the equipment might not be to the same standard as you'd find in 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.

Cheap gym alternatives

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

From YouTube videos to fitness apps (like Couch to 5K), home workouts to going for a run in the great outdoors, there are tonnes of ways to keep fit without parting with any cash.

And if you're not content with just saving money while you exercise, there's even more good news – some apps will even pay you to get fit.

Why not replicate your favourite machines by making your own homemade gym equipment?

Ways to save money on a gym membership

Here are some extra ways to get a cheap gym membership:

  1. Use your student discount

    Totum student discount card
    We've said it many, many times before, and we'll say it again – always make sure to ask about student discounts. There are tons of gyms with student discounts. Even if they aren't advertised, that doesn't mean they aren't available.

    You might need to get yourself a TOTUM card before you can get any discounts (not all gyms accept a valid student ID, annoyingly), but it'll be well worth it for all the cash you'll save.

  2. Check the length of the contract

    Nowadays it's somewhat easier to get out of lengthy gym contracts if your circumstances change. But it's not always the case, so you need to read through the small print carefully.

    It might work out cheaper per month to go for a 12-month contract. However, it's a waste of your money if you won't be around during the summer, or will have graduated before the time is up.

    You should always check how long the contract is, the cancellation notice period and what happens if your circumstances change (e.g. leaving your course and moving home).

    Also, make sure to check whether your contract renews automatically every year. If this is the case, you should set yourself a reminder to cancel before getting caught up in another contract.

  3. Haggle for a cheaper gym membership

    Your local gym might be part of a big chain, but that doesn't mean your custom isn't important to them.

    Feign interest, play hardball 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 even heard stories of students managing 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

    man on treadmill
    Everyone loves free stuff, right? One great thing about gyms is that they're generally happy for you to try (for free) before you buy.

    Add a few of these free trials together, and you're likely to have a decent amount of free gym sessions while you shop around all the gyms in your area.

    If you're not completely sure if going to the gym 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.

    Free gym passes

    Here are some gyms that offer free passes:

  5. Try pay-as-you-go gyms

    If 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. Alternatively, you can use websites like Hussle which list thousands of gyms offering 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. Otherwise, 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 cheaper.

  6. Use 'no frills' budget gyms

    If you're not bothered about having a sauna, a pool, or any other luxury frills, there's a whole range of great budget options that offer high-quality equipment.

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

  7. Compare prices

    stock prices showing up and down

    Credit: Pavel Ignatov – Shutterstock

    As 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 Hussle offer a search function that allows you to find all gyms in your area, as well as those with the best deals.

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

  8. Assess your usage

    Before you sign up for that all-singing, all-dancing package, stop for a second and think about what you actually 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 business elsewhere (or at least pretend to). This is all part of the haggling process.

  9. Use friend referrals

    If 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 sign up a few friends as well, so everyone's happy.

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

  10. Try guest passes

    man pulls himself up in gym on pull up bar

    Credit: Blanscape – Shutterstock

    This one's less a case of saving money, and more a case of getting a bit more bang for your buck. 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 is that you can offer a guest pass in exchange for a guest pass at your friends' gyms too. That way, you can try out a few different places if you're getting a bit bored of your usual gym.

  11. Pay upfront

    If you've got some money in your savings, or feel like you can budget your Student Loan appropriately, then it could be worth paying upfront. This almost always works out cheaper.

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

    We only suggest going for this option if you're 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 only end up going twice throughout the whole year.

  12. Go off-peak

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

    Going off-peak does mean that you'll be working out with pensioners most of the time, but this is also a good thing. After all, they're less likely to judge you for having a face like a tomato on the treadmill.

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

Tip: Don't push yourself too hard. Finding the time to study, exercise AND socialise can be tricky, but remember to give yourself some downtime.

Jem Collins

WRITTEN BY Jem Collins

Jem Collins, founder of Journo Resources, is an experienced journalist who has written for the i, Metro and more. For Save the Student, she's shared tips on topics related to careers, health, saving money and more.
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