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How to get a good deal on your gym membership

Strong women: senior woman gym workout floor exercises - yoga plank position

New Year, new fitness regime? Here's how to get the best out of your investment in your health and wellbeing.

Whether you want to tone up, shed some kilos or sweat the stress away, January is the perfect time to kick start your fitness ambitions for the year ahead. Finder research shows 53% of Aussies have made New Year's resolutions to up their fitness game in 2020, and what better way to do this than by joining a gym.

Thanks to the health and fitness boom, Aussies now have a huge range of gyms and workout programs to choose from. There are gyms dedicated to CrossFit and F45, 24-hour gyms, female-only gyms and rock climbing and bouldering gyms – just to name a few.

But deciding where to get physical can be daunting, especially with so much choice. Signing on to a membership is a big financial commitment too, so you want to make sure you're getting your money's worth.

To help you out, we've done the heavy lifting for you and put together a quick guide to getting the best deal on your gym membership.

January is a good time for offers and discounts

Many gyms offer their most competitive deals and discounts at the start of the year, which is when they experience the biggest number of new sign-ups. With so many gyms vying for customers' attention, the deals are out in full force.

Below are some of the best gym membership deals on the market this January:

  • Curves. You can join this female-only gym for just $1 if you sign up for an annual membership.
  • Fitness First. Running from 2 January until 5 January, Fitness First will offer 4 weeks free. Start up fee of $99 applies. Applicable to 12-18 month contracts.
  • ClassPass. Enjoy a one-month free trial with a no-lock-in contract. This offer includes up to six classes.
  • Plus Fitness. Nab a free seven-day pass with a no-lock-in contract.
  • Snap Fitness. Enjoy a free trial of up to seven days. This is offered on a club-by-club basis, so call your local gym before applying.
  • Anytime Fitness. This 24-hour gym is offering a free 7-day trial, meaning you can work out around the clock.

What to look for in a gym

Start by working out what you want from your membership. You might want unlimited access to classes or the ability to work out 24-7. Perhaps a creche or a swimming pool is important to you.

Below are some of the basic features you might want from your membership:

  • Location. How close is your gym? If it's a hassle to get to, you're more likely to skip workouts. If possible, try and sign up somewhere nearby to your home or work.
  • Classes. These are a great way to keep motivated in a group fitness setting. Yoga, barre and aerobics sessions are all popular, but you want to make sure they'll fit with your current schedule.
  • Facilities. Some gyms offer no-frills private showers and restrooms, while others offer luxurious saunas and juice bars. If certain things are important to you, this can make a big impact when deciding.
  • 24-hour access. Certain gyms offer round the clock access to facilities. If you're a shift worker or enjoy getting sweaty after hours, this is something you might want to consider.
  • Contract. Sign-up contracts can differ between gyms, especially when it comes to things like cancellation policies. Make sure you're across any terms and conditions before signing on to a membership.
  • Price. Gym memberships can differ significantly when it comes to cost. There are also weekly fees to factor in along with sign-up and cancellation fees. With this in mind, it's important to make sure you're getting your money's worth.

Other hacks for getting the best deal

Don't be afraid to haggle

It's important to shop around when choosing a gym. Even if you have your heart set on a particular location, it's worth scoping out the competition to see what they're offering. This will give you more wiggle room when negotiating with your gym of choice, but this will only be effective if both gyms are offering similar deals. When haggling, you need to be able to show that a competitor is charging less for the same thing.

Always opt for a free trial period

If you're still on the fence, free trials are a great way to see what a potential gym has to offer before taking the plunge. You want to make sure you'll be getting your money's worth if you decide to sign up for a membership.

Ask your gym to waive the joining fee

Many gyms charge joining fees for new customers, but these aren't necessarily set in stone. Gyms will sometimes waive this fee in a bid to bag your business.

Check your health insurance policy

Many health funds offer discounts and rebates on gym memberships. This is often referred to as "health improvement" when listed on an extras policy. Some funds also have ongoing agreements with certain gyms, allowing you to gain membership at a reduced rate. To claim your rebate, all you need to do is visit your doctor and ask them to provide a referral letter requesting a refund from your insurer.

Check your super and life insurance

Some providers like Rest Super and AIA Vitality offer 30 to 50% off memberships with affiliated gyms and fitness programs. This can end up saving you a significant amount of money on your membership in the long run.

Final questions to ask

  • Is there a joining fee? These are fairly standard across the industry but can sometimes be waived.
  • Am I locked in for a set period of time? You may be charged an early termination fee if you opt-out of your contract early. It's important to be across any terms and conditions before signing up.
  • Is this gym part of a chain? Some gym franchises allow their customers to access gyms in other suburbs and cities.
  • Can I freeze my account? If you'll be going away for a few months and won't be attending the gym, it's worth checking to see if you'll be able to put a hold on your payments.

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