How To

How to Negotiate a Good Deal on a Gym Membership

Is getting in shape on your list of New Year’s resolutions? Considering that more than 64 million Americans are obese, it’s no surprise that the #1 New Year’s resolution is weight loss. January is the most popular month to join a gym, as this is the time to recover from the holiday festivities, kick start weight loss goals and get in shape for swimsuit season.

While gym salespeople have little difficulty meeting their monthly quotas in January, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for negotiating a better deal. If your goal for the New Year is to get fit, follow these steps to make sure you score a sweet deal on your gym membership.

Determine your wants and needs.

First, figure out how much you can budget towards a gym membership fees. Second, decide what features you need. Maybe you are looking for a gym with a pool or tennis courts, or maybe it’s important that their cardio machines have TV screens. Perhaps you want to take yoga classes, or sign up for personal training sessions. Whatever it is, make sure you know exactly what it is that you are looking for.

Do your homework.

Visit multiple gyms in your area. Ideally, you want to do this at the beginning of the month (more on that later).Yes, there is probably a gym that is close to your home and would be the obvious best choice for you, but the salesperson at the gym doesn’t have to know that. Shop around, compare prices, and tour the facilities. Before you leave, get a quote and business card from each sales person that helps you and make sure they have your contact information too (more on that later, too). Tell them you are shopping around and that you will be in touch. Playing hard to get will work in your favor.

Do a test run.

Ask to attend some classes for free or for a complimentary week pass. Testing out the facilities will give you a better idea on whether or not the gym is a good fit. This will also allow you to gather more information, which equates to more ammo during the membership negotiation.

Timing is everything.

Do not, and I repeat, do not join the first club that you visit. Because you are going to start shopping gym memberships at the beginning of the month, the sales people are less willing to negotiate their contracts. As the weeks go on and with sales quotas looming, don’t be surprised if you get a phone call from the gym staff with a better deal than they originally offered. If your top-choice gym hasn’t contacted you, then don’t be afraid to call them and tell them you are ready to join – with a few exceptions.

Negotiating.

It’s the end of the month and you have a desperate gym sales person on the phone, now what? Tell them you are interested in joining, but you can’t justify spending more than another gym is offering you. This is when all your research will really pay off because you will be prepared with the facts so you can present the evidence. A smart salesperson will know what the competition is offering and will be willing to negotiate.

Make the first offer.

Rather than waiting for the salesperson to start the bidding, tell them what you are willing to pay. Throw out a number that is lower than you are really willing to shell out though. If they bite, then great! If not, you have at least started the negotiation at a place you are comfortable with. It is likely that the salesperson is going to act like they don’t have the authority to negotiate prices. Don’t believe them, especially if they work on commission. Stick to your guns if you want to work out a deal.

Sweeten the deal.

Consider asking them to waive or reduce the initiation fee, which usually run $100-300 or lower the monthly fee, which usually run about $50 a month. Check to see if they will offer a discount if you get a friend, family members, or co-workers to join at the same time. If the gym offers a student discount, ask if you can pay that price, even if you aren’t a student. You also might be able to get a few free personal training sessons thrown in with your new membership. Finally, while you want to do your best to avoid a contract, see if you can get a better deal by signing up for a year, rather than paying month to month. Whatever you do, don’t sign a contract for more than one year.

Don’t be afraid to walk away.

If the salesperson refuses to budge, walk away from the negotiations. It might take a day or two, but it’s very likely that they will call you to try to work out another deal. And if not? Then it’s their loss. There is definitely another gym and salesperson that will be happy to take your money on your terms, not theirs.

Morgan is a freelance writer and blogger living in Southern California with her two daughters and flock of backyard chickens. You can read more of her at The Little Hen House.