While we love boutique fitness because of its many perks (small classes, rocking playlists), most studios are pretty expensive. And since a budget should not be what breaks your New Year fitness resolutions, we’ve rounded up the most affordable gyms out there.
While you shouldn't expect fluffy towels, some fitness health club chains offer more amenities than you'd expect—from saunas to swimming pools—and group classes or equipment with serious calorie-burning and fun potential. Plus, depending on what month you join,you can expect waived enrollment fees, special offers, and, of course, perks like sweatbands adorned with your host gym's logo.
Just keep in mind: while researching, we found that many of these 13 chains make it nearly impossible to get out of your contract (a true-to-life cliche!). So read the fine print before signing up—and then make a beeline for that open elliptical.
Editor's note: We realize your favorite affordable neighborhood gym might not be included. For this article we focused on the nationwide chains only. Feel free to tell us about your budget pick in the Comments section. And please note that all prices are estimates and don't include fees, which vary according to time of year and location.
Originally posted January 6, 2014, updated March 11, 2016.
24 Hour Fitness
Various locations, $34–$94.99/month
Who’s it for: Swimmers and night owls
Its home base is in California, but 24-Hour Fitness is a massive operation, with more than 400 clubs in 18 states, each designed to fit its location and members. (Soho’s includes lots of exposed brick, for example.)
There are three levels of membership, Sport, Super-Sport, and Ultra-Sport, that come with access to different amenities and services, but even at the lowest level, the perks are surprising for the price: many of the clubs have indoor pools for swimming laps, saunas, and steam rooms. Yes, even in New York.
The class selection is decent, with some top instructors (like Natalie Uhling and Keoni Hudoba, who've since moved on), and cool partnerships like Nike Training Club, and, of course, some (not all) clubs really are open 24-7, for those who like to get sweaty at 3 a.m.
Various locations, about $45–$60/month; Gold’s Gym Express locations charge $9.99/month
Who's it for: Heavy lifters/bodybuilders, movie buffs
Gold’s Gym in Venice, CA, was the weight-lifting landmark where Arnold Schwarzenegger trained in his bodybuilding years. And to this day the brand has catered to heavy-lifters of all stripes, who expect state-of-the-art equipment, and perhaps saunas and tanning beds (even today!), but not fluffy towels or pretty interior design. Trainers who work at Gold’s tend to have bodybuilding training backgrounds, giving them a leg up on the affordable gyms without solid staff education.
Since Gold’s is a franchise, money is spent on equipment is up to owners, so locations can vary widely. Some have clean, spacious locker rooms with mouthwash and lotion. Others will inspire you to shower at home. And some have a Cardio Cinema, where you can be distracted by feature-length films on a giant screen while walking on the elliptical. (Rocky on repeat?)
You’ll notice a lot of women working out on Gold’s site, and there are other indications that the brand is going after this market, with Curves-style audio circuits and classes such as Zumba, yoga, cycling, and more.
Various locations, $15–$25/month
Who’s it for: Never-leave-the-elliptical gym rats or those who want to try personal training
This Equinox-owned budget-friendly gym offers the modern design, quality equipment, and cleanliness of its parent company, with feweramenities and almost nogroup classes.
The best part of the affiliation is that you get access to personal trainers who were trained by Equinox for a fraction of the cost ($30 for 30 minutes or as low as $27 with a package). And with more and more locations opening every month, there’s likely to be a super convenient one in your neighborhood soon.
Various locations, $70–$100/month
Who’s it for: Group class junkies
Crunch is hands down the mostaffordable spot for those who like to work out with friends—and flair. Its group classes include the requisite yoga, Pilates, barre, and spinning, but also fun and wacky offerings from Broadway or hip-hop cardio dance to drumstick-based POUND to Olympics-themed conditioning.
There’s huge variation from gym to gym in terms of how nice the facilities are, so take a tour first if you’re a clean freak. In terms of amenities, they recently started stocking Bliss products in locker rooms.
Various locations, $25-$30 per month
Who's it for: Popular pick for the girl who likes to get her sweat on—without feeling self-conscious
Lucille Roberts founded the first of the 45 locations in 1969, right near Macy's in New York, for women who felt vulnerable in coed gyms, and theno-guys-allowed brand is still dedicated to helping members worry more about their fitness routine than their hair and makeup.
They have over 50 varieties of classes like Caribbean Dance and Chick Boxing, and workout support goes beyond the cardio machine lineup to an online community, where experts post recipes, workout tips, success stories, and more.
Online chatter surrounding Lucille Roberts isn't all positive, however. Many members headed to Consumer Affairs to post about unauthorized charges, contract issues, and filthy facilities. One Brooklyn member posted on her gym's Facebook page to say that "roaches have been around so long...they could do Zumba!" Another ex-member created a blogcalledLucilleRobbersduring her five-year battle to have her membership canceled.
Perhaps tellingly, we had some trouble connecting to someone about membership options, and the automated message involved a super-long promotion for $100 in free dining, and often ended with a dead dial tone.
Bally Total Fitness
Various locations, rates start at $29/month
Who's it for: Fitness history buffs and goal setters
Bally was once the biggest fitness club in the country before struggling financially for several years and selling off many of its gyms, and it comes with even more fitness history—it took over workout icon Jack LaLanne's chain of gyms.
Now with 60 locations, it offers a slew of group classes and some gyms have pools, steam rooms, and saunas. A great perk: Upon signing up, members can take advantage of complimentary assessments to make a plan they can stick to and track progress.
A warning: A 2010 lawsuit accused the brand of sending fake past-due notices to former members to get them to renew, and Bally gym-goers have found it next to impossible to cancel their memberships. Also, locations may be closed on Sundays, especially in Manhattan.
Various locations, about $35-$50/month
Who's it for:Your mom?
You probably know Curves as a women’s-only, mirror-free fitness center that appeals to your mall-walking Aunt Helen and track-suit-wearing granny in Tiny Town, USA. (Though there are locations in cosmopolitan cities.) Curves has just one 30-minute strength-training and cardio workout, done exclusively on circuit machines, and set to an audio tape that cues you to move the next machine. (“Coaches” are scant.)
Centers, of which there are more than 3,000 nationwide, are often an empty room that have a school-classroom or church-basement feel. (This one pictured is one of the most luxe we found.) A decade ago the founder's pro-life comments outraged members and franchise owners, and un-trendy Curves has been rehabbing its image ever since. More recently, they've launched a meal-plan program, and, in2014, the company launched ayearlong partnership with celeb fitness trainer Jillian Michaels, who helped them add12 new moves and circuits. As for somemuch-needed panache? You can be the judge of that.
New York, Boston, Washington, and Philadelphia Sports Clubs
Various locations, $24.99–$99/month
Who’s it for: Frequent fliers and functional training devotees
The Town Sports family of Sports Clubs are a solid option for any exerciser, with reliable machines and decent-to-great classes depending on the location. Because of their popularity, though, they can be crowded: During peak hours in Manhattan clubs, you may have to wait for a treadmill or elliptical.
They’re also great options for athletic types (and the CrossFit curious), since theUXF Training Zones are stocked with functional training equipment like battle ropes, sleds, TRXs, and kettlebells.
Education of the personal training staff is uneven, with gems and duds. Maybe try a few trainers before deciding on one? But you'll generally feel good about hitting the tidy locker rooms before you head to work. (Just beware the rough, nearly exfoliating towels.) Bonus: If you travel between major cities for business, a $99/month passport membership allows you to use any club around the country.
Various locations, plans start at $10/month, annual memberships available for $99 per year
Who's it for: Serious bargain hunters, cardio enthusiasts, those who like to use machines
With more than 500 locations nationwide, Planet Fitness markets itself as a “judgment free zone” that discourages grunting bodybuilders from using its facilities. The policy may make regular guys (and girls) feel welcome, and staff members are trained to be friendly and encouraging.
At some locations, Planet Fitness is the size of an airplane hanger. You'll find rows and rows of cardio equipment and strength machines that work just fine. The free-weight area is often smaller and therefore crowded. Group classes are not offered. But there are perks that have nothing to do with staying in shape, like free pizza, bagels, and cupcakes. Really.
You'll feel like you need to wash your hands after being there for just a little while, but since you're paying just $10 a month, you'll be able to afford really nice soap—and maybe those yoga classes you've been dying to try?
THE Y (formerly YMCA)
About 10,000 locations nationwide; plans start at $10–$95/month per year depending on location
Who's it for: Swimmers, those who believe in a democratic right to fitness, and budget-hunters
Every town in America with a population over 20,000 has a Y, so rates, facilities, and offerings range more widely than the costumes of the Village People. In New York, where Ys share a website, you can pay $93–$95 at the swanky Vanderbilt or 14th Street outposts, about $70 at the Dodge Y in Brooklyn, or about $15 back in your hometown.
Indoor tracks, multilane swimming pools, and steam rooms are common amenities, as are weight rooms. Classes may include more programing for kids than adults, but in New York they include yoga, boot camp, Pilates, cycling, MELT, and may also be taught by cool fitness pros in need of real estate.
The client demographic ranges from runners and freelancers to budget-observing individuals working on reducing their cholesterol and blood pressure. In 2010, Michelle Obama launched her “Let’s Move” campaign against childhood obesity at the YMCA inAlexandria, VA. That same year the YMCA rebranded as the Y, leaving off the outdated references to its origins.
Various locations, $9.95–$19.95/month
Who's it for: Suburban treadmill devotees
The chain’s franchised locations are like budget kid brothers, called “Essentials” for obvious reasons: They don’t come with nearly as many bells and whistles. There are basic machines and weights, and fewer classes.
The classes you do find won’t be the marqueereleases (at least, not until maybe a year or two after they run their course at regular Crunch gyms).
They’re also generally located outside of major urban centers (there are none in Manhattan, for example). But like Blink, they're are multiplying like crazy, with many opening in the next few months, in New York's outer boroughs and across the country.
Various Locations; $19-$29/month
Who's it for:Nostalgicgym-goers who'd trade swanky digs for movies, smoothies, and tanning sessions
With its red-and-yellow color scheme, Retro Fitness could be confused for a McDonald's—and frankly, their monthly prices wouldn't set you back much more than a Big Mac.
You won't get fries with your workout at one of the chain's 130 (and counting) locations, but you will have access to the Retro Blends smoothie bar, the elliptical-filled movie theater playing '80s films on loop, and group fitness sessions with surprisingly good instructors (whose classes at other studios cost as much as a full month's membership here).
Just don't expect much in the way of bathroom amenities (there's not much more than soap and toilet paper offered up), and be aware that—like other low-cost gym options—this one is notorious for its hard-to-break contracts.
Various locations; $30-$50/month
Who's it for:Out-of-towners, business travelers, and commitment-phobes
If you want the flexibility of using multiple gyms without the hassle and cost, Snap may be your best bet. All 2,000 locations (1,100 of which are located in 44 US states) are accessible 24-hours a day, for no extra fee.
The gym itselfhas the basics—rows of treadmills and ellipticals, machines for circuit training—but not much else. But for commitment-phobes, that shouldn't matter: There's no binding contract, so you simply pay-as-you-go.Find yourself #overit by Day 30? As long as you've either clocked in 30 minutes a dayfor three timesa week,created a Web page on mysnapfitness.com, or signed up for equipment orientation or fitness assessment, you can get a full refund. (Don't say they don't care.)
Can't make it to a gym? These are ourtop picks for online workouts you can do at home.
Tags: Fitness Tips
Which gym has the cheapest membership? ›
- Planet Fitness. Planet Fitness advertises itself as a gym for people who don't like gyms, with ads referring to every Planet Fitness location as a "Judgement Free Zone." ...
- Cardinal Fitness. ...
- Your Local YMCA. ...
- Gold's Gym. ...
- LA Fitness.
You need to be at least 16 to sign up for a PureGym membership.How much do most gyms cost a month? ›
18 of the most popular gyms show us the average gym membership costs $50.03 a month. Each gym has a significantly different pricing range though. For example, budget gyms cost an average of $23 a month compared to $77 a month for high-end gyms.How can I lower my gym membership cost? ›
- Ask for end-of-the-month deals or discounts. Waiting to sign up until the end of the month can guarantee you a better deal. ...
- Pay cash or in advance. Cash is king when joining a gym -- especially a smaller gym. ...
- Look at other options and compare prices. ...
- Ask about off-peak hours. ...
- Look for family, friend or corporate referrals.
You'll have to fork over a monthly fee, but a gym membership gives you access to more machines, equipment and space than you have at home. Most gyms also offer extra perks we can't fit or can't afford in our own homes, such as tanning beds, swimming pools and steam rooms, that make a membership even more worthwhile.How much is the cheapest Planet Fitness membership? ›
Planet Fitness also offers a base membership, which costs $10 every month, a $49 startup fee and a $49 annual fee, with a 12-month commitment.How much is a month of gym? ›
The average cost of a monthly gym membership is $37.71. The average cost ranges from $31.00 to $44.42. Budget gym membership prices range from $40.00 to $70.00 per month. High-end gym memberships range from $55.00 to $80.00 per month.How much should a fitness plan cost? ›
This will be your typical online training, where you hire a trainer who builds you a customized fitness plan for your specific goal. Normally, this type of plan will run anywhere from $100-$300 per month.Can you negotiate a gym cost? ›
All memberships are negotiable, and often the sign-up fee is there to give gyms some wriggle room when agreeing on a price. Your first port of call should be to adopt a bulldog-like demeanour and flatly refuse to pay the fee. If that doesn't work, leave the gym and don't sign up straight away.Why is it so hard to cancel a gym membership? ›
The inconvenience, of course, is the point. “Gyms are notoriously hard to quit, because most clubs do not want to allow the member to cancel their contract once they realize the hard work and commitment involved in becoming fit,” New York City attorney David Reischer recently told the Washington Post.
Can you negotiate gym rates? ›
At most gyms it's 100 percent negotiable, according to Tom Holland MS, CSCS, former gym owner and author of Beat the Gym. Holland told TODAY the easiest time to negotiate is in the summer when fewer people are signing up. In January, however, it is harder to fenagle a better price.What to know before joining a gym? ›
- WEIGHT LOSS NOT THE ONLY GOAL. ...
- KNOW YOUR TRAINER Neeraj Surana, strength and conditioning trainer, stressed that before becoming a member of any fitness centre it is important to know about your trainer and his qualifications. ...
- BEWARE OF INJURIES. ...
- DON'T RUN AFTER SIZE ZERO.
- What's it cost? ...
- Is there a maintenance fee? ...
- Do I have to sign a contract? ...
- What's the cancellation policy? ...
- What's my motivation? ...
- Am I healthy enough for exercise? ...
- Is the gym insured? ...
- Do I have adequate health insurance?
The day fee is the fee a non-member/non PF Black Card® guest pays for use of the gym for one day. The day fee allows potential members to try the facility before committing to a membership.Can you bring a guest to Planet Fitness with the $10 membership? ›
Unfortunately our classic members are not able to bring guests, however, we'll be happy to provide a one-time day pass that you can share with any of your friends!Is Planet Fitness always 10 dollars a month? ›
Planet Fitness prides itself on offering low-cost memberships, with a standard membership at $10 a month and higher-tier membership, with its PF Black Card, at an average of $19.99 a month.How much does the average person spend on gym? ›
Almost 50% of respondents reported that they spend anywhere from $50-$100 on monthly membership fees. With this budget, these individuals are most likely going to: YMCA - $51.00/mo.How much does a personal workout plan cost? ›
The national average cost of personal training is $40 to $70 per hour session with most paying $55. For gyms like LA Fitness or Gold's Gym, rates are $60 per hour, and group training runs $35 per class.Should I join a gym or workout at home? ›
Working out at home can be just as effective. While a gym provides a dedicated space, home workouts offer more flexibility and can be more efficient. It all depends on how you use your time and equipment to maximize your effort. It's convenient.What are the 3 most common fitness plans? ›
- Endurance Training. Endurance exercise, also known as aerobic exercise, helps develop stamina. ...
- Strength Training. ...
- Static Stretching.
What is included in a fitness plan? ›
Aim to incorporate aerobic fitness, strength training, core exercises, balance training, and flexibility and stretching into your exercise plan. It isn't necessary to fit each of these elements into every fitness session, but factoring them into your regular routine can help you promote fitness for life.Does Planet Fitness negotiate price? ›
Luckily, gym contracts are absolutely negotiable. “Based on my research of gyms and my own experience negotiating with LA Fitness and Planet Fitness, it's more than possible to bargain for a lower rate or sign-up bonus with a new gym,” says J.R. Duren, a personal finance journalist at Highya.com.Do gyms ask for Social Security? ›
Many big box gyms may ask you for your Social Security Number when you are signing a membership contract with them. However, not all gyms will ask you to provide an SSN because a gym doesn't require a background check. Others may only require the last four digits of your SSN.How can I get out of a gym membership without paying? ›
But before resorting to forgery, there are a few legal and effective ways to cancel your membership without paying. Most gyms let you cancel free of charge under certain conditions like, illness, relocation, disability, and sudden unemployment.Do gym memberships affect your credit? ›
In short, yes. If you fail to pay your membership fees, your gym can send your account to collections, which is a major negative mark on your credit report. A gym membership is just like any other recurring bill. The method you used to pay the bill does not matter.Can you be blacklisted for gym membership? ›
The fact that they don't do credit checks to check affordability or even ask for an original ID for verifying that the member is who they say they are, means one can go and register at any Gym Company by pretending to be someone else and gym for free while the victim pays or gets blacklisted.Why do gyms charge so much? ›
Gyms are expensive based on the number of amenities they offer and the costs associated with running a gym. Some also target a specific type of clientele with higher gym membership fees. There are ways you can save money like using a basic membership and decreasing the amount of time you use the gym membership.How can I save money at 24 Hour Fitness? ›
- Use the 24 Hour Fitness Military Discount (and Other Deals) ...
- Explore Your 24 Hour Fitness Corporate Discount. ...
- Try 24 Hour Fitness for Free. ...
- Bring a Plus One With the Buddy Pass. ...
- Use the 24 Hour Fitness Initiation Fee Discount.
What does the average gym membership cost in the UK? The average gym membership cost in the UK is £40 per month. Rates depend on the amenities provided, the amount of time you plan to work out, and the gym's location, among other factors.How much does the average person spend on gym? ›
Almost 50% of respondents reported that they spend anywhere from $50-$100 on monthly membership fees. With this budget, these individuals are most likely going to: YMCA - $51.00/mo.
How much should you pay for gym membership UK? ›
On average, a membership fee is about £40 a month. You can cut the cost by shopping around to check the prices of non-for-profit gyms and non-gym exercise classes, and seeing what pay as you go contract-free options are available.How much does a gym cost per day? ›
As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. If you want to lose weight, maintain weight loss or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more. Reducing sitting time is important, too. The more hours you sit each day, the higher your risk of metabolic problems.Can you get gym membership on prescription? ›
Once a patient is referred by their GP to a specific gym then the staff at that gym (providing they are appropriately qualified) will work with the patient to prescribe and deliver some suitable exercises to them.Why do gyms have joining fees? ›
What is a gym or club joining fee? It covers the cost of setting up an account. This is often used top extract more money from customers. Most people will sign up online and the cost top the gym is negligible.How often should the average person go to the gym? ›
Three to five days weekly is ideal. Make sure to have one rest day between workouts and two consecutive rests days so you don't burn out or experience chronic fatigue. To determine how often you should work out, consider your goals.What age group uses the gym the most? ›
What age group goes to the gym the most? According to the IHRSA, Millennials (those born between 1980 and 1999) hold 33 percent of gym memberships in the US, the largest of any age group. Next up is Gen X (those born between 1965 and 1979) with 24 percent.Why do people quit going to the gym? ›
Two of the top reasons people cancel their gym memberships are that they lose motivation or that they're not seeing the results they expect.How much should a membership fee be? ›
Average membership pricing across the industry
44.64% of business to business (B2B) memberships charge between $25-49 per month, with 23.32%charging $50-99. 43.04% of business to consumer (B2C) memberships charge $25-$49 per month, with 22.78% charging $15-$24 per month and 21.52% charging $1 to $14 per month.
If you're 66 and over, you can get active in our gyms, swimming pools and fitness classes, at a competitive price in your chosen Better Leisure Centre.What is pay play gym? ›
With a Pay and Play membership, adults and juniors can pay a small one-off annual membership fee, then enjoy a discounted rate to the gym, swimming pool or fitness classes.
Is gym 3 times a week enough? ›
Experts recommend exercising at least three times a week to maintain good health. Many people choose to workout more than the minimum recommended number of days, but busy people should not feel guilty for exercising only three days a week.How many days a week should I go to the gym? ›
If you really want to see results reflected on the scale and continue to make progress over time, you need to commit to working out at least four to five days per week. But remember, you'll build up to this. To start, you might only want to do two or three days per week and slowly work your way up to five days.How long should you gym for? ›
Here at Everyone Active, it's our mission to get everyone doing at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, five times a week, or 150 minutes. This is the basic amount everyone should be aiming to achieve in order to live a healthy lifestyle and keeping their body in good condition.