It’s early January, which means that most people are still going strong on their New Year’s resolutions. And even though a Business Wire survey suggests that nearly 40% of folks would like to drop a few pounds in 2016, more than half of all respondents (57.6%) also have a money goal for this year, whether it’s saving more and spending less or paying down debt. In the world of boutique fitness clubs where monthly memberships can cost as much a car payment, it may seem impossible to make simultaneous progress in both your financial and physical health. But according to consumer spending expert Andrea Woroch, that’s not necessarily true.
“Though there are many low-cost options for working out outside of the gym, most people find that a membership to a health club is crucial for meeting their fitness goals,” Woroch says. “[But] while good health is worth the investment, you don’t have to throw away money at the first fitness fad that promises results.” Here are Woroch’s nine top tips to help you (finally) get fit in 2016—and keep some cash in your pocket, too.
Inquire about employee discounts. To keep growing group healthcare costs in check, employers are offering their employees various incentives to stay healthy and fit with free or discounted gym memberships and company-wide fitness challenges. Inquire with your HR supervisor to find out if your company offers any such incentives or make a case to do so.
Review health insurance reimbursements. Some health insurance companies offer reimbursements for members who use a gym membership on a regular basis. For example, UnitedHealthcare, Anthem and Aetna are some of the largest providers of health coverage in the nation that offer reimbursements for select plans. Consult with your insurance broker or insurance representative for more information.
Max out trials. Take advantage of complimentary or super-cheap trials at the many gyms and speciality fitness studios in your area to get several months of free workouts. Testing out different facilities before committing is important to find the one that works best for you. Make sure to visit the gym during your preferred times and gauge the facility for crowds, equipment access and parking space availability.
Negotiate membership fees. January is the busiest month of the year for new member sign-ups, and promotions offering discounted initiation fees or free personal training sessions are not uncommon. Before signing up, always try to negotiate for a better deal! Sales associates have the power to waive sign-up fees, throw in a free month or add a few more personal training sessions or extra buddy passes so you can workout with friends to sweeten the deal.
Opt for a punch pass. Over two-thirds of gym memberships never get used. Don’t fall into this statistic; before signing up, ask yourself how often you really plan to use the gym. If it’s only once a week, you’ll get more bang from your buck by opting for a punch pass so you can pay as you go. If you go to the gym just for the yoga class, you might consider a membership to a local studio so you’re not paying for equipment, facilities and classes you don’t use.
Barter, volunteer or teach. You can get a free membership to a gym, Pilates or yoga studio by offering professional services like website design, social media, bookkeeping or even fitness instruction. While this usually works best for a small or local club, spending just one night a week checking in members or cleaning up may get you a complimentary membership in exchange.
Find discounts. Some clubs offer discounts when you sign up online. For example, 24 Hour Fitness is currently offering up to $50 off initiation fees with a coupon code available from deals’ site CouponSherpa.com. Costco members can also save on two-year memberships to 24 Hour Fitness by signing up through the warehouse club.
Woroch also notes that, while many people may prefer the gym setting to facilitate their fitness goals, others may face scheduling or other constraints that necessitate working out at home. She has a couple money-saving tips for those people as well:
Create a gym at home. At-home gyms cost a bit more upfront, but you’ll save quite a bit of money in unused membership fees. January is a great time to pick up fitness equipment for less, as stores like Sports Authority and Dick’s Sporting Goods discount gear to accommodate resolution makers. You can also pick up inexpensive dumbbells, resistance bands and balance balls from such discount retailers as Walmart and Target.
Stream videos for free. You don’t need fancy equipment to break a sweat. Streaming videos are so popular that fitness professionals and companies offer workout sessions for free or at low rates. Sites like FitFusion.com offer streaming subscriptions of high-intensity workouts, yoga and pilates for just $10 per month in some cases. Streaming workout videos not only allows you to mix up your routine whenever you want, they also help you stay on track when you’re away from home since videos can be streamed on laptops, tablets and smartphones.