How to Determine If a Gym Membership is Worth the Cost

How to Determine If a Gym Membership is Worth the Cost

Committing to working out regularly is a great way to stay healthy. But, while activities like running or hiking will cost you next to nothing, working out at a gym can be notably more costly.

So how do you make sure your membership is worth the price? Read below to help you determine whether it may be worth the money to join a gym and how to keep your membership costs as low as possible.

Should I Join a Gym or Work Out at Home?

gym membership worth the cost

It’s important to remember that a gym membership will only be valuable if you use it. Consider your schedule and habits. Can you fit a workout into your daily or weekly routine? Or will you only go to the gym a couple of times a month? An unused membership could easily be a waste of money, so make sure your priorities line up with the financial commitment you’d be making.

Even if you’re currently active, have a flexible schedule, and think you’ll use your membership, evaluate your situation before you sign up. You may be able to get fit on a budget without spending money at a fitness center.

You can perform many of the same workouts you’d do at the gym by investing in some quality home fitness equipment or workout videos. If you plan on only using the treadmill or running on the track, consider jogging outside around your neighborhood or at your local park instead. But if you plan on using a wide variety of equipment, a gym membership may be your most cost-effective option.

Take into consideration what motivates you as well. Maybe you want to go to the gym with a workout buddy who holds you accountable. When you’re paying for a membership, having a gym buddy who is counting on you and knowing you’re spending money each month may motivate you to use the gym more often than if you’d just planned to work out at home.

Things to Consider Before Joining a Gym

You may want to consider the following factors to help you make the best decision for both your body and your wallet.

  • Budget: One of the best ways to answer the question “Should I join a gym?” is to determine whether you can afford it. Have you budgeted for a gym membership? If not, create a budget to better understand whether or not you can afford the extra expense.
  • Location and hours: Is there a gym located near your home or office? What hours are the fitness center and other amenities available? These factors will likely affect how often you go, or whether you can even go at all. To increase the likelihood of using your membership, find a gym you can easily access with hours that will work for your schedule.
  • Availability: It can be frustrating to sign up for a gym membership and then realize the facility doesn’t have the machines you want, or the gym is so crowded that you can’t find any open equipment. Take a tour of the facility beforehand or ask about free trial memberships. You’ll see if you can find and access everything you need for a successful workout.
  • Price: Before committing to one gym in particular, research all options in your area. Can you find any cheaper facilities — or maybe even a free one? As you shop around, look for any discounts you might be eligible for, such as savings through your employer or healthcare plan.
  • Extra fees: It might seem like your local gym is affordable at first glance. But hidden costs like initiation fees, annual fees, freeze and suspension fees, and surplus charges can add up significantly — causing you to go over budget. Ask about these fees as you price shop.
  • Trial period: Many people join the gym with the best of intentions but later realize they can’t work out as often as they’d expected. Test yourself before you commit by signing up for a trial period at a lower cost.
  • Childcare: If you have a child, you may need a gym that offers childcare on-site or have someone available to watch them while you go.
  • Health benefits: If you frequently use your gym membership, the health benefits you gain can save you money in the long run. By making healthy life choices, you can avoid additional healthcare costs and save money long term.

Ways to Save on Your Gym Membership

Purchasing a gym membership can amount to a beneficial investment in your health and well-being. Here are some of the many ways to make your membership work within your budget.

  • Price shop: If your area has more than one gym that works with your schedule and needs, shop around to find the best prices in the area.
  • Negotiate: While some gyms set their prices in stone, others are open to negotiation. Ask the sales staff for a lower monthly rate than the one they first offer or see if they’ll waive the initiation fee.
  • Consider nontraditional options: Does your local college or university have a fitness center open to the public? Take a look at their website or give them a call to find out — their monthly rates may be much lower than those at a traditional gym.
  • Share your membership: Many gyms offer combo membership discounts when friends or family members sign up under the same account. Join with your spouse or workout buddy to share your membership benefits and the monthly fee.
  • Ask about drop-in arrangements: Maybe you don’t have time to exercise regularly, but you still want to take an occasional fitness class or spend some free time on the treadmill. Ask your local gym about any drop-in arrangements that allow you to pay per visit. Just keep in mind that the more you visit, the more you’ll save by fully committing to a membership.
  • Stick to the basics: Don’t get upsold to a higher membership level if you won’t use its perks. Stick to the cheapest package that meets your needs.
  • Wait for sales: If you’re not in a rush to join, wait for sales or other promotional offers before activating your membership. Depending on the time of year, gyms may run a promotion that lowers or eliminates the initiation fee.

Save on Your Gym Membership with PSECU

There’s no better time than the present to take control of your health. If you’re ready to start paying for your gym membership, we’re here to help.

We offer a cash rewards credit card so that you can earn 1.5% or 2%* cash rewards on purchases — including your fitness membership. Learn more about our Founder’s Card and join us today. We’re excited to help you work toward bettering your financial and physical health.

*You can earn 1.5% cash rewards on purchases. You can earn 2% cash rewards on purchases if you maintain a PSECU checking account and qualifying monthly direct deposit(s) of at least $500. See the Visa® Founder’s Card and Visa® Alumni Rewards Card Rewards Program Terms and Conditions for full details.


The content provided in this publication is for informational purposes only. Nothing stated is to be construed as financial or legal advice. Some products not offered by PSECU. PSECU does not endorse any third parties, including, but not limited to, referenced individuals, companies, organizations, products, blogs, or websites. PSECU does not warrant any advice provided by third parties. PSECU does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided by third parties. PSECU recommends that you seek the advice of a qualified financial, tax, legal, or other professional if you have questions.