How to Save on Gym Memberships

Gym bag and equipment

If you’re considering joining a gym, you can save money with free gym passes and free gym trials, all whilst finding the best gym for your needs. In this guide, I’ll share all the various ways to save on your gym membership, what to look for and help you to find the best gym deals or free alternatives.

How to Get Free Gym Passes

One of the best ways to avoid wasting money on a gym membership is to make sure that the gym you choose is 100% the right fit for you. Many gyms offer a free trial gym membership or free day pass to new members. A free trial will let you spend some time in the gym and use their facilities before you commit to a contract. Don’t be afraid to use the free trial at a few different gyms so you can be sure that you’re picking the right one for you.

Where to Look for Free Gym Trials

The easiest place to look for free gym trials is on each gym's individual website. You’ll often find information about free trials on their home page or the membership page. You can also try asking the membership team in the gym itself if you live nearby.

Some of the places offering a free gym pass in the UK include:

  • Anytime Fitness - 7 day free trial
  • Nuffield Health - one day free trial
  • Total Fitness - one day free trial
  • Jetts - one day free trial
  • Fusion Lifestyle - one day free pass
  • Class Pass - one month free trial
  • MoveGB - £1 for one week trial

Short Term Gym Memberships and Day Passes

If you’re still not ready to commit to a six month or one year contract after your gym free trial, many clubs will also let you pay for a one day or one week pass or a one-month gym membership without a contract. 

Starting with a trial period or short term gym membership will not only help you see if you like the gym but also if you’re ready to commit. There’s no point investing in a one-year gym membership if you’re going to give up after the first few sessions.

Another affordable option if you’re not able to head to the gym regularly, you move around often, or are simply looking to try a few different gyms before committing, is pay-as-you-go gym memberships.

Sites such as Hussle, Move GB, and ClassPass let you buy one-off gym passes and access to fitness classes at gyms all across the UK for as little as £3 - £4 per day. There’s no contract necessary and you can try out many different gyms without the joining fees.

Things to Look for During Free Gym Trials

Accessing a gym using a free gym trial is a great way to check out the facilities and what's on offer before you commit. 

On your first visit, ask if a member of staff or Fitness Instructor can show you around the gym floor and all the equipment available. Ideally, the gym will have a good mix of resistance machines, free weights and functional equipment like kettlebells, medicine balls and a rig where you can use equipment like a TRX or battle ropes.

Space to stretch or do your own bodyweight workout is also useful, especially if you choose to supplement your gym membership with a fitness workout app. Many gyms now offer their own online and/or on-demand classes or have partnered with services to add value to your gym membership. 

Some gyms will also have studio spaces and a full class timetable which will be a part of your membership. Ask how busy the classes usually are and how the booking process works for classes.

One often overlooked area of a gym is the changing rooms. Make sure you visit the gym during peak periods to see how busy the changing rooms can get and if lockers are available for you to use. Check out if the gym provides free towels, shower gels and personal care items in the changing rooms or if you need a padlock for the lockers or a coin.  

Before you decide which gym to join, make sure to check if it’s a gym with no joining fee (a one-off fee you pay on top of your first month’s membership).

More Ways to Save Money on Gym Memberships

  • Join at the End of the Month

    Gyms often have monthly membership quotas to fill. This means that you’re much more likely to find deals and discounts towards the end of the month. Keep an eye out for promotions which can include no joining fees, the rest of the current month for free, or bonuses such as free PT sessions or guest passes. For the same reason, you’re also more likely to find the best gym offers during quieter times of the year. In other words, avoid signing up during the January rush at all costs!

  • Choose an Off-Peak Gym Membership

    Another great way to get a cheap gym membership is by being flexible. A lot of gyms offer cheaper memberships if you’re willing to only use the facilities during off-peak hours or on certain days. While this won’t be a viable option for everybody, it is a great way to save money on your gym membership for flexible workers or those who work untraditional hours. Some people prefer going to the gym during the day rather than in the evening anyway.

  • Ask for Student, Military or NHS Discounts

    Most gyms offer cheaper gym membership fees for students, senior citizens, military, NHS workers, and even teachers. If you fall into any of these groups, it’s definitely worth asking what discounts or extra benefits you might be entitled to.

  • Get a Subsidised or Free Gym Membership Through Your Employer

    If you don’t fall into any of the categories above, you may still be entitled to gym deals through your employer. Many companies offer wellness perks to employees, which include subsidised gym memberships. Check with your employer whether they have a partnership with a local gym that entitles you to a free or discounted membership. Even if they currently don’t, you could ask if they could set up a scheme. There’s certainly no harm in asking. Looking after employee health and wellbeing is vital after all.

  • Make the Most of Refer a Friend Deals

    Some gyms have ‘refer-a-friend’ offers. So if you have a friend who is already a member of a gym you’re interested in, ask them to refer you. By being referred by a current member, you may get deals such as the first month free, a discounted membership, or other exclusive perks. Once you’ve joined a gym, there are benefits to referring friends too. Anytime Fitness, Fitness First and Jetts all offer you a discount on your membership when you refer your friends and they sign up.

  • Join with a Family Member or Friend

    Like with many things in life, you can save money on gym memberships by bulk buying. You’ll often find that gyms offer discounted family memberships, couples memberships, and even group memberships. Be sure to ask the membership team what deals they can give you for signing up together. And don’t worry, just because you sign up together, it doesn’t mean you have to work out together. Once you’ve secured your cheap gym membership, you’ll be able to go along on your own too.

  • Find Coupons Online

    Even if you can’t get any discounts or trials through the gyms themselves, you may be able to find coupons online. Couple sites often offer exclusive joining rates or discounted short term memberships for top gyms in the UK. You just need to know where to look. For all of the best gym coupons and discounts, check out hotukdeals.

barbell with gym goers
Source: Victor Freitas / Pexels.

Free Alternatives to Gym Memberships

Of course, the number one way to save money on gym memberships is to not join a gym at all. There are plenty of ways to keep fit for free without heading to the gym.

Free Apps and Online Videos

Free online fitness classes and apps are great ways to stay fit without even needing to leave the comfort of your home. You’ll find a huge offering of live and pre-recorded workouts led by fully-trained instructors across social media platforms such as YouTube and Instagram. Some fitness brands also have a library of free classes on their websites. You just need to know the right places to look.

  • YouTube - Millions of free workouts and classes
  • Instagram - Short workouts and tips from fitness influencers
  • Facebook - Live fitness classes run by influencers and brands
  • Strava - A free tracking app for runners and cyclists
  • Nike Training Club - Free online fitness classes

Free Fitness Classes

If you’d rather get out of the house to work out, keep an eye out for free fitness classes in your local area. Many fitness brands and community groups offer regular free fitness classes. You might be surprised by what you end up finding.

  • Sweaty Betty Free In-Store Classes
  • Our Parks Free Outdoor Fitness Classes
  • The Great Outdoor Gym Company

Free Run Clubs

Finally, if you’re a runner or thinking about starting running, don’t miss the opportunity to get out of the house and join a free run club near you. Running with others and giving yourself goals to work towards are great ways to stay motivated and run more regularly.

  • parkrun
  • Nike Run Club
  • ASICS Run Club

Gym Membership FAQs

What gyms do free trials?

Anytime Fitness, Nuffield Health, Total Fitness, Jetts and Fusion Lifestyle all offer free trials.

Can I try PureGym for free?

What is the cheapest gym to join?

How can I get into a gym for free?

About the Author

Elle Linton is a UK based Fitness Professional, Content Writer and the Creator of the award-winning Health & Fitness Blog, keep it simpElle, covering the Fitness Industry from both a participant and professional perspective. She’s a runner & cyclist who likes to keep mixing up the way she moves - be that rollerskating, yoga or a kettlebell class- it just needs to be fun.

Check out keep it simpElle!