New Year, new you. At least, that’s the theory behind the age-old tradition of setting New Year’s resolutions. And what always seems to be at the top of every resolution list? Getting exercise. And that means finding the best gym membership deals for you, of course.
Becoming fitter and healthier are popular goals that top many people’s list of New Year’s resolutions every year. “Eat healthier” and “get more exercise” were the most common resolutions for 2018 and 2019, according to Statista. For 2020, 50 percent of Americans want to exercise more, according to a survey by Ipsos.
In light of the popularity of these two New Year’s resolutions, it’s no wonder that gym memberships are a popular purchase in January. But before you go out and buy one, you should consider how it could affect your budget.
- Ease Yourself In. You might be mentally prepared for the New Year, but your body takes time to adapt. Don’t try to commit to six days a week in the gym if you haven’t gone in three years — you may be enthusiastic, but your muscles won’t be.
- Tell Your Friends. Keeping yourself accountable is one of the best motivators there is. Tell your friends and family about your goals. It helps to have a support system. And you never know — you might find a new gym buddy!
- Find Motivation. Look for success stories from others who you can relate to or inspire you. With so many fitness personalities online, you can find one who aligns with your goals and keeps you motivated.
- Take Baby Steps. Change one thing at a time. It might be drinking more water every day or simply getting more steps in, but changing your behavior slowly over time will help you commit to this new lifestyle.
The prices of gym memberships vary widely, from $10 per month to hundreds of dollars. So when you first start shopping for your gym membership, you may be left wondering why there’s such a big disparity in the prices.
We compiled a list of the most popular gyms in the United States to help you find the best gym membership for your needs and your budget.
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1. YMCA (Best Family Gym Membership)
The Y is more than just a gym. It’s also a 501(c)(3) charity with over 2,700 individual associations. According to Vice President of Membership Cindy McDermott, each of the 2,700 associations sets its own price for the fitness facilities.
“It’s best to contact your local branch to see what’s available,” McDermott says.
“There are several YMCA locations in New York City, and each has a different membership rate, depending on the location.”
“However, members can also choose to purchase a citywide membership for one adult to have access to all YMCA locations in New York from $52 per month,” she adds.
The Y also offers childcare for members who join with a family membership. The first priority of the Y isn’t running a gym, though. Instead, it focuses on connecting its members and the communities it serves.
2. Planet Fitness (Best Gym Membership Deal for the Money)
The most budget-friendly gym on my list is Planet Fitness. For just $10 per month, members have unlimited access to their “home club” for fitness training. Plus, most of Planet Fitness's 1,200 locations don’t require a long-term commitment.
There is also a more expensive membership for $21.99 per month, which grants members access to other features like tanning, massage chairs, use of other Planet Fitness locations when traveling, and even haircuts and hydro massages at some locations.
It’s important to keep in mind that while this membership might easily fit within your budget, it may not fit your fitness needs if you want a lot of variety in your workouts or if you'd like to take classes at your gym. Unfortunately, Planet Fitness is relatively limited in its variety and doesn’t offer classes.
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3. New York Sports Clubs (Best Membership for Variety)
New York Sports Clubs (NYSC) started in 1973 with the goal of bringing the sport of squash to New York. Since then, the company expanded to form Town Sports International, with clubs in eight states and two countries — the United States and Switzerland.
It also offers other forms of exercise to members today — not just squash.
According to its website, NYSC has more than 188 kinds of classes at its 150 locations.
Clubs in New York cost about $44 per month for access to your chosen club. Plus, you can get a “passport” with unlimited access to all sports clubs for $89.99 per month.
That said, while NYSC can now be found outside of New York, its locations are mainly on the East Coast. If you don't have an NYSC gym near you, one notable alternative is 24-Hour Fitness. Its gyms are located across the country, and it offers a solid blend of affordability and variety across the United States.
4. Crossfit (Best Gym Membership for Speed)
If you’re looking for a high-intensity workout that will burn a lot of calories in relatively little time, chances are that you’ve heard about Crossfit. There are more than 13,000 Crossfit affiliate gyms internationally, including over 6,000 in the U.S. alone. Each of these affiliate locations is able to set its own membership rates and can choose what types of classes and other programs and benefits to offer.
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Heather Stapp, co-owner of Crossfit Colby in Kansas, says that new members looking to join in January are usually offered a special price to help them get a jump-start on their New Year’s resolution. Regular rates range from $85 to $100 per month.
Aside from working out, Stapp says that Crossfit Colby usually has a nutrition “challenge” to help members get back on track with healthy eating after the holidays.
5. Equinox (Fanciest Membership)
Equinox operates 84 upscale, full-service clubs in cities across the United States, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Boston, Dallas, Houston, and Washington, D.C. It also has international locations in London, Toronto, and Vancouver.
According to Nadia Gillies of Brix Media Co., membership costs vary by location. Just in New York City, prices can range from $173 to $180 per month. There is also a $300 initiation fee for new members. In addition to fitness classes and individual personal training programs, Equinox also offers spa services and products, apparel, and food and juice bars.
Finding the Best Gym Membership Deals (and Cheap Alternatives)
With gyms ranging in cost from $10 per month to $180 per month, you’ll find one that fits your budget. You can snag some of the best gym membership deals around if you know where to look. But no matter what health club you decide to join, make sure you use it — or you lose everything!
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One alternative to finding a gym that fits your style is finding equipment that works for you. Used by many popular gyms across America, the exercise equipment company TRX offers bands, suspension (body weight), weights, and more — all at the equivalent cost of a few months of a gym membership. With the right equipment, you can make your own home gym!
For those of you who (like me) feel that a machine is the best workout, one of the best options is from Bowflex. Note, however, that one machine can cost thousands of dollars. So weigh the costs of getting a machine for your home versus the costs of a gym before you buy.