The Best Time to Buy a Gym Membership

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In most instances, a gym membership is a financial commitment that requires a contract. As with any purchase, prospective gym members should shop around and compare amenities and prices before choosing a club. Although there will be variation in monthly dues based on a club and its perks, there are specific times during the year when you're more likely to get the most bang for your buck, making these the best times to sign up.

End of the Year

Health clubs, like almost any other business, have yearly financial goals they seek to achieve. According to Howard Brodsky, chief executive of New York Health & Racquet Club, December is the best time to join a club because gyms often offer steep discounts to hit their numbers. Tim Keightley, executive VP of operations for Gold's Gym, agrees. Gym business often slows during the holidays, and health clubs may offer great deals to prospective gym members.

New Year's Deals

If you can't join in December, January is your next best option. Health clubs depend on selling memberships to the New Year's resolution crowd to generate the bulk of their memberships for the year, and because they are all vying for your monthly dues, competition between clubs can result in valuable promotions such as reduced enrollment, free months or discounts on access to amenities, such as premier group fitness classes or tanning.

Slow Summers

Summertime can also be a good time to get a discounted rate on a gym membership. The warm months are usually the slowest time of year for health clubs because parents have to stay home with their kids when school is out. It's also the time when many people take vacations and are most likely to go outside for exercise, rather than be cooped up in gyms. Shop around from May to July to get a hold of these summer bargains.

Buyer Beware

Always read the fine print and ask as many questions as you need to make sure you completely understand a health club contract before signing on the dotted line. According to the Federal Trade Commission, buyers should make sure that everything a salesperson promises is written into a contract. Find out what the conditions are regarding cancellations and refunds and ask about extra costs for amenities such as group fitness.