1. Test drive several gyms
Many fitness facilities offer three-, seven-, or 14-day trials so you can try out their gym before committing to just one. This will not only save you money on the first month's fee, it will help you decide which gym is best for you.
2. Pay per visit
Rather than sign a contract, pay a non-member fee every time you go to the gym. Harrine Freeman, author of "How to Get Out of Debt," says this can save you as much as $600 a year. And it might even help keep you committed! According to Freeman, you are 17% more likely to stay at the same gym for more than a year if you pay per visit instead of signing up for a full year upfront.
3. Wait until the end of the month
Gyms usually have enrollment goals each month. This means they will be more willing to give you discounts at the end of the month in order to meet those goals. What kinds of discounts can you expect? You might just be able to persuade them to give you a free spa session, give you free time with a personal trainer, or waive the membership initiation fee.
4. Price match
Don't be afraid to shop around. Call to check the prices of all your local gyms. Go to your favorite gym and ask them to match the price of their competitor. Of course, you have to make sure you are looking at comparable facilities here—don't ask the luxurious gym with a spa to match the gym with only one treadmill in it. Most gyms are flexible on the price because they want you as a member. However, if your favorite gym isn't willing to go down on the monthly fee, ask what they are willing to offer you instead.
5. Flash a coupon
We all know we can find coupons for our favorite shampoo—but you can find coupons and deals on gym memberships too! Check sites like Groupon, Gilt City and Living Social. I was able to score 90% off my membership at my local gym using Groupon!
6. Talk to a manager
Sit down with a manager or staff member and be honest about what you can afford. Some gyms are willing to waive fees or lower your monthly membership to help you out. My local gym waived my family's startup fees and lowered our monthly dues just because I asked. The YMCA is especially known for this working with customers’ financial limitations.
7. Check for employer discounts
Some employers actually have deals with local gyms—which means they will cover all or a portion of your gym membership! If your employer isn't affiliated with a gym, just ask! Some gyms will give every employee a 10–20% membership discount if a certain number of employees sign up.