Looking for a gym deal

Most people accept that exercise is an essential part of good health, but it can also be pretty expensive. Gym memberships can easily cost upwards of £70 pounds a month, which is enough to deter some people.

In the current economic climate, when many people are looking to save money, an expensive gym membership can be seen as a luxury, something that can be ditched when things are tight.

But is there an alternative? Is there a way to enjoy the benefits of a gym or health club without paying the earth?

The good news is that cheap gym memberships are out there - you have to know how to find them and how to negotiate some additional benefits for you.

The first step is understanding that prices aren't necessarily fixed. Most British people are reluctant to haggle, and tend to simply accept that the quoted price is the only price - this isn't always true.

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When you are looking at a gym membership and it comes to the all important time to discuss the price, you have to be tough. When they quote the price, take a moment, suck your breath in through your teeth, and say, "that seems a bit steep." Then wait.

What they do next will depend on where you are and how desperate they are for business. Larger chains are least likely to have any flexibility - decisions on price are usually made at head office, and the sales reps can't change that.

They may have some promotional offers that they can make you, but bear in mind that no matter how nice the free towel or water bottle is, over the course of a three year membership, the extra £20 a month you are paying could make that an awfully expensive towel!

Smaller places have much more scope for negotiation. If they offer you a price of, say, £50 a month, shoot for £40 - they need your business and would usually rather have a new member at a 20% discount than no new member.

Having said that, it's worth remembering that you still need to wind up at a place that fits your needs. A cheap membership at an under equipped gym, or somewhere that you don't like, is a waste of money.

When comparing gyms be sure to look at the things that are important to you - what do you value? Cardio equipment, free weights, a wide range of classes, a pool? Everyone has different needs, so be sure before you sign a contract that this place will meet your needs.

Once you break free of the British mentality of accepting the first price quoted, you will find that there are lots of places where you can save money!

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