We have spent over 40 hours researching and contacting the membership teams of over 22 gym chains in the US.
This gives us the average gym membership cost for different types of gyms. This information is accurate as of February 17th 2021.
This research will show you:
How much does the average gym membership cost per month?
On average, it costs $50.03 a month for a gym membership, or $600.41 per year. This includes the initial joining fees, annual renewal fees, taxes and monthly membership fees for 18 of the most popular gyms. The membership cost ranges from $11.67 to $249 per month.
You can see the average, cheapest and most expensive cost for a gym membership at all 18 gyms in the chart below.
*Note the difference in price can be due to the membership options or the location.
The price often is slightly lower after the first year as many gyms have an initial joining fee. You can see the difference in the chart below…
As you can see, the difference in price for a gym membership can be huge. It depends on a number of factors including the location, equipment available or additional features of the gym.
Costs for different types of gyms
Each type of gym impacts the cost considerably as you can see in the chart below…
Here are the main differences between each standard of gym…
High end gyms
Typically high end gyms offer something unique compared to standard gyms.
For example, Lifetime Fitness offers unlimited classes (yoga, spinning, pilates etc.), luxury health clubs with swimming pools, towel service, saunas, locker rooms etc. Gold’s Gym offers top of the range weight lifting equipment. Curves offer a women-friendly community and weight loss education.
Check out the 7 minute tour of Lifetime Fitness in Garden City to see what I mean about “extras”…
Here are the 6 high end gyms included in this research…
Simply put, the high end gyms offer more than just gym equipment.
Mid range gyms
Mid range gyms offer a good range of high quality gym equipment. They also typically provide a thorough induction to the gym, additional classes and services.
For example, Anytime Fitness has tanning facilities, wellness programs and TV’s. Snap Fitness and 24-Hour Fitness are open all day everyday and Snap Fitness promotes heart rate monitoring to help achieve your goals.
Just check out the 2 minute tour of LA Fitness to see what I mean about the focus on quality equipment…
Here are the 6 mid range gyms used in this analysis…
The bottom line is that mid range gyms will provide you with any equipment you want to use. There will usually be options to add on classes or other things you may be interested in.
Budget gyms often have limited equipment and rarely have additional classes.
For example, Planet Fitness doesn’t provide any squat racks or barbells (they do have Smith Machines though). The reason for this is because they cut down on things like staffing to allow such affordable prices.
Typically, they attract beginner gym users who are more prone to injuring themselves. So they reduce the amount of equipment that could cause these issues.
You can watch the 3 minute Planet Fitness tour below to see why budget gyms are becoming so appealing compared to other more pricier options…
These are the 6 budget gyms used in this study…
All of these gyms have a $10-$11 a month membership option. It’s far cheaper than anything else out there, but there are limitations to these deals.
Boutique gyms are generally quite small gyms that focus on one or two fitness areas with a community aspect.
For example, CrossFit focuses on high-intensity exercises from numerous sports i.e. Olympic weightlifting style movements and trail running. Rumble focuses on boxing and Cyc Fitness focuses on indoor cycling.
Watch the F45 one minute video to see an example of these types of gyms…
Here are some example boutique gyms…
Due to some of the high fees they weren’t included in the overall research. And many of these gyms have a pack of 10 sessions that you can buy instead of a monthly membership.
People usually think of a gym with a range of equipment when they consider a gym membership. However, these boutique gyms are on the rise in popularity.
What is the cheapest gym to join?
Cardinal Fitness works out slightly cheaper than Planet Fitness due to the annual fees. You can get a membership for $10 a month at either gym for one location. But Cardinal Fitness has a $20 annual renewal fee compared to Planet Fitness $39 annual fee.
Other gyms such as Work Out World, Blink Fitness and YouFit have a $10 a month membership. But they either have higher annual fees or an additional joining fee.
If you are budget minded and not fussy about what gym equipment you have then check out Cardinal Fitness or Planet Fitness.
However, these gyms do come with considerably less equipment options available. They don’t have other amenities such as a sauna, steam room or poor either.
So you’re probably wondering…
Are gym memberships worth it?
This question really depends on you…
What are your fitness goals?
If you plan on becoming a professional powerlifter, then you will probably need a gym or at least need to buy some weights.
However, if you want to lose a few pounds then it’s likely your daily habits will help you more than a gym membership. Your diet and making simple choices such as taking the stairs or walking instead of driving will have a bigger impact than jumping on an elliptical for 60 minutes a week.
It’s just harder to do this consistently so many people at least feel they are doing something if they pay $50 a month on a gym membership.
What percentage of gym memberships go unused?
A 2018 study showed some pretty eye opening stats…
- 63% of total memberships are completely unused
- 22% stop going after 6 months
- 82% of members attend less than 1 time per week
- 31% claim they would never have joined if they knew how much they’d use it
Be honest with yourself here.
Are you actually going to keep using the gym or is it another one of those great ideas that will fade away in a few weeks?
We’ve all done this. But if this sounds like you, then maybe paying for a gym on a monthly basis is better to start with.
Are gym memberships tax-deductible?
Only if you are obese or have hypertension.
There are currently no businesses or careers that will allow a gym to be tax deductible. However, if you are obese or have hypertension you may be missing out on some tax relief.
How to get a discounted gym membership
Here are some ways to get the most from your gym membership…
1. Shop around- as you can see in the list above there are huge differences in prices each gym charges for a membership.
2. Negotiate- Paying for a year upfront can save money i.e. 24 Hour Fitness costs $46.99 paying month to month, $41.99 with a 12 month commitment or $33.33 if you pay in full for a year.
3. Share a membership- at the YMCA in Bedford-Stuyvesant costs $60 a month for one adult or $107 a month for 2 adults and any kids under 18.
4. Maximize usage- technically this won’t save you money. But it will cost you $25 a session if you pay $50 a month and use the gym twice. If you use it 10 times a month you effectively get a gym workout for $5 a pop!
5. Drop-in or use different gyms- If you travel a lot or usually workout at home it may actually be cheaper to pay for the odd times you use the gym. You can also get a “free trial” at most gyms, sometimes for a week or multiple visits.
6. Explore a nontraditional gym- i.e. a hotel or university that has on-site fitness facilities. They are surprisingly open to negotiation if you can speak to the right person.
7. Join at the end of the month- many gyms have a sales quota to hit. If you join towards the end of a month or quarter, they may be open to a discount to get you involved.
8. Join in January- most gyms will offer some sort of incentive to join in January. They know that many people set New Year resolutions to work out more so they often waive the joining fee or offer a free month trial.
Alternatives to the gym
Contrary to popular belief… a gym membership really isn’t the most important thing to achieving your fitness goals.
Actually creating the habit and doing the exercise is what will help you see results.
And there are tons of alternatives to a gym, such as…
1. Exercise outside
You can go for a jog at any time of the day with a pair of running shoes and some basic sports apparel.
Many people also own a bike, but only a small minority use it regularly. Could you cycle to work and get a workout in twice a day instead of sitting in the car?
It doesn’t stop there though…
There are tons of outside gyms popping up around the world. These are usually free to use and easily accessible.
2. Do bodyweight exercises at home
There are thousands of YouTube videos that can walk you through these workouts.
Many people believe you need really expensive equipment to see muscle gain or lose weight. But it is amazing what you can achieve with your own bodyweight.
Check out the video below to see what I mean…
3. Use exercise videos
If you’d rather avoid the annoying YouTube ads then you can always purchase exercise videos for home use.
There are tons of options out there, but here are some of the most well known choices:
The peace of mind about this route is that you won’t end up watching some random person who doesn’t know what they are doing and risk injuring yourself. Simply stick the video on and copy them.
4. Invest in a home gym
My personal favourite option!
You can completely customise the equipment that will help you see results for a fraction of the cost of a gym membership over the years. You also save time from commuting to the gym and waiting in lines for your equipment to be free.
There is also this weird sense of ownership that you take when you buy equipment and have to think about your own workouts.
If you’re like me, you’ll find it seems to make you take your exercise more seriously. And the motivation to use it lasts much longer than the motivation to go to the gym.
Gym membership vs home gym costs
Strong Home Gym also surveyed over 1,300 people to find that the average cost of a home gym is $3,141.
You can see how much the average person spends on a gym membership vs a home gym over 10 years below…
It’s safe to assume that within 5 years the average person will be saving money each month. But it’s also possible to buy a very good home gym for around $1,000 as you can see here.
And there are so many different gym membership options available. So you really need to see the graph below to get the full picture on whether a gym membership or home gym is a better option for you.
At the end of the day a gym membership suits some people. Some people don’t have the space for a home gym or prefer to have a separate place for exercise.
But in my opinion, a home gym has too many benefits that outweigh a gym membership if you are on the fence.
Average gym membership costs: The bottom line
18 of the most popular gyms show us the average gym membership costs $50.03 a month.
Each gym has a significantly different pricing range though. For example, budget gyms cost an average of $23 a month compared to $77 a month for high end gyms.
Many people are realising the benefit of building their own home gym. And when you compare these costs to a good quality home gym of $1,070 it will take just 22 months to start saving money.
If this is something you’re interested in, then check out our ultimate guide to building a home gym here.