You can always negotiate. It's easiest in the summer when signups are slower, but hardest in January when everyone wants to use the gym. The "initiation fee" is almost always negotiable. Holland suggests that people refuse to pay it at all. If they put up resistance, walk away. They will most likely call you at home and offer no initiation. Join a day or two before the end of the month. Gyms have strict membership quotas that they need to hit, and this is the time you can negotiate the best deals.
According to Holland, this can include perks like no initiation fees, discounted monthly membership, free personal training sessions, massages and clothing. Pay for your membership in advance. You can often get a discount when you pay in full. Also, if you want to cancel, they don't have a credit card on file to charge.
Canceling can be difficult. So take advantage of these deals when they happen. You can ask for the last days or weeks of the month for free and have your membership dues start in the following month. If your local gym offers a free trial, take advantage of it. When I lived in NYC, there were four gyms within a three-block radius of my apartment.
Some employers make package deals with gyms and health clubs so that employees can get a discounted rate as part of their benefits package. Some health insurance companies offer a discount or stipend to cover all or part of your gym membership. This is common knowledge, but I can tell you from personal experience that it totally works. In New York, I liked two gyms within two blocks of each other.
The catch is that this deal is for new members only. Supplement the rest of your fitness regimen with a running or walking routine and some clever at-home workouts. Gyms are notorious for tacking on fees! Ask around to find out if anyone is looking to join the gym.
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