Local Leisure Centres
These pocket-friendly gyms are the kind that you find in your local leisure centre. They’re cheap because they’re partly funded by local authority or run on a not-for-profit basis. Although not all leisure centres have the latest equipment and machines, some are in the same league as private health clubs.
In most leisure centres, you have the option of either taking out a monthly subscription or the opportunity to pay as you go, costing only a few quid per session. If you’re unsure as to whether or not the gym is your cup of tea, try paying for the first few visits and if you decide to carry on then take up the monthly membership.
The vast majority of gyms offer a cheaper membership on the condition that you only go for sessions during off-peak times. Off-peak times are usually before 4-5pm on weekdays and after 4-5pm on weekends but the times vary from club to club, even those from the same chain – so it’s best to contact your local club for more info. Clubs which offer off-peak membership include:
• Fitness First’s off-peak membership gives you unlimited gym use during off-peak hours.
• Virgin Active is gradually phasing out its off-peak memberships so they aren’t available at all clubs, but if you contact your local centre they’ll be able to tell you more
• David Lloyd offers a range of off-peak memberships to suit your needs. Contact your local club for details.
• Nuffield Health health clubs have off-peak memberships which suit people who work shifts or evenings.
Do fitness classes in your lounge
Want the benefits of the gym without having to leave your living room? New website Virtualgym may just be the answer.It’s a relatively new concept: the site is basically an online database of health and fitness sessions conducted by professionals. It launched at the beginning of last year and we think it’s a great idea.There are as many as 40 new classes each week, and the site has a facility called a ‘Virtual Personal Trainer’ which recommends a course of classes tailored to your individual needs. You can watch the videos live, or you can download them, burn them onto a blank DVD and play them on your TV – genius!
The best thing about Virtualgym.tv is the price. You can pay £5 monthly or you can get annual membership for £45 (with no additional fees). There are also options for quarterly and half-yearly memberships.
Once you’ve registered you can also try out two sessions of your choice absolutely free before you commit to anything.
If you know someone who has a gym membership which they don’t use (maybe an unwanted gift or a well-intentioned impulse buy), get them to take a look at the conditions of transferring their membership.
The fees for transferring are often less than those of a membership fee so you could cut your costs if the monthly fee isn’t too bad. This doesn’t apply to all gyms though so make sure you check with whichever your friend or family member belongs to.
Go to a University
If you’re a student, or you work in a university, you can get fantastic deals at your campus gym. Lots of universities also open up their services to the general public. The cost for these is usually much lower than that of a normal gym and they’re likely to have reasonably good quality equipment.