Cheap gym membership & fitness
Free gym passes and bootcamps
We've all been there, signing up to a new gym filled with good intentions and notions of visible abs and biceps. Yet for a lot of us, going to the gym might not fit into our lifestyle or be financially sustainable, and contracts can be hard to break. This guide rounds up free gym passes currently available and will take you through whether you need to pay for a gym at all, and if you do, how to save £££s whilst shedding pounds.
This is a full list of the deals we've found, from the latest free trials and pay-as-you-go deals, to no-frills gyms from £15-ish/month. Plus, learn what to watch out for with contracts, and what to do when membership goes wrong.
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Don't commit unless you'll use it
Whether it's feeling the urge to undo Christmas overindulgence, or thinking about your 'beach bod' in spring, many of us suddenly feel the need to join a gym at certain times of the year. However, joining on a whim can often mean you end up in a lengthy contract with a gym membership you don't use.
Don’t get caught up in the fitness hype
First things first, never think of a gym membership in terms of its monthly cost but a yearly expenditure instead. For instance, a £50/month membership will set you back £600 over the year. And don't forget to factor in any administration or joining fees to the monthly charge.
If you're throwing away cash on an unused membership each month and are out of contract, cancel, otherwise the only thing you'll be keeping trim is your wallet as these #gymfail tweets show:
Paid £270 for a year's membership, went for one swim. Most expensive swim ever.
I used to pay £102/month for a family gym membership for 1 year - I only went five times.
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Grab free or cheap exercise passes
Before you join the gym or a fitness group, grab a free trial to test whether the new fitness regime's for you. You can also ask a mate whether their gym gives them free guest passes, and work out with them for free.
Free gym day passes
Below is our round-up of free day passes to gyms. With these, you can generally make use of all facilities that the gym has, for example, classes, swimming pools and more.
Anytime Fitness: free 3-day pass
Around 180 branches across the UK
You can get a free three-day pass if you register with Anytime Fitness. There are around 180 branches across the UK (over 5,000 worldwide) – find your nearest.
Fusion Lifestyle: free 3-day pass
Around 60 gyms in England
Fusion Lifestyle has around 60 branches, mostly in London and south-west England.
Fill in the form to get your free 3-day class pass if you're new to the gym.
Nuffield Health: free 1-day pass or 10-day for some
114 clubs across England, Wales and Scotland
You can get a free one-day pass at selected gyms by filling in the form on the Nuffield website. Search for your nearest gym, then simply fill in the form and select your chosen slot.
The offer is not available at City (Cannon St.), Moorgate and Covent Garden gyms.
We've heard some reports of M&S Sparks customers having a Nuffield 10-day free pass in their app – it's not available for all, but worth checking your account just in case.
Énergie Fitness: free 1-day pass
Around 80 clubs across the UK
You can get a free one-day pass for Énergie Fitness when you select your chosen club from the list (find your nearest) and fill out the form. To get to the form, select your chosen club, click 'Book a free visit' and fill in the form. You'll then be emailed your day pass which you'll need to print and take with you.
Fitness First: free 1-day pass
Around 40 gyms across the UK
Get a free one-day pass by booking a visit at your nearest Fitness First.
The one-day pass must be used on the day that you book your visit for and is for over-18s only.
Total Fitness: free 1-day pass
15 gyms across northern England
Get a free one-day pass by filling in your details online at Total Fitness. You'll then receive a call from someone to arrange when you'd like to visit. You'll get full access to all facilities and classes on the day you choose to visit.
The one-day pass must be used on the day that you book your visit for and is for over-16s only.
Jetts: free 1-day pass
13 gyms in England
Get a free one-day pass by filling in a form online at Jetts. Someone from your chosen gym will then contact you to arrange a date you'd like to visit.
You must be aged 16 or over to use a Jetts gym.
Xercise4Less: free 1-day pass
Four clubs across England and Scotland
Xercise4Less has four branches in England and Scotland. If you fill in this form you can currently get a free 1-day pass.
The pass is available to new customers, over the age of 16.
Free and cheap class passes
If you're not fussed about using all the gym's facilities, these below are free or cheap class or one-off session passes. These usually involve signing up to a cancellable subscription.
ClassPass: 1-month free trial
With in person and virtual classes
Newbies can get a one-month free trial when signing up to ClassPass. You'll then be entered into a montly subscription costing £65 a month, but you can cancel at any time. If you don't want to be charged for the next month, you'll need to cancel at least two days before your renewal date.
ClassPass doesn't have its own clubs, but rather gives you access to selected gyms, yoga studios, leisure centres and more. It works on a credits system, where different gym classes or session cost a certain number of credits.
The free trial month gets you 50 credits, which you can use on any classes listed on the app. The number of credits a class costs varies between gyms and locations, but when we checked we spotted yoga for three credits, spin classes for six credits and an open two-hour gym session for six credits.
You'll feel the biggest benefit of services like ClassPass if you like your workouts to have a bit of variety, or you're just interested in classes and not other gym facilities. Over-18s only.
MoveGB: £1 a week membership
With in person and virtual classes
Get a £1 per week membership by registering with MoveGB. You'll initially pay £1 for your first seven days and will then be billed according to "their most popular plan", so make sure you choose your own billing cycle. MoveGB has told us that you're able to cancel your membership online at anytime, if you choose.
MoveGB doesn't have its own clubs, but rather gives you access to selected gyms, yoga studios, climbing walls, swimming pools, leisure centres etc. As well as offering classes at these gyms, you can also do virtual classes from the comfort of your own house!
You'll feel the biggest benefit of services like MoveGB if you like your workouts to have a bit of variety. However, if you prefer to stick to the same gym nearest your house or place of work, MoveGB recommends you sign up with that particular venue directly.
Before the pandemic, free gym passes were more widely available. Below is a list of passes we've seen before – we've kept them here for reference so you can look out for them in the future.
Better leisure centres: free 1-day pass
258 leisure centres across England, Wales & N. Ireland
You can get a free one-day pass by going to the Better website - find your nearest leisure centre. Once you've signed up, you'll be able to print your voucher or show it on your smartphone to redeem.
The free pass is only available to non-members, and you'll need to book an introductory session before you can use the gym. The pass has to be used on the day of your introductory session.
Freedom Leisure: free 1-day pass
77 participating venues across England and Wales
Freedom Leisure has 82 leisure centres (77 of which are offering this free 1-day pass) across England and Wales. Fill in the form and your chosen centre will contact you to arrange what day you'd like to use the pass. Once you've collected your pass, you can use the facilities for the day.
The pass will get you access to everything that the centre you've chosen offers, including gym, swimming pool and classes. However, facilities do vary between centres. You'll need to use the pass within 28 days of completing the form and it’s for over-16s only.
Paying as you go can work out more expensive. Yet if you've used up free passes or you're new to gyms, it can be worth paying a little more for a few months until you're sure you'll continue.
Hussle* (formerly PayAsUGym) acts as a 'gym broker', selling pay-as-you-go passes for more than 2,700 gyms across the UK - from local council-run centres to posh spas. In some cases, it's cheaper to buy a day pass via Hussle than to go direct.
As an example, the Roko Health Club in Chiswick is £15 per visit via Hussle, but it's £17.50 per visit if you go direct.
Just enter your postcode to browse nearby gyms, which each have a star rating from other users. Then register and load your account to buy passes. It sends an email and text message – flash either at reception within 30 days of buying.
Call the gym to check it's not cheaper direct. If you use Hussle, please tell us your experiences.
You can also buy no-contract, monthly rolling memberships on Hussle, which give you access to multiples centres (depending on how much you pay per month).
Slash the cost of gym membership
So, you've decided a gym membership is for you. Here's a comprehensive set of tips to ensure you pay as little as possible.
Cut the cost of year-long contracts
Swanky gyms want you to think contract prices are fixed. They're not. The gym sector is fiercely competitive, so there are tons of ways to slim down the price such as:
Haggle, haggle, haggle
Most gyms employ a commission-driven sales team to sign you up, making them a prime candidate for haggling.
Even phoning up to find out the costs of membership, we were asked our name, number, if we'd visited before and what our fitness goals were – the sale was on even for a quick enquiry.
Don't settle for the standard package. With a bit of chutzpah you should be able to slice a wedge off the cost, especially towards the end of the month, when sales staff need to meet targets.
Once you've got the price down as far as you think it'll go, ask for some free guest passes on top. MoneySavers say Fitness First is the easiest gym to haggle with but Virgin Active can also be flexible.
If you go for a gym tour and they won't agree to a deal that day, go home without signing up. The phone often rings a few days later with a new offer. For top phrases to grease the wheels, read the full High Street Haggling guide.
Check if your employer offers cheap corporate membership
Check if your employer offers subsidised gym membership or has a relationship with a gym, which can be at silly prices. If not, speak to your HR department and suggest they set up a deal.
Get a mate to refer you
Some clubs have 'refer-a-friend' offers featuring gifts such as towels, padlocks or even holidays. So if you've already decided to join, see if you know someone who belongs already before signing on the dotted line.
Find special new gym rates
New gyms often offer cheap 'founder' memberships to drum up custom. To find new gyms, scour industry publications such as Club Solutions and Health Club Management, as well as gyms' own sites. We found an Easy Gym due to open in Bradford in March 2017, which was offering a £4.99/month membership plan for three months when it first opened. When we looked in June 2017, the price had gone up to £8.99, but we reckon this is still a decent deal as other Easy Gym clubs cost £16-£35/month.
Most gyms provide cheaper membership during 'off-peak' hours. If it's possible for you to visit the gym during the daytime, work lunchtimes or at weekends, you could slash the cost.
No-frills gyms from £15/month
If you can do without saunas, jacuzzis and fit gym instructors, there's been an explosion in no-frills gyms, with prices from £15-£20/month. You can usually cancel any time and MoneySavers' feedback is hugely positive. In January, a lot of gyms offer reduced rates, so shop around before you buy.
More are opening every month, so if you can't find one near you, check again later. The other boon is that there's often no minimum contract length, though you may need to bring your own towel, shower gel and padlock for the locker!
Also check out local universities and colleges, which often have gyms open to all, with good facilities at a fraction of private-chain prices. The prices of these gyms can change quite often, and there's occasionally special offers, so do check yourself before signing up.
PureGym: from £14.99/month OR £6.99/day
No-frills chain PureGym has branches across the UK, including several in London, Edinburgh and Manchester. MoneySavers have been impressed by the facilities, though say the gyms can be busy at peak times. Classes are included in the monthly cost, and you can cancel at any time.
Quick stats: 350+ branches | £10+ joining fee | Monthly cost from £14.99/mth, daily from £6.99
The Gym: from £14.99/month OR £6.99/day
The Gym has branches across England, Scotland and Wales (with more due to open soon). The cost varies depending where you are in the Britain. Gyms are open 24 hours a day and MoneySavers say equipment is plentiful and high quality.
Quick stats: 230 branches | £10+ joining fee | Monthly cost from £14.99/mth, daily from £5.99
Xercise4Less: from £14.99/month
Xercise4Less only has four branches, in Burnley, Falkirk, Hounslow and Stockton North.
Quick stats: 4 branches | £0 joining fee | Monthly cost from £14.99
If you can't get a short-term membership direct from your local gym it's worth going via gym membership broker Hussle* (formerly PayAsUGym) which sells unlimited 'Monthly+' passes for more than 1,500 gyms, including Nuffield Health, Anytime Fitness and Energie Fitness.
Many are discounted, but how good it is depends on your local gym – just do a search in your area to find details. Always check what the gym offers directly too.
With a Monthly+ pass, you can buy flexible, monthly rolling memberships on Hussle, which give you access to multiples centres (depending on how much you pay per month). The Monthly+ Pass gives you unlimited access to thousands of gyms across the UK.
Different gyms have different Monthly+ Pass prices and are separated into different tiers based on the gyms' own membership prices.
When you convert Clubcard vouchers into Tesco Boost* tokens they're worth up to three times as much as when you spend them in-store.
There's more on maximising Clubcard points and reclaiming lost vouchers in our Tesco Boost guide.
What to watch out for in contracts
If you're signing up for a year, remember sales staff often work on commission. So if their slick patter says, "If you're ill you can freeze membership, or take a holiday", ask to see it in the contract.
If they say, "It's not there, but it's fine", make notes there and then, which have legal weight and, if possible, get them to sign to show the promise.
- Be wary of 1yr+ contracts. This is the biggie. Be wary of contracts longer than 12 months. Also check that they don't renew it automatically.
- Check what notice you need to give. Even when you're out of contract, gyms often require 30 days' notice to cancel. Make sure you understand these conditions.
- Ask what happens if your circumstances change. Check the policy if you are ill or injured, move house, get pregnant or change jobs. Think about the proof you'll need, such as a doctor's letter. Can you freeze your membership or transfer it to someone else?
- Ask what happens if your favourite service stops. If you're only joining because the gym offers a creche, Zumba dance classes or certain equipment, check if you're allowed to cancel if this is withdrawn.
- Note whether the contract automatically renews. Most contracts for gym membership automatically continue once the initial membership period expires. Make a note of the date by which you should inform them if you don't want this to happen.
- Check others' feedback. If you're taking a free trial, ask folk in the changing room if they're happy with the gym's contract or service (wait till they're decent first!).
Work out without a gym
You don't need to join a gym to get buff. If you're on a budget, read these quick tips on working out without a gym:
Free apps and online fitness videos
If you have a smartphone, or can workout at home in front of your computer, there a plenty of free workout apps and online videos you can use to get fit for free. Take a look at our Deals Hunters blog to see our Top 10 free fitness videos and smartphone apps.
Free Sweaty Betty classes
Women's fitness shop Sweaty Betty offers free Pilates, ballet and other fitness classes (for men and women) at more than 30 branches across the country. You need to sign up for its free membership card, then call or pop into your nearest store to book a session.
Buy some running shoes and run outside
Rather than paying for the privilege of being sandwiched between two sweaty blokes while listening to dodgy house music, run in the park for free. All you need is a pair of trainers. For free weekly 5k timed runs, check out Parkrun.
Do a work-out outside the gym
Examine your fitness requirements. You can run, cycle, do light weights (with those bottles of pop), yoga and a lot more without gym membership. Why not do workout DVDs with friends or see if there is an Outdoor Gym near you? There are hundreds of local council-funded outdoor gyms that are completely free to use. Check out our blog on what kind of equipment they have and how to find your nearest one.
Join the Debt-Free Wannabe Running Club
Join the Debt-Free Wannabe Running Club, where MoneySavers support and help each other reach their goals.
Your gym cancellation rights
Escaping a gym contract can be more difficult than outrunning Usain Bolt (even when he's only warming up). Sadly there's no one-set of rules when it comes to your cancellation rights, though gym-goers have been given more protection in recent years.
Rules tend to be based on a hotchpotch of different guidelines, codes of conduct and legal precedents, so it's rarely black and white. But you SHOULD normally have some protection.
Your contract should not be longer than 12 months. In 2011, the High Court ruled it was unfair for gyms to tie in members for more than one year (see the Tens of thousands can cancel gym memberships and More gym-goers will find it easier to cancel contracts MSE News stories). If your contract's longer than a year, you may be able to challenge it.
You can also check to see if the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) guidelines on unfair terms apply. We've listed some of them below:
- You MAY be able to cancel if your gym's made big changes. The guidelines say contracts are unfair if they allow clubs to supply something different from what was agreed, unless the change is minor. So if, for example, your gym closes its creche you may be able to leave.
- It's unfair if they've drastically hiked prices. If your contract says the club's allowed to make unrestricted membership fee hikes, this is likely to be considered unfair.
- The gym shouldn't auto-extend your contract. The guidance says it's unfair to automatically extend contracts, relying on people's inertia or ignorance.
- Membership terms should be clear. The guidelines say contracts should clearly explain minimum membership periods and notice periods. If the wording's unclear, you may have a case.
The following three rules should also apply. Six of the big chains – PureGym (which has taken over LA Fitness), Dave Whelan Sports Ltd, Harlands Group Ltd, Fitness First, David Lloyd's and Bannatyne's – agreed to them after an OFT investigation in 2013. They're also written into UKactive's code of practice, which more than 3,500 members are signed up to.
- If there's a change in circumstance you MAY be able to cancel. If a change in circumstance such as serious injury or job loss makes going to the gym difficult or unaffordable, you may be able to cancel mid-contract – though it'll depend on the nature of the change in circumstance.
- The gym shouldn't say it's a fixed contract length if it isn't. If membership automatically continues on a rolling basis after the initial period expires, the gym should be clear about this.
- The gym should be transparent about key membership features. For example, it should be clear about your cancellation rights, and this info should be provided upfront as part of the sales process.
If you think your gym isn't complying with these standards you can report it to the CMA.
MoneySavers' cancellation successes
Here's what some of you said when we asked you to let us know if you managed to cancel your gym membership:
My gym cancelled my membership during the 12-month contract period. I just went in and asked if they could because I was having to move away, and they did it straightaway, no problem.
I've been a member at Virgin Active for years, and now I've a new job, it's difficult to get out during the day, the classes I love have changed time so I'm hardly going these days. I decided to cancel and I was ready to argue. But I got an email to say it's all sorted and my membership will cease. Easy peasy!
A friend was four months into a 12-month contract and wasn't using the gym much. I advised him to write a letter asking if they would allow him out of the contract as he wasn't getting full use of his membership. A week later, he thanked me and said the gym had been brilliant and allowed him to terminate with no penalties.
How to complain
If your gym's breaching the contract or it contains unfair terms, then you don't have to suffer in silence. It's always worth trying to call the gym first to see if it can help, but if not, you can use free complaints tool Resolver.
The tool helps you manage your complaint, and if the company doesn't play ball, Resolver can escalate it for free to UKactive, the trade group for gyms.
If your gym isn't listed on the Resolver site yet, or you prefer to complain direct, try following the steps below:
Step 1: Complain in writing
If the gym won't play ball when you complain verbally, write a complaint letter and send it to the head office. Send all letters by recorded delivery, so you can prove they received it, and always save a copy.
Your letter should mention any unfair contract terms you think it may have. The OFT (now the CMA) issued guidance about unfair terms in health and fitness clubs in 2002. Although this references an old law - the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations was replaced by the Consumer Rights Act in 2015 - the guidance is still relevant.
If you meet silence or the response is rubbish, write again and be persistent. For information or advice, try calling the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0845 4040506.
Step 2: Complain to UKactive
Gyms that are members of the UKactive trade group agree to stick to the CMA's guidelines on unfair contracts.
If your gym's a member and you have not had any luck complaining directly, try contacting UKactive. As a trade association, it can offer further advice and in some cases may contact the gym on your behalf. Its worth a try, as it's free anyway.
Step 3: If all else fails: take 'em to court
Hopefully you will settle it. But if you strongly believe in your case, have tried all the steps above, and it still won't cancel your contract, taking it to the small claims court is a last resort, although it isn't for everyone. If you're a court novice, try to seek help from an informed friend or advice centre.
Yet before you get legal, you're expected to try to resolve things directly, and ideally send a 'letter before action' to say you are going to take them to court. If you don't try, the judge is likely to look unfavourably on your case, so always use the steps above first. For more on small claims rules, see the How to Complain guide.
Did this system work for you? If you managed to cancel your contract, please tell us about it in the Gym Cancelling discussion.
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