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.

#gymfail

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.

Fitness First free 1-day pass

Around 30 gyms across the UK

If you go via this link, you can get a FREE one-day pass at Fitness First*. It's an easy way to get a free day at the gym if you’re looking to get in shape, or perhaps a try-before-you-buy if you’re not sure if the gym's for you. A one-day pass normally costs between £15-£40 depending on location, so this is a decent saving.

Here's how to get it:

  • Be a new or returning Fitness First member (you can't get the offer if you currently have a membership)
  • Go through the link above to claim your pass. You have until Monday 5 February to claim one
  • Choose which gym you want to try. It's available at all of their gyms in the UK (find your nearest) though occasionally Baker Street (London) will be excluded ay certain times of the year, so it's best to check ahead beforehand
  • Choose a date you want your pass to start – it needs to be booked seven days in advance of you redeeming the pass.  
  • Go to the gym. You can go at any time during opening hours on the dates your pass is valid, and also attend classes if spaces are available (but you won't be able to pre-book classes).

Important: You won't be automatically signed up to a gym membership after your three-day pass ends, but Fitness First may contact you to encourage you to buy a membership. However, you're under no obligation to sign up to anything.

Nuffield Health: free 7-day pass for two people via M&S Sparks app

112 clubs across England, Wales and Scotland

If you have the M&S Sparks app (available for free on Apple and Android), you can get a free seven-day pass for you and a friend at Nuffield Health gyms until Sunday 11 February. 

To get your pass, you'll need to find the offer in your Sparks app, then tap 'shop the offer'. You'll then need to enter your postcode to find your nearest gym, then tap 'get your pass' where you'll fill in a form on the Nuffield website. Select a time and day to visit. 

The trial is for seven consecutive days and begins when the pass is activated. You'll need to bring photographic ID when attending the gym along with your Sparks card.

The downloaded pass is for one adult. The second adult will need to activate their own pass at the gym on your first visit (so you'll need to attend this together). After this you can visit separate locations at different times to each other. The second adult does not need to be a Sparks Card holder.

The offer is not available at Romford and Ilford centres.

Anytime Fitness: free 3-day pass

Over 185 branches across the UK

You can get a free three-day pass if you register with Anytime Fitness. There are over 185 branches across the UK (over 5,000 worldwide) – find your nearest.

Fusion Lifestyle: free swim or gym session

Around 50 gyms in England

Fusion Lifestyle has around 50 branches, mostly in London and south-west England.

Fill in the form to get your free gym or swim session if you're new to Fusion Lifestyle.

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. 

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

17 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

Two clubs across England

Xercise4Less has two branches in England. 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.

Freedom Leisure: free 1-day pass

Selected venues across England and Wales

You can get a free 1-day pass at selected Freedom Leisure centres across England and Wales until Wednesday 31 January 2024. 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.

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: one-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 monthly subscription costing £69 a month (based on London, prices differ depending on location) 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 52 credits, which you can use on any classes listed on the app. The number of credits a class costs varies between gyms and locations.

 

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.

Over-16s only.

  • Expired passes

    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

    262 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.

Pay-as-you-go

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

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 £20 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.

  • Go off-peak

    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: 370+ branches | £10+ joining fee, though currently use code: ZEROJF for no joining free cost | Monthly cost from £14.99/mth, daily from £6.99

The Gym Group: from £12.99/month OR £6.99/day

The Gym Group 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 high quality. It's worth checking its current offers before buying a membership as you may be able to save even more. 

Quick stats: 234 branches | £10+ joining fee, though currently use code: SAVE for no joining fee cost | Monthly cost from £12.99/mth, daily from £6.99

Xercise4Less: from £14.99/month

Xercise4Less only has two branches, in Hounslow and Stockton. 

Quick stats: 2 branches | £0 joining fee | Monthly cost from £14.99

Consider special short-term memberships

Longer trials are a good halfway house between paying as you go and signing up for a year's contract. They're usually more expensive than annual memberships, but you're free to go elsewhere once the trial's up, or to stop paying if you no longer go.

Hussle

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 2,700 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. 

Rent out your gym membership when you're not using it to make money

Athlo

If you find yourself only using your gym membership a few times a month, are unwell or perhaps away traveling or on holiday, Atho is an app (currently only available on Apple) that allows you to rent out your gym membership when you're not using it. That way, you're making money by allowing someone else to use your membership when you're away or unable to.

You'll need to sign up to Athlo using the email that's linked with your gym memberships in order to sell upcoming unused days of your gym membership. How much you could earn will depend on the cost of the gym or class, but Athlo says you keep 60% of whatever the sale price is.

Exchange loyalty points for gym passes

Tesco Clubcard

When you convert Clubcard vouchers into Tesco Boost* tokens they're worth up to two 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.

For further reading, see the  Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), but here's a quick list of what to check:
 
  • 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.

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.

Let us know how you got on in the Cheap Gym Membership forum discussion.

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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