These Cities Are the Most Expensive for a Gym Membership — What Can You Do to Cut Costs?

Sports People Squatting With Kettlebells On Gym Training.
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As people begin to return to gyms and fitness centers for motivation and camaraderie, perhaps abandoning (or even selling) their home gym equipment in exchange for a gym membership, you may be surprised by how much it costs to work out.

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Fitness resource TotalShape.com analyzed data from cost-of-living site Numbeo to identify the most expensive U.S. cities in which to purchase a gym membership.

New York City topped the list, with an average monthly fee of $106 for a gym membership in the five boroughs. The rest of the list follows — gym memberships in all the cities on the list come in well above the national average of $45 per month.

Most Expensive Cities for Gym Memberships (Monthly Cost)

  • New York, New York: $106.
  • San Francisco, California: $101.
  • Santa Barbara, California: $92.
  • Washington, D.C.: $85.
  • Anchorage, Alaska: $79.
  • Denver, Colorado: $77.
  • Oakland, California: $73.
  • Tacoma, Washington: $72.
  • San Jose, California: $71.
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota: $71.
  • Boston, Massachusetts: $68.
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Least Expensive Cities for Gym Memberships (Monthly Cost)

On the other hand, the following cities have the least expensive gym memberships you’ll find from coast-to-coast.

  • Mesa, Arizona: $18.
  • Memphis, Tennessee: $22.
  • Cleveland, Ohio: $23.
  • Las Vegas, Nevada: $26.
  • Louisville, Kentucky: $26.
  • Plano, Texas: $26.
  • Eugene, Oregon: $26.
  • Jacksonville, Florida: $27.
  • Spokane, Washington: $27.
  • Mobile, Alabama: $28.

Which Costs More: Virtual Home Gym or Gym Membership?

The monthly costs in these cities are still not lower than the price of a Peloton app membership, which is only $13 per month for new members after the first free month. Peloton, as many may know, is one of the most popular pieces of home gym equipment at this time. Other home gym set-ups that allow you to virtually connect with instructors (and other home users) include Mirror and Tonal.  

Gym costs in the least expensive cities above are lower than a subscription to the Mirror App, which runs $39/month for live and on-demand classes, or the Tonal app, which is $49/month. It’s important to note that these apps can be used by family members, storing multiple user profiles at one price. So, if you plan to include a spouse or other adults in your family workout plan, you could still save money over a traditional gym membership with the right virtual fitness membership and in-home equipment. Of course, you’ll also need to factor in the costs of the home gym equipment, which can vary from a few hundred dollars up to thousands.

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Related: Peloton Adds Set Up Fees Amid Financial Struggle – How Much More Will the At-Home Gym Cost You?

Realize that when you compare costs for a gym membership vs. working out at home, it doesn’t take into account the many benefits of a gym membership.  A variety of equipment, potential access to a spa or pool, and the camaraderie and accountability that develops from meeting with people with similar goals in person, rather than virtually, tends to attract people to the gym — and perhaps make the membership price worthwhile.

How to Find a Cheaper Gym Membership

There are a few methods you can employ to reduce the cost of your fitness journey.

  • Ask about incentives or discounts through your job: Some companies will pay for your gym membership as a way to improve employee wellness, reduce sick days, and even reduce health insurance claims to keep insurance costs down. Your health insurance plan may also cover the cost of your gym membership, according to Glenn Insurance. Your benefits supervisor or HR department should be able to help you set this up where applicable.
  • Share a membership with a friend: Planet Fitness allows its PF Black Card members to bring a friend free each time they visit. Best of all, it can be the same guest. So, you can split the cost of membership with a friend and make a commitment to work out together.
  • Shop at the end of the month: Often, the sales team at the gym may be eager to make sales quotas at the end of the month. You could perhaps negotiate a better deal, even at a high-end spa or fitness center, if you sign up in the last week of the month.
  • Use credit card rewards or earn bonus points: In 2022, Discover offered 5% bonus cash back (up to $75 quarterly) for fitness clubs and gym memberships purchased with Discover It Cash Back, Discover It Student Cash Back, or Discover More Cards. Chase also offered similar programs in the past. Now that more people are returning to the gym post-pandemic, it’s possible these credit card companies — and others — will include these bonuses and incentives in the future, too.
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A gym membership can pay for itself over time as you experience improved health and more energy. But it doesn’t hurt to find ways to save money on that membership upfront, defraying future costs.

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About the Author

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who geeks out about finance, e-commerce, technology, and real estate. Her lengthy list of publishing credits include Bankrate, Lending Tree, and Chase Bank. She is the founder and owner of GeekTravelGuide.net, a travel, technology, and entertainment website. She lives on Long Island, New York, with a veritable menagerie that includes 2 cats, a rambunctious kitten, and three lizards of varying sizes and personalities – plus her two kids and husband. Find her on Twitter, @DawnAllcot.
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