Whether you’re building muscle or working on your cardio, there are plenty of reasons to get a gym membership. There are plenty of different gyms and leisure centres across the UK, each with its pros and cons.

It’s not easy choosing the right gym with so many to consider. There’s the equipment, the services, and the cost to think about. You need to compare a few facilities before you decide which one suits you best.

Fast Facts About the Price of Gym Memberships in the UK
The average cost of a gym membership ranges between £10-50. Rates depend on the amenities you want, the time you plan to work out and the gym's location, among other factors.
The least expensive gyms have been stepping up their game of late, so even low-rate gyms may have the equipment to meet your fitness needs.
Some gyms offer concessions on a case by case basis but many charities and councils sponsor concession-rate programmes.
Three major low-cost gym chains are currently expanding operations across the UK.
Gyms consider many factors when setting their membership rates; everything from offered amenities to overhead expenses factor in.
Depending on your staying power and fitness goals, a gym membership may be well worth its cost.

In this article, we’re going to look at the cost of gym membership in the UK and whether or not cheaper is always better.

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When's the Best Time to Join a Gym?

Before you start working out in a gym or even wondering about how much a gym membership costs, not only do you need to make sure it is the right choice to meet your fitness goals but you need to make sure you can afford it.

And, before you sign a gym contract, you need to make sure you'll have the staying power. The internet is full of articles about initially motivated fitness enthusiasts who, later, found themselves enthusiastic about other things; soon, their gym attendance winnowed down to nothing.

And they had to keep paying on their contract.

That shows that the best time to join a gym is when you are ready to fully commit to your fitness goals, without letting anything else stand between you and achieving them.

How can you stay motivated to go to the gym?
The good thing is that if you're paying for the gym, you may feel more motivated to go. (Source: stevepb)

If you, too, might be prone to having a largely unused gym membership, work out some achievable objectives before you start searching for the best gyms near you. Would you like to tone up? Are you looking to build muscle? Do you need to lose weight? Are the social aspects of belonging to a gym important to you?

There are plenty of valid reasons and motivations for going to the gym; a place where you can work on your:

  • Abs
  • Glutes
  • Cardiovascular fitness
  • Muscle-building
  • Endurance
  • Thighs
  • Relaxation
  • Toning and sculpting your physique
  • Burning calories
  • Unwinding

From cardio training to sit-ups, there are plenty of ways to work towards your goal. By defining what you need to work on and having a clear goal, you’ll make the most of the time at the gym and stay motivated, too. But motivation isn’t the only thing to consider.

You need to think about how much your gym membership is going to cost you and how that expense will fit into your budget. For instance, let's say you sign a gym contract for the minimum services but then, find you need to upgrade. Or you discover you need new gym kit. Such costs can quickly add up.

However, if you’re intent on getting the most out of the time you spend at the gym, taking out a gym membership can be quite cost-effective. While you might be able to run outside for or exercise at home for free, you’ll see much better results from focused workout sessions at the gym.

And you won't have to worry about weather conditions interfering with your workout plans.

We recommend that you only sign up for a gym membership once you’ve established whether or not you can afford it, and have found that you will, indeed, get a good value for your money. You can put together a good workout plan and start seeing results quite soon if you’re dedicated.

Now, with that bit of fundamental wisdom under our hats, let's learn more about gyms in the UK.

How Much Does an Average Gym Membership Cost in the UK?

Generally, gym memberships are quite expensive and many of us would rather use this money for essentials or fun things like holidays. But to get that beach body, exercising is unavoidable.

Which are the cheapest gyms in the UK?
There are some very cheap gym chains around the UK now. (Source: janeb13)

Fortunately, there are a number of gyms that let you flex your muscles without unduly stretching your wallet. And, in these post-COVID-lockdown times, it’s becoming increasingly common for gyms to charge much less than in the fitness industry's boom times.

You can find gym memberships starting at low as £10 a month. These gyms have all equipment you’d expect to have access to, even in higher-priced facilities.

Note: we detail the UK's top three budget-friendly gyms and quote prices in the next segment.

To attract new members, gyms are currently offering a slew of discounts and rebates. For instance, if you are a student or a senior citizen, some gym chains will charge you a reduced-rate membership - either temporarily or for the length of your membership contract.

The best way to find out if your local gym offers such discounts is to ask them. If they say they don't ask them why not. Who knows? You may help them grow their business with your suggestion.

There are many gyms across the country offering free trial periods, too. Sometimes, the first week or month will be free. Other facilities offer free workout days but, beware: the facilities tend to be very crowded on those days.

Regarding gym crowding - a grave concern in these pandemic times: a good way to save money is by choosing a membership that only allow you access during off-peak periods. This is usually at times when most people are at work.

Finally, you can pay on a session-by-session basis and only pay when you actually go to the gym. Hussle isn’t a group of gyms but rather a service that sells day passes to gyms without needing to sign up for a monthly or yearly membership.

Besides membership costs, you should only consider signing a contract with a gym equipped to meet your fitness goals. After all, taking a membership in a boxing gym simply because it's cheap, even though you have no plans to become a boxer will only take you so far toward meeting your goals.

So, you should investigate the gym equipment targeted to your fitness needs, and then compare membership prices at the facilities so-equipped. That means you need to learn more about gym equipment...

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Is a Gym Membership Worth It?

Some people, when debating whether to sign a gym contract, wonder if the expense is really worth it. They worry that their newfound fitness fervour will wane or, if they are determined to stick with the programme, that they'll pay for more gym than they're ever going to use.

Let's talk about these issues.

You can save a lot of money by choosing a low-cost gym membership. However, that also means you’ll miss out on some of the services that more expensive gyms offer. After all, you get what you pay for and there are some gyms that charge more but also offer a whole lot more.

Which are the best gyms in the UK?
The more expensive gyms tend to have better facilities. (Source: 12019)

The expensive gym memberships may come with personal training to help you get the most out of your workouts, access to a variety of classes, swimming pool, sauna, steam room, plunge pool, etc.

Your membership will grant you access to all the machines, services, and facilities you could ever want.

But nothing in this world is free and you really only want to pay this amount if you can afford it and are going to get the most out of the time you spend there. Unsurprisingly, London is home to more of these types of gyms than elsewhere in the UK.

With that in mind, you also need to know that the cost of a gym membership can vary across the country. With the cost of living more expensive in the capital, the average cost of a gym membership is higher than you’d see in cheaper cities.

With these points cleared up, let's go on to discover the UK's best low-cost gyms.

What Is a Concession Gym Membership?

As you may know, students, seniors and other-abled people receive discounts - concessions to services and certain amenities. These discounts are generally available through government-affiliated outlets like community centres and area councils.

As gyms are considered leisure ventures designed to make a profit, few abide by the governmental concessions standards. Indeed, in all of our searching, we were unable to find any that offered concessions as a part of their standard price structure, though some did offer discounts for the asking. Such memberships are granted on a case by case basis.

However, many local councils throughout the UK offer concession gym memberships. Not that the councils operate the facilities themselves; instead, they've partnered with local gyms to give access to those who would otherwise not be able to afford going to the gym.

Additionally, several charities offer similar partnerships. Better.org is one such concern. If you are receiving job seekers' allowance or housing benefit, you qualify for their concessions programme.

There are numerous programmes like Better's across the UK: the Sheffield Trust, EDLC and others. To find the one that has partnered with gyms near you, you may do a web search for concession gym membership near me.

It's a good bet you'll get plenty of results.

Which are the best gyms in the UK?
Classes are a great way to work out with others. (Source: skeeze)

What Is the Cheapest Gym to Join?

Is it better to pay to work out in a gym or save money and exercise on your own?

If that is a question you're asking yourself, you should know that the cost of gym memberships depends in part on where you live. For instance, if you live in the north of England, where Xercise4Less has 51 facilities in operation, you might choose their 12-month membership plan that starts at just under £10 per month.

That rate is for off-peak workout windows only; if you could only work out during peak hours, the price jumps to £14 per month for a year-long contract.

They do offer a monthly programme; it's best for those worried about committing to a gym membership long-term. It runs just under £16 per month. And, of course, there will be a joining fee. Depending on the membership you choose, it could be up to £20.

Pure Gym is another chain brand; it has more than 250 facilities across the UK, mostly in big cities like Manchester, London and Edinburgh. Although a no-frills chain, it has enough in the way of amenities to keep clients coming back for more (and leaving rave reviews).

Their joining fee ranges between £5-30 and membership costs between £15-50, depending on which membership package you choose. If you'd rather not commit to a gym contract, you may opt for a pay-as-you-go scheme; each day pass will cost you £6.

The Gym is as down-to-earth as its name. Even better, with 150 outlets in England, Wales and Scotland - with more to open soon, there's bound to be a facility near you.

Their joining fee is a bit steep; up to £25, depending on your membership package and the facility's location. Memberships start at £13 per month, peaking at £32 monthly. Or, you could choose their day rate; it's only £6.

What we loved about this chain was its loose contract structure; there is no minimum time length on them. Also, they are open 24 hours a day and they have plenty of quality equipment.

Almost every gym will have basic gym equipment but the expensive gyms will probably have the latest in fitness technology.

Expensive gyms tend to have a wider range of machines and machines in better condition but, more and more, that trend is reversing as lower-cost facilities realise the benefits of providing their members with a better gym experience.

Compare the price of the gyms but also compare what you’re getting for that money. Check prices regularly, too, as facilities often offer deals for new members, especially coming out of COVID lockdowns.

You might also want to look at what other members are saying about their gym. Your local low-cost gym may have everything you need to help you achieve your fitness goals. Conversely, if you have a mate that has a membership, see if you can tag along to try for yourself what that gym has to offer before you commit to a contract.

It’s your decision, at the end of the day. Take into account practical considerations like where the gym is, how you get there, when it’s open, and how often you could make it there to exercise.

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to choosing the gym that’s right for you so, before you commit, you should read up on gym membership pros and cons.

Your gym fees cover the gym's expenses
Your gym membership fees go to paying for the facilities' amenities, the fitness instructors and business overhead. Photo credit: federazioneitalianafitness on Visualhunt.com

How Much Should a Gym Membership Cost Per Month?

Without consideration for our own wallets for a second, let's think about the gym prices.

Some of the more elite gyms cost a pretty penny but offer a generous array of services. Other gyms charge less per month, as broken down in their gym contract, but may offer fewer amenities. Regardless of which type of gym - which price range you opt for, gym fees are meant to cover the facilities' costs.

First, they have to cover the cost of the property so, if the gym is in an area of relatively high-priced real estate, you will likely pay more for a gym membership there.

The next factor to consider is how much they have to offer. If the facility is stuffed full of the latest gym machines, has a swimming pool and other amenities, you can expect to pay more for a gym membership than at a place that has just the basic machines, and only a couple of each.

Third, the gym staff has to get paid. The higher their level of training and the more experience they have, the more money they stand to earn. As any good facility would want the best fitness trainers available, it's safe to reason that a part of high gym membership fees goes towards retaining talented professionals.

Finally, there are overhead costs. Things like keeping the lights on and the water running, climate control and, above all, insurance - against anything from fire and structural damage to injury liability...

If all things remained equal, overhead expenses are a big reason that gym membership costs keep rising.

So, the best answer to the question "How much should a gym membership cost?" doesn't address how much a potential client should reasonably expect to pay, but how much a business needs to charge to meet its legal, financial and customer service obligations.

Everything described so far covers gyms' ability to maintain their services; these points say nothing about growing their business or any improvements. So, let's talk about gyms' profit margins.

Businesses, gyms included, are in the business to make money. It would be unreasonable to expect a gym to just break even; of course, they're going to charge a bit more so they can put a bit aside for the next big equipment purchase or facility renovation.

As clients, we're not privy to the percentage of gym fees that are pure profit. However, in choosing a facility, we have to accept that these businesses will protect their profit margins. We're seeing that now, as businesses try to recoup their losses from the long pandemic shutdowns.

So, from a client's perspective: how much should a gym membership cost? It should cost as much as you're willing to pay for the services you want.

If you want to work out in a top-end facility with a personal trainer or coach, you should be prepared to pay a bit more.

On the other side of that coin, you might consider outfitting a room in your house as a home gym, and maybe working out with there with your personal trainer.

The home gym/personal trainer scenario presents distinct savings over signing a gym contract. For one, you'll not be paying the gym for their overhead costs, nor will your gym fees go to pay fitness trainers' wages when you don't benefit from their services.

And you won't have to set much aside for any gym equipment maintenance or upgrades. Indeed, your biggest expense outside of investing in the gym equipment would be paying your personal trainer.

The average cost of setting up a home gym in 2021 is around £5000, depending on the equipment you want. However, to save money, you can buy gym equipment second-hand; just make sure that it is safe to use before whipping out your wallet.

You can get private coaching from the fitness tutors on Superprof.

Some fitness Superprofs charge as little as £10 for an hour of coaching online while others with more experience and higher levels of qualification may charge up to £50 for in-person sessions.

There are three ways to get personal training from one of the coaches on Superprof: face-to-face, in groups, or online. There are pros and cons to each option so you'll want to think carefully about your fitness goals, your schedule, and your budget before connecting with a Superprof fitness professional.

If you have the space to, the home gym with a personal trainer from Superprof would be your most cost-effective option to meet your fitness goals because you get to call all the shots, from the trainer you work with to the equipment you work out on.

All of the expense is yours, but then, so is all the benefit. That's a win-win, right?

Now, discover how you can find the best online personal trainer to suit your needs on Superprof.

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Joseph

Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, language enthusiast, and blogger.