There are many exercise and fitness options available, from a personal trainer to buying your exercise equipment to installing a sauna in your basement.

According to The Guardian, 12% of UK adults use a gym to keep fit, yet this figure appears to be a low lower than what it could be, as nearly 80% of people have set themselves a fitness goal.

So, what’s keeping people away from the gym?

High membership costs and joining fees are enough to scare anyone away, especially when they can exercise for free by taking up jogging, for example.

However, since the financial crisis of 2008, the low-cost gym market has taken the health and fitness industry by storm as more and more people access high-quality equipment for less.

Despite the fall in disposable income of the 9.2 million gym users across the UK, the market has adapted to the financial climate and thrived in doing so.

Whether you want to tone up before a beach holiday, or you’re training for a triathlon, joining a gym can help you towards your goal.

Work on your cardiovascular endurance, stretching in pilates, take Zumba dance or aerobic group training classes or do some basic strength training – you can do all of these things at the gym!

But which gym should you join?

Given the range of price points, membership options and facilities available, it’s not always an easy choice to make.

If you’re frugal, you can always rule out the £60 per month, high-end options, so what should you look for from a more affordable, low-cost gym?

It’s understandable if some prices for low-cost, basic gyms make you wary – after all, you get what you pay for, right?

Thanks to the level of competition between businesses in the low-cost fitness industry, the quality of equipment and services at these gyms are pretty high, meaning that you really can have access to the best for less.

So, to help you find out more about how low-cost gyms work and what’s on offer, we’ve looked into the affordable fitness options available across the UK.

Low-Cost Fitness Training in the UK

After first appearing in the USA, the market for low-cost gyms has only gained momentum by crossing the Atlantic, making its mark in the UK and Europe.

Exercise is great for your physical and mental health, and you shouldn’t have to compromise the health of your finances to be able to join in.

Depending on how you plan to use your gym, you could pay anything between £10 and £50 per month for the same services.

Access the best exercise equipment for less with low-cost clubs
Keeping fit doesn't have to cost a limb ¦ source: Pixabay - markusspiske

This is because the prices of membership plans vary according to the services offered by your gym.

Some gyms and health clubs have pools, saunas and the option of hiring a certified personal trainer in addition to their gym equipment.

In budget gyms, however, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll have access to such luxuries – not a big deal for those just looking for a no-frills workout.

After all, gyms are about providing an area for members to exercise rather than spa experiences.

So, here is a run-down of the most popular low-cost fitness centres in the country.

  • Xercise4Less

Xercise4Less gyms offer the latest high-spec workout equipment as well as 200 free fitness classes per month, led by a fitness instructor.

Membership works in tiers: monthly prices are £9.99 per month for off-peak use (between 10am and 4pm on weekdays) or £14.99 for full access, meaning no restriction on when you can attend, and you can use any Xercise4Less gym nationally.

They also give students a generous 20% off – so there’s really no excuse for them to spend their days asleep!

  • PureGym

PureGym is the giant of the low-cost fitness market.

Offering 24/7 access to its high-quality equipment as well as lots of free classes for between £19.99 and £26, PureGym is a favourite for night owls and those who work during the day alike.

What’s more, for £52.99 per month, you can have access to two PureGyms of your choice.

In addition to its wide range of equipment, every PureGym club has changing facilities, lockers, individual showers and hairdryers for its members, so you leave the gym feeling fresh!

  • The Gym

With membership starting at just £10.99 per month, The Gym offers quality workout equipment for those on a budget.

Paying this little doesn’t mean facilities are compromised, either.

With changing rooms, showers and lockers available, as well as vending machines selling drinks and towels, you won’t have to worry about your post-workout routine.

The Gym offers 24/7 services to its members, and for just £29.99 per month, you can use any The Gym in the country!

  • easyGym

From the same people that run budget airline easyJet, easyGym provides low-cost gym facilities, “Pack Workouts” (group personal training sessions with an accredited personal trainer, rather than a group fitness instructor) and classes for around £18 per month.

Its popular group fitness classes include Boxercise and Body Combat and they provide downloadable 12-week fitness programs from their website absolutely free!

Are Budget Workouts as Effective as High-End Ones?

Paying so little for the gym may have you wondering about the quality of your workouts, and whether this will have an effect on achieving your fitness goals.

However, unlike in the case of products, where price indicates the quality of the goods, budget gyms work by providing the facilities for a quality workout and saving money by removing luxuries such as massage therapists and swimming pools.

For this reason, it is less common to find personal trainers available in budget gyms, but as we’ve seen, it’s not impossible!

The price, facilities and location are all factors that play a role in choosing a gym
Choosing the right gym can be a tough decision ¦ source: Pixabay - StockSnap

The lack of personal training advice and fitness expertise in so many low-cost gyms means that users are often left to their own devices, and so the risk of injury, especially for beginners, is significantly higher.

This is because if you’re a workout newbie, it’s difficult to know your body’s limits when it comes to resistance training, cardio health and the weight it can bear.

Thankfully, as an intro to your gym fitness education, many of these gyms offer a free induction, so that beginners can learn to use equipment safely and effectively.

So, paying just £9.99 per month does have its advantages, but as a member of a low-cost gym, your risk of injury is significantly decreased once you acquire the knowledge of how to train properly with the equipment provided.

If you’re looking for someone to keep you motived, many low-cost gyms offer personal training services at an added cost.

Sometimes, however, if you would just like some guidance on your training program, there are plenty of fitness plans and workout videos from online personal trainer– you just have to choose the right one for you.

So, low-cost gyms are brilliant for people who have no trouble motivating themselves to work out and regularly challenge themselves.

5 Advantages to Low-Cost Fitness

Now we’ve seen what budget gyms are all about, let’s round-up the reasons why low-cost fitness could be an option for you.

  1. The Price

The clue is in the name really.

Join a low-cost gym, and the cost will be low.

What really is so good about these organisations is the value-for-money. For a regular gym user who just wants somewhere to work out, rather than paying £40 per month for services they don’t use, they can pay as little as £10.

  1. Only Pay for What You Use

Again, low-cost gyms only charge for the services you use.

This means you only pay for the equipment, changing facilities and the running costs of the gym.

  1. Gym Whenever You Like

Although budget gym Xercise4Less sells membership based on on-peak and off-peak use, the majority of other low-cost facilities do not operate this way – and some of them are open 24/7!

Off-peak membership is offered by mid-range gyms as a budget option, however, this isn’t ideal for anyone who has a full-time job.

  1. A Like-Minded Clientele

One of the things that makes budget fitness stand out is the diversity of its users.

At a low-cost gym, you’ll meet people from all kinds of backgrounds with a wide range of different goals.

What they have in common is their ability to self-motivate and a need for simple, no-nonsense training.

  1. Freedom in Your Training

The lack of personal trainers can be advantageous, as low-cost gyms offer independence in your workouts – even if they help you get started or give you a training plan, you’re free to add to or change it depending on what you feel is right.

If a certain exercise isn’t working for you, you’re free to try something else and figure out what’s best for you.

5 Disadvantages of Low-Cost Fitness

These days, it’s becoming easier than ever to access top-of-the-range services for a lot less than you’d expect. Even low-cost gyms might offer, for example, ladies-only exercise options for women nervous about exercising around men.

However, what you don’t pay in cash might be paid in the quality, availability and reliability of what you buy.

Here are the 5 main aspects of low-cost fitness which may make you think twice about signing up to a budget gym.

  1. Lack of a personalised programme

Many upmarket options include personal training as standard, however, this is classed as a ‘luxury’, and therefore hardly features in budget gyms.

Of course, your fitness journey is all about your continuing education about techniques and your physiology, however, no amount of googling and Youtube tutorials can replace a professional in training program design who has had to sit formal fitness certification exams to become a personal trainer.

Many recommend that beginners see a personal fitness trainer as an athlete with a personal trainer certification to try out different exercise programs before they set out in a gym by themselves. Advice from a fitness professional helps them get used to the gym environment and how their body responds to physical exertion.

  1. Increased risk of injury

Although many gyms do their best to introduce you to the equipment, since there is no personal guidance whilst you embark on your journey towards your goals, you’re more likely to use the machines incorrectly and subsequently injure yourself.

The lack of personal training services at budget gyms means you're more likely to hurt yourself during exercise
Personal training can reduce your risk of accident at the gym ¦ source: Pixabay - Meditations
  1. Need for self-motivation

Since there is no one to make sure that you turn up on time and stick to your fitness program, you have to do so yourself.

Being able to self-motivate means the difference between wasting your time and money, and successfully achieving your objectives.

  1. Risk of stagnation

Stagnation is what happens when you can’t see any clear way to improve your skills, so your workouts become far too easy and you stay at the same ability.

With expert advice, this won’t happen, but the nature of low-cost gyms means that you have to learn to challenge yourself on your own.

  1. Added costs

Since low-cost gyms only provide the very basics as part of your membership fees, you may be expected to pay for locker, changing and shower facilities – so your training may not be so low-cost after all.

Having help and guidance from a fitness specialist can help avoid all of these problems, but it’s all about weighing up the pros and cons and deciding what’s right for you.

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I'm an active energetic person. I enjoy long-distance running and have taken part in many organised events including the 2016 Prague Marathon. I'm a keen skier and love open-water swimming, when the weather is right!