Have you seen the price of whey protein these days? Living has become incredibly expensive, and healthy living even more so. Walk down to your local gym, and you’ll have to pay a joining fee, a membership fee, and a transactional fee as well. (WTH is that last one?!).
So we’ve compiled a list of the best cheap gym memberships in the UK and some alternatives to help you save a few pounds while losing a few pounds (you know what I mean).
1. The Gym Group (Best for Students)
Staying alive is hard on your wallet, and even more so if you’re a student. The Gym Group has more than 230 locations spread throughout the UK and offers various benefits compared to other gyms. The usuals are evidently included, such as classes, apps, personal trainers, etc.
Unlike most gyms, the gym is open 24/7, you can get a 9-month gym membership (as a student) for £149, and you can even bring 4 friends a month. Hell, they even offer day passes for £5.
The idea of purchasing a set amount of months at once dramatically reduces your membership costs. For instance, a monthly membership might be £25 a month, and a fixed term for 6 months might be £125. Sprinkle a little math on that, and you’ll see you saved yourself £25.
Exact prices vary depending on the location of the gym. However, some membership prices also give you access to multiple gyms, while others are a one-gym-only agreement with no contract and no joining fee!
Hop over to Trustpilot, and you’ll find that The Gym Group has a 4.5/5 rating, with most people being thoroughly impressed with their nearest gym.
2. JD Gyms
JD Gyms is your standard cheap gym that aims to give you a high-standard experience and quality equipment — all for a cheap gym membership.
With more than 75 gyms nationwide, they offer some of the cheapest gym memberships, largely depending on which option you end up going for.
Firstly, the gym membership prices will vary depending on the location and what the gym offers in regard to weights, cardio equipment, and health assessments.
For the most part, they have two different options:
- Standard JD Gyms membership: This doesn’t include any joining fees or contracts, but you still get access to all the classes. You’re also not limited by time, and you can go at peak or off-peak times. Your first month’s membership cost is much lower than the following months.
- Plus+ JD Gyms membership: You still don’t pay any joining fees, and you still don’t have to sign a contract. But for a higher monthly price, you get 10% off at JD Sports online and access to the JD site.
Their Trustpilot rating is at 4/5, with the main complaints being poor communication or technical difficulties with the app.
If you’re looking for a gym that won’t hurt you when that monthly direct debit hits, perhaps PureGym is the solution. Widely known and well-regarded, this budget gym has grown to have more than 340 locations all over the UK.
As with other gyms on the list, they don’t have a joining fee (a current special), nor do they require you to sign a contract. They also offer gym-goers the freedom of time, seeing as many of their gyms are open 24/7. Now, this feature isn’t available across the UK, so it’s best to make sure before making a decision.
They also offer a great offer for students! We all know that the life of a student isn’t only hard on your finances but also hard on your time. Thus, PureGym offers 20% off your first 3 months.
Just like other gyms, they offer free gym classes, unlimited access to all sections of the gym, and somewhat flexible memberships:
- Day passes can either be purchased for a single day, or you could purchase a single month’s worth of workouts. Prices will vary depending on location. For example, London locations are a bit more expensive.
- Regular monthly membership, which simply includes the regular membership
Certain gym locations also offer some other options, including off-peak hours only, Core, and Plus. The difference between Core and Plus is simply the addition of access to multiple gyms, free classes for your friends (4 a month), and some other goodies.
PureGym has a 3.8/5 rating on Trustpilot, with some of the complaints being that free parking was never available, the staff was rude, or that their gym contract had extra fees they weren’t aware of. Some also claim that prices randomly increase without a corresponding increase in gym equipment quality.
A rather odd but somewhat fitting name for a gym, Better has various leisure centers and swimming pools across the UK.
While they certainly have the same equipment as other gyms, they’re more focused on classes and other membership options, such as:
- Swim School
- Trampoline parks
- Gymnastics and Performing Arts
- Tennis and Squash
- ‘Soft Play’ and Play Park
- Libraries (not very sporty… but still counts)
- Spa Treatments
Regardless of your fitness goals, there’s probably something for you to do at all the clubs they have across the UK. Better has a strong tie with charitable events and companies and will — therefore — not have the same vibe as a ‘pure gym.’
They also have a huge tie in children’s development, and several locations have nurseries, libraries, and other goodies for kids to train and develop.
When it comes to prices, it gets a bit tricky.
Here are the monthly options:
- Better Health UK includes UK-wide access to gyms and any swimming pool at any of the 200+ locations. Ideal for those who travel a lot or perhaps work far from home and would like to have multiple gyms to train at.
- Better Health (area or center) is the typical local gym membership and isn’t available at all gyms (for some reason?).
- Better Health Saver (off-peak memberships) simply gives you access to a single location at a lower price… as long as you stick to the off-peak hours.
- Better Health Senior/Junior is a gym membership for those aged 66 and up or under 16. There’s also a student option.
- Concessionary Memberships offer those on financial support the opportunity to train and improve their health as well.
Unlike any other gym, they offer corporate memberships, meaning a ‘whole company’ can join and, thus, increase the employee benefits they offer to their workers. They also offer pay-as-you-go for those who are only just getting into fitness.
Unfortunately, there are no direct quotes on prices online. So you’ll have to contact your local Better gym or one of the leisure centers to get a free pass and see if it is worth the price.
Better only as a 3.2/5 rating on Trustpilot, lower than any other gym we have covered thus far. Complaints range from abuse from members and workers to technical difficulties. Some people have also raised concerns about costs being too high for the quality of service provided.
MoveGB is a new-age gym that has a great focus on providing a vast array of activities and experiences, certainly more than other gyms offer. Some of these include indoor climbing and dancing classes.
The reason why MoveGB can do this is that they don’t even have their own gyms. Instead, they allow you to use local gyms, activity centers, and coaches to improve your fitness.
Not only that, but they’ve also grown with the technology-driven age we live in and grant live-stream and on-demand fitness classes. This completely removes the need to go to gyms in the first place and allows you to work out at home.
The different classes you’re able to go to will depend on your membership type, which can be any of the following:
- Move Taster Plan (£1.99 per week) is ideal for those who want to see what the service is like granting you access to some personal trainer-designed workouts and up to 30% of all activities.
- Move Lite (£5.99 per week) grants you 4 passes per month but also 30% off additional passes. You also get access to the workouts designed by top trainers, as those in the Taster Plan did.
- Move Flex (£12.99 per week) is the next step and takes your passes from 4 to a whopping 12.
- Move Plus (£29.99 per week) is for those who train a lot. Passes amount to 12 per month, but the plan also takes away additional top-up fees.
MoveGB also grants you the ability to go to a new gym every now and then, something you might want before using one of their memberships.
MoveGB has a 4.1/5 rating on Trustpilot, but there are quite a few complaints of people not being able to find cancellation fees and that their ‘free trials’ got billed. It’s also notable that the main problem keeping them from reaching a 5/5 rating is financial issues.
Alternatives to a Cheap Gym Memberships UK
Some people might not find any of the options given really helpful — infuriatingly. No worries!
There are always alternatives, like:
During COVID, we all saw just how quickly we could lose our inclusive access to gyms and how fast the government could take our freedoms away. As a result, a lot of fitness lovers simply started building their own home gyms.
For many, this might not be something they can do, seeing as not everyone has the space to build one. A home gym will certainly take a lot of room, but there have been amazing developments in gym equipment technology to solve this issue:
- Folding squat racks can now provide you with 1000 lbs of lifting capabilities whilst unfolded, and they can still pack away neatly into a rack only 10 inches wide. A squat rack (a good one) will also not only allow you to squat but also bench and overhead press.
- Adjustable dumbbells have become a real thing and something some gyms even offer. As the name suggests, one dumbbell could weigh 5 lbs up to 50 lbs (or higher!). Prices on these will vary based on how heavy they are, but they’re something most would want to invest in — regardless of their fitness goals.
- You could also look at adjustable kettlebells to give you more free weights to play with. There are several different versions available, and some are quite affordable.
- Cardio equipment will always be the number one seller, such as an indoor cycling machine or a simple treadmill. The latter might take up a lot of room, so make sure you measure appropriately prior to buying.
- A gym machine is something most people know of, and depending on the model you buy, you could actually just need this to train or improve your fitness. Again, something that’s large like this means you need to take measurements.
A home gym might seem like a huge investment in the beginning, and it is. But you simply need to do the math to see how much money (and time) you can save in the long run.
With the districts in the UK all represented by a council, you can be sure that each district has a ‘government gym.’ Now, these may not always be the most luxurious of gyms or the ones with the best equipment, but in a pinch, they’re very affordable compared to a new gym membership down the road.
Exercise Apps (Body Conditioning with Body Weight)
How do you think the ancient cave people got ripped? By squatting in a temperature-controlled gym? I think not!
Jokes aside, for some, the idea of a gym or home equipment might still seem a little out of reach.
To those people, a simple workout app might be the solution. Workout apps have come a long way, especially since 2020. So if you don’t have access to a gym, bring the gym to you.
There are apps for almost every type of fitness you can think of — yoga, calisthenics, body weight, bodybuilding, etc. The list is endless, and there are thousands for you to choose from.
You might even be lucky enough to find your gym offers an app designed for their gym, and you can still make use of local services from home.
Change Your Lifestyle
This is a hail mary option and includes you changing a lot about your life. We know that your diet and lifestyle can massively influence your mental health and body composition.
By removing junk food and sugar-filled foods from your diet, you could already be living a life that’s several times healthier. No need for free passes here.
You can start doing the following things right now:
- Walk more and track your steps daily.
- Consume a healthy and balanced diet rich in protein and fiber.
- Sleep an appropriate amount per night.
- Go for light runs or jogs in your local community.
- Hikes and outdoor adventures are great ways to exercise.
Essentially, you simply live a life that’s a lot healthier compared to the one you’re living now. This could help you save a few pounds while also helping you lose a few pounds.
Yes, I used the same silly joke twice…
Gym memberships are expensive. That said, if you’re really keen on hitting the gym, you can make use of any of the options we have listed. Different classes, leisure centers, multi-gym access, there’s a lot to consider!
Your best bet is to contact the local gyms in your area to find which ones offer free passes for the day. Go down there to see how the gym is, see how the people act, and see if you gel.
Once you’ve found your gym, have an in-depth conversation with the sales agent to make sure you understand the depth of the contract and that you don’t miss any of the hidden fees. It’s their job to help you, so make them work.
Overall, the 5 best cheap UK gym memberships are:
- The Gym Group
- JD Gyms
Other alternatives to cheap gym memberships include:
- Home gyms
- Council-owned gyms
- Exercise apps
- Changing your lifestyle