Sample the options
Comparison shop at a few gyms before committing to any one club plan. Most offer prospective clients free day passes or even a week's worth of access to their facilities and classes.
While trying out a gym, take into account what time you're likely to go and the proximity of the gym to your work or home.
"Convenience is very important when choosing a gym," said Barbara Tuchman, membership consultant for New York Health & Racquet Club.
"Most people work out where they work and not where they live, because by the time they get home ... they are too tired."
Also, tell each gym's membership consultant you're shopping around.
The competition may help you strike a better deal.
Ask about discounts
Many gyms offer discounts for students, senior citizens, corporate employees or anyone who lives or works in the building. The savings can be as much as 40%.
Additionally, some gyms may offer discounted off-peak memberships, which limit the member to using the gym during the slower late- morning or mid-afternoon hours.
"These are good for stay-at-home moms or senior citizens who are retired," says Pamela Kufahl, editor of Fitness Business Pro, a trade magazine for health club owners.
Join during summer
Summer months are the slowest months for gyms and, therefore, the best time to negotiate deals.
Don't be swayed by all the promotions tied to New Years' resolutions in January.
"[January] is not necessarily the best time to join because [gyms] know they will get people in during that month regardless of their prices," Kufahl says.
Also, she adds, wait until the last week of the month to join, since salespeople typically have monthly quotas to fill and may offer better deals to get you to sign.
Read the fine print
Some gyms require automatic payment through a bank account or credit card. Watch out for any related finance charges that the gym may tack on.
Also, be familiar with the gym's cancellation policy. Some may slap on a hefty fee if you cancel your contract before a set date.
Consider a la carte
A U.C. Berkeley/Stanford University study found that average gym members visited their fitness club just four times a month.
Considering that monthly memberships can cost as much as $150 a month, you may want to nix the full-time membership and pay as you go. Gyms typically charge non-members $20-$25 for a one-day pass.
Farnoosh Torabi is the business producer for NY1 News. Sahar Habibi contributed to this story.
Great workout deals
Personal sessions for yoga, Pilates or strength training can cost $50- $150 an hour. Here are a couple ways to save:
You may lose some personal attention by training with a group, but you could save 50%.
"Try to find someone who is at the same fitness level as you or has roughly similar goals," said Kathie Davis, Executive Director of IDEA Health & Fitness Association.
If you don't know of anyone, ask the trainer to draw together a few clients.
Buy a package
If you're certain you like the instructor, consider paying for a bundle of sessions up front. Instructors and trainers will almost always provide a discounted rate for package deals.
"The more you buy, the less expensive each session becomes," said Barbara Tuchman of New York Health & Racquet Club.