Cheap gym memberships and what they’re actually costing you

Day 1. via flickr user Jon Clegg
Day 1. via flickr user Jon Clegg

We’ll bet you’ve already polished off your runners to get ready for 2016—new year, new you, and all that. There’s always an upswing in gym memberships come January 1, and it’s our duty here at Brokelyn HQ to make sure that you’re not shelling out too much for the use of treadmills and locker rooms.

With all the competitive pricing happening in gyms lately, there aren’t many New Years specials. And while you’re never going to get a straight answer about what all those extra “annual fees” and “activation fees” actually mean, the least we could do is round up all the cheapest no-commitment memberships, franchise and independent alike, so you can share, compare, and settle on one that’s right for you. 

Planet Fitness
Location: multiple
Basic cost: $10.00/month and up
Additional fees: $52.25 (enrollment + annual fees)
Total monthly cost: $14.80

Unlike Crunch, Planet Fitness is priced the same everywhere, and their $19.99/month “Black Card” membership gets you access to any of their locations in the city, as well as 1/2 price cooler drinks and other VIPerks. Regardless of member level, you get a free t-shirt when you sign up. And talk about judgment-free: Planet Fitness hosts free pizza nights on Mondays and free bagel days on Tuesdays. It won’t help you drop pounds, but it’ll certainly help you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.

Crunch Gym
Location: multiple
Basic cost: $9.95/month and up
Additional fees: $55.50 (enrollment + annual fees)
Total monthly cost: $15.02

Crunch’s cheapest locations are in Crown Heights and Bushwick, followed by Greenpoint. These locations are referred to as “essential” gyms, which means they won’t be as tricked out (or expensive) as your standard Manhattan and Brooklyn locations. That said, the equipment is just as clean and they do offer 3-4 classes a day. Your basic plan includes one free personal training session; the $19.95/month peak membership allows you access to group classes, tanning services, and all essential locations.



It's all about getting swole and staying flush. via Crunch
It’s all about getting swole and staying flush. via Crunch

Blink Fitness
Location: multiple
Basic cost: $15/month and up
Additional fees: $51.20 (enrollment + annual fee)
Total monthly cost: $19.93

Blink is the svelte discount version of elite sister gym, Equinox. It’s designed with mood in mind, so if you need color on the walls while you run, this might be your best bet. The basic plan includes one free personal training session, and not much else. The $20 membership gives you access to classes. Blink bills on the 23rd instead of the 1st, which may help you even things out with rent and utility payments.

Otom Gym
Location: 169 Calyer Street, Greenpoint
Basic cost: $99/3 months
Additional fees: none
Total monthly cost: $34.48

Otom is the indie underdog of the bunch, catered towards the percentage of the population that just wants to get swole. Open since the late 90s, it’s got a loyal following of neighborhood juice-heads and health buffs. Adorned with weights, machines, and more weights, this a no-frills spot where you can just come in, work out, and leave. It doesn’t get crowded, and there are classes, too. Plus, it’s nice to be a member of a small, personalized gym against a landscape of mass-marketed franchise gyms. They always seem to be offering the same 3-month commitment deal, which includes all guest privileges.


Metropolitan Recreation Center
Location: 261 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg
Basic cost: $25-$150/year
Additional fees: none
Total Monthly cost: $2.08-$12.50

Okay, we know we said no commitment. But the Metropolitan Recreation Center isn’t like a regular gym, anyway, and you don’t have to sign a contract or anything. You’re just paying a lot upfront for the use of the space throughout the whole year. They also offer 6-month memberships. Young adults 18-24 get the $25/year deal. If you’re just a boring old adult, you pay $150. Membership gives you access to fitness equipment, running tracks, indoor pools, game rooms… it really is a fully-fledged rec center. Classes are mostly for kids, but include some adult programming in the evenings. Bonus: an IDNYC card gets you a 10% discount on membership.

Location: multiple
Basic cost: $50-75/month
Additional fees: 0-$100
Total monthly costs: vary by location

The YMCA is a national institution whose mission has more to do with family values than getting swole. Their gyms vary widely in membership cost (skewed to suit the income levels of various neighborhoods). The Bedford-Stuyvesant YMCA is the cheapest of the bunch, around $52/month after taxes. There’s a $100 joiner’s fee at every location, but seasonal promotions will usually waive that for you. The biggest benefits of a Y membership are convenience, community and classes. The cost is a little steeper than other options, but it’s a do-good organization that does a great deal of charity work, so you can boost your karma knowing where your money is going.

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