Switzerland has a fairly active population, with 65% of residents engaging in sports, gym workouts or other physical training at least once a week. While outdoor activities have a huge appeal, gymnasiums provide a practical alternative to town dwellers and those looking for coaching. Differences between the amenities offered by gyms are vast, and the cost of gym memberships ranges between less than 500 and more than 2000 Swiss francs per year.
Here, moneyland.ch lists 11 ways to cut the cost of gym memberships.
1. Determine what services you actually want
Do you go to the gym to socialize or just to work out? Are a sauna and jacuzzi the main attractions that lure you off your couch and onto a treadmill, or do you head straight home after getting your exercise fix? Do you have your fitness routine down to a science, or could you benefit from coaching? Would you go out of your way to travel to a far-away gym or is a local gym more convenient?
These are the most important questions to ask ahead of looking for a gym, because there is no point buying into a gym that doesn’t give you what you are looking for. At the same time, if you do not use spa facilities or don’t even shower at the gym, you can save a lot of money by opting for a budget gymnasium.
2. Compare costs
Once you know what you are looking for, you can go about comparing costs. If no-frills workouts are what you are looking for, a gym membership like that offered by budget operators like Basefit may be all you need. If you don’t even need an attendant on hand, self-service gyms like those run by Discountfit can work out even cheaper.
Other clubs offer more luxury (saunas, spas, childcare), and therefore have higher membership fees. For example, a membership at a mid-range gym like Update Fitness, Activ Fitness and Silhouette Sports Club may cost several hundred francs more per year, but perks like personal trainers, free childcare, saunas, pools or steam baths may be included.
It is important to note, though, that even if a membership gives you access to a broad range of amenities, in most cases not all services are offered at all locations. Before you sign up for a more expensive membership, you should make sure that the local branch offers the services you are paying for.
3. Don’t leave out private gyms
There are hundreds of non-corporate gymnasiums in Switzerland, and some of these offer very competitive pricing. Unless you travel or move around the country frequently, there is no need to confine yourself to big-name gym chains. In any case, you will want to get quotes from all gyms in your area.
4. Have your health insurance pay for it
In Switzerland, many health insurance companies bundle sizable contributions toward the cost of gym memberships in their supplemental health insurance policies. Some policies contribute hundreds of francs per year towards the cost of an annual membership. In every case, whether the gym membership benefits justify the cost of insurance premiums will depend on whether or not you need the insurance coverage provided and not just the gym benefit. You can find out more about the value of these gym benefits in the moneyland.ch guide to health insurance and gym memberships.
5. Sign up with a buddy
Having a gym buddy is not only motivational, it can also save you money. A number of gyms offer major discounts when you take out two memberships at the same time. Others pay you a “finders fee” in the form of a discount on your membership when a friend signs up on your recommendation. If you have friends or family that also want a gym membership, working these deals can cut the cost of everyone’s memberships.
6. Exploit student discounts
Staying in good shape is vital to a functional brain, so it makes sense that many gyms offer student discounts. Activ Fitness offers a sizable student discount on annual memberships, as does Mfit – another Migros subsidiary.
It is also worth noting that many Swiss universities host their own gymnasiums and in many cases entry is free for students and even alumni. For example, the Academic Sports Association Zurich (ASVZ) provides training facilities and coaching to students of the University of Zurich, the Zurich universities of applied sciences (ZFH) and ETH Zurich.
7. Take advantage of senior discounts
Taking time to exercise as you age is one of the best ways to stay fit and sharp throughout your lifetime. The fact that a number of gyms offer senior discounts makes aging well more affordable and helps motivate seniors to stay fit. Activ Fitness and Mfit both slash the cost of annual memberships for pensioners, as do a number of other gyms.
8. Look into association membership discounts
If you are a member of an alumni association, industry association or club, look into possible discounts you may be eligible for. Organizations usually form partnerships with merchants to offer value to members, and in some cases these can be beneficial.
For example, members of the FH Schweiz alumni association are eligible for a discount at Kieser Training. Roche employees who are members of the AVR labor union can get a tidy contribution towards the cost of a membership at any recognized gymnasium. Other associations offer similar discounts or subsidies.
9. Consider long-term memberships
Signing up for long-term memberships is risky because there is always a chance that circumstances may prevent you from using it over the full term. However, if you are confident that you will not be relocating and that you will always have the time to work out, getting a long-term contract can save you a lot of money.
For example, you can save around 20% off the regular annual fee when you get a 2-year membership at Basefit and Activ Fitness. At Mfit the difference comes to around 5%. Activ Fitness adds a further discount if you pay for the full two years in a lump sum up front, which makes the cost of membership (including trainers, spa facilities and childcare) just moderately higher than the cost of membership at a no-frills, budget gym. You may be eligible for similar discounts if you can afford to pay for your membership up front.
10. Beware of automatically renewed memberships
Some gyms automatically renew your membership when it runs out without first asking if you want to renew it. Unless you give notice ahead of your membership’s expiry, you remain a member and they simply continue to bill you. With life being as busy as it sometimes is, the chance of forgetting to give notice on time is high. Always make sure that a gym will not automatically renew your membership when your term expires without getting your outright consent first.
11. Use your membership
No matter how cheap your gym membership comes, it won’t do you any good unless you use it regularly. A large number of people who hold gym memberships do not end up using them throughout their full term, or only visit the gym on occasionally.
It is worth noting that some gyms offer single-entry tickets, and if you only visit a gym now and then, using these is usually cheaper than getting a membership. Many gyms also offer short-term memberships. Although the price you pay per month is higher than what you pay for a long-term membership, these can work out cheaper if your enthusiasm for fitness dies down after several weeks or months.
Choosing your gym membership smartly right from the start and taking advantage of discounts can cut hundreds of francs off your gym expenses every year.
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