Between the expertly curated playlists, the sleek spaces, and the killer workouts, I have to admit: I'm a sucker for trendy group fitness classes. And considering how many new classes continue to pop up (and fill up), I'm definitely not alone.
Personally, I love that classes save me the effort of planning my own workouts—I can show up, work hard, and cross exercise off my list without much planning (aside from actually deciding on a class). Also, signing up helps me stay committed, since classes are already in my calendar and cancelling late often comes with a fee. Workout classes are also a great way to sweat it out with friends, and even if I'm going solo, the group's energy often gives my workout a little extra oomph.
But it all comes at a cost—literally. Many popular fitness studios charge anywhere from $ 20 to $ 30 or more per class, which can really add up. (Trust me and my bank account.)
The good news is that thanks to my love for fitness classes, I have learned some tips and tricks along the way to save cash on my expensive habit. With a handful of go-to hacks, I almost never pay full price. Of course, it's worth mentioning that you don't have to spend money on exercise at all—from effective bodyweight workouts to running, fitness doesn't have to come with a price tag.
That being said, if you're someone who thrives in group fitness settings and you enjoy taking classes as much as I do, here are eight ways to hit up your favorites for less.
1. Wait till the last minute and then book your classes through the MINDBODY app.
If you're already a group fitness class regular, you're probably familiar with the booking platform MINDBODY. What you might not know is that the service has its own app, too, and it's a great place to look for deals.
The app has a Last Minute Offers section on the homepage, where you can see classes in your area for the next 48 hours that are offering reduced prices to fill empty slots last minute. There's also a section on Intro Offers, where you can see studios that have discounted classes and packages for first-time students.
2. If you’re willing to wait until the very last minute, use Zenrez to book discounted classes.
Similar to the MINDBODY app, Zenrez also offers up classes at discounted rates to fill empty slots. Check the app at 9 p.m. to see what's available for the next day. You might've even seen a Zenrez offer pop up while you were browsing a studio website on your phone—some group fitness studios have alerts for these last-minute spots.
I've used Zenrez quite a few times, and while it’s definitely not for those who like to plan their workouts at least a week in advance, it's a great option when you can be flexible. The app's easy to use and gives you access to some great studios in major cities across the U.S. (See if you're in an area with Zenrez here.)
3. Check a studio's website directly for free first classes and intro offers.
Speaking of intro offers, if there's a particular studio you're interested in that you haven't been to yet, check its website to see if it has any deals for new clients. Some studios will offer you a free first class (or even a free trial week, like CorePower Yoga and Pure Barre, both of which have locations all over the country). After that, many also have reduced three-class or five-class packs for first-time package purchasers.
This is also a great way to try something new. I'm a creature of habit when it comes to the workouts and studios I gravitate toward, but when I hear about a new studio and see a free intro class, it's often the nudge I need to give it a shot. After all, I really have nothing to lose.
4. Sign up for studio emails to get special package alerts, especially around holidays.
This is the main way I save money on fitness classes. I've signed up for emails from all of my go-to fitness studios, and around holidays, long weekends, and other special occasions (like studio anniversaries), they often send emails about special package offerings. Think discounted 10-packs, five classes for the price of three, and more.
Yes, it's more expensive up front, but when you break it down by class, the price for each individual session is lower than the usual package or drop-in price. Just don't forget to check the fine print to see how long you have to use the classes—for example, if they expire in 90 days, make sure you don't buy more classes than you think you'll use within that time. And if you do make that mistake, all's not lost—I email or call the studio when I have classes left close to my deadline, and more often than not they're happy to extend them for another couple of weeks.
5. Check nearby athletic store schedules for free classes.
Many athletic stores like Lululemon, Reebok, and Athleta have a schedule of free workouts they host in or around the store from time to time, often on weekends. While you generally have to check the store for schedules and classes, it's worth keeping an eye on if you've got an open mind and you're willing to try classes you might not otherwise think of.
Plus, it's a great opportunity to bring a friend along with you—or maybe even meet some new people.
6. If you have the time in your schedule, and there’s a studio or workout you’re absolutely committed to, see if you can work the front desk part-time.
This is becoming a more common way to save cash on classes, and while I haven't done it myself, I have friends who swear by it. Many studios will have people work the front desk during class check-in times or do other little odd jobs around the studio in exchange for free classes, or even an unlimited membership.
If you have a few spare hours throughout the week, check with the manager at your favorite studio to see if they need help during their busiest times. Sometimes there's already a program like this in place, and if it's a small operation, you just might be able to work out a mutually beneficial deal.
7. Browse Groupon and similar sites for heavily discounted class packs.
If you've never checked Groupon (or similar sites like Gilt City) for fitness deals, don't knock it till you try it—I once bought a seriously cheap 10-class pack for a reformer Pilates studio, which tend to be expensive, on a whim, and it ended up becoming one of my absolute favorite fitness spots.
You can find special intro class packages and even unlimited training deals with massive discounts (87 percent off, anyone)? Before buying, do a quick online search to see what other clients have said about the studio, and if there's a long-term deal (like a three-month membership), call and ask if the studio has a free class you can try before you buy.
8. Give ClassPass a try.
If you're not familiar with ClassPass, here's how it works: You purchase a monthly membership for a certain number of credits, then you can use those credits at a seemingly endless number of fitness studios, and even some spas and wellness centers. It's a fantastic option for people who like variety in their workout routine, since you don't have to sign up for a membership through each individual studio.
ClassPass offers different tiers of membership, depending on how many classes you want to take per month. Each membership gives you a certain number of credits to use each month. Each class you can take is valued at a certain number of credits, and the value depends on things like location, the specific studio, how popular the class time is, and how many spots are still open. So for example, if you are in NYC and sign up for lowest tier, $ 49 per month for 27 credits, ClassPass estimates you can take two to four classes per month. That shakes out to $ 12 to $ 25 per class, which is much lower than what you’d pay for a typical group fitness class on its own.
Depending on where you live, monthly memberships start at $ 9 per month. The company says they save you an average of 30 percent off drop-in rates—plus, you can get a two-week free trial to about four to eight classes within 14 days, again, exact numbers vary by location.