I’ve seen the signs. Fitness clubs and gyms are working it hard and flexing their marketing muscles to get you sweating in their facilities. January is the fitness industry’s big month to sign up new members, and some are offering fat incentives to get you to sign on the skinny dotted line.

If you’re in the market for a shiny new gym membership, it may be wise to read the fine print and know your rights before agreeing to a fitness club contract. No one wants to be stuck paying for a membership they can no longer use, for whatever reason.

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But if you’re revved and ready to burn a few calories, here are ten ways to get fitter while saving some cash on a fitness club or gym membership. Yay, fitness tips!

1. Scrutinize Promotions

Most gyms and fitness centers start the New Year with various promotional deals to entice new members to join. Get in the game by touring around town to find the best fitness deal for your dollars. Make a list and compare membership fees, contract lengths, termination terms, locker fees, facility offerings, class types, hours of operation, equipment types, and peak hours. If all things are equal, don’t be afraid to flex some muscle and negotiate a better rate by playing one gym’s promotional offer off another. Some gyms may have some wiggle room and will give you a discounted or promotional rate.

2. Weigh in with HR

Break free from your cubicle and head to your human resources department for information on corporate fitness passes. Chances are your employer has a group or discounted membership at a local gym. These days many companies are on-side when it comes to battling the bulge and want employees to get fit and live a healthier lifestyle. So it could be well worth your time to ask your company if you qualify for a fitness discount. Just be sure to skip the elevator and take the stairs when you visit HR. Smile.

3. Go Back to School

Ok, don’t sign up for a second (or third) degree just to score a free gym pass. Silly! If you’re a graduate from a local university or college, you could go to the head of the class and land an alumni discount. Head to your Alma Mater with your alumni card in hand and get some fitness for less. Now that’s smart thinking!

4. Get Physical with Non-Commitment Passes

Ask your preferred fitness facility or gym if they offer non-members no-commitment passes. To get you hooked on fitness many gyms offer special passes to let non-members visit on a trial basis for a few days or a week. Give these passes a go and try out the club and facilities before signing for a membership. You’ll find out fast if the club’s locations, programs, and hours of operation work for you.

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5. Ask for Your Discount

Does your gym offer a family, student, or seniors discount? Many gyms want your business and will give you a discount if you qualify. Before signing the contract, be sure to bring your student card or driver’s license to prove your age or student status. Being studious, over 65-years-old, or a member of a family could carry a fitness benefit in the shape of big savings.

6. Find a Fitness Friend

If you’ve got a fitness fiend of a friend then ask to join them for a workout. Many gyms and fitness centers offer their members guest passes to entice friends to join. If you’ve got a friend with membership benefits at your gym of choice, ask for a guest pass to try before you buy.

7. Get a “Specialty” Membership

It makes little sense to pay for a pool pass if you only want to use the weight room. So ask for a specialty membership to restrict your use (and user fees) to only the activities you want. Many gyms offer “add-on” fitness fees for squash courts, weight rooms, hot tubs, classes, and pool.

8. Go Off-Peak

If you work flexible hours, then you could avoid the gym lunch rush by opting for an “off-peak” membership pass. Many popular gyms offer a less expensive membership option if you’re willing to sweat it out during the daytime or on weekends.

9. Check Out Your Community Recreation Center

Consider skipping boutique and fancy fitness memberships altogether by choosing to work out at your local community center. Many community centers offer affordable monthly and drop-in rates, making it cost-effective to choose only the classes you want without all the extra initiation or towel fees. Depending on where you live, your YMCA/YWCA may also offer affordable membership rates to help you keep costs down.

10. It’s Fun to Volunteer at the YMCA!

I’ve never tried this, but a few of my friends earned a free YMCA fitness pass by volunteering their time at the YMCA/YWCA. Spending a few hours a week giving facility tours could land you an all-access fitness pass without tapping your wallet. Besides, if you’re going to spend time working out, adding an extra hour to your gym visit is not an impossible task to accomplish.

If spending even a dime for a gym membership blows your budget, then check out these 10 Frugal Ways to get Fit this Winter and even 10 Free Ways to get into Fitness this Summer. My free Printable Workout Log has also been insanely popular this week.

Your Two Cents: Got a frugal way to cut the costs of a gym membership? Ever get caught by surprise fitness club fees?