Which gym chain offers the cheapest membership?

The cost of living crisis is continuing to impact every aspect of life in the UK, with inflation leading to soaring prices on energy bills, your supermarket shop, and more.

With the cost of some basics having doubled in the past year, it’s no wonder we’re all looking to cut costs elsewhere in our day-to-day lives – whether it’s by cancelling some of our streaming services, buying cheaper groceries, or looking for other ways to save on essentials.

With that in mind, many of us may also be shopping around for the best deal to suit them when it comes to health and fitness – and with the gym having become such a major part of everyday life it’s understandable people will look to get their money’s worth there also.

But how much can you expect to shell out for your gym – and what discounts or concessions can you get at your local?

We’ve compared eight of the biggest chains to see how much they currently charge, and what you can get for your money…


PureGym, which has over 340 branches across the country, offers some pretty competitive rates, depending on what times you want to use the gym.

Off-peak membership is pretty competitive, starting from as little as £15.99 a month, rising to £26.99 for the highest level.

For £54.99 a month you can get a membership to almost all of the chain’s gyms (excluding Clapham), and until April 3 joining fees are being waived with the code ZEROJF.

If you’re a student you can get up to 30% off using Unidays, and there are also savings to be made if you pay for a membership in full rather than monthly – either six, nine or 12 month options are available on this, and the full price membership will vary depending on which plan you choose.

Perks for members include being able to bring a friend for free up to four times a month, and being able to freeze your membership for up to three months if need be – so if you’re going to be away or unable to use the gym for some other reason there’s no need to lose money.

The Gym Group

With over 230 gyms around the UK, The Gym Group is one of the largest chains in the country – and has some of the lowest rates.

The company’s memberships start from £14.99 a month on a no-contract membership – and until April 3 you can also save up to 50% on your first month.

If you’re a student you can also take advantage of a six-month concessionary membership, which gives students access to two gyms and unlimited gym classes and works out at a lower monthly cost.

You can find out more details of how much your local branch cost and what is included in your membership (as some of these will also include access to other gyms) at the official website.

Virgin Active

Virgin Active’s fitness centres once again vary depending on where you are in the country and what plan you choose – but once again they don’t come cheap, with some in London topping the £100 a month mark.

However, there is a cheaper option if you’re happy not to set foot in the gym – as an online-only membership will set you back just £9.99 a month.

That one gives you access to tailored workout plans and online workouts, while you will also have the option to buy passes for the club of your choice.

The Flexi+ workout, at £69.99 a month, also allows you to visit the Virgin Active gym of your choice four times a month – although you can only access the eight clubs in London with this.

Fitness First

Fitness First has around 39 branches across the country, and prices vary.

Membership costs start from around £27 a month depending on where you are in the country – although some of the gyms in London can see memberships rise as high as £69 a month.

Concessionary rates for students are available – for example a £35 a month gym will cost around £30 per month for students, while one of the £69 gyms offers student rates at £49 a month.

Membership gives you access to other gyms in the chain – which again will vary depending on the gym and where it is – as well as other available facilities, which can include everything from classes through to steam room and sauna.

Total Fitness

Membership costs vary at Total Fitness, the leading health club across the north of England and Wales, depending on which of their 15 branches you sign up for.

These will also vary according to peak or off-peak times, age and levels of commitment, however a peak time 12 month membership starts from £40 per month

‘We’re committed to helping as many people as possible enjoy the benefits of exercise, as we know how essential the health and fitness sector is in supporting the nation’s physical and mental wellbeing.

To ensure as many people as possible can benefit from our offering, we have various membership discounts available,’ operations director Paul McNicholas told Metro.co.uk.

‘Our couples offer allows you to save 10% when signing up with a partner from the same household; our over 65’s membership means gym goers can save up to 20% discount based on a 12-month contract. Additionally, students looking to join a gym and stay active can save on their memberships too.’

Nuffield Health

Nuffield Health has branches around the country, and like many of the chains prices tend to vary depending on where you are.

Prices in the North of England, for example, can come in at around £41 a month, but if you move towards London the price rises, with their Covent Garden gym around £81 a month for peak membership.

There are discounts available on this – for example students get 20% off, while there is also a 50% discount for those with Vitality insurance.

You can find out details of your nearest club and their costs at their website.


Bannatyne – the health club chain owned by former Dragon’s Den star Duncan Bannatyne – is another one where the prices vary at each of its 69 locations depending on which gym you are going to.

However, these typically start from around £39.99 and can go as high as £63.99 – with such facilities as pools and saunas also available in many cases.

If you are a Blue Light cardholder you are entitled to a discount on membership – again check the website to see how much this may bring your monthly costs down by.

Anytime Fitness

Anytime Fitness has over 185 sites across the UK and Ireland, and membership starts from £24.99 a month, with the average rate being £34.99 a month across their sites.

You get a decent deal for your money though with the membership including access to over 5,000 Anytime Fitness gyms worldwide, group exercise classes and 3x wellbeing appointments with an in-gym personal trainer/coach to discuss their goals and set them a workout plan.

Students and seniors generally qualify for a discount of around 10% but this can vary – once again you should speak to your local branch to see what they offer.

Things to bear in mind

While these are the rates offered by the above, other smaller chains or independent gyms may offer similarly competitive fees – it’s worth asking at your local branch or checking the website of your local gym (if it has one) if it falls into one of these categories.

While all of these were correct at time of writing membership fees can of course change at any time – worth bearing in mind when you come to take out or renew yours.

It’s always worth checking the website of any gym you sign up to to see exactly what you’re getting for your buck, as well as reading the terms and conditions of your membership.

Some gyms may offer a free one-day pass to allow you to try before you commit to a contract – once again details of which chains offer these and how to claim them will be on their website.

If you are on Universal Credit or other benefits, it’s also worth contacting your local council, as many will offer free or subsidised gym facilities in your local area. Better and Everyone Active are among the chains which offer this.

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