How to get a gym membership almost for free

If the only thing holding you back from going to the gym is an expensive membership, you’re in luck. What if I told you there was a loophole to get around the price? If you have health insurance, it could be the key to getting free or substantial reducing gym memberships. If you’re shopping for health insurance and want an affordable gym membership, there are some important details to consider.

More and more people are looking strengthen their health by staying active, many health insurance companies catch and give people what they want. It’s also helpful to know that there are ways to cut costs in certain areas monthly spending budget. As we all know, every penny counts as we avoid the effects of skyrocketing inflation across the country.

So if you’re looking for ways to get a great deal on your gym membership, check out our expert-approved tips.

Double check your benefits

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Whether you have health insurance or are looking for the right package, be sure to read the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (also known as the SBC). Michael Orefis, senior vice president of operations at SmartFinancial, told CNET that the SBC describes the costs and coverage of each health plan. “If certain self-service benefits are not listed as covered or excluded benefits, check with your provider for more information,” he suggests.

You will be surprised at the wide range of free benefits that your insurance can provide. This may include massage and acupuncture along with other services. The only thing you may be limited by is seeking treatment in your network, and there may be a limit to the number of treatments you receive per year.

In the case of gym memberships, Orefice said your health insurance likely won’t cover the entire bill, but your health care plan may qualify you for discounted rates on gym memberships, fitness equipment and even online classes. “Be sure to review your current health insurance plan to see what self-care benefits are available to you, but if you’re not happy with those benefits, be sure to purchase a policy that better meets your needs,” he advised.

Also, don’t automatically assume that your insurance won’t cover the cost of a particular care. By making the effort to review a variety of insurance plans, you can get closer to achieving your health care goals. Orefice recommends that you carefully examine each plan’s coverage because there may be unique benefits that you think will automatically be paid out of pocket. “The payoff for a little time and effort can improve the overall quality of your life,” he says.

Use your flexible spending account

Wooden blocks with the letters FSA.

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When you get health insurance through an employer, you usually have the option of a flexible spending account. An FSA is a tax-free account where you set aside a certain amount of money to help pay for any out-of-pocket health-related expenses. Typically, an FSA can help you pay for prescription drugs, certain medical procedures, co-pays, some drugstore items, and yes, even gym memberships. However, there is a catch. “If a particular benefit is not specifically stated, expenses may still be eligible for reimbursement if medically necessary,” Orefis explained.

To get approval for the expenses, your doctor must sign a letter of medical necessity explaining why the treatment is needed. It is important to give a copy of this letter to your FSA provider, otherwise your claim will be rejected when you submit it. In the case of a gym membership, having a doctor’s note explaining that you need to be physically active for a specific medical reason will increase the chances that your health plan will reimburse you for the cost of the membership.

Search for gyms associated with your health insurance

Empty fitness club with equipment.

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Often, your health insurance provider will have affiliations with certain gym franchises. “Insurance companies have a great incentive to help you get a gym membership,” said Anthony Martin, founder and CEO of Choice Mutual. This is because it costs less to maintain your health now than to pay for treatment if you get sick later. As a result, more and more insurance companies are increasingly including some form of fitness center membership.

“Some vendors partner with different gyms and fitness centers to offer discounts to customers,” Martin said. Keep in mind that these benefits are usually limited to the number of studios selected and depend on your location and plan type.

If you are an adult, you should review your Medicare Advantage plans and some Medicare Supplement Insurance plans. “Many now include a SilverSneakers membership or other similar programs as an added benefit for beneficiaries,” said Christian Worstell, Healthadvisor.com’s senior staff member and health insurance agent. He continued: “SilverSneakers includes a basic gym membership as well as a health and fitness program designed specifically for seniors that includes a variety of workouts, activities and training.” The plus side is that it’s usually free if it’s included in your Medicare plan.

Check for refunds

Coins fall into the piggy bank.

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If your insurance provider isn’t affiliated with a gym or you can’t use your FSA, you can also check to see if your provider can reimburse you for some of the costs. I used to have a health insurance plan that covered half of my monthly gym membership fees, and while it wasn’t fully covered, it still helped financially.

“Many health insurance providers offer full or partial reimbursement of gym membership fees, although there are usually a few requirements that must be met,” Martin said. In some cases, providers may require a log of your gym visits showing that you are using the membership before they will reimburse you for a portion of the gym fee. Others may wait several months before you are eligible for reimbursement.


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The bottom line

Reviewing health insurance documents can seem daunting because it feels like you’re reading a bunch of jargon. But taking a closer look at your plan or options can open your eyes to what services you can get for free or at a reduced price. If a gym membership is a priority, it’s good to know that there are ways your health insurance can help with those costs.

If you’re still unsure after looking at the fine print, don’t be afraid to contact your insurance company and ask. The last thing you want to do is miss out on these opportunities that could save you a lot of money on a monthly and yearly basis.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care professional with any questions you may have regarding health conditions or health care goals.

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