5 Best Gyms For College Students (With Student Discounts)

5 Best Gyms For College Students (With Student Discounts)

As a college student, you want to save money wherever you can.

Most gyms offer discounts for college students so you can save money while also keeping fit. 

We called 120+ gym franchises to find out what kind of student discounts they offer.

Based on our research, the 5 best gyms for college students are:

  • Gold’s Gym 
  • World Gym 
  • Anytime Fitness 
  • 24 Hour Fitness  
  • YMCA 

In this article, I’m going to cover each one of the best gyms with student discounts, including the costs and benefits of each.

I’ll also talk about what you should look for in a gym membership if you’re a college student and tips on how to get a cheaper membership plan to save yourself even more money. 

What Should College Students Look For When Buying A Gym Membership? 

As a college student, there are certain things that you should look out for when purchasing a gym membership, such as: 

  • The option for shorter contracts 
  • Month by month contracts 
  • Access to multiple gym locations 

1. The Option For Shorter Contracts 

If you only live at your college during each semester and you travel home during summer and winter break, finding a gym that offers shorter contracts will be ideal for you. 

Students often spend half of their year on campus and the other half at home. If this is the case for you, try to avoid signing up for 12-month long memberships. Doing so only leads to you wasting money paying for a membership that you’re not using during vacation times. 

Find gyms that offer 3-6 month long contracts or even those that offer memberships for the duration of your semester so you’re only paying for what you need. 

The closer the gym is to your college or university, the more likely they will have membership options specific to students.

2. Month By Month Contracts 

If your gym doesn’t offer short contracts or semester contracts, see if they have a rolling monthly membership that can be canceled at any time. 

Paying month by month and avoiding a long-term contract means that you can cancel your gym membership when you head back home for the holidays. Being able to cancel at any time without paying additional fees might also be handy during exam season when you’re struggling to find time to work out. 

Even if the monthly membership is more expensive than signing a contract, the added flexibility will more than enough pay for itself in the long run.

3. Access To Multiple Gym Locations 

Some gyms offer memberships that enable you to access multiple locations. This is ideal for those of you who don’t stay on campus all year. 

Being able to access more than one club using the same gym membership is great if you regularly travel back home during vacations. It’s also helpful if you are doing an internship in a different town or city for part of the school year. You can continue working out without needing to pay for an additional gym membership. 

Identifying The Best Gyms With Student Discounts: Our Research Process

The Best Gyms With Student Discounts Our Research Process

Before we get into the best gyms with student discounts, it’s important to provide some insight into how we compiled all of our information.

To determine which gym is the best for college students, we called several locations for some of the largest chain gyms to ask about their student discounts. We included individual clubs in the four different regions of the US — Northeast, Midwest, South, and West  — in our research. We also called two Canadian locations for the gym chains that also exist in Canada.

Through our research, we found out that most chain gyms don’t have universal student discounts. Each individual club has its own policies surrounding student discounts, including how much of a discount is offered and whether or not the college you go to qualifies you for a student discount.

Some gyms’ locations don’t offer any student discounts at all, and some of them told us that they can only discuss student membership prices if you visit the club in person. If we haven’t included pricing for any of the gyms that we mention in this article, give your local gym a call or go into the club to discuss the specific pricing that they offer for their students.

Best Gyms With Student Discounts: 5 Options  

Here are the five best gyms with student discounts that are ideal for college students:

  • Gold’s Gym 
  • World Gym 
  • Anytime Fitness 
  • 24 Hour Fitness  
  • YMCA 

1. Gold’s Gym 

Gold’s Gym - Best Gyms With Student Discounts

Gold’s Gym is often synonymous with bodybuilding, but it has a ton of cardio and strength equipment, so you can do almost any kind of workout there. It also has a good selection of group classes if you’d like to spin, HIIT, or yoga classes with your friends.

What Is The Cost For Students? 

To get more information about Gold’s Gym’s student discounts, we called locations in 5 different regions of the US and Canada. Everyone we spoke to referred us to their website. Based on the information we were able to gather online, some locations offer discounts of up to 50% for college students.

To give you an idea of what that 50% discount could cost you, below are the prices of a standard membership for Gold’s Gym in Totowa, NJ:

  • EFT 12-month membership – $39.99/month with a $59 club enhancement fee 
  • One year upfront – $499 plus taxes 
  • Monthly no commitment membership – $54/month

However, these prices and the exact discount you may be eligible for as a college student vary by location. If you need more information about student discounts at a Gold’s Gym near you, I recommend getting in touch with your local club or checking out their website.

What Are The Gym Benefits For Students? 

  • Every Gold’s Gym membership plan enables you to use all areas of the gym, including the free weights, strength equipment, and cardio machines.
  • You can use the boxing and yoga studios, basketball courts, and sign up for an unlimited number of group classes. 
  • The EFT 12-month plan grants you access to other Gold’s Gym locations, so you can use your membership even when you travel back home for the holidays. This may not be the case with all plans at all locations, though.
  • Gold’s Gym also has a no-commitment month-to-month contract, which is perfect for students who don’t want to commit to a full 12-month membership. 

What Do You Need To Know Before Purchasing A Membership? 

  • Since the student membership prices vary based on location, you will need to call and ask about the specific plans that are offered at your local club.
  • Gold’s Gym is not open 24 hours a day, but they stay open anywhere from 10-11 pm on weekdays and 3-5 pm on weekends.
  • Gold’s Gym offers a free trial pass so you can give the gym a go before committing to a full membership.
  • You can freeze your membership for free if you have a long-term injury or illness that prevents you from exercising by providing a doctor’s note. 

Check out my full review of Gold’s Gym to learn more about everything it has to offer.

2. World Gym 

World Gym - Best Gyms With Student Discounts

World Gym is similar to Gold’s Gym in that it has a reputation of being a bodybuilding gym, but you can do so much more than just bodybuilding there. It has group classes, cardio machines, strength machines, and a huge selection of free weights.

With a supportive and friendly atmosphere, it’s an ideal place to get started with your fitness journey.

What Is The Cost For Students? 

We had some trouble getting in contact with most of the World Gym locations that we called. However, I wouldn’t let that deter you from considering buying a membership there because it has one of the best atmospheres I’ve encountered in a chain gym.

One location we were able to get in touch in Oxnard, CA doesn’t offer any student discounts, but it does have affordable memberships that start at just $14/month. 

Based on what I’ve been able to find online, other World Gym locations do offer student-specific memberships during the summer months, which can be a viable option if you only live at home during summer vacation.

Other gym locations like the Soho, NY location also offer affordable one-month and three-month memberships for $39 and $117, respectively, with no enrollment or annual fees. These plans are also suitable for college students who may only be living at home for a few weeks at a time.

Note that these prices may vary depending on which club you’re attending. I also recommend visiting a World Gym by you in person, as you may be able to negotiate a discount with management.

What Are The Gym Benefits For Students? 

  • World Gym is open 24 hours a day, so you can easily squeeze your workouts around your class schedule.
  • Many clubs offer gym memberships starting at around $14-19/month. The pricing may vary depending on your specific location.
  • There are no enrolment or annual fees at most clubs.

What Do You Need To Know Before Purchasing A Membership? 

  • You may have to show your student ID as proof to get a student discount on your membership.
  • Some World Gym locations require you to pay around $20 for an access card.
  • Most World Gym memberships don’t enable you access to multiple locations.

Check out my full review of World Gym to learn more about everything it has to offer.

3. Anytime Fitness 

Anytime Fitness - Best Gyms With Student Discounts

Anytime Fitness is one of the largest gym franchises not just in the US but throughout the entire world. It has more than 4,000 locations in 50 countries, and you can use your membership at any location.

This makes it a good gym to consider if you plan on studying abroad, since it’s likely that you’ll be able to find an Anytime Fitness club near a university in your chosen country.

What Is The Cost For Students? 

Many, but not all, Anytime Fitness locations offer a discounted price for students. Some clubs offer a discounted flat fee for students, while others offer a percentage off their usual monthly membership prices.

For example, at the Alameda, CA, location, a student membership costs $49/month with no enrollment fees. Other locations offer a flat fee of $35/month for students.

One location that we called in Philadelphia, PA and another location that we called in Montclair, NJ both told us that they do offer student discounts, but it depends on which school you go to.

On the other hand, we also contacted clubs in Albany, OR and Winter Haven, FL that told us they don’t offer student discounts at all. If you want to sign up for a regular membership, you may have to pay around $29.50 plus taxes every two weeks for an annual plan, or $27.50/month for a 24-month plan. This will be slightly different at each location, so be sure to double check with your local club.

What Are The Gym Benefits For Students? 

  • There are no enrollment fees for student memberships at some locations that offer them
  • Students can access all of the machinery, free weights, and personal training equipment in the club
  • Anytime Fitness offers free seven-day trials so you can try the gym out before joining on a student membership 

What Do You Need To Know Before Purchasing A Membership? 

  • Student memberships may cost more during the first month, after which point the price decreases. For example, the Alameda student membership costs $89 for the first month and then decreases to $49/month thereafter.
  • The discount prices vary based on location, so you will need to physically go into your local club and ask a member of staff about the memberships they offer.
  • Student membership availability might depend on the school you attend 

Check out my full review of Anytime Fitness to learn more about everything it has to offer.

4. 24 Hour Fitness 

24 Hour Fitness - Best Gyms With Student Discounts

Because it’s open 24 hours a day, 24 Hour Fitness is a good gym for college students who may only have time to work out during the overnight hours.

It’s also a good gym if you think you might be interested in taking up powerlifting or Olympic weightlifting. Most locations have a large number of squat racks and lifting platforms and will allow you to use chalk and drop your weights.

What Is The Cost For Students? 

We called 5 different locations in NJ, TX, CA, FL, and NY. Four of them told us they don’t offer student discounts.

The location that we called in Springfield, NJ told us they have student discounts for $29.99/month. This is much cheaper than the standard 24 Hour Fitness monthly membership, which can cost close to $57/month depending on where you live and which plan you purchase.

To find out if the 24 Hour Fitness near you offers student discounts, I recommend calling them or dropping in to speak with them in person.

What Are The Gym Benefits For Students? 

  • Students can access a range of group classes as part of their membership
  • 24 Hour Fitness offers a free three-day trial so you can test out the gym before signing up for a student membership
  • You can access multiple 24 Hour Fitness gyms with your membership 

What Do You Need To Know Before Purchasing A Membership? 

  • Most locations require you to show your student ID to sign up for a discounted membership plan
  • You’ll need to double-check whether your membership is a month-by-month contract or a 12-month plan before signing up, as 24 Hour Fitness offers both options 

Check out my full review of 24 Hour Fitness to learn more about everything it has to offer.

5. YMCA 

YMCA - Best Gyms With Student Discounts

The YMCA not only offers great discounts for students but is also a good place to meet people outside of your school. It has a lot of age-appropriate social events that may be of interest to you if you’re not into partying on campus.

As you’re getting ready to graduate, the YMCA can also be a good place to network with other people to help land your first job. You can usually also find volunteer or internship opportunities to add to your resume.

What Is The Cost For Students? 

We were able to get in touch with 5 different YMCA locations in MN, MA, NC, and IL. All of the ones we contacted except for the club in Elizabeth City, NC offers student discounts at $39/month. The Elizabeth City location does offer student memberships, but it depends on which school you attend.

What Are The Gym Benefits For Students? 

  • Students can access all of the YMCA gym facilities, including the resistance training area, the pool, the sports courts, and group classes
  • You have the option to pay monthly or for a year upfront
  • Some locations have virtual memberships, so you can sign up at the club closest to your home and take advantage of virtual fitness classes and other virtual resources when you’re at school.

What Do You Need To Know Before Purchasing A Membership? 

  • Student memberships are for young adults under 29 years of age 
  • You may be charged a joining fee of up to $50 when you first sign up for a membership plan
  • Some clubs offer free trial passes for one, three, seven, or 14 days
  • If you’re a commuter student, it may be worth it to ask your parents and/or siblings to join with you. Your entire family may be able to join the YMCA for a reasonable price since it also offers family plans.

Check out my full review of the YMCA to learn more about everything it has to offer.

Additional Gyms For College Students To Consider

Some gyms don’t have student discounts at all, but their standard memberships are still affordable enough that you may want to consider signing up for a plan anyway.

There are also some gyms whose student discounts are still pretty expensive, so you’ll have to determine whether or not you can afford a membership.

Planet Fitness

Planet Fitness

Although Planet Fitness doesn’t offer student memberships, its plans are already very affordable at around $10/month and $22.99/month for the Classic and PF Black Card memberships, respectively.

The standard plans at Planet Fitness work out much cheaper than some of the student memberships at other gyms, so it might be worth trying this gym out if there is a club near your college. You can also use your membership at any location with a Black Card plan, which can be beneficial if you split your time between college and home.

Life Time Fitness 

life time fitness

Life Time Fitness also offers student memberships but I didn’t include it in the list above due to the higher price point. Some locations offer student memberships priced at $109, which is potentially out of reach for college students.

But if you can afford it, I recommend checking it out. You can work out, take classes, try rock climbing, grab something to eat, and go swimming — and that still doesn’t cover everything you can do there. It’s a great place to go if you want to step away from campus and unwind for a bit.

Tips On Getting A Cheaper Student Gym Membership  

tips on getting a cheaper student gym membership

If you’ve found the perfect gym with great student memberships, but it’s still a little out of your budget, here are some top tips on how to get an even cheaper student gym membership plan. 

  • Negotiate the initiation fee 
  • Ask if they have off-peak membership plans 
  • Ask if they have student discounts
  • Check if they have discounts for multi-person memberships 
  • Ask if they have free classes for students 
  • Check if they have free personal training sessions for students 

1. Negotiate The Initiation Fee 

Many gyms have an initiation fee, some of which can cost up to $100. When you sign up for a student membership at the gym, ask the receptionist if they offer a ‘no sign-up fee’ option for students. 

2. Ask If They Have Off-Peak Membership Plans 

Off-peak memberships are usually cheaper because they restrict your gym usage to quieter times of the day, so you can’t use the gym during the busiest times of the day (which are usually between 6-8 am or 5-8 pm). 

If your college schedule enables you to avoid the busier periods of the day, ask if your gym has an off-peak membership option so you can save some money. 

3. Ask If They Have Additional Discounts 

Some gyms offer additional student discounts on top of their usual student gym membership. If you have a college ID card, show it to the receptionist at your gym and ask if they can subsidize your membership plan. 

4. Check If They Have Discounts For Multi-Person Memberships

Your gym might offer cheaper student memberships when there is more than one person signing up to use the gym. If you have a friend who also enjoys working out, head to the gym together and inquire about multi-person discounts on the student membership plans. 

5. Ask If They Have Free Classes For Students 

At some gyms, members have to pay an additional fee on top of their monthly membership to take group classes. But you might find that your gym provides free class passes for students. You won’t know unless you ask! Check with the gym staff whether this is something that they offer when you sign up for your student membership. 

6. Check If They Have Free Personal Training Sessions For Students

Personal training sessions can cost anywhere from $50 – $100+, but some of the best gyms for college students have free one-to-one personal training sessions for college students. Speak to one of the PTs on the gym floor and ask if they offer subsidized personal training packages for students.

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About The Author

Athina Crilley

Athina Crilley is a Biochemistry graduate, a qualified personal trainer, and a women’s health and nutrition coach. She is passionate about helping women to balance their hormones and regulate their cycles. She is the host and producer of Finding Flo podcast, which covers all things women’s health and nutrition.