Consumer Reports digs up money-saving tips for gym memberships

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Sandra Bookman has more details to help you save money. (WABC)

More than 50 million Americans belong to a gym, but one of the biggest reasons many say they quit is the cost. Consumer Reports did some digging and came up with five tips for saving money and keeping your fitness regimen on track.

If getting in shape is one your New Year's resolutions, you don't have to break the bank to break a sweat.

Just like buying a car, the first rule is to always negotiate.

"Always assume you can get a better deal. You do that by asking the right questions and visiting at the right times," said Mandy Walker, senior money editor at Consumer Reports.

January is a great time for promotions, but wait until the end of the month when sales teams may be more eager to make a deal. Consider bringing some friends and asking for a group discount.

You should also consider what kind of membership you really need. Some gyms let you pay less for more limited access and fewer perks.

"If they're not going to utilize the amenities, then they can just come in and just pay $10 a month. If they are interested, then they can pay the $19.99 a month," said Destiny Rivera, a gym manager.

Be sure to ask your gym for a cheaper plan, since it may not advertised. Another step is to see if your boss is willing to share the cost.

"About half of larger U.S. firms have wellness programs, and many of those include discounts on gym memberships or the ability to access on-site workout facilities," Walker said.

Also check your health insurance policy for gym benefits. Some Blue Cross Blue Shield members can pay as little as $25 per month at fitness chains around the country.

Finally, if you don't know how often you'll be able to work out, or if you're the kind of person who likes to mix it up with different kinds of workouts, consider a pay-as-you-go membership.

With these deals, you can sign up at more than one type of gym and only pay when you use the facility.

Don't forget, most gyms offer free trial passes for the day -- or sometimes for up to a week. That way you can have a better feel for the gym before you sign on the dotted line.

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