First, don't rush into anything. You might get the best deal if you sign up late in the month, because health clubs often have monthly sales quotas. Another tip? Ask for a free pass. Many gym owners let you try before you buy.
Once you decide which club to join, make sure you negotiate. Sometimes gyms will cut the price if you pay yearly instead of month to month or ask if they will throw in a free wellness assessment or a personal training session.
Also some gyms offer a discount if you sign up with a group, so try rallying friends or co-workers. And check your insurance. Some plans like United Healthcare, reimburse members several hundred dollars a year if they join and use a participating fitness center.
Consumer Reports also suggests looking for discounts online. Sometimes gyms post deals on their websites or on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. You can also check savings sites like Groupon, Living Social and Gilt City.
And, make sure you read any contract you sign carefully. Many carry expensive cancellation fees if you want out of your contract.