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Secret savings on gym memberships

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HOUSTON – There are plenty of options for those who vowed to get in better shape this year, but don't want to give their wallet a workout.

Lots of gyms offer discounts on memberships, especially at the start of a new year. First, keep an eye on social media. Sometimes, gyms will offer special deals on Facebook and Twitter. Also check places like Groupon, Living Social and Gilt City.

Shoppers can also ask to speak to a manager. By offering to pay up front, for example, customers can possibly get a month free or have their initiation fees dropped. And if it includes perks the member won't use, like child care or classes at the pool, ask to knock that off the rate.

Some gyms will also offer cheaper membership for people who only want to work out on off-peak days, like Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. But, a customer may have to ask for the deal.

And some health plans provide discounts on gym memberships. United Healthcare plans have reimbursed members up to $250 per year if they belong to a participating fitness center. Check with human resources or call the insurer to find out if a discount is available.