T Nation

How to Lift for FREE at Any Commercial Gym


If you're like me, you lift even when you're away from home. As a frequent traveler, I get pretty annoyed when I go to a new gym in a random city and they try to charge me $10 to lift for ONE DAY.

This is an attempt to force people to sign year long memberships rather than pay each time they go, which for 95% of the gym-going population is sporadically at best. Serious lifters who are traveling obviously don't fall in to this category, but are treated the same as the lazy masses by the numskull employee at the gym front desk.

What to do? Most people either 1. don't lift or 2. pay the bullshit price. 1 is out for anyone serious about lifting and 2. is out for anyone who knows better, which soon will be you.

To lift for free at any gym when traveling, I simply walk past the person at the front desk. 99% of the time they don't try to stop me. To do this effectively, you have to make sure to do a few things:

  1. Most importantly, act like you should be there and are a member. Like you've been there a thousand times, so many that scanning your card is beneath you. The same way you do at your home gym.

  2. Walk fast. The less time they have to notice you and think about stopping you, the better. Plus if you look like you're in a hurry they won't want to interrupt you and slow you down.

  3. Look pissed off. No one wants to talk to someone who's angry or in a bad mood, much less go out of their way to stop them.

  4. Don't make eye contact. Ignore them completely, like you didn't even see them. This makes it harder for them to get your attention and stop you. Now they're forced to chase after you if they want to do anything. You can have your phone out like you're texting as you walk by or you can be scanning the gym as if you're looking for your training partner.

  5. Have on headphones listening to music. I don't need to do this anymore but it can't hurt. Last time the girl called after me "sir, what's your name?" but I kept walking like I didn't even hear her and she didn't come after me. I wasn't wearing headphones and it was obvious I could hear her, but she either thought I was in a hurry or that I thought she was talking to someone else, or she simply didn't want to chase me down.

Now about that 1% where they DO stop you. I say I'm a member but forgot my card. You don't want to brush them off since if you couldn't walk past them they probably are gonna make sure you belong. Remember #1 above? It's even more important now. Act like you belong. If they ask for ID say you left it in the car. Say you're gonna go get it then just drive off. If they want to look up your name on the computer make up a fake name (or just give them your real name like I do, I don't give a fuck). When they don't find it insist that they made a mistake. Say you signed up a few days ago. Never offer to pay for a day membership (it makes you look guilty but more importantly it's gonna cost you $10). Worst case scenario just leave and go to another gym in the area and do it again. I've done this countless times.

Basically, use common sense. Every gym is different, and sometimes you gotta use your intuition and think fast to decide how to handle things. For instance, if there's no way you could not see them as you walk in (say the entrance is a hallway and they are at a desk in front of the door to the gym), don't try to just ignore and walk by. Walk fast but smile and say hey and keep reaching in your pocket like you're getting your card to scan but just walk on by and pull out your phone or something. Headphones really help in these situations. You are more likely to get stopped this way though.

So there's my method to avoid paying ridiculous fees to use a gym for one day. It's a decent thrill to do this, and doesn't really require balls but I could see how someone thinks it would. I've saved literally thousands of dollars doing this over the years. I figured I would share. Now you don't have any excuse not to lift while away from home. :slightly_smiling:


I do this at bars all the time, when I don't want to pay the cover. Always works for me.


First off you're a thief and fuck you. Second you could just ask for a one day trail and not cheat anybody.


That's actually where I got the idea from. Works at most bars/clubs except the top ones or really busy ones. I push my way past the line and just act like I belong. If you're dressed cool that's a big part of it as well. Best to walk by the entrance to scout things out to determine how to play it.


Label it however you want, I'm not ever going to jail for it and I'm not wasting thousands of dollars either. If you really have a moral issue with this and traveled a lot then you probably wouldn't lift, I used to not. But it's not like they're losing money b/c I would never pay that much. Actually they're losing money b/c I would pay up to $5, but they would rather charge $10 to force the new years crowd in to becoming members. Or maybe you're rich and you would pay $10/day for 100+ days per year of lifting at different gyms. No thanks, I'll keep lifting and I'll also keep my money.

Most gyms don't do "free trials". If you lie and say you're thinking about joining and go on their tour and all that shit maybe they'll let you lift for free one day. But you're wasting your time and theirs. Just walk in, lift and don't fuck anything up. You're not costing them a dime.


Hey, this isn't a morality contest


When I'm traveling I just say I'm local, steal an address from a close condo, say you'd love to try it out because you live so close.

Smile, don't look mad.

You will get a free pass every time.

Did this all through Spain, France and Southern US, didn't get called out once.


The gyms are to blame. They don't care about fitness. They care about making money on people's ignorance. I work at a gym that charges ten dollars for a day pass, whores Advocare products to soccer moms, weekend warriors, and high school kids that don't know any better, and charges 2 dollars for half a serving of whey protein. That's fucking stealing.


Sounds like a waste of time to me. The minimum wage employee doesn't want to have you fill out a bunch of bullshit paperwork so you can assuage your conscience.


If people are gonna pay that then that's their own fault. If they charged a reasonable price I would pay it. For now I'll keep lifting for free. I have no regrets.


I use to train at the YMCA in my early 20's and still have my ID card. I have flashed my YMCA card and tell them I'm out of state and they let me in. They're supposed to call my home location to verify my membership but never do.


I've trained for free for about a month.

They charged way too much for a decaying shithole of a gym and a service they weren't delivering. So I paid one month and kept training until the end of the following month, then I found a better gym. Just walked in everyday and didn't gave a damn.

As I see it, I just took my money back.


Yeah except that some gyms have those barricades that only move once you've swiped your card and its recognized.

As for saying you forgot your card, I have no idea how that would work because they'd probably have a database to verify that you're a member.

Other than that, good tips.


Having done this many times, I would say it works best when the staff are male (don't give a shit), young females (don't know what they're doing and don't give a shit). Older females especially seem to be the ones who will call you out.

Some gyms with those turnstile barriers don't need your card to work, you can still just walk through but then it comes down to pulling everything off in the OP.


THIS!! hahahah


i used to do this for getting into the swimming pool where i lived . but what i did was wait outside for the doors to open with all the other early birds n just went in with the rush n flash my cashpoint card .


no checkin no locker ...
where to put the gym bag?


That's funny, it's roughly the same price here in this part of Scotland for just one day too.

If you train at home mostly, and only ever use the public gym for something like a leg press machine or whatever, it's not worth paying a monthly membership fee for that (roughly $30/month...although it keeps going up each year despite the equipment being VERY limited and broken half the time). And it's still not worth paying $10 just for one day dotted here and there either IMO. Some weeks you may use the gym 2-3x/week, others maybe 1x/week or not at all.

I don't feel comfortable doing this on a regular basis (like free all the time), but sometimes there is no-body in the office when I train (so how can I pay? lol)...so when this happens, it kind of evens out the payments somewhat.


It's fair enough. My gym charges $20 for a casual visit.

It has 700 members paying on average $75 per month. That's $52,500 a month they rake in on revenue.

Not including the $1000 a month they charge the 16 or so PTs to use the facility to train clients, all the sales they make of supplements, and the dozens of casual visits each day.



Gyms charge $10 for a one day pass and you're calling HIM the thief? Please.