Free “gym” memberships?!

File photo: AP Photo/LM Otero

File photo: AP Photo/LM Otero

Many people strive for an active and healthy lifestyle, but the cost of a gym membership may be a barrier.  Did you know that some health insurance companies and workplace wellness programs reimburse partial or full exercise facility membership fees?  Some insurance companies such as Geisinger Health Plan provide membership as a “third party payor,” meaning the insurance company reimburses the gym facility for services rendered to the gym member. Other companies provide a healthy rewards program, providing a lump sum total for participation in physical activities.  Still others provide discounts for gym memberships and sports league fees.

The SilverSneakers Fitness program is an insurance benefit included in Medicare health plans. SilverSneakers provides free memberships and group exercise classes to those with eligible insurance.  Check the website to learn about participating health insurance plans.

Silver&Fit Exercise is another program developed specifically for Medicare beneficiaries. Like SilverSneakers, Silver&Fit is free to the program participant.  Participants enrolled in either program have the additional benefit of being able to use any SilverSneakers or Silver&Fit location throughout the nation, increasing exercise opportunities during vacation or “wintering” in warmer climates.

Some work sites provide health club memberships to enhance employee health and well-being.  Others may reimburse a portion of the membership fee.  Some membership organizations, such as the YMCA of York County and the Jewish Community Center provide corporate discounts, so check to see if your place of employment participates in corporate rates.

The best way to learn if you can receive free or discounted fitness membership rates is by calling your insurance company and by reaching out to your Human Resource Director to learn about options.

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