Recurring monthly memberships are the key business model for gyms and fitness centers. Ongoing commitments to a whole year or even a few months not only keep your business running, but they also help your members stay committed to their own health and fitness journey. Having a reliable, functioning payment workflow is crucial for gym owners but, more than that, accepting online, recurring, and automated payments are really key. With this in mind as a gym owner, you have got to collect your membership fees with ACH payments. But how exactly does ACH for gyms work? What does it mean to collect ACH payments anyway?

What is ACH?

ACH vs wire transfer | ACH transfer visualization

ACH stands for Automated Clearing House. It’s a network that facilitates one bank directly sending funds to another. In your case, taking a payment from a gym member’s checking account every month and depositing it into your business account. These payments are directly from bank to bank, and because they are electronic, there is no cash, no checks, and no credit cards. ACH operators send out batches of payments several times each business day. An ACH debit involves pulling money out of an account as payment, while an ACH credit involves depositing money into an account.

ACH payments generally take around 3 business days to settle, and sometimes up to 5 days, depending on factors like which banks are involved. By contrast, credit card payments generally take 2 business days. However, as we’ll see, the benefits of ACH payments far outweigh the light deficit of being slightly slower to process than credit card payments.

Why do gyms and fitness centers need ACH?

ACH for gyms and fitness centers

Membership experience

ACH payments create a better experience for everyone involved. Your gym members very likely have lots of bills to pay every month, between their rent or mortgage, utilities, any school tuition(s), credit card bills, car loans, and student debts. Taking one to-do off their list by automating their gym membership is doing them – and yourself – a favor. All they need to do is provide their banking information one time, agree upon a periodic withdrawal date, and they can forget about it. Of course, you could also offer a discount for an up-front payment, which is also a win-win for everyone. This one-time payment can also be made over the ACH network, and you can retain the banking information to run a charge (with member approval, of course) for next year.

Elimination of late payments

Another reason ACH for fitness centers works out so well is that they eliminate late payments. Checks need to be mailed or brought to the gym. The same thing is true with in-person cash payments. Even credit cards can sometimes cause late payments, if the payment needs to be input each time, or if the credit card number changes. By contrast, banking information – like account and routing numbers – does not change. And if you automate the ACH debit authorization, you won’t need to rely on a member’s memory to make sure the payment will come in on time: the ACH network will remember that for you.

Savings over credit card

Possibly the best benefit to ACH for gym owners is the money you can save. Credit card companies charge fees ranging from 2% to 4% per transaction. By contrast, ACH payments cost an average of $0.29 per transaction. The average cost of a gym membership is around $500 in the US. That means gyms are paying credit card companies up to $20 or more per member every year. What if your gym has 100 members? You’re looking at an extra $2,000 of savings. What if a gym has 1,000 members? What could your gym do with an extra $20,000? Open a juice bar? Buy some new equipment? You get the idea.

How to accept ACH payments for your gym

Now that you know just how much ACH payments can improve the payment experience, reduce inconsistency and your cash flow, and save you money, you’re probably wondering how you can start implementing them.

The first step is just to make ACH authorizations part of your onboarding process for new members. Doubtlessly you have your gym members sign a contract where they commit to their membership and waive away liabilities. You can attach an ACH authorization form to a contract packet and spell out the expectation that your gym only accepts ACH payments. Since pretty much everyone has a checking account, this is not going to pose a problem. Keep in mind that if a member does not know how to locate their account and routing number on a paper check, or if they just don’t have any, they can find these numbers on their online banking app, right on their phone. You should get familiar with how to locate these numbers just in case you have members who are not familiar with finding them.

Third-party ACH processors for gyms

Most banks with merchant services can facilitate ACH payments for you, but most banks are not going to offer any kind of integration with your website or accounting software, which means you would have to do a whole lot of heavy lifting yourself.

You need to outsource the backend work to a third-party payment processor (TPPP). The TPPP will usually offer an ACH authorization form you can pop right into your website, which means no paper, no storing records, and no having to forward that information to your bank. All you need to do is direct your members to a website where they can input the payment information themselves.

The TPPP will do everything for you, so you can focus on running your gym. The best part is that you’re still going to avoid those credit card fees and lock in the consistency and security of recurring bank to bank payments. A TPPP like Rotessa will also integrate with your accounting software, removing the additional step of having to bounce back and forth with Quickbooks or Xero.


ACH for gyms is a great way to lock in consistent payments that are never late. The payments are automated and on time, using checking account information that won’t get cancelled or lost. ACH for fitness centers is also great because it creates a better payment experience for your members. And ACH for gym owners is also great because it saves you a lot of money when you collect your membership fees. Take a look at why 2,000+ businesses are using Rotessa, among them many gyms and fitness centers like yours, who rely on recurring payments to run their business. It’s free to get started, there are no monthly minimums, and no cost to use our ACH authorization tool.

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