There are 4 different types of gyms that you can join
- A Budget gym: £10-£30 per month
- A High-End Gym: £40-£100 per month
- A Small Personal Training Studio with 1-1 classes: £5 pay as you go -£200 per month
- A Hybrid Training Gym with small group personal training and classes £200-£300 per month
Over the next 4 weeks, we will look at each gym and score them based on our “Training Experience” criteria.
The sales team at each gym will tell you that their gym is best, but that is not based on any sort of clear, customer-based experience. Here we are going to review each kind of gym to give you a good idea of the experience you will get in each of the gyms.
Our intention is that this should help in making an informed choice when working towards your health and fitness goals and finding the right environment for you to thrive.
The criteria –
Training Experience Score: The quality of the training experience using 4 criteria each scored out of 5 points.
- Environment: Feeling safe from judgment and feeling safe from harm – scored based on a gym that feels friendly and accommodating which would be a 5 versus intimidating and unwelcoming, which would be a 0. Safe from harm is scored based on the safety of the coaching, set up, and kit to keep people free from potential injury.
- Kit: scored by usefulness and quality of the kit along with its availability through the day including peak times, not necessarily amount of training kit
- Coaching: scored by professional coaching qualifications and experience of the coaching staff – higher professional qualifications equal a higher score and experience of coaching throughout the session.
- Cleanliness & Amenities (changing facilities) – unavailable or dirty amenities scores a 0, great amenities and cleanliness is a 5
The total score for each gym is out of 20
This week, we will look at the budget gym…
Budget Gym £10-£30 per month
All gyms are businesses that ai to make a profit, but they go about it in different ways.
The budget gym is driven by profit per gym site
So more people paying memberships equals more turnover. Let’s say 8,000 members on £30 per month = £240,000.00 per month and £2.8 million per year.
Obviously being a budget gym they aim to keep their costs to a minimum through minimal staff, cheaper or older kit and generally cutting back on costs. Little or no money is committed to enhancing the training experience.
So the characteristics of this gym quickly become
- Litte to no useful staff presence – so little support with your actual training experience
- Lots of kit, but even more people to use it especially at peak times so the kit can be largely unavailable multiplied by the fact that there is no one to help you use it
- Overcrowding at peak times to the point of no kit availability and a dirty environment because the gym won’t spend the money
Essentially you are paying a low price each month to rent the space and kit along with thousands of other people. This gym can do this because although people complain about these facts they will still pay their membership fee because it is cheap.
Environment Score 1/5
Because of the nature of the budget gym, it scores low on the “emotional safety” factor. Members are most likely to feel uneasy in this gym due to a number of reasons
a) Just the number of people at peak times can be intimidating and unwelcoming
b) There is no support offered by staff which increases the feeling of discomfort
c) The crowding makes following any sort of plan difficult which adds to a feeling of unease as you are forced to do exercises that you weren’t actually planning on doing or you don’t feel confident doing
d) The weights area is often filled with unwelcoming and intimidating males who are mostly interested in appearing exactly that way. Unapproachable, to boost fragile egos.
Kit Score 2/5
Budget gyms do usually have a lot of kit. The amount of kit is used as a selling point during your tour to get you to join. However, the kit is often dated and prone to breaking down as it is cheaper for the gym to have old kit that was paid for 10 years ago. The availability of the kit is often a factor especially at peak times because of the number of members. This usually leads members to stay in a “safe zone” where they know what they are doing with a few bits of kit but this limits their workout variety, progress, and results. This approach also decreases motivation as the same routine becomes boring and doesn’t get results long term as changes are needed.
Budget gyms also won’t have accurate measurement tools in place to track your progress. They may have a pair of weighing scales or cheap body composition measures on offer if you have a £1.00 coin available, but these machines are inaccurate and unreliable.
Coaching Score 2/5
There are Personal Trainers available in budget gyms which offer a personalised service so that the gap of support and the confidence to go and use certain bits of kit you wouldn’t otherwise is available. You will often find enthusiastic new trainers that have plenty of energy to put into their clients and want to work hard for you. Trainers are normally new to the industry which means the good trainers will be high on passion and energy.
On the downside, the turnover of Personal Trainers in gyms is very high and the quality is often low due to low industry standards and only 6 weeks of education needed to become a Personal Trainer. This couped with no CPD requirement in the PT industry for ongoing certification can leave you open to poor levels of professionalism and service when hiring a Trainer.
Here it is best to look for a trainer with at least 5 years experience training people like you who have acquired certification and qualifications since becoming a personal trainer outside the Personal Training Industry.
Personal Training Industry qualifications are ok but these again are not regulated and are usually taught by other Personal Trainers. We would also recommend a Trainer with at least a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Science or a related field.
Good extra qualifications to look for are
Masters Degrees or Post Graduate Qualifications from a University
UK Strength and Conditioning Association Accredited Coach (ASCC)
British Weightlifting Qualifications
Psychology Based Qualifications such as NLP or courses accredited by the British Psychology Society (BPS)
Nutrition Based qualifications such as Precision Nutrition or International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN )
Cleanliness & Amenities Score 2/5
The budget gym usually has a low to moderate level of changing facilities, but are often let down by the number of people using them without the necessary level of cleaning and maintenance week by week.
The budget gym has quite a few flaws, so it is down to whether you are willing to put up with these flaws for the cheap membership fee that will determine whether you get out of it what you need as a paying member.
Budget Gym Overall Score = 7/20
Training Experience Score 35%
Jack & Patrick have worked out of GYms for the last 15 years and now own and run Thrive: Optimal Human Performance Personal Training Gym in Bamber Bridge, Preston PR5 6EW. Momentum Business Park next to B&Q.
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