What’s Your Favorite Gym?
I am fortunate enough at present to have my own home gym.
The set up includes Olympic barbell with Olympics plates, squat rack with a single cable and a hex bar for deadlifts.
Not too long ago I purchased a Powertec isolateral lever gym contraption that I have really taken to due to a longstanding shoulder injury from rugby which inhibits heavy bench or shoulder presses with a barbell.
Plus I managed to pick it up really cheaply from eBay…much cheaper than it retails for.
While my gym space at home is not purpose built it fits nicely into a timber frame extension of my garage which in turn is an extension of my house. It’s a bit complicated but it offers plenty of inside, weather proof (apart from being cold) space.
This has been a bit of a long time coming dream to have this equipment literally steps from my living room and understand it is a very fortunate position to be in.
However, a few changes are brewing upon the horizon. I am looking to sell my house and move closer to work so I do not have to continue with a 3-4 hour daily commute.
The problem being is that moving closer to the city pushes property values higher and all of this excellent space I have may be reduced to a couple of bedrooms and if I am lucky a bit of a garage or a basement/cellar space.
Begrudgingly I may have to sell my equipment and use a local gym.
This begs the questions, which gym to use?
I first tasted gym life when I was about 14 years old in a large gym chain in my local town. Upon subscription you got a free towel and I am sure you could get as many free soft drink refills as possible at the bar included too.
I thought this was amazing.
-Free soft drink refills
-Free shower gel and shampoo in the locker room as well.
Not only that, there was a steam room and a sauna!
Upon reflection while the gym was popular, this was before the sudden and recent boom of fitness popularity seen today and the monthly membership fee was about double than what you can expect to pay now.
The problem was, I didn’t have a clue what to do when I was there.
I would wander around aimlessly, trying bits of kit with no real purpose or goal.
I knew nothing about sets, reps, form or what bits of kit to use so I didn’t really benefit. There was no internet then either so it meant going to a library for research…boring!
Eventually I left non the wiser about anything really except that I thought I would like to be a fireman after high school.
My school ended up building an amazing gym, this was very fortunate. While playing rugby the use of the gym was encouraged, but not really to build lots of muscle.
Aerobic fitness is the key to winning rugby matches. The team who is the fittest has a massive advantage especially considering a game is 80 minutes long and the playing time is most of this.
So we were generally marched around the masses of fields in the area for running. It worked, we were a great team and had some great success.
I stopped playing rugby at university, after playing for my school team and local team for many, many years as well as being part of the Army Cadet Force I decided university was for drinking.
However, I was conscious that I had lost all fitness and muscle.
So I bought some of those cheap press up handles.
I began to make good progress with them.
First it started off with 3 sets of 10, then it increased more and more.
By the time I had finished university and had moved to London with a ‘proper’ job and career on the way I was completing 10 sets of 100 reps, almost every night!
South London & Protein Farts
I was obsessed with these press ups, if I missed a night (apart from Friday and the weekends) I would become really annoyed with myself.
However, I knew something had to change.
A couple of friends moved in and we went to the local gym chain which was a mere 3 minutes walk away.
This was the same chain I had joined many years ago as a boy and had it changed…
It wasn’t the high end experience I knew. It was small, hot, over subscribed and a bit aggressive.
Never the less it was a gym and I grew to love it. Doing deadlifts, pull ups and using all of the machines and free weights.
It was at this point I started using supplements.
I bought in to all of the marketing gimmicks, the ‘hardcore’ nature and loved telling anyone and everyone I was using protein and Tribulus. I knew nothing it seemed.
And fuck, that cheap protein stunk the gym out, many of the local ‘roid heads were constantly yelling out for the person to own up.
I ended up moving around London a bit over the 8 years I lived there, I transferred my membership to a slightly larger and newer facility under the same brand in North London.
Then I moved East and found a great ‘spit and sawdust’ place.
Okay, it wasn’t air conditioned, it had very little in the way of luxury but it did have a hex bar and bigger dumbbells. In fact, it was great and I loved it.
It was called Muscleworks II. If you are ever in London for a period of time you should look it up. It has probably changed a bit by now but it was a decent place with no gimmicks and no idiots. People went there to lift and if I remember correctly it was owned by a once internationally successful professional bodybuilder.
A few years passed and times changed. I ended up in Leeds, a city on the North of England.
I was also lodging at a friends house…
But I sourced a local-ish ‘proper’ gym and I was not disappointed with what I had found.
It was usually about a 15 minute drive in my old SAAB which only just about got warm inside by the time I had parked up.
However, that 15 minutes of cold merely acted as a bit of conditioning for what I was about to step in to.
The gym was in a very old, Yorkshire stone built disused mill type building.
To say there was less holes found in cartoon cheese would be an understatement. That place was perpetually cold.
Even when it was the slightest bit mild outside you could always see your breath when you were inside.
I had never worked out in a gym wearing a jacket before or a fleece. I had now.
I never, ever wear gloves but this place nearly sent me over the edge. The cold of those barbells and plates left me wondering if my skin would stick to them.
The natives would probably just call me ‘nesh’ among other words.
That a side, Flex Gymnasium was a gem.
Loads of quality kit. It wasn’t new but it was proper, timeless equipment.
The guys behind the counter were very pleasant and chatty and to the point they once burnt me a copy of the CD that was playing (without me even asking) when I remarked I liked the music that was being played. They gave me the CD the next time I visited.
The overall feel of the place was great. It was never too busy and the people there, like Muscleworks were there to lift.
For me, it is the best gym I have ever used. No idiots, no ego’s and definitely no towels or soft drinks but a wealth of good quality equipment which meant you could give your body a full workout.
So, with the contemplation of perhaps having to find another gym, do you have any firm favorites?