Over the years, I have been a member of several gyms. Here are reviews of three of them, which belong to chains with a large presence in the UK.
The Gym Group
This is one of the major budget chains currently operating in the UK. Currently monthly membership costs £15.99 a month but I have seen promotional offers starting at £10.99 a month. (This was when the gym first opened.) One of the ways the gym’s running costs are kept low is by cutting back on staff. The 24 hour entry system is fully automated.
The changing rooms are basic, but there are showers with opaque doors that afford some degree of privacy, unlike some other budget gyms.
There is no pool but the gym itself has an extensive range of equipment. You can get everything you need done here and the equipment is normally quite new.
The ability to be able to attend 24 hours may seem good, but I’m not sure whether everyone would feel safe rocking up at unusual times as unfortunately there are a lot of weirdos around (gyms seem to attract them) and you could find yourself in quite an isolated position.
Overall, this gym is a good budget option without the financial commitment of needing to sign up to a year’s contract. You will need your own sweat towel and your own padlock for the lockers.
The franchise I attended had individual changing rooms, which allow for total privacy when changing and showering, but it also means that queues can quickly develop.
I really liked this gym as it had CV machines with screens that play videos of rolling scenery. So you can simulate running or cycling through the various national parks of the USA. It made me want to holiday there every time I worked out.
All the equipment in this gym was of a high standard and the whole place was very nicely done out. There were no lockers but there were (unsecured) baskets in a shelving unit where you could store your things, along with small safety deposit boxes for valuables. In the year I used this gym, no-one ever stole anything from me though.
We got a cheap deal by paying for a year in advance. (It seems the best deals are to be had when gyms have just opened.)
I owe Nuffield for getting me into exercising regularly in my late twenties after years of sedentary living. This was mostly because the branch I used was next to my office and left me with no excuses.
The “health MOT” was an eye-opener, putting me in the middle of the overweight category on BMI and alerting me to high cholesterol.
I also met with a nutritionist and learnt a lot from her, and a physiotherapist helped me sort out the functional instability in my knees.
On top of that, they had a swimming pool, steam room and sauna.
Needless to say, none of the above came cheap. Even with a corporate discount, the membership came in at around £56 a month, with a commitment to a one year contract and a joining fee required.
The gym itself had a good range of equipment but some it was quite tired considering the price tag. Anytime Fitness beat this gym in terms of general niceness, even though it had half the price tag.
Anytime Fitness wins as it had a good balance between a nicely done out gym and price. The Gym comes second and Nuffield comes last because it is just too expensive for what they are offering. I was basically paying for the convenience of it being next to my work.