local gym vs franchise gym


One of my Instagram followers asked me this question the other day:

“Hey Russ I’ve just moved to a new area and I’m looking for the best gym to join. Should I go with a big franchise, or should I find a local gym?”

I always recommend joining your local gym.

Your membership supports real families, which is nice, plus the community in independent gyms is much more supportive, and some of these little facilities are absolute gems!

Let’s break it down…

powerhouse gym south shields


As a general rule, you’ll find a better selection of equipment in smaller gyms because they need to be more niche to survive.

For example, you’d find vastly superior strength training equipment in a dedicated strength training gym versus that of a mainstream gym. Same with bodybuilding, and so on. The equipment tends to be sturdy as f**k, too, because it’s cheaper to buy machinery which lasts forever.

Sure, your local gym might not look as ‘nice’ but man, I bet it’s steeped in history. I want to walk into a gym and see chalk handprints on the floor where someone has crawled out, I want to grab a barbell and hear the distant yells of my ancestors who have tried and failed before me. Screw the fake shiny s**t.

The first franchise gym I worked at was the definition of “ALL SHOW AND NO GO”. It looked very pretty, but the battle ropes felt like giant shoelaces and the medicine balls were like awkward yorkshire puddings.

Perhaps the same could also be said for the coaches, too.

I’m not saying you can’t find a great PT in a mainstream gym (because you can, I used to be one!), but if you want to find a top strength and conditioning coach you’d head straight to a strength and conditioning facility. Corporate gyms have a revolving door for PT’s fresh off their course, and if their business fails (which 80% do) they just replace them with another. It’s cold as f**k..

Over the years I noticed that every popular trainer moved on to independent gyms, and it’s a road I took myself. When I look at my colleagues at Powerhouse Gym South Shields I’m delighted I get to work alongside such skilled coaches who have earned their chops and built their own brands.

But even though these are good reasons to check out your local gym, we haven’t even reached the best part yet…


If not, go watch it.

The movie focuses on two rival gyms; Glogo Gym vs Average Joe’s.

We all want to go to Average Joe’s; a gym where the members embrace their weirdness, are treated with respect, and make up the core foundation of the business itself. It’s like a big family. Meanwhile, on the other side of the road we have Globo Gym which is choc-full of orange motherf**kers being mean to anyone who looks different and laughing at newbies.

And here’s where things get weird…

When we think about independent gyms we say things like, “Ooh, I can’t go there, that’s for meat-heads!”, wrongly associating them with Globo Gym. In reality, it’s the other way round – your local gym has more in common with Average Joe’s!

^^^ Read that again.

Here’s a true story from a client of mine:

“I used to be a member of (POPULAR 24/7 GYM) and I hated it. Nobody spoke to me in 2 years, one time people laughed at me for using a machine wrong, and the atmosphere was generally standoffish. I felt awkward if anyone even got on the next treadmill to me!

Anyway, one day they closed for refurbishment so I tried the serious-looking ‘bodybuilding gym’ located up the road, and that’s when everything changed.

It’s crazy to think this now, because I’D NEVER GO BACK TO THE OLD PLACE! Instead of finding a bunch of judgmental pro bodybuilders in this small gym, I found a really suportive community who became my friends, a gym where the owner actually knows my name, and if I’m ever struggling to complete a workout people just yell encouragement across the gym. It’s the best! If I’m ever having a bad day, I go to the gym and it completely lifts me up.”

Just another day in Powerhouse 😀

Of course, this is just my opinion. We don’t need to agree. I encourage you to do what works for you. If you’ve enjoyed this article, thanks for reading and THANKS FOR SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL GYM!


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