Russ Howe PTI's Dropset City

Time to read:

5 minutes

Should You Join A Franchise Gym Or A Local Gym?

Should you join a big franchise gym in the city or the small independent gym nearby? Here’s your answer!

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 place to train. Should I choose one of the big franchises or try a local gym?”

This is a question I’ve been asked many times over the years, and my answer is always the same: choose a local gym!

Today I’m going to explain why.

Have You Ever Seen ‘Dodgeball’?

Go watch it.

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

Globo Gym is choc-full of big orange motherf**kers, it’s always focused on the bottom line, and it generally treats its members like dirt. On the other side of the road, Average Joe’s gym embraces its own weirdness, and the oddball members are the foundation of the business.

We all prefer Average Joe’s because it’s friendlier and more fun.

And here’s where things get strange…

When we think about joining a small local gym, we link it to Globo Gym and say things like, “I can’t go there, it’ll be full of meatheads!”, and we run to the familiarity of a franchise gym instead.

And that is wrong.

In reality your small local gym is Average Joe’s. It’s a bunch of people who are just like you, who all support eachother, and just enjoy training.

And that’s why I love them!

I love that I can go to my local gym wearing my imperfect clothes, smash my body to pieces, have a bit of a laugh with people, and carry on with my day. There aren’t any out of control ego’s, nor those c**ts who slyly video others just to shame them on social media. It’s a nice place to be.

Anyway, when I was writing this article I asked a few clients for to share their own thoughts on this topic, and this one from Alethea (you might recognize her transformation pic on the homepage) stood out. Check it out:

“I went to (popular 24/7 gym which I refuse to give any free publicity to) and I hated it. Not a single person spoke to me in two years – staff or members – and I felt pretty lost.

On my final day there two women sniggered at me because I didn’t know how to use one of the machines, and I just felt mortified!

So I plucked up the courage to walk into the serious-looking bodybuilding gym located up the road, and it wasn’t what I was expecting at all! I was expecting to find a bunch of pro bodybuilders and ripped models but no, it’s not like that. The other members are my friends, and the gym owner actually knows my name. People come over and encourage me if I’m struggling, it’s just the best!”

The gym she’s referring to here is Powerhouse Gym South Shields, where I used to work as a PT, and it really is like that.

Heck, the owner of that gym even let his members freely take equipment home during the 2020 lockdown to help them stay in shape while isolating. A total legend.

powerhouse gym south shields

Better Equipment & Better Personal Trainers?

The first time I visited a small gym I didn’t appreciate it.

I wish I could go back and give myself a slap for doing that.

The equipment which I thought looked “old” and “weird” was actually top class stuff, but I didn’t know! There were Nautilus machines from the 70s which moved like an absolute dream, yet I was more impressed by the modern equipment up the road so I went there.

What a c**k-toboggan.

All these years later, I can confirm that you’ll find much better (and sturdier) equipment in smaller gyms and there are two reasons for this.

The first is because they cannot afford to constantly replace kit, so they tend to buy things which last forever (e.g. my current gym still has most of the same kit it had when I first arrived here in 2013!), and the second reason is because they need to be more niche in order to survive. By that, I mean even though these places are much smaller businesses you’ll generally find superior strength training equipment in a dedicated strength training facility, and the same goes for bodybuilding equipment, CrossFit, and so on.

Perhaps this also applies to 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 corporate gyms have what is essentially a revolving door of personal trainers who are fresh off their courses. The best of these trainers will go on to hone their crafts and build their client bases, and then move to their own facility (small local gyms)!

By the time most people find them, they’ve already collected all of this experience and expertise.

I believe that the men and women who own these smaller gyms are the mavericks of the fitness industry, and we should protect them at all costs. I mean, I have no doubt that most of you reading this absolutely love training, but have you ever loved it so much you bought equipment and opened a workout space to the public? Wowza. Training literally consumes them. It takes insane passion to do that, and I respect it.

Plus, from a personal standpoint, there is something incredibly self-rewarding about paying your membership money and seeing that the person is genuinely happy to have you going there, and knowing that you are supporting a real family, as opposed to dropping another few pounds into the offshore account of some faceless corporation which doesn’t even know your name despite the fact you go there for two hours every day.

Heck, it’s not too far away from the reason why you use my workout programs instead of joining some bland bulls**t like, right?

So go find a local gym and support your community while building your best body!

Who Is Russ Howe PTI?

russ howe pti

As featured in Men’s Fitness magazine and voted in the world’s top 50 fat loss coaches by HuffPost, Russ is among the UK’s most subscribed personal trainers with 105,223 men and women receiving his free weekly fitness tips e-mail.

In the gym, clients range from busy parents, to models, to athletes and actresses. Russ also worked alongside the UK government for 8 years in a venture combating childhood obesity in England.

Outside of the gym, he’s a proud Dad to three young lads.

You can receive free tips by joining the e-mail list above, or you can hit the big button below to unlock full workout programs!


2 responses to “Should You Join A Franchise Gym Or A Local Gym?”

  1. Hey Russ! As the proud owner of a small gym, I want to thank you for doing this post. Everything you say here is similar to what I hear from our members, particularly about the more supportive atmosphere. Great work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

russ howe pti programs

Grab a membership to have access to all training programs, diet plans, supplement research and the famous Daily Trainer workouts from Russ!

Click here to see more.

russ howe pti musclefood live clean

I’ve partnered with Musclefood to make meal prep easier than ever. Tell ’em your calorie goal and they’ll send your entire diet to your door. Bosh!

Click here to see more.

  • How To Get In Photoshoot Shape In 2 Months

    In this article I’m going to give you a quick and easy nutrition plan you can use to whip yourself into photoshoot shape in just 8 short weeks.

    Click Here To Read

  • The Rules To Ripped

    These ten tips will help you to lay the foundations of a rock solid body transformation. I call them “The Rules To Ripped”.

    Click Here To Read


    What is the best pre workout of 2020? Don’t waste your money – it’s time for The Russ List 2020, my yearly breakdown of the best pre workout supplements!

    Click Here To Read

  • How To Make Your Own Pre Workout Supplement

    Want to learn how to make your own pre workout from scratch? This guide teaches you the four ingredients you’ll need.

    Click Here To Read

  • How Much Volume Do You Need For Muscle Growth?

    Explode your results by hitting each muscle group with the correct amount of volume to grow.

    Click Here To Read

  • Did You Spot These 4 Easter Eggs?

    There are several little Easter eggs built into which most readers never notice.

    Click Here To Read

  • Why Arnold Is Still The Best Bodybuilder

    Many people are hailing Chris Bumstead as the greatest bodybuilder of all time. Here’s my take on why Arnold is still #1.

    Click Here To Read

  • Creatine Myths Busted!

    There are many myths surrounding creatine and it’s potential side effects. This article addresses them one by one.

    Click Here To Read

  • Eating Fat Won’t Make You Fat

    Fat was demonized in the 1980s and is still misunderstood today. Here’s the science on optimizing your fat intake for results.

    Click Here To Read

  • Eat More Protein For Muscle Growth

    How much protein should you eat per day to build muscle? More than most people do. Here’s the lowdown on protein requirements for athletes.

    Click Here To Read

  • Omega-3: Behold The Alpha Omegas!

    Omega-3 supplements are an afterthought for most people, but more fool them!

    Click Here To Read

  • Ashwagandha: The Stress-Busting Fat Burner?

    You want a supplement which can reduce stress, boost fat loss and give you better sleep? You got it!

    Click Here To Read