Here’s why it’s important to support your local gym.

Should You Join A 24/7 Gym Or A Local Gym?

Written by Russ Howe PTI, and most recently updated 1 day ago.

5 min read

One of my social media followers asked me this question yesterday:

“Hey Russ, I’ve just moved to a new area and I’m looking for the best place to train. Should I go to one of the big franchises, or try a local gym?”

My opinion is that if you have a job which restricts you to working out in the middle of the night then a 24/7 gym is certainly better than nothing, but in all other circumstances you should support your local gym.

Have You Ever Seen ‘Dodgeball’?

Go watch it.

This comedy movie focuses on the fortunes of two rival gyms: Glogo Gym vs Average Joe’s.

Globo Gym is purely focused on the bottom line, and it’s full of cool people and expensive machines. On the other side of the road we have Average Joe’s, which cannot compete against the riches of its neighbour, but does a fantastic job of making its members feel like part of the family.

When you watch the movie it becomes pretty clear that Average Joe’s is the better place.

But here’s the weird thing…

People often mistakenly associate their big franchise gym with Average Joe’s, and their small local gyms with Globo Gym, but it’s the other way around!

Your small local gym is Average Joe’s. These places are super friendly, un-judgmental gyms where the members make up the foundation of the business. They’re usually family-run businesses, too, and it’s somewhat satisfying to know that your monthly membership fee is making a difference to a family, as opposed to just being pumped into the account of a faceless corporation who don’t even know that you go there.

The men and women who own these small facilities are the mavericks of the fitness industry. We need to protect them at all costs, because these are the guys who went “all in” on their dreams, and they will be the same ones who inevitably take this industry forward.

Thinking back to the lockdown period in 2020, my small local gym actually let members take sets of dumbbells and machines home with them to help them stay in shape. You just don’t get that type of interaction at big franchises.

While preparing this article I asked a few clients to share their thoughts on this topic. This one from Alethea hit the nail on the head:

“When I wanted to start exercising I instinctively joined the (24/7 gym who I refuse to give free publicity to) in my city, because I just presumed the smaller local gyms were more for expert bodybuilder types as opposed to normal people like me.

It was a big mistake.

I went to that gym for over two years and nobody ever spoke to me. The reason I ended up leaving was because I was struggling to figure out how to work a machine and I heard a couple of ‘mean girls’ sniggering at me. That gave me the push to walk up to the bodybuilding-type gym further up the road, and it’s one of the best things I ever did!

It wasn’t what I was expecting it to be. Within just a couple of days of going there the manager knew my name and welcomed me in every time, there was a friendly atmosphere, and other members of the gym even shouted encouragement when I was struggling on a bike. It’s literally the best, my only regret is that I delayed signing up for so long.”

Better Trainers & Higher Quality Equipment

powerhouse gym south shields

Maybe I’ll upset some people here, but it’s unintentional.

The reason I believe that you’ll generally find higher quality personal trainers in your local gym is because franchise gyms openly target newbie trainers who are just starting out. Most of these new PTs fail to make the grade, but the ones who do become successful quickly realize they’re being charged extortionate fees to run their business from the gym and relocate elsewhere. These successful PTs are the ones who own your small local gyms.

And then there’s the gym itself…

Franchise gyms look sleek because all of the kit matches, but you’ll generally find higher quality equipment in small local gyms. There are two reasons for this. The first is because they buy stuff which lasts forever because they can’t afford to constantly fix and replace things (e.g. my current gym still uses most of the same equipment from when I joined in 2013), and the second reason is because they need to be more niche in order to survive. By that, I mean you’ll generally find superior bodybuilding equipment in an old-school bodybuilding gym, and the same goes for CrossFit, powerlifting, and so on.

I regret not realizing that sooner.

Back in my teenage years, the equipment which I thought looked “old” was actually world fucking class. That busted up old gym had Nautilus machines from the 1970s (worth a fortune now!), and they moved like a dream, but I just didn’t understand.

What an utter cock taboggan I was.

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I’m Russ. I’ve been a personal trainer since 2002, and I own

My job is to simplify fitness for my readers.

I send out free fitness tips to over 100,000 men and women every week, all in the same no-nonsense style as the article you’ve just read, so if you enjoyed reading it be sure to jump on my email list below.

2 responses to “Should You Join A 24/7 Gym Or A Local Gym?”

  1. Polly avatar

    You’re great. Learn from you!

  2. Mark P avatar
    Mark P

    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.

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