The Modern “Gym”


Anyone who reads this site regularly knows how much I hate 99% of all public gyms. It’s just not really my scene. Plus they never have the stuff I want and always have too much of the stuff I don’t want.

I found this piece by Stuart McRobert which echoes my sentiments (and probably yours) and thought it was awesome so I’m sharing it here:

“This gym is all appearance and no substance. It is only because we have a lot of fancy-looking equipment that we impress everyone who knows little or nothing about training. Because we have spent a lot of money on marginal, useless and sometimes dangerous equipment we must encourage our members to use it. We never encourage the old-fashioned basic exercises. In fact, to save you from being tempted to use the latter, you will never find a power rack or lifting platform here, and the squat racks we have are flimsy and unused. Who on earth wants to squat? Too much like hard work. Our instructors are as useless as we are, though some of them have very good physiques due to excellence genetics and/ or use of steroids.

To deter you from using the time-proven most productive (but most uncomfortable) exercises, we have joined ranks with other gyms to perpetuate the hokum that basic barbell exercises are dangerous and, at best, only useful for beginners who are not fortunate enough to train in a modern well-equipped gym like ours. This is convenient for us though, because we barely know the first thing of instructing safe and productive technique in the biggest and best barbell exercises. We promote the idea that you need a wide variety of isolation and machine exercises in every workout.

We make exercise fun. You can watch yourself in the many mirrors we have, listen to music we entertain you with, talk while you train, and ogle the skimpily clad bodies of the genetically blessed, sensual female instructors we employ to keep you interested in renewing your membership. Training here is fun, and fun means lots of members, though few of them stay long term. We depend on a constant influx of new members to make a profit.

Welcome to this gym. We promise we will not push you hard, and we hope you will enjoy your time here. That is, you will enjoy it until you realize that the methods we promote will not help make you big and strong unless you have fantastic genetics or are pumped up on gear. Or like our regulars you will decide to forget about getting big and strong, and come here only for social contacts and visual kicks. Welcome to our gym!”

Sadly, Stuart was describing the majority of all gyms on the planet. And unfortunately it’s only getting worse.

That’s all I got.

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27 Responses to The Modern “Gym”

  1. John Phung July 30, 2011 at 2:39 am #

    This description is true for gyms even in Bangkok, Thailand! (Trained at a commercial gym there for a year).

    From my experience, there is a plus side with modern gyms. Because there are so many mirrors, machines, cardio equipment, TV’s, classes and other distractions, most members will spend their time away from the squat rack or power rack.

    Since the squat rack/power racks are rarely used, I usually have it all to myself without having to wait for anyone to finish their sets.

  2. Jeff (Quinner) July 30, 2011 at 6:40 am #

    This is 100% why I built a gym in my basement!

  3. Julio G. July 30, 2011 at 8:01 am #

    In my gym there are loads of places to do barbell curls but only 1 Squat Rack… and I often find myself waiting for others to finish their curls in the squat rack before I can squat, they even try to tell me to remain always over parallel when they see me warming up; “You will end up with tendinitis cuz of (this) and (that)…” but when they’re squatting the only thing you can think of is “You will end up breaking something”.

  4. Gianni July 30, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    The gym I attend is actually cool, they cater for all, even ordered a trap bar once I asked them. Its getting a little trendier to train “old skool” now, although i’m not actually sure if thats for the better seeing some of them. Now there is more idiots in my way! i’ll echo Julio, f***ers doing curls in the squat rack makes me froth at the mouth crazy!

  5. Jason Carrillo July 30, 2011 at 10:38 am #

    Even most Personal Training gyms/studios dont have a power rack, they use a Smith. People pay a shit ton of money to be put on equipment thats probably not gonna do what they need or want. Thats why I had to put my own place together. Its in my garage for now but I pretty much have most of what I need to train people right.

  6. RobA2345 July 30, 2011 at 10:57 am #

    My gym sucks but they do have a squat rack and it’s almost always free, in fact, I’m pretty p*ssed when it isn’t, how dare some maggot use the squat rack here!

    Best gym I’ve trained at hands down was a Les Mills gym in Auckland NZ, not one dumbell left on the floor, no music, plenty of room, plenty of racks with an emphisis on strength, spotless. Made me loath my gym even more.

  7. Marcos Torres July 30, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    A local commercial bodybuilding gym closed down in town and starting to get an influx of brosephs. I mainly train on a platform in the gym with a half rack attached fingers crossed they don’t figure out thats everything you need.

  8. Koosh July 30, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    too funny to read this as I was hemming and hawing in the Inner circle whether or not to pull the trigger on a Power Rack for the basement. This sealed that deal!
    Gyms are basically disco’s without the booze now

  9. E.J. Apostrophe July 30, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    Sadly, this “Adonis gym” you are describing even existed and probably still is in military gyms as well. If gyms were more crafted like the old school days and dare I say without mirrors (only have one in the bathroom – that’s it), concentration levels could go up tremendously and real workouts could take place.

  10. AJ July 30, 2011 at 11:26 pm #

    You can’t put that into words. Sends chills down my spine. Amazing post.

  11. Jonny July 31, 2011 at 2:46 am #

    Absolutely awesome post. Couldn’t be more true. Thinking I may have to print this out, and sneak it into my local gyms marketting material

  12. Jason July 31, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

    When I moved to Atlanta I was looking for a place to workout. I found a gym that was’t too busy and close. Anyway they bough a platform so I got pretty excited. Months passed and there was no bumper plates, or olympic bar. Not sure what their thought was there.

    The platform did get used, it was funny though to see people look at it and wonder what it was then do some sort of exercise on it.

    Wasn’t soon after that and i opened up my own gym. Much happier now.

  13. Carl August 1, 2011 at 12:27 am #

    Aint that the truth!!

    I’ve given up on gyms for the past 3 months or so and concentrated on home workouts with minimal equipment (chin up bar, kettlebells, ab roller) topped off with lots of bodyweight work and occassional sprints.

    Even in a big, diverse city like London finding a decent gym that is focused on performance (and doesn’t cost the earth to become a member) is difficult.

    The only thing I really miss is the heavier weights for leg work and those scantily clad female instructors!

  14. Jorge August 1, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

    That describes exactly what my gym is, and im from Peru. It is one of the most (if not THE most) commercial gyms worldwide, it starts with a G. Im not even gonna say it, ive wasted a year and hundreds of dollars. But not anymore, im sticking with your maximum mass program.
    Thanks Jay

  15. Dilan August 2, 2011 at 7:54 am #

    This describes every gym in the UK. Ironically, one of the biggest chains is called LA Fitness, named after a place where everyone supposedly looks great. Go in the gym though, you get fatasses on treadmills (fat hamsters).

  16. Ollie Chapman August 2, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    Sadly so true, when I went to a regular gym a few months back, I realised just how bad they are and what a horrible place they are to work out in, no wonder people never get any results.

  17. JONESY August 3, 2011 at 6:20 am #

    Great Read this is why I train in 2 different gyms YESSSSSSSSSSSSS GET IT DONE!

  18. Alex August 5, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    On the old fashioned hardcore gym i train in, the biggest wall, the one you have to look at when you enter, has written in huge letters “THIS IS NOT AN HEALTH CLUB”, if you dont want to sweat and scream your heart out bellow a loaded bar, than that is not the place for you.. i think that rounds it up..
    For my cardio, swimming and stretching i have to go to another gym..
    2 memberships but quite worth it.

  19. Tommy H August 8, 2011 at 4:27 am #

    The other day me and my friend was using the squat rack (we are currently following Jason’s Muscle Gaining Secrets, awesome read)and

    I overheard a guy from management say
    “in the old gym I managed we had two of those (points to smith machine) I didn’t see any benefits to people using this (Points to the sqaut rack) The guy was one of those hipster sized kids who are skinny with no muscle…. yet he gets to say what works and what doesn’t…

    Also I was preparing to set a PR on deadlifts. With the recommendation from jason and other sites saying barefoot is best, I had been using that method for two months, constantly beating my PR each week by half a kg increments.

    As I was about to lift, girl runs over “excuse sir can you put your shoes on? your breaking health and safety, you could get seriously injured” I would get seriously injured if the weights weren’t 2 foot away from me feet and even if I was wearing trainers, I doubt they would prevent major damage from falling 80KG plates

    Also so many people just concentrate on the T-shirt Muscles with bad form!

    and the last but not least, how the freaking hell are you supposed to lift heavy ass weights to bruno mars or james blunt????

    Jason You need to franchise in the uk, I would be there straight away!

  20. Tommy H August 8, 2011 at 4:29 am #

    Sorry not half a kg I meant 5 kg, we use 10kg plates and if there’s any not being used on the smith machine, 20kg plates…

  21. serg August 9, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    yes i read this on beyond brawn, by the way it is an excellent book. this book has change my mind in terms of training and bodybuilding.

  22. Clint - Crude Fitness August 17, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

    Great post mate. Couldn’t agree more.
    My gym always has a vacant squat rack. Lucky for me when it’s leg day!

  23. Cassie August 20, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    Catch-22 for me. I’m depressed that more people aren’t training properly, but happy that the few pieces of equipment I need to use are always free.

    Usually I just grab a cage and do my entire workout in 1/2 the time it takes the meatheads who waste their time and gains sitting around on benches, drooling over the handful of females who chose to actually set foot in the weight room.

  24. Niko August 31, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

    For the very reasons in the article I tend to train in my home gym ‘The Pit’. When I do get a chance to train in a commercial gym nothing pisses me off more than waiting for someone to finished doing their bicep curls in the squat rack. WTF.

  25. Till February 10, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    gym rat (performing front raises with five pound chrome dumbbells) “Isn’t that really bad for your back?” Me (performing low rep power cleans) *grunt*

  26. StrengthAlchemist October 13, 2012 at 1:24 am #

    I just started going back to the college gym that seems to be the only place in my area to do decent training. I was happy to find other people training that didn’t suck. WTF?! People are actually doing heavy squats, deads, cleans, etc? Loud fucking hardcore music?! Yes!! I wanted to go around hugging people with tears of joy!!! Of course I didn’t; don’t be stupid. But I was inspired to put up some great numbers, have some confidence in the spotting, and enjoy the training talk. Now all I need are clouds of chalk.

  27. Lugo August 15, 2013 at 10:49 am #

    Man, I have laughed my guts out!! It is so true. This is the reason I train at home. I really wonder why people go to those places. To do what, exactly? Now, I give them this: chicks are hot!! Ja, ja.