When I first started weightlifting there were barely any gyms where I could train. I even got kicked out of a few gyms from dropping weights back when the public knew nothing about Olympic lifting. These days it’s much easier to find gyms to do Olympic lifting with gyms such as CrossFit gyms, Powerlifting gyms, Strength and Conditioning gyms, High-Performance gyms, etc (let’s just call them ‘performance gyms’). But are these gyms really that good?
While on the surface performance gyms are great: bumper weights, platforms, a community of lifters that aren’t stupid enough to walk behind you while you go for a heavy clean and jerk… There are still several disadvantages to these gyms that many people don’t talk about.
Just an example of what you have to deal with training in commercial gyms
Commercial gyms these days have changed so much compared to a few years ago. When I first started there was no such thing as bumper weights in random gyms, now these days it’s commonplace to find bumper plates in most gyms. Some commercial gyms even have weightlifting platforms, power racks and basically all the equipment you need to become a world champion.
In this article, I want to go over why I prefer commercial gyms.
This is the number 1 reason I prefer commercial gyms over performance gyms. Crossfit gyms, weightlifting gyms, etc usually have terrible opening hours, especially on weekends. Most of them close on Sundays which is a day when most people have a lot of time to train and they usually only open for a few hours on Saturdays. Commercial gyms have great opening hours on both weekdays, weekends and holidays, some are even open 24 hours.
However, if you’re good friends with the owner of a performance gym, they may allow you to train when the gym is closed, but this also depends on who you are which bring me to my next point.
Who are you?
If you’re like me, someone with a big social media following you’ll have a much easier time getting access to performance gyms. Several times I’ve been invited to train for free in certain gyms. I don’t take pride in this at all though in fact I hate it and I always offer to pay.
If you’re just a random person, it’s hard to get access to a performance gym to just do your own training. Some only offer classes and there’s no such thing as an open gym. Even though performance gyms usually have better equipment for weightlifting and powerlifting, they’re useless if you can’t even train, you’d be best off joining a commercial gym where everyone is treated equally.
Another thing I noticed with performance gyms is that there’s always some drama. They don’t allow some people to train in their gym because they are part of ‘X’ club. There are several gyms I wouldn’t dare enter because I know people hate me there.
Performance gyms are more expensive
And this is a big reason I don’t like performance gyms, they are expensive. Sometimes they can even be triple the price you pay for commercial gyms. With some CrossFit gyms, they don’t offer normal memberships (only offering membership with classes) so you have to make a deal with the owner. Another negative is that you’ll be paying triple the price for a poorer facility, usually in a broken-down warehouse or shed with no air conditioning or heating. Most performance gyms also have cheap homemade equipment compared to expensive equipment in commercial gyms so it makes little sense why they charge so much.
Performance gyms are harder to access
One thing that annoys me is when I want to train in a weightlifting or CrossFit gym I have to get in contact with the owner and ask if it’s OK to train and then we have to work out a deal on how much I pay, what time I can train, whether I can bring a friend, etc. it’s a pain in the ass of a process. With Commercial gyms, you just walk up to the reception desk or kiosk, sign a form, pay and then enter the gym.
To give you an example, there’s a superb university gym in the city I live in. They have Eleiko weights, platforms, blocks, pretty much everything you need and they don’t allow the public to access it, they only allow ‘team training’ a few times a week. It’s utter dog shit.
Benefits of performance gyms
There are benefits to joining a performance gym. If you want in-person coaching they typically offer some, it’s rare to see powerlifting or weightlifting personal training offered in commercial gyms. Also in commercial gyms you can get in trouble for filming or dropping weights, performance gyms have less strict rules.
Right now I’m moving house and I’m looking for gyms to train in. Even though I’m coming across multiple CrossFit and Weightlifting gyms, I always check the opening hours, the price per month and whether I can access the gym. These are important things you have to check before you get excited about joining a performance gym.