The obvious change is the number of gyms that are constantly springing up all over the place. And it’s like anything, if there appears to be a need for something then someone will be there to have a go at filling the need.
But it would seem the considerations for filling the need for gyms doesn’t go past a building and sticking some equipment in it. In other words there doesn’t seem to have been any real thought shown regarding a good wide ranging balance of resistance and free weights. The idea of opening another gym appears to be more a matter of simply catering to the high population growth.
The high increase in numbers of immigrants of all nationalities coming into the country and joining gyms probably make up somewhere between one third to half the membership. And it’s on the rise. If all those new memberships from the very high immigration disappeared, there would not necessarily be the currant demand for new gyms. The immigrants seem to take a greater interest in a moderate level of fitness and strength than the locals so, when they get here, they want to join a gym.
Despite the increased number of gyms and members the overall setup of the gyms has really not changed much, and indeed in some areas whilst they are not going backwards, they are not going forward either. In fact it’s only the presence of the odd very good trainer that can make some observable difference.
Each gym always has its own varied kind of membership although there obviously has to be some overlap as members of a gym will at some stage feel another gym has something better to offer to fill a gap in their personal needs. Although after a while some of them return to the first one.
Change no. 2
The other change is what’s going on inside the gyms. Or rather what’s not going on inside the gyms, and there’s quite a bit of it. And that is a lack of true professionalism amongst the management and staff. A reference was made in an earlier blog entry to Clive Greens Gym situated in Newmarket many years ago. Clive Greens was better than any of the local gyms for hands on management, variety of equipment, and experienced trainers who in the main had competed in some form of bodybuilding and the like.
Also there appears to be a distinct lack of ‘floating trainers’ and that is someone with sufficient experience to be able to assist, where necessary, members with poor technique. The spinoff of this is an increase of members who, through no fault of their own, wouldn’t know technique if they fell over it. This creates a blank in the professional area of the running of the gym. Consequently the gym ends up with a whole lot of members doing their best to build some muscle and increase their fitness level but, without professional guidance to help them on their way.
Unless of course they can get an experienced trainer to help them, which costs money, and the majority of members cannot afford the cost. It goes right back to gym Management to provide some consistent form of technique instruction for those members who have chosen that gym, but can’t afford to pay for a trainer.
This is an area in gyms that badly needs to change but unless the gyms have the right management skills and consideration towards members then don’t hold your breath.
It probably wouldn’t be possible to fit out a gym with a range of equipment to satisfy the needs of every single person at any one time however it may be possible to get close to it.
It’s an area where a combination of available equipment and a highly experienced trainer would prove useful. The trainer can, to a degree, compensate for the lack of equipment but it still might not be quite what’s suited to your individual requirements in order to get the best result
Going in to a gym for the first time there always appears to be enough equipment but it’s not until you’ve done a couple of workouts that you realise there’s stuff missing or certainly not enough of something during peak hours. The peak hours are always a good test of a so called well equipped gym and truly experienced staff in combination.
The most used equipment would have to be the machines despite the fact the free weights, used with the proper technique, can give an equal, and sometimes, better result. Squat racks get a fair bit of use simply because it’s the best all round exercise for legs. The new rubber plates, mainly used for squats, that are now commonly used and are interesting as they are big plates but it’s deceiving because in actual fact they are very light. Some members like to use them because they give the visual impression they are lifting big but in reality it’s just a big hunk of rubber.
So between the cast iron and the rubber it’s whatever turns your crank. Still, if you need morale more than muscle then maybe the rubber is the way to go.
Multi-Use Cross Over Stands also play a big part in the gym. An up market machine can exercise pecs, delts, triceps, biceps, lats, back, and traps. However not all of the muscle contraction during full range of motion with these machine is as successful as building muscle with free weights but they do have the advantage of a quick ready to go system with the use of various quick to fit attachments. Free weights on their own, with knowledge and training, will allow you to exercise any muscle group and you can expect a good result.
Probably the best way to get all the gear you need would be to belong to more than one gym. You not only get access to a lot more gear, but also the advantage been able to get a greater variation of muscle movements due to the difference in the design set up of machines.
Clive Greens Gym Newmarket Auckland
One of the best equipped and best run gyms in Auckland was Clive Greens in Newmarket about 15 years ago. Even looking at today’s standards it was better managed than at least 9 out of 10 current gyms and an equal to the 10th.
The reason for this was because it was owned and run by Clive Green. Clive had been a body builder in his day plus he was very outgoing and had, a very real, consideration for the members needs. He was regularly going around the gym and having a word with all members at some stage. For Clive it was as much about the needs of the members as it was about making a buck. The gym was loaded with more than enough equipment to satisfy the needs of body builders and plenty of equipment for those coming to a gym for the first time. Included was a ‘circuit’ of resistance machines which is sadly lacking in today’s gyms.
Every year he went off to the States to bring back new equipment. At one stage he had some of the older, but still useful machines, re-powder coated thereby constantly keeping the look of the gym up to scratch.
When I was training for the New Zealand indoor rowing championships I asked Clive if it would be possible to access the gym at an earlier time in order to focus on training with less people around. He didn’t say anything he just took the front door key to the gym off his key ring and handed it to me. Such was his judgment when it came to looking after the members.
Another time he offered to assist me with training. He came in to the gym and for 3 hours we discussed various methods of training along with the offer to help out anytime at no cost. It would be highly unlikely to find such a character owning and or managing one of today’s gyms.
The above is the best you could possibly hope for when looking for a gym offering a great range of equipment, plenty of space, always tidy, and an owner who knows how to look after your fitness and health.
If you’re the type who is mindless to any of that then it probably won’t matter which gym you join. You could just find somewhere with gym equipment and spend some time picking up some weights and putting them down again and then after a couple of months over a couple of beers you can have a think about why nothings changed. However if you do have a mind at all you’ll realise that to achieve a decent level of strength, fitness, and health then a more suitable, across the board, real gym environment, might help.
The numerous boutique style of gym all look the same and are equipped pretty much the same way so if that’s what you want then it’s just a matter of joining the one that’s the closet. It’ll do the job but without the variation of equipment the larger gyms can offer. They are a go to gym, to do your stuff, and leave feeling “Well I did something…just not sure what good its doing for me overall.”
The next ones up are gyms that you probably want to get a free weeks pass and spend as much time as possible there to get a real feel for the atmosphere, the types that go there, and does the management and staff appear to be actively involved in ensuring the members are looked after? It’s not uncommon to see a new member floundering around without a clue of what to do and no one in sight to assist. And look to see if the equipment is put back when finished with. Cost shouldn’t really come in to it. The difference in fees might only amount to a cup of coffee per week. If you want to look after your health and you find a gym that’s right then just pay whatever the fee is and get on with it.
But take a bit of time to choose because if you are serious about your health then you want a gym that matches your personality and physical requirements. It’ll help to ensure the exercises work for you and the result is a good one
Equipment to provide a complete workout for gym members
There is a lot of them and the business of gyms is increasing although generally there doesn’t appear to be much change in the way of new types of equipment coming in. They are really only variations of similar machines in the various gyms and although some are more high tech they are still basically doing the same thing as the older model. Some of the gyms might have older free weights and machines, and new high tech cardio trainers. Others might have the reverse. But having all new equipment right across the board allows a gym description to be touted as having all the latest high tech equipment and so may attract more new members.
The bigger gyms obviously have more equipment and free space between the various resistance machines, benches, combined multi station/crossover stands, and barbell and dumbbell racks. Cardio equipment is Cycles, Treadmills, Rowing machines, and Cross Trainers all of which vary hugely in terms of pre-set programs and screens to match a program. Cycles with screens showing country and town scenes you are passing through are fun and go a long way to help pass the time.
Maybe the new members don’t know the ins and outs of good and not so good gyms until they have been there for 6 months and understand different model the machines, for instance, could vary the range of movement of a specific muscle or muscle group which could also vary their program and make the workout more interesting. Gyms with pre-loaded barbells are great because it take the hassle out of loading and unloading plates. So paying a bit more for a membership at a more suitable gym might give a member a smoother, more beneficial workout.
Every week new types of equipment are coming on the market. Of course most of it is very expensive and definitely out of the range of home gym users and probably even smaller commercial gyms with less members. Hence the gyms that have the biggest range of free weights, machines, cardio equipment and 24/7 access are likely to have more members than the gyms with less. However, at the end of the day, it can still amount to a personal preference. Of course an experienced and focused trainer can, to a degree, overcome some of the lack of equipment simply using knowledge gained from years in the industry.
All of the gyms have a trainer or trainers whose experience can range from just out of a training facility to many years of experience across a wide range of types of training. It’s really about finding a gym with the right gear and a trainer who can assist according to your individual, specific, needs.
Choosing a gym according to equipment, cost, and your personality.