T Nation

Choosing Between Two Gyms


#1

I finally went and checked out two local, very convenient and VERY different gyms this evening and was hoping for some advice on which to go with.

I have been on and off with gyms in the past and would like to finally settle down for a bit, get my shit togeter and hit the weights to help fix my messed up left shoulder (torn labrum from a few months back and i hoping nothing else ie torn rotator after the fact because i kept abusing it without strength the smaller muscles), get my posture on track and, of course, put on some muscle and get into healthy habits that i can continue with for the rest of my life (26 years old now).

My gut tells me as beginner i do not need much in the way of equpiment to make steady progress and my wallet tells me about 50 bucks for a gym is my current limit, so here it goes.....

Gym #1 is actually a fitness room in a state park in my neighboorhood. Of interest, it has free weights, a lat pull down machine with attachments, a couple of adjustable benches olympic bar and plates and a serperate room with a bunch of stabilty balls and bromsticks. The vibe was chill with normal folks working out and it was very spacious.

It also has a huge olympic running track and astro turf right outside which i inagine would be pretty awesome to warm up on and do jogging should i want. the only thing that seemed like and issue was no squat rack or bench press and the lack of a back extension (although i could use the stabilty balls and some craft for these, i assume)and i do not remeber seeing a pull up bar (although realy, fat boy pull ups on the smith machine will prolly suffice until my shoulder is feeling better). All in all it reminded me of my high school weight rrom which i kind of like and the price is very right: $50 for 3 months!

Gym#2 was typical commercial gym with old, oudated and rocketed equipiment. it was cramped, crowded and full of EVERY sterotype i have ever read about on this site and others...Curls in the squat rack, women with sweatsuits on, guys squating in the smith machine while talking to their buddies, half the gym had on weight belts, groups of guys with the lat pulldown FULLY stacked and using their entire body to pull it partially down.

Actually, it was all pretty funny (i did not think this stuff really happens) really but on the plus they DO have a squat rack with pins, back extension some med balls and of course a bench press. It costs $50 bucks a month.

Okay, i think after writing this which of the two TYPES of gyms i'd rather go to (the one with an olympic track outside, tons of space and a chill vibe...Yeah, why not?) So i guess my question is, do i REALLY need a squat rack right now? is it so important to me, as a beginner that it is worth going to this other gym or should i say screw it, pull a Dan John and pull from the floor should i need too?

Let me know what you all think.


#2

I vote the first one. Hell, Id pay to be allowed access to an olympic track the fact that is has a decent weight room next to it is just a perk in my eyes but I also consider myself a decent runner. Plus, the other gym has all the guys you dont want giving you advice and you know they would try.


#3

If your schedule doesn't allow you to train at unusual hours or you simply don't want to, the other people which you will be sharing 'your' gym with are way more important than equipment.


#4

you could alway improvise a squat routine. try putting a relativly light weight on your back and do 20+ reps (you can do that without a squat rack) or you could do a suitcase style squat (dumb bell in each hand) or (whilst hiding my face with my hand) you could just do leg presses till they stop giving you progress.


#5

Personally, I pick equipment over aesthetics. Squat rack and half decent benches are paramount. I would pick #2.


#6

I agree


#7

You could do hacksquats, power clean the bar and do front squats and deadlift alot and you could do without the squatrack for a while. Besides that 100 $ you are saving could go for good food/supps etc.

Go with number 1 :slight_smile:


#8

Damn, i cannot decide.
Regarding #2, a squat rack and a decent bench does seem key and some of you said and with that i can deal with others in the gym and the dumpiness of it (which really is a non-issue for me period).
What does concern about the gym is it is very crowded at the time i would go and there is really no where to comfortable warm up with any kind stretching/mobilty work which is apparently a foreign concept to most there (the stares i got doing leg swings while waiting for the guy to finish curling in the rack....classic). The other concern is of myself; i want to bench (i really want to give the Starting Strength program a solid run)and squat, no doubt. But my shoulder still bugs me and i am not sure if benching would even be good for it right now (although if i do my other shoulder work it may not be an issue, and even help?)
And as for squats, i have had this nagging pain/weakness in my left hip (near the head of the femur, i believe) which apparently bothers me to the point where if i am sitting i cannot raise me leg fully to cross it over the other one. I kind of need to give it a "lift" with my hands. Yesterday when i started to warm up with an empty bar it definetly hurt a bit and when the set was done it sort of really hurt to the point where i ditched the rest of my sets and did some rack pulls instead. I can do single leg stuff fine with no pain (bulgarian split squats, lunges, step-ups etc)but something about squatting down really irritates whatever is going on there and i am not sure what it is (this all developed a few months back after an acute injury where that side of my hip swoll up BIG TIME like there was a ball beneath my skin . When i woke up the next morning with the swelling my leg was rotated inward as i walked, it was nuts. While i am on the topic and off my main one,, anyone have any idea what could be going on with this?). I do not feel the movement in my legs really but in my hip joint. With that said, i dont even know if i should be doing standard squats right now anyhow making the rack, and the bench, somewhat unnecesary at this time.
If i went with #1 i would do mostly single leg stuff with dumbells, i guess i would clear from the floor and front squat, DL and RDL's, bench with DB's or floor press and do my back extensions and crunch of a stability ball.
I know everyone is all about "big" exercises (chins, back squat and benching although i think i can DL without issues) and i am too, but i dont think i can do them right now. Would using the ones i had listed give me good gains as well if i busted ass on them and progressed consistently?
I am not trying to be a powerlifter or bodybuilder but do want to get strong and put on some good size with it. I currently hover around 180 pounds or so at 6'2'' and would like to get to 200 of pretty solid mass and hang out there for a bit. If i eat right, sleep good but forgo the big ones until everything (shoulder and hip thing)is in check-back squat, barbell bench and chins/dips-can i still get solid results?
Thanks for the advice so far any other is appreciated as i am stuck in on my decision.
Chris


#9

I would never pay for a gym without a squat rack.


#10

What are your goals?
If you wanna powerlift, gym 2
If you wanna olympic lift, gym 1
If you wanna bodybuild, I dunno, gym 1 would probably work.
If you wanna join a frat, pump up your gunz, and hit the clubs, gym 2


#11

Well, joining a frat and hitting the clubs with gunz blazin' does sound fun....
Just want to get into a routine and get some basic size/strength/definition for sport and health. Again, just do not want not make gains in these areas because there is no squat rack.


#12

After giving it some thought i think i will give #2 a shot since it is $50 for 3 months...If after a month it is just not working then it would be no different than if i joined the other first.

With that said, considering the equipment i will have access to i need a routine around it (no Starting Strength just yet). Any thought son this? I was thinking of a simple a-b full body split like:
A
DB bench
face pull
single leg squat
RDL

B
Overhead press (prolly DB until my shoulders balance out)
inverted rows
front squat (as long as the hip dont click)
reverse lunge or single leg rdl

I'll add in some "core" stuff and my shoulder work throughout or towards the end and of course some bicep curls for the gunz (or other small accessory work at the end if i have energy).
Could this program get some good size/strength gains if give it my all?


#13

I think you should definately get some olympic lifts or deadlifts in if your not gonna have access to a squat rack. If you don't know how, there are lots of good articles on technique here.