T Nation

Different Gym, Different Results?

My gym’s gone through a lot of changes since I first started there about 9 years ago. Back then, there were more powerlifters chalking up and just bigger guys there in general. As the neighborhood changed, so did the gym. It’s definitely become more of a yuppy fitness center.

Really nice people, not a lot of attitude, but no one there is really putting up big numbers or has an inspirational physique. Now, at 225lbs, I’m one of the 5 biggest guys in the place.

Over the last year they have also changed out equipment. Gone is the decline bench and the t-bar row. Some not-so-great machines have taken their place. There is no power rack. There is one squat rack. The DBs only go up to 120.

Now, I’m not a believer that you need a lot of equipment to get a good workout. This place certainly has most of the basics. Sure I wish they would bring the old stuff back and get heavier DB’s, but I’ve made a lot of progress with what is there.

So, my question is, how much of your results do you attribute to the environment you work out in. Does training around guys who are better than you make you strive to get that much better? Does having plate-loaded machines rather than some Life Fitness crap really effect your workouts?

I’d love to hear from the experienced guys on this. Every gym has it’s drawbacks, but how related is/was your gym experience to your results? Does the external as much of a factor in pushing harder than internal drive?

I’ve been working out since April of this year mostly by myself. Every once in a while I’ll have someone working out with me but for the majority of the time I have done it alone and haven’t missed more than a day or two at a time. It’s not that hard for me to motivate myself, I think it depends on why you do it and how important it is to you.

I train at three different gyms - one regular community rec center, and two that are PL-centric. Every PR has been at one of the PL gyms. I think working with people who are stronger, bigger, more experienced, etc., makes a huge difference for me.

I work out at a rec. center, which has a lot of distractions. It’s filled with high school kids, and older people who’ve decided to try working out first and educating themselves later, if ever.

We’ve been getting our equipment replaced too, and I’ve used the change to re-devote myself to lifting good 'ole DB’s and barbells. Most machines I’ve tried don’t follow anywhere close to a natural movement. I’m also one of the guys with “high numbers”, so I don’t get messed with much. If they take our last squat rack, I’m out.

Stick with it man, don’t let it deter you from your goals.

Being at my current gym has not deterred me from my goals at all. I’m still consistently training 5x a week and making progress. I’m just wondering what the correlation is between training around more experienced/advanced lifters and training intensity/progress.

For instance, I used to play a lot of basketball. Playing against stronger players made me a much better basketball player because I had to work harder to keep up on the court and I learned a lot more just from playing/watching these guys.

Does this same type of intensity/learning carry over into the gym? Even though lifting is more of an individual endeavor, I think being around that type of energy (intense, knowledgeable) has to have some effect.

I totally get what you mean. Years ago, I was just some kid who had made some progress, while striving to reahc that all elusive 200 lbs. Now, years later, I’m the guy who every high school kids thinks he needs to go to with questions,… sometimes while I’ve got my headphones blaring, and in the middle of a set (what are these morons thinking when they start talking as I’m actually lifting the weight?!).

While at least 90% of the memebers in my current gym are idiots, you will always find the few hardcore dedicated who will inspire each other. They may not always be bigger or stronger than you, but intensity is contageous. My current training partner is bulking, while I’m cutting, and the ability to be brutally (BRUTALLY-lol) honest with each other is incredibly valuable, moreso than seeing some really big dude on the other side of the gym.

Does the equipment really matter? In my humble opinion, it just gives you more variety when you start getting stale. Is it better then the basics? IN most cases no, but when something’s hurting, or you’re coming of an injury (at my age), I’m glad for the strange machines they keep buying.


I hear ya, Stu. Strange machines? Yes. Are they any good? Not really. I really like Hammer Strength Machines and there are others that I have come across that have been very useful. Would LOVE if they would have brought in some of those.

The ones they have brought in are kinda rinky-dink. For instance, they brought in a “dip machine”. It goes up to 150lbs. Unless I am looking to do 50 rep sets, I’m not sure what the benefit of this machine is for me.

This wouldn’t be that big a deal, but as a fellow NYC guy, you know how tight these gyms are packed. So they’ve gotten rid of some good, basic equipment in order to appease what I imagine has become the “average” customer.

As I said earlier, there aren’t very many ‘idiots’ at my gym. Most people are pretty cool and respectful. They just don’t train that intensely or get very good results. It’s hard to see your gym turn from a band of brothers as it once was to a yuppy fitness center it is now.

Ironically, when the big guys were going to this gym, I was the pudgy, weak guy who didn’t quite belong there.