T Nation

What Would Bring You Into a Gym?


Say you were looking for a new gym, what persay would the average person look for. Let's say the top three things you look for!?

If you are not the typical gym goer, please guess what they look for. As people such as powerlifters are not the norm in most gyms and I'm interested in what the majority feels are the most important aspects.

Thanks :slight_smile:


Location Price People


Huh? you are asking non-normal gym goers what normal gym goers are after?

what I look for:
barbells and lots of place to use it
gym looks like a place where I can lift heavy, drop weights and generally try to be hardcore

what an average-beanpole-or-lardass would look for:
lots of sparkly machines and cardio equimpent
good bar for drinks, food, etc
lots of eye-candy


A pool. I know that sounds cheesy, but I want a pool! I joined a gym an hour away because they had a pool. Well, that's not the only reason, but if we're going to move to that city anyway, why not get a membership at a place we like? Besides, we have kids and they like the pool. It has waterslides. :smiley:


Squat Rack or Cage.
An area for Deadlifts, doesn't have to be pretty just need the space.
DBs that go beyond 55 lbs!

Ideally, I would also like something to do DIPs on.

I workout at home, so I am satisfied with what I have, for now :slight_smile:


Lots of gyms in the UK that cater for bodybuilders rather than yellow audi a4 driving ,pink tie wearing wufters (like 'Total Fitness') have dirty equipment are cramped and the staff / owners are pretty hostile.

So for me I would have to find some middle ground between this and the glass palace gym with pool and 'toning tables'.

Gyms with plenty of free weights and a good supply of 44lb plates is a must, plus plenty of room, don't want to be taking some guys earlobe out on the squat whilst he does presses next to me.

I like gyms with machines, just because I use the pullover machine and calf machines etc, plus usually machines mean people keep off the free weights more which lets me get on with it.

Plus also clean air, cramped places with no air re-circulation are awful, and they stink.


Big factors for "normal" people would be (at a guess):
Convenient location
New equipment
Classes (aerobics, spinning etc...)

(By normal people I am assuming that you mean those that make up the largest demographic of gym membership, i.e. women and non heavy lifting men.)

My top factors would be:
Squat rack(s)
Lifting platform(s)
Lots of bars and plates (inc bumper plates)
Enough benches (even for international bench day, Monday)
Convenient location
Good and clean showers.
Lockers in changing room.


Hours, Price, location, equipment.

Hours - I work a weird schedule, I need to be able to go to the gym either really early in the morning, or really late at night. "Core hours" don't work.

Price - I don't want to pay a lot for this muffler.

Location - If I have to spend a half hour in traffic to get to the gym, it's useless to me.

Equipment - The basics... power-racks, dbs, bbs, calf machine. If it's all machines, it is a waste of my money.


I'm a marketing/PR student -- and I just conducted a large scale survey of college students to find out this very thing (among other things...)

Of course, this is just a sample of college students (70% female, frequent exercisers, between the ages of 20-24.)

  1. Price
  2. Proximity to where they live
  3. Cleanliness

-- although I'm told by a couple of gym owners who are old hats at marketing rsearch that normally Cleanliness is #1. -- I found this really surprising!

Hope this helps. And for the record, my priorities are:

  1. Price
  2. Equipment
  3. Etiquette of other gym members


1) Child care
2) Location
3) Equipment
4) Price


I look for free weights.

DBs with numbers so high, that the dust has settled and hardened on them. You dont even know if someone has ever moved them in the last 5 years. Nobody wants to touch them. I like that. The smell of sweat and suffering.

Squat Rack and Bench.

Environment too. Are they playing Boot Scootin Boogie? Oh cmon leave me alone. If there are 120 lb twinks all over the place with makeup plastered on their face and/or pink DBs, no way. Also, lacking of PTs that are crawling all over you to show you the new best concentration curl.

Hope that helps.


Think of all the things we make fun of...and dublicate them.

The best gym I was ever a member of was a mainstream place, but in a small community:

Main floor mostly machines, such as Hammer Strength. On one wall all the dumbbells were lined up, multiple sets of light DB's on one side and on the heavy side cages were segregated. People want to see guys lift heavy but they don't want to be around them.

Bench presses were on the other side of the floor (with the machines), everybody uses these as well.

Up stairs all cardio and a circuit training section. Middle open to see the weight area below.

Interesting point- The owner used to buy a new machine (or two) every few months and either ship a machine or two to his other gym or sell it to another gym. People were always lining up to use the "new machine", no matter what it was.

Oh yeah, don't forget atmosphere, make it bright, pop music (not too loud), TVs in the corners (sports are good), tanning beds and a great bar/apparel shop.

As for cleanliness, have an employee constantly going around cleaning equipment, women make up about 60%-70% of the clientele of most fitness centres and they notice people cleaning, especially if the person is obviously working hard and keeping the place clean...they will also notice if the person is only socializing and leaving equipment filthy.


I think lots of bright, natural lighting would make a place more attractive to prospective gym-goers.


Just a tiny hijack here, but I find that very odd. Not to say I don't believe you, it's just not the way I think about a gym. I don't care about cleanliness in the gym at all. I always find it surprising when some guys in the club get all anal about having it spiffed up, and as long as people don't leave junk in the way, im fine.



  1. Squat and Power Racks.
  2. Benches and plenty of heavy dumbells.
  3. Few customers that train properly.
    Although it would be nice to have some serious trainees to help push you, I actually prefer a fitness center-type place as long as it has the right equipment. Few use it, so I never have to wait to get my workouts in or be forced to take longer breaks between sets and exercises than I would want to.


I hate, HATE gyms that have too many members. The gyms that you can go to workout at 2pm on a Tuesday and it is still crowded.

Which is actually why I several memberships, and depending on the time of day I am going I choose the gym accordingly.


The original poster didn't ask what hardcore gym rats look for in a gym. If that was the case, I would say 24 hour card key access, heavy weight, Hammer Strength machines and a floor.

When it comes to the general population who only trains hard enough to break a sweat maybe once a week, they are looking for a pseudo-night club where they can wear their brand new matching workout gear and talk to Linda, their bridge partner, while walking on a treadmill going 1mph and looking at a flat screen tv stuck on the Oxygen network. Plenty of mirrors and neon lights also help so they feel they are in a gym (almost) but just enough bright light so they can squint and think they are at the mall.


Size - size really does matter. You can have all the equipment in the world, but if there's no room to use it, what good is it? It should also be big enough to support the expected membership numbers (if you want 10,000 members, then open a place big enough to support that many members).

Equipment - plenty of bars, dumbbells, benches, racks, etc.

People - staff must be courteous, and the members must have respect for the gym, equipment, and each other (if they ask you not to drop the weights, don't drop them).

Other nice things to have - dedicated area for powerlifting/olympic lifting; dedicated area for plyometric work - box jumps, etc.; indoor track; basketball or raquetball court.


You got a problem with my gym??

And oh--my gym must have a floor!