Are Urban Gyms Taking Over? Urban vs Mainstream

Recently the war between urban and mainstream gyms have left fitness fanatics questioning where to go.

As a customer, you have to keep in mind prices, location and what sort of facilities the gym has to offer that suits your body, lifestyle and choices.

This is generally what helps you decide on which gym to choose. But, what if there’s more to it than you think?

Urban gyms are precise, focused and personal. They are small buildings in general, which means small classes for your comfort.

They tend to create a community of their own within the gym with very similar age groups and goals etc. If you find the one that you fit in with perfectly, then that’s the one that is going to get your summer body.

Urban gyms are all different to each other, depending on the location and what people are asking for. They have a very restricted amount of classes as oppose to mainstream gyms with plenty of classes to choose from.

Quick Quiz!

Did you make an excuse every P.E. lesson in school?

A) Yes     B) No

Do you tend to go shy exercising around a large group of people on different levels of fitness?

A) Yes     B) No

Would you rather jog where no one knows you, than run a mile around the block you live?

A) Yes     B) No

If you answered A to all those questions, you’re more likely to feel comfortable and achieve your best in an urban gym.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of an urban gym?

Prices can be higher than mainstream gym memberships. Although these vary, you may end up spilling out a little bit more cash than you expected. However, this does get you a more personalised session in the gym. With not many of you in there, your instructor will be able to focus on each of you individually, working out what is best for your needs and goals. This includes a healthy diet plan, daily regime and advice.

Some urban gyms are only session-based. So you pick a class you love, and you attend that for your fitness and health. The Fitness Room, Sheffield, is the perfect example. Will and Katie, owners of TFR know all their clients needs and lifestyle, this is a prime example of urban gym instructors giving their full attention to you when needed.

A small class and weekly attendees mean you get to know everyone in that session in time. This makes the atmosphere a much more relaxed and friendly place to be in. This will also boost your confidence as you are with familiar people, so you will enjoy what you do more minus the insecurities.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a mainstream gym?

A mainstream gym is affordable. You receive lots of offers included with your membership such as weekly classes, or maybe even access to the steam room if your gym provides one. The downside to these gyms are that unless you pay more for a personal trainer, you don’t tend to get the help you need. When there are no instructors to keep an eye on you, this increases the risk of you injuring yourself with no supervision especially if you are just a beginner.


Here is a conversation with Will Salt from The Fitness Room to set things out straight with you…

Why did you decide to open your own gym?

I used to train a lot, doing boxing when I was younger, I started working where I had a job sat down constantly which caused my health to deteriorate. I went back into what made me happy, training and exercising. I took my previous knowledge and opened my own gym, I wanted to make a change.

Would you class this gym as a mainstream or urban gym and why?

Probably urban because I used to train in urban/underground gyms. However, similar set ups would probably call themselves mainstream. It’s all to do with the clientele you are trying to attract. Everybody is welcome, we don’t have a price or fitness restriction on it, we’re more relaxed definitely not a commercial gym, it’s like a mixed style little bit of a cross over.

What do you think makes people choose different gyms?

People choose where you’re comfortable training. Often people don’t enjoy exercise. Most do it for a goal, we get people come here because the style of training is more personal and the atmosphere and locality will determine who goes where.

What advice would you give a fitness lover? E.g nutrition, training.

General advice would be find something you enjoy, eat whole natural foods but don’t get hung up about your food or weight, don’t get too religious with it and try and exercise regularly but balance it with resting too, that is key.

How would you lure them into coming to your gym?

Other than traditional marketing advertising our main way of attracting people is word of mouth or social media, Facebook is good for marketing and communicating. We talk about what we do here and who comes here, getting them comfortable before they come in. We set people goals but we don’t enforce it.

Why are you only a session-based gym? What sort of sessions do you offer?

We offer majority of them, hit training, pilates etc. People want a structure, what time they arrive and leave, what they are getting. I think treadmills and going around machines in the gym is an old mentality. You need to be able to enjoy yourself. We can advise people which sessions to come to. Everyone has their own take on urban gyms and none are the same.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I enjoy helping people and the freedom of being my own boss, it is something I love doing. It’s what I did as a hobby when I was younger. What I have done in my life has allowed me to get to where I am as a living. I used to be a freelance video producer, done a lot of travelling and a lot of sitting at desks, ended up teaching part time at Sheffield college for 10 years and it wasn’t my cup of tea. I came back to what makes me happy.


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