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Globogyms v Independent gyms – style over substance!

One of my favourite films is dodge-ball which is basically the story of a small gyms’ (average joe’s) fight to survive against all the odds against ‘globo-gyms’ imminent takeover. It was the inspiration for this article in which I want to chat about the vast difference between some nation wide, franchised leisure centres and individual privately owed training facilities. Basically ‘globo-gym verses average Joe’s’!

Make no mistake there will be nothing average about the training, care and professionism that will be seen at most private training places. They are normally owned by people that have a true interest in creating a facility that will get results. Substance over style!

Some of the stuff discussed below is a ‘bit tongue in cheek’ but I hope you catch my drift!

Here is a list of things to look for in a training facility if you truly want results:

Can you drop bars without being banned? Check!

Does it have at least 1x weight lifting platform. Check!

If no platform does it at least have good flooring that allows robust lifting to be done from? Check!

Does it have bumper plates. Not always needed but useful if Olympic lifting. Check!

Is chalk used liberally? Check!

Do the lifting bar sleeves spin freely? Check!

Does it cater for the ‘hub of power’ the posterior muscle links i.e. does it have a glute-ham raise, hyper and a reverse hyper. Check!

Does it have a variety of pull up / chin up methods. i.e bars of various thickness / angles, as well as rings and ropes? Check!

How long is the area to use the sled or prowler? Check!

How many squat / power racks has it got…it has got a power rack right!? Check! (A smith machine doesn’t qualify as a squat rack…just saying!)

Decent dips bars  / station and ring. Check!

It should have a cables machine. Check!

Dumbbells that at least go past 50kg, and if possible with fat grips. Check!

Magnetic ‘small increment’ attachments for the dumbbells so that you can add small progression to your lifts. Check!

Showers? Not always needed but a great bonus. Check!

Can you get a suitable recovery shake that suits your training method and goals? Check!

CV / conditioning equipment – rowers, sled, prowler, boxing bag, skipping rope, kettlebells, medicine balls. Check!

Can you sit and have a coffee after?— Fail!

How many cross trainers has it got?—Fail!

Does it have glossy / cheesy ‘motivational’ pictures and quotes?—Fail!

Does it have more ‘large rubber tubes named after a snake’ than kettebells?— Fail!

If possible it should have various lifting bars, although not always required but some can be very useful, like a safety squat bar, football bar and trap bar. Check!

Bands and chains to help replicate the strength curve and add variety? Check!

Some method of training the lower legs through a full range of movement. I feel that weak lower leg planter flexors are the cause of so many preventable injuries. Check!


Ab machines?—Fail!

Banks of mirrors?—Fail!

Egos and attitudes?—Fail! People with big egos have not failed enough and therefore have not pushed themselves hard. If you strive to be the best you can be I feel that you will fail pretty often and that keeps you humble. If you have never failed then try harder!

It should be reasonably clean no matter how good the training ethos is. Check!

An outside area to train, car park, field, yard etc. Check!

Rehab, massage room / area or even just a couch. Check! Not really required to be honest, just handy.

The atmosphere should be friendly and welcoming but at the same time say ‘this place is here for people that want to train’. It may look intimidating but should be anything but.

As a friend said to me it should have a sense of  ‘community over anonymity’.

If it smells a tiny bit of sweat I reckon that is just a bonus!

Guys doing biceps curls in the racks whilst looking in the mirror– fail!

Bums and tums classes—fail!


Too many bullshit machines and not enough floor space—fail!

Skilled coaches / trainers with proven track record. Check!

The general conversation from trainees should be a good mix of banter, training chat and nutritional  crack…(after training)!!!! O k maybe that’s just me being a gimp!

If the independent facility is called a ‘studio’ by its users—fail! (unless it is infact a studio of course)

Simon Cowell inspired music in the background?—fail!

Other considerations

Membership should be  exclusive to people that want to train. This doesn’t mean exclusive to meat heads. It means anyone that is keen to train and get in shape, young, old, rich, poor, fat, thin, strong, weak…even ginger people!

The price of membership is often less per month than globo gyms. Good news considering the results and exclusivity. Globogym memberships payments often continue long after the payer has given up going due to lack of results.

If you want to socialise, this is fine but I would suggest that after you have said hi to everyone then it is time to work. If you prefer the social over the training then globo-gym is for you. ‘Man know yourself”!

The training advice (PT / coaching) is perhaps better than seen at a globogym, not always but generally true. People that own their own place often evolved from a globogym or a previous sporting /  physically arduous background (or both) where they gain valuable practical experience. Also in order to survive, the independent gym trainers / coaches must deliver results or they will fade quickly. Therefore they will have the trainees best interest at heart as well as their own…powerful motivation to be clued up and deliver results to motivated people.

Very seldom will there be a queue for the equipment as there will normally only ever be a handful of people training at once. Therefore you can set up your workout without fear of having someone taking one of your stations to sit on and text from!

You will be sharing the facility with like minded people, friendly, helpful, enthusiastic, understanding and of course robust. This always leads to true camaraderie and friendships. Strangely a lot of people find globogyms more intimidating and ‘anonymous’ than independant facilities. Private places offer a more intimate and friendly environment. Even though initially the place / kit may seem intimidating!

Often small independent facilities are not restricted to set opening hours. Mine for example is open 24 / 7 on a ‘help yourself, don’t nick anything, try not to break anything and don’t train like a pussy’ basis.

There is a certain ‘esprit de corp’ about being part of a shit hot training facility. Being associated with excellence always attracts people that want to be as good as they can be. Success breeding success.

The equipment is a bit more interesting than globogyms kit which is so often swayed by the latest gimmicks and fads. Farmer’s walks, yolks, sleds, prowlers, climbing ropes, specialist lifting bars, platforms, gluteham raise, reverse hypers, battling ropes, tug o war ropes, logs, tyres, bungees, sandbags, blocks, boxes and so on are usually only found in independent, results driven facilities. Globogyms equipment is often ‘cardio’ heavy, banks of running machines, bikes, cross trainer thingies and so on! Please read ‘run yourself fatter’ it gives an insight into what can happen if all training is geared towards constant ‘cardio’.

To sum up. I am obviously bias towards independent gyms. So if after reading this you still want to use globogyms to train from that is of course up to you. I confess that I sometimes train at a globogym when I am farting around doing some ‘guns’ etc, the change of scenery can be motivational if it has been a long day at PFP (average joe’s). Also the coffee is far better than my honking crap and the pool is a bonus! But when I want to train with vigour and abandon using big lifts then PFP is the place. I like globogyms for ‘guns training’, nice coffee, swimming pool and sauna, perving hotties, socialising, networking, paperwork and generally comfy times. But I like independent facilities for serious training. As a friend said to me today “it is just better”!