the joy of strength training


January 29th, 2008 at 12:21 am

Your ideal gym?

I’d love to have a gym of my own one day. I don’t like training by myself all the time, so even if I had a home gym I’d have to invite people round to use it.

There are many aspects of a gym that affect the training experience. There is the space, equipment, décor, people, attitude and training philosophy. Gyms can be an expression of who you are and what training means to you.

Some of the things I’d like to have or do in my ideal gym are:

  • A big open space with lots of exciting equipment. I’d like people to see what others are doing and feel they can wander over and ask questions.
  • I would have room for weights (power and Olympic), gymnastics, circuit training, climbing (wall and rope), acrobatics and I’d also have some outdoor space for conditioning, strongman and just to enjoy training in the great outdoors.
  • I would actively try to put people together with training partners. This happens at indoor climbing walls all the time, since a partner is essential for belaying, but I think it would be good practice for a gym as well.
  • I would encourage competitions and challenges, both within the gym and taking teams to outside events.
  • No mirrors.

I have come across many gyms and training environments that have inspired me in different ways. Here are some of them:

Ice Chamber

ice chamber gym A commercial gym with a difference. Great range of equipment from
weights and rings to hosepipes and cars. A playground atmosphere,
everything in the same room, space for large groups to work together.

Gym Jones

Gym Jones Austere, private, a temple of training. Personally I prefer a
more open and inclusive attitude. But it’s an enormous space full
of exciting equipment. I love the climbing wall.

Bodytribe Fitness

Bodytribe Fitness On the walls, art instead of mirrors or motivational
pictures. Rugs on the floor, a cat wandering around. Like
working out in someone’s lounge perhaps? Emphasis on seriousness
and creativity.

British Military Fitness

British Military Fitness 100% outdoors, rain, snow or shine. Use whatever is to hand: trees, railings, hills, each other. Very low-tech and

Mike’s Gym

mike's gym A family-oriented hub of activity. Better equipped than your
average garage gym, complete with pro weightlifting coach. Check out
the chains.

What would your ideal gym look like? Does it already exist?

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  • 1

    hi guber,

    lets start hey,

    1. lots of space with a good mix of free weights and machines, plus a good floor space for callesthenics and cicuit training.

    2. how about a running track outside, so you can do fartleks, and sprints and stuff like that.

    3. the big thing for me would be a pool at least 25 meters, preferably a 50 meter olympic.

    4. if you had enough outside space a fitness trail or trimdich as they call them in germany.

    5. and how about a creche for young children, so parents can come and do their workouts, and not worry about the kids – my mum used to teach the old style callesthenics (you know leotards, hula loops and indian clubs thing,lol and cringe) and if i wasnt at nursery or school, i used to sit and watch/ play while they did their thing, i am sure seeing your parents exercise encourages kids to do the same later in life, so it wouldnt be a bad thing.

    6. how about a library of fitness books etc as well as the well trained staff of course.

    7. oh and a decent cafe for after, that sells fish and chips, pizza, kebabs etc……….ok then maybe not but decent healthy snacks and drinks would be good!

    what do you think of that? any good?


    tentigers on January 29th, 2008
  • 2

    I love Ice Chamber, that’s my ideal gym 100%

    Jason on January 29th, 2008
  • 3

    Any CrossFit gym really – everything you need, nothing you dont.

    No “Cardio” machines other than Concept 2 rowers
    No weights machines
    Lots of Olympic weights
    Lots of dumbbells and kettlebells
    No mirrors/no pot plants/ no t.v’s
    Chalk buckets
    Decent pull up bars
    Power cage or squat rack

    Davie on January 29th, 2008
  • 4

    I LOVE your examples…just makes my commercial gym look so droll…

    I think some necessities would be:

    1. Bars, bars, bars (there is only one weird pullup bar at my gym)
    2. Bumper plates + obvious ample amounts of room to lift
    3. Aesthetically pleasing (like the art…but I’d think more…inside, but gives you the feeling of being outside, colors and lighting make a difference in mood.)
    4. Ropes/Rings everywhere + the obvious climbing and bouldering wall (adjustable)
    5. Foam Rollers/tennis balls galore + possible onsite ART and Massage Center. Who couldn’t love that? :o)
    6. Kettlebells because those are sometimes just better than DBs, I think.
    7. Jumping Boxes.
    8. At least 100m sprinting length.
    9. Medballs that are actually heavy.
    10. Good music: definitely debatable, lifting without music can sometimes help…

    Another great post! Thanks!

    Erin Davidson on January 29th, 2008
  • 5

    Oh yes, and a board to post stats. That goes right up there with community. :o)

    Erin Davidson on January 29th, 2008
  • 6

    Oo great ideas!

    I really like the idea of the fitness trail and a stats board.

    gubernatrix on January 30th, 2008
  • 7

    My ideal gym is a place that I can get simple help on my form for deadlifts, squats, etc, without feeling I need to sign up for life with a personal trainer. I do not feel I can ask other patrons as there is only one whose opinion I really trust, and like me he does not give advice readily. 😉

    Sadly, my [ghetto] gym is not one of those places. I’m going to get my courage up, and bring my videocam tomorrow and tape myself doing squats and deadlifts. I know I’ll hate watching that, but it must be done.

    ClickerTrainer on January 30th, 2008
  • 8

    ClickerTrainer, good luck with the videocam experiment. It could make a big difference!

    But keep looking out for your ideal gym too. I just found a new gym on Monday run by someone who knows his stuff and is happy to help me out. They don’t advertise so I didn’t realise the place was there, even though it’s only 10 minutes walk away. I found out about it through phoning around and asking questions. So it can happen!

    gubernatrix on January 30th, 2008
  • 9

    Lots of rings and ropes and pullup bars, some parallel bars, a large matted area, some punching bags, some large mats for parkour, power racks and bumper plates, dumbbells and kettlebells, a climbing wall, a bunch of concept II’s and a bench for those odd bench-press days, all surrounded by a 400m rubberized track. With a free to members protein shake bar for a post workout recharge. 🙂

    Jamie on January 31st, 2008
  • 10

    @gubernatrix that is really true. I saw a new gym just last week that I SWEAR wasn’t there a few weeks ago. Weird. I know things get built and torn down in my country pretty fast, but whoa dude.

    I have an addition to my ideal: a DOG friendly gym. Tracks for people AND dogs; Swimming pools with diving docks for the “Big Air” dogs. :p Dog agility courses: you think CrossFit is a workout, try running an agility course with my Lab! He’ll kick your @$#!

    And last: no cats.

    ClickerTrainer on January 31st, 2008
  • 11

    @ Jamie: yes, good call on the parkour mats. A spring board probably wouldn’t go amiss either.

    @ ClickerTrainer: starting to sound close to mayhem now! Although having dogs around can be really inspirational.

    gubernatrix on January 31st, 2008
  • 12

    Nice post. A lot of effort went into the research. I like the idea of Military Fitness, all terrain, all weather, and not a mirror in sight.

    Daniel on February 2nd, 2008
  • 13

    British Military Fitness is great – I used to do it for a couple of years and loved it. Unfortunately, there isn’t a BMF class near where I live now, otherwise I’d still be doing it! They have classes in many towns and cities in the UK though, so there might be one near you.

    gubernatrix on February 2nd, 2008
  • 14

    I live in Bournemouth, not the sort of town to have a down to earth, nitty gritty fitness class like this. Looking to join the real thing next month so i’m sure i’ll get my fair share of mud and grit.

    Daniel on February 3rd, 2008
  • 15

    Nice one! Marines or army?

    gubernatrix on February 3rd, 2008
  • 16

    The Royal Machines (Marines). I’ve passed all the selection courses and they were tough as hell. Black spots, hallucinations, collapses are all normal after one of their phys sessions. Looking forward to it though.

    Thanks for dropping by my blog too.

    Daniel on February 3rd, 2008
  • 17

    Good luck! You’ll be the fittest ever after you’ve finished your training. It’s downhill from there I think 😉

    One of the British Military Fitness instructors is a serving Marine PTI. He’s a good guy, taught me how to climb rope the marine way.

    gubernatrix on February 4th, 2008
  • 18

    Hey! Wow, glad I discovered this site. I think crossfit fits the bill for my gym. But right now I train at my house so its like a home office and a home gym. I like it that way. I would love to have trainining equipement such as squat racks and benches in my backyard with the essential kettlebells and dumbbells in my room.

    Parth on February 4th, 2008
  • 19

    I agree! Although I enjoy working out with other people, there are times when I just wish I had all the equipment right there so I could get on with training. Lucky you!

    gubernatrix on February 4th, 2008
  • 20

    That Ice Chamber looks awesome!

    My ideal gym would consist of the following:
    – olympic bar & bumper plates
    – sandbags
    – sledgehammer & tyre
    – tractor tyre to flip
    – space outside to run and car push
    – pull up bars
    – dummbells
    – squat rack
    – medicine balls

    That would pretty much do it. Wish I had the money to set one up – maybe in a few years!

    Schwinners on February 5th, 2008
  • 21

    @ Schwinners: Once you have a garage you could probably put that together. Plenty of tractor tyres round ‘ere (ooh ar!). An acquintance down in Penzance has apparently got a 350kg one.

    gubernatrix on February 6th, 2008
  • 22

    Lots of space, bars, a dips station, a pull up bar a big f**k off stereo, a no time wasters policy (ala Gym Jones) and a bucket to puke in!



    Vanders' on February 7th, 2008
  • 23

    You’ve got that already, haven’t you Vanders?

    gubernatrix on February 7th, 2008
  • 24

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  • 25

    hi guys, Im the owner of primal strength and conditioning and I run a strength and conditioning gym that is based around the crossfit method, we use alot of Barbells, kettlebells, ropes, gymnastic rings and I teach all the movements in my classes

    martyn lever on January 7th, 2011
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