6A St George Wharf
Date of visit: September 2010
After hearing so much talk of no-frills gyms and where the industry was heading, I thought I’d head down to my nearest no-frills club.
The Gym Group’s Vauxhall site gave a really good insight into where the industry is going. The gym is spacious (20,000 sq. ft of open plan space), has lots of natural light and lots of mirrors to accentuate both of these qualities (although I would have put even more mirrors in.) The equipment is new and includes about 37 running machines plus a least the same number of climbers and other cardiovascular equipment. It’s a bargain at £15 per month. I paid £5 for one session, which was all done on the Internet. The entry system is fantastic. It’s just like getting into a bank.
The changing rooms are done out with low cost materials, but they are nice. There are no tiles in the showers, just vinyl and they do seem clean. The lockers, however, are flimsy and some are broken, so when I put my padlock on you could still open it.
I would have liked to have seen their one staff member show more presents. He should be looking to know everyone by name and do his utmost to give the gym a face. I did feel that the gym was faceless. It was almost like walking into an airport or train station. You just felt like you were in a public space. Although the other members seemed nice and there was a mix of backgrounds, you could see that the £15 price tag attracted people from the lower classes (sorry, I know this isn’t PC).
Unfortunately for me the battery had run out on my ipod, so I was reliant on the gym sound system. The music that was playing was so quiet that all you could hear was the sound of the air-conditioning and cardiovascular equipment. It just made the ambience a bit eerie. I would have had the music up a bit louder, but not blasting.
These guys obviously don't want to push the free weights side too much. The free weights area is very small and at the back of the gym. You can't find the dumbbells you want and I’d say they need more equipment. I saw a lot of biggish guys who wanted to do free weights for £15 per month, but felt that there was a restriction there.
In all, if you are just after weights and cardio (no pool, no classes, no sauna), this is a bargain and is where a large section of the market is shifting.