No, you really don’t want to be queuing up for 7 minutes to get another set (or rep!) in.
And honestly, do you want to be looking at someone else load the plates, huffing and puffing their way through a set?
Oh and tell me about it. Tell me about those who hog the machines, watching things on their phones, whilst you try to complete your set.
When you tell them gently to get off, they glare at you.
There’s a better option.
Get a better gym!
I’ve worked out for more than 6 years, across places like China, Peru, Singapore, and the U.K., and I’ve seen my share of good and bad gyms.
Being back in Singapore, it’s been difficult to find cheap (and great) gyms. But after a tireless search, we think we’ve got it.
Here are some you can consider. Before that, let’s look at some principles that can help you make a better decision, before you splash money on another gym membership.
What do you want?
Some people like gyms that come bundled with classes. Others, just want a space to do weights work.
It depends on what will keep you engaged in your fitness goals. For some who don’t enjoy weights, asking them to stare at a mirror whilst bicep curling, simply won’t work. In that case, gyms with classes may work better.
Bundle or split gym and classes
But if you’re someone who enjoys a particular type of class, splitting up your gym and your class membership may work better.
For example, because I enjoy salsa, I got a pure-play weights gym, whilst paying for salsa classes at Caliente Dance Studio.
Understand what you need for your workout
Do you really need those fancy amenities, like towels, cold towels and freshly laundered gym attires? Or that lovely shower with conditioner and shampoo?
That’s what some franchises like Pure Fitness and Fitness First offer.
But if you really don’t mind lugging around clothes home to watch, you may find a cheaper gym.
Others need these because it can look unprofessional to walk into the office in a suit, and a dirty (and smelly!) bag of sweaty training attire.
It’s up to you.
Where do you work out best?
Having a routine around your workout is best for longer-term sustainability of your fitness routine.
That’s why the logistics around getting to your workout, is often far more important than the motivation needed to get to the workout.
Turn up, and half the battle is won.
If you find it a hassle to pack your clothes for the workout, those expensive, upmarket gyms in Central Business District (CBD), which give you the clothes for your workout, may be a far better option.
When do you work out?
Come on you sleepyhead! It’s time to get out for a workout!
Do you like hearing that on a Saturday, early morning, at 8am?
I like that. You may not.
If you like sleeping in on a Saturday and Sunday morning, getting a gym closest to your home may be more ideal. After all, you get to go there as and when you like, especially on the weekends.
Higher prices maintain exclusivity
What you may not realise is that higher prices maintain the exclusivity of the gym, and keep up people who may not want to pay as much.
This ensures that you actually have space and time in the gym to do your workout, rather than being constantly rushed to do your set, because someone is waiting over your shoulder.
How much does it really cost?
Some people balk when they think about the $1000 they will spend on an annual gym membership.
But for the long-term health benefits, and the natural joy that comes with putting a workout in, you may not find it that expensive.
But you also need to consider the price of your time. Whilst a cheap option like ActiveSG may seem reasonable at first, your training time may be prolonged by the waiting times involved.
Here’s a question.
What’s your hourly rate?
Multiply that by the number of times you go to the gym, and you may not be paying that much more for a gym.
That said, here are the gyms that are a good mix of price and value.
The gyms to consider
ActiveSG gyms – the most budget friendly option
ActiveSG gyms are the government’s efforts to offer a low-priced option to the masses. And that’s what you will get in the gyms – masses.
On peak hours (mornings before 9am, evenings after 7pm) you can expect the gyms to be packed. Prepare yourself to queue for most machines.
That said, I really hated it. I hated the crowds, hated the waiting, and didn’t like the equipment.
But if you’re on a budget, this is something you can try.
Gymmboxx – for those looking to powerlifting
Gymmboxx is a gym I used when I was back in Singapore for a month. Not having the time to commit to a longer-term plan, I went in twice a week, $6 per entry.
This is a gym for lifters.
You will see many powerlifters there who use it for their training. It can be intimidating initially, but after a while, you will get used to it.
Besides, they have many outlets around the island, meaning that you can move easily across the island for a more convenient workout.
Bluegym – cheap option for those around Hougang
This is the gym I personally use.
BlueGym is $60 for a 2 year contract. With no frills, and a shower, and a friendly owner you see almost daily, this can feel like your home gym.
What’s even better is that because this is located in the heartlands, there is often not many people here, especially in the morning. There may be just 1 or 2 people, and you get to enjoy space all around.
I can’t say that’s the same with other gym franchises we have seen.
With access also being via a face scan, it can also ensure that you can workout anytime.
It’s a place I’ve enjoyed, but it may only be suitable for those living around Hougang.
Pure Fitness – for the fancy add-ons
If you love bathing at the gym, this is the place. If you love scenery, looking across the Marina Bay views, this may well be the place.
This is a fancy place. It was a little too fancy for me. It’s clear that the people who use this gym are moneyed individuals, with the sheer clothes they wear making quite a statement.
But it makes it in the list because for the cost of $170 a month, it can still be relatively cheaper consider all the add-ons they provide. For example,
- Bathing facilities
- Soap, shampoo and conditioner
- Shirts and shorts to change into
With all of these benefits, you may find your own time of doing all these laundry, lugging around dirty clothes, finding additional class studios, actually worth the $170 you pay.
The classes here are also wide-ranging.
Here’s a protip. Choose the class with the instructor you like, rather than one that suits you. It really does make a difference.
You can also sign up for a free 2-day pass here.
ARKGRIT – by far the cheapest option for a private gym
Ark is something I haven’t tried, but it was something recommended to me by a powerlifter, and personal trainer.
At $45 a month, it’s certainly something that is cheaper than everything else.
But take it with a pinch of salt. I haven’t personally tried it.
So what now?
Most of these places have a trial period, where you can try for free. Try it, see if you like it, but ultimately, recognise that:
Time is money. You can always get more money, but you can’t get more time.
Saving money may not save you time.