What’s the best place to work out: Commercial gym or private studio?

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There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has changed the way we go about our everyday lives, especially our ability to work out and train.

During lockdowns those who wanted to continue training had no other option but to train from home. With eased restrictions and social distancing measures in place, many are still fearful about the virus and may be considering training at a private studio gym, instead of a commercial gym.

But what are the differences? And how do you know which one is better for you?

Commercial gym


There are lots of them

There are so many commercial gyms out there, that you’re bound to find one close to where you live.

Unlimited memberships

Commercial gyms very rarely put limits on their memberships, so if you want to join, there will be a spot for you. However, as a result of COVID-19, most commercial gyms have introduced a booking system to comply with social distancing regulations. This means that you won’t be able to go when you like, as often as you like — and may have to pay a casual fee every time you visit, which can end up being a lot more expensive than your annual gym membership.

Lots of equipment

Commercial gyms have a LOT of equipment, and may also include facilities including a sauna, spa and child-minding. However, you don’t actually need a lot of equipment to lose weight and change your body shape. In fact, it’s quite possible to get a good workout without using any equipment found in commercial gyms. You also don’t need a room full of cardio machines such as bikes, treadmills and stepping machines in order to get a great cardio workout. When it comes to cardio, less is more anyway, as too much cardio will prevent you from losing weight. Joining a gym just so you can run on the treadmill and watch TV is fine, but don’t expect to lose weight if that’s the extent of your workout.

Many different classes at different times

There are a lot of different fitness classes offered at commercial gyms, but the truth is that while these classes might be fun and may help you get fitter, they don’t lead to long-term weight loss. To understand the difference between exercising and training be sure to read our blog Training and exercise: What’s the best weight loss routine? The other problem about doing lots of exercise is that exercise is only 3% of the weight loss equation. What many people don’t understand is that it’s habits and mindset that has the most influence on your weight loss. So signing up to lots of classes — whether they’re spin, boxing, or pump — might sound like you’re doing a lot, but it won’t help you lose weight and keep it off.

Open 24/7

Many commercial gyms are open 24/7 which means you can get your workout done no matter what time of the day or night. This can be particularly helpful for shift-workers, but the best time of the day to workout is actually first-thing in the morning — and most private studio gyms run sessions early in the morning anyway.

May appear like it’s cheap

Basic membership at a commercial gym can be quite cheap, which is why many people choose to go it alone and join a gym. But this only covers your membership and relies on you to construct your own training program, and ensure your workouts are progressive. If you know what you’re doing, then this is fine. However, most people don’t know how to construct a training program to get specific results, especially weight loss, so end up copying what other people do, or joining a whole lot of classes.

It’s a bit like buying a spanner to fix a leaky tap, when you don’t know what’s causing the leak or even how to fix it. You think that by fixing it yourself, you’ll save yourself a whole lot of money. But the spanner you bought isn’t the right tool, so you go back to the hardware store and buy another one. In the meantime, the water leaking from your tap is now damaging the rest of the house, costing you even more money. The sensible, and cheaper option is to hire a plumber to fix the tap. While they may appear to be more expensive than the spanner, you know you’ll get the result you’re after, without wasting more time and causing more damage in the process.

Yes, hiring a PT at the gym may help you get the results you’re looking for, but the average cost for a PT is anywhere between $60-$80 per session. For 3 sessions a week in a commercial gym (on top of a $20 per week membership), you can be paying anywhere between $200-$260 a week. That’s around $13,500 a year! All of a sudden, your cheap membership isn’t that cheap after all.


Working out with lots of other people

Commercial gyms can be very busy places, especially during peak times. This can increase your risk of catching a virus — whether it’s COVID-19 or a common cold. Gyms can also be very intimidating, especially if you’re new to exercise, or you feel self-conscious about your body. Working out with people who are athletes, those who have been fit all their life, or never struggled with their weight can cause you to worry about what other people think of you, compare yourself with others, and even make you feel less confident. This means you’re less likely to get to your training sessions because you’re too embarrassed to be seen, or when you are there, you won’t be focused on your session, because you’ll be feeling too self-conscious.

Waiting for equipment

What also happens during peak times is that you’re more likely to have to wait for equipment to be available. This means your workout is either interrupted, as you stand around and do nothing, or you end up doing another type of exercise which won’t get you the results you want. Sometimes, if you’re pressed for time, you may even skip that exercise altogether.

Diet culture is rife

Commercial gyms are hotbeds for diet culture. While the focus might be on working out and getting fit, focusing purely on exercise to lose weight is typical of the diet industry. The majority of people who go to gyms are on some kind of diet — whether it’s counting calories, following a fad diet, or fasting. As we’ve said many times, and as the research proves, diets and quick-fixes don’t work for long-term weight loss. However, the diet industry, including commercial gyms can make lots of noise about diets, which can be very distracting. If you’re trying to lose weight and you’re a member of a commercial gym, you may be tempted to try the latest quick-fix, or even sign up for a 6-week or 12-week challenge. However, these challenges buy into diet culture, as they focus only on diet, exercise and willpower as a way to lose weight. Going down this path may seem like the answer, but it will only make your weight loss journey more difficult, because you’ll end up compromising your metabolism, and mental health even further.

It’s confusing

It’s easy to feel confused when you walk into a commercial gym. Even if you’re given a tour, how are you supposed to know how to use all those machines? So what most of us end up doing, is to use the equipment we know how to use, and stick to the same routine because we’re afraid of looking silly. However, doing the same exercises over and over won’t help you lose weight, build muscle (which is important for weight loss) or even get fitter. In order to change your body shape, you need to follow a structured, progressive and personalised training program, which should be a combination of Focused Intense Resistance Exercise (FIRE) and Intense Cardio Exercise (ICE). If you’re not sure of the role muscle mass has in weight loss, be sure to read our blog “I don’t want to get bulky!” : 8 reasons why muscle is your friend.

No focus on habit and mindset

When you join a commercial gym, the focus is purely on exercise, and perhaps some diet advice thrown in for good measure, either from a friend, fellow gym-goer or even a PT. However, we know that even the best diet and exercise program won’t help you lose weight unless you address the reasons you became overweight in the first place. This means changing your habits and mindset so you can lose weight and keep it off. Unfortunately, a commercial gym membership will only help you exercise, and remember, that’s only 3% of the weight loss equation.

No accountability

What you really need to lose weight is accountability, but a gym membership doesn’t buy you accountability. Without accountability, we’re more likely to blow off our workout, or make an excuse as to why we can’t go. If we turn up when we’re feeling less than motivated, we’ll probably only go through the motions, and not give our best efforts. Accountability is what gets results. Without it, we’ll always continue to live in our comfort zone and only do the things we want to do, rather than the things we need to do to lose weight.

Private, boutique studio


Smaller numbers

At a private, boutique studio there will be smaller numbers of people who have similar goals to you. For example, in a studio specialising in weight loss the only other people who train there will be those in a similar situation to you — wanting to lose weight. Knowing that you’re with other people who are on a similar journey to yourself will mean you feel more comfortable, less intimidated and less self-conscious. At Imani Tribe Transformations, we’ve created a supportive culture where everyone is welcomed and accepted for who they are, and where they’re at, and no one judges anyone. This means that you can feel free to focus on your workouts without worrying about what other people think.

Specialised coaches with personalised solutions

When you train at a private studio, you’ll be training with specialised coaches who have extensive experience in helping people change their mindset and habits, unlike the PTs you find at commercial gyms. This means you’ll be more successful at losing weight, increasing your confidence, and changing your life. At Imani Tribe Transformations, you’ll get access to several body transformation specialists, who will personalise your program just for you. There are no cookie-cutter solutions with us.

Focused on results

Training with specialised trainers means you’ll be focusing on getting results, not just moving for the sake of saying you’ve been to the gym. Your workouts will be tailored to help you get the results you’re after, and will also take into consideration your overall health, fitness, mobility and injuries. This means that you won’t end up burning out or sustaining more injuries because your program will ensure that you’re training safely and incorporating the right amount of rest to allow you to keep training.

Never wait for equipment

At a private, boutique studio, you’ll never wait for equipment. That’s because your spot in the training program is reserved for you. So in your training session, if you need to use a specific piece of equipment, that equipment will always be reserved for you and you alone. That means you can get on with your workout and complete it without waiting around and wasting your time.

Habit and mindset change

While commercial gyms focus on exercise, private gyms like Imani Tribe Transformations focus on habit and mindset change, because this is the biggest influence on your weight. We help our clients overcome habits like people-pleasing, diet mindset, procrastination, binge eating, emotional eating, putting other people’s needs before their own, worrying about what others think, and living in fear — so they can be free to live the life they’ve always wanted to, have the confidence to be themselves, and gain the body they’ve always craved.

We collect data
When you train at a commercial gym it’s very unlikely you’ll be recording data about what you’re doing to try to lose weight. At best, you’ll probably only record what exercise you’re doing. But without data, you’ll only be guessing about what is working and what’s not. At Imani Tribe Transformations, we collect data on more than just exercise. We collect information on sleep, nutrition, alcohol consumption, thoughts and habits, hormonal changes, how your body feels, your mood, what exercise you’re doing and how well you recover, and how your body is changing. With this data, we are able to develop a personalised program for you, and continue to tweak it as we go, to ensure you continue to make progress. Without this, you’ll eventually get stuck. Even if by some stroke of luck, you get the results you’re after in a commercial gym, unless you collect data, you won’t know how you got them – and without this awareness, you’ll never know how to continue getting results. We not only teach our clients what data is important, but we show them how to become more aware, which gives them the power to keep making progress.

Accountability is a key component of the Imani Tribe Transformation System (ITTS), as it’s what gets results. Unlike commercial gyms, we provide the right amount of accountability for our clients, to enable them to achieve the goals they set for themselves. While accountability may sound scary, it’s the only way to lose weight and keep it off for the long-term.

Transforming lives not just bodies
At our private studio, we’re transforming lives, not just bodies. A commercial gym focuses only on helping you look better, and often forgetting about how your body feels and functions. But we know that there’s no point having the body you want, if you’re tired and sick all the time, or cranky because you have no energy. So we help people improve their overall health. Because our program also helps you grow in confidence, many of our clients experience business and career success that they never dreamed of. They’re also being better role models for their kids, and some have even inspired others to undertake their own transformation journey.


Less equipment
At a private studio, there will be less gym equipment to use. But as we’ve already explained, you don’t need a lot of equipment to get a good workout — you just need the right equipment and the right exercises.

Limited membership spots
Unlike a commercial gym, private studios usually have a cap on numbers. This allows your trainers to give you the time, attention and support you need in order to reach your goals. At Imani Tribe Transformations, we also limit numbers for the same reasons, and once these spots are gone, then you may have to wait until our next intake.

Doesn’t a private studio cost more?

On the surface, joining a private, boutique studio may seem like a larger investment than taking up a membership at a commercial gym. But think about what that investment includes — a personalised program designed to get you the results that you want, access to 2 transformation specialists who know what they’re doing and can help you succeed, coaching around habit and mindset change, which is essential to losing weight, a supportive community of other likeminded people who won’t judge you, access to 2 FIRE sessions and 3 ICE sessions each week, personalised advice on nutrition, and the accountability to help you succeed.

This added accountability means you’ll never blow off your training, never get stuck with results, and will always have someone on your side, to help you through the tricky times.

Even if you sign up with a PT at a commercial gym, you still won’t get all of this, and you’ll be paying a lot more!

Invest in your future

By investing in our Diet Antidote Transformation System (DATSTM Program) The Not-Diet-diet for people who are sick of diets and want more than a good body, you’ll be investing in your future. By following the ITTS, you can expect to:

  • improve your health and reduce your risk for chronic disease
  • ditch the diets and food rules and feel free around food
  • eat better without feeling deprived
  • build fitness into your life, without it taking over
  • feel more confident in yourself
  • improve your relationships
  • lose the weight you haven’t been able to shed for years
  • be a better role model and change future generations
  • be more successful in your career and earn more money
  • achieve and maintain your goals, even when life gets busy
  • age well and eliminate age-related aches and pains.

If you’re ready to lose weight and have the future you’ve always dreamed of, find out how it works and then, click the link below to see if you qualify.



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Transform Your Life, Not Just Your Body, From Anywhere In The World!

Online or face-to-face, we guarantee maximum results in minimum time, with minimum effort, regardless of your goals, needs, starting point, or abilities, as long as you stick with us for 12 months.

Limited spots on a first-come, first-served basis​

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Transform Your Life, Not Just Your Body, From Anywhere In The World!

Online or face-to-face, we guarantee maximum results in minimum time, with minimum effort, regardless of your goals, needs, starting point, or abilities, as long as you stick with us for 12 months.

Limited spots on a first-come, first-served basis​



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Lose the weight for good, get the Body, Confidence & Lifestyle you desire with our DATS™ program - The Not-Diet-Diet for people who want more than a good body.

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