What makes a good bodybuilding gym?
I’ve lived in London for nearly 10 years and I’ve been to hundreds of gyms in that time. I’ve been through every major commercial gym, all the best powerlifting and weightlifting gyms in the city alongside the best bodybuilding gyms.
All the guides to the above online are shite and we all deserve better.
A good bodybuilding gym should be a mecca. A hub for like-minded legends to come together and pump iron in stringer vests with nipples falling out of the side.In no way am I condoning stringer vests as a form of gymwear. Period.
It’s barely even acceptable to wear vests.
A t-shirt is no more restricting than a vest in any situation.But back to good quality bodybuilding gyms. There are 5 key things to factor in:
- Location: Obviously this is completely personal, but as a London resident the chances are you won’t have a car and rely on the tube network to get around. So it needs to be easily accessible and not in the middle of a rancid industrial park
- Cost: Pretty obvious, but a bodybuilding gym shouldn’t be too expensive. The equipment shouldn’t be state of the art in my opinion. They should provide a free taster session for anyone interested and a monthly no frills membership should be sub-£40.
- Quality: Quality in this scenario doesn’t simply refer to the quality of equipment on offer. For me that’s not so important. I like something rough and ready as opposed to sparkling when it comes to bodybuilding. This is also to do with changing room and toilet quality, staff friendliness, pre-workout and protein stock, atmosphere etc.
- Cleanliness: For me a bodybuilding gym, doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact I want some scrapes and scratches on the equipment. A little grit, sweat and spit never hurt anyone. What I hate is dusty floors and weights left scattered all over the floors.
- Equipment Availability: An empty bodybuilding gym is a ship without a captain. Soulless. Devoid of a certain energy that ironheads need to reach their peak. It’s got to be gritty, but friendly. Encouraging, but also little intimidating.
So that’s my quality rating for each gym. Each will be marked out of 5 with relevant links to review pages and links for one off session purchases.I’ll then give a total score out of 25 to celebrate the overall winner. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed collating it.
The 12 Best Bodybuilding Gyms in London
London is chocked full of brilliant bodybuilding gyms, but you need to know where to find them. From someone who has actually been there.
Nearly 60 years young as of 2019, Genesis Gym is a tough powerlifting and bodybuilding mecca that’s been training champions for years. It’s not for the faint-hearted. I’ve only been once, but once was enough.
Location: 2.5/5. Right on the outer reaches of London, next to Alperton station which isn’t going to be a simple commute for most of us London dwellers. But Wembley is on the central line so it’s not too bad.
Cost: 4.5/5. An annual membership works out to just £30 a month if you pay in full and there’s all sorts of discounts for students. A one off session is usually £7 but can be even less.
Quality: 4.5/5. Dumbbells up to 100kg, atlas stones, competition benches, mono-lifts, isolation exercises. This gym has everything strength related you could ever wish for and the staff are incredibly knowledgeable.
Cleanliness: 4/5. The staff really make an effort, but 100kg dumbbells and mono lifts coping with 300lb+ men can’t be perfect. But it’s pretty good.
Equipment Availability: 4.5/5. The equipment on offer is varied and very good. Not all of it is in perfect condition, but that’s sort of the point.
Muscleworks (Bethnal Green)
I was a member of Muscleworks for a couple of years and have never found a better gym atmosphere. Tough but encouraging.The walls are festooned with pictures of legendary bodybuilders and that’s always been a major selling point for me.
Location: 5/5. Nestled right inbetween Shoreditch overground and Bethnal Green station on the central line, the original Muscleworks is a gem.
Cost: 4.5/5. Excellent pricing structure from under £30 a month, with no contract to speak of and only £4.50 / single session on Hussle.(There’s also an Enfield branch where you can purchase the same one off sessions here.)
Quality: 3.5/5. Approachable staff, good merchandise on offer and reliable opening hours. The changing rooms and toilets leave a little to be desired. My advice is change beforehand and try not to piss.
Cleanliness: 4/5. Enough spit and sawdust around the place to maintain authenticity, and that’s a real plus point for me. Usually some maintenance work that was needed when I was there but nothing too shabby.
Equipment Availability: 4/5. Usually relatively quiet on weekday mornings if you go early enough. Weekends are a bit trickier, but my advice is always to get in there early or late.
Squats resides in the heartbeat of Streatham. Head there any time of day and you’ll see serious lifters and hobbyists alike. It has an engaging, community feel to it that I’ve always enjoyed and the man’s ALWAYS smiling at the front desk. I love that.
Location: 3.5/5. About a 5 minute walk from Streatham overground so not bad, but if you’re not from South London it’s probably not for you.
Cost: 5/5. An annual membership will only set you back £25 a month and you can buy a weekly pass for £15. Ideal for those flitting in and out.
Quality: 4/5. A classic old school bodybuilding facility. Squat racks and platforms aplenty and top notch pre and post workout supplements available.
Cleanliness: 4.5/5. As clean as you need a bodybuilding facility to be. Never had a problem with it.
Equipment Availability: 4/5. Occasionally you’ll need to wait, but try to avoid peak hours for use of the main equipment. Even if you don’t the wait isn’t long.
A south London bodybuilding mecca (if such a thing exists) a stones throw from Lower Sydenham station.
Location: 3/5. Again unless you’re a south Londoner there’s arguably easier ones to get to, but it is a proper bodybuilding gym.
Cost: 3.5/5. I only have anecdotal information for this as there’s no online presence and I haven’t been for a few years, but it was around £30 a month.
Quality: 4/5. Amazing equipment and heavy, well kept dumbbells. The pre and post workout munch was always solid too. Some douchebag YouTube personality may show his face there which is a negative for me.
Cleanliness: 3.5/5. Definitely cleaner gyms you could go to on this list, but by no means an issue.
Equipment Availability: 4/5. It is a real mecca. The machines are varied, many and alternatives are readily available, even in peak times.
A 16,000 ft, 2-floored training facility situated right in the middle of Seven Sisters and Tottenham underground / overground stations. Bodyworks is an (almost) 24 hour gym you can thrive in.
Location: 3.5/5. Sure Tottenham isn’t particularly central, but it’s very commutable. Definitely more suited to North Londoners however.
Cost: 5/5. A 12 month membership will set you back less than £25 a month. You can see Bodywork’s membership options here.
Quality: 4.5/5. Always manned and maintained well, the equipment is top drawer and the staff are great. The on-site shop is stacked full of supplements and equipment to help you get the best out of your workout.
Cleanliness: 4/5. For a gym with such long hours, the gym is really well maintained and they clearly make an effort.
Equipment Availability: 4.5/5. At 16,00 square feet the gym is absolutely enormous, so you’ll almost never be shy of space or equipment, even at peak times.
Legends Gym (Haringay)
A great looking facility with a top on-site shop to get your post-workout fix in, Legends is a brilliant facility in Haringay where you’re guaranteed to get striated as fuck.
There’s also a Dalston version of Legends which is very similar, but as I’ve never been I cannot possibly comment. Sure to be good though!
Location: 3/5. Right in the middle of Haringay high street, between Haringay, Hornsey and Turnpike lane. Not bad, but a 10 minute walk from each station so you’d want to live close by.
Cost: 5/5. Less than £25 a month is amazing value for a 5,000+ square foot facility. You can purchase a 1 day trial at Legends for only £4.50 which is excellent.
Quality: 4.5/5. The staff have always been attentive, the supplementation supply is excellent and the equipment / space is everything you want from a 80 piece plus bodybuilding facility. It’s famed for bodybuilding, but the boxing equipment isn’t shabby either.
Cleanliness: 5/5. Never had any cleanliness issues here and people (usually) put their weights away which is a sign of a well run gym.
Equipment Availability: 4.5/5. It’s an enormous gym with equipment to match. You’ll rarely have to wait and the gym-goers are usually pretty happy to switch in and out with you, so pick a lookalike and jump in.
Pumping Iron Gym
North of Alexandra Palace up by Arnos Grove, Pumping Iron Gym is a friendly, double-floored fitness facility that is ideal if you’re looking to take the sport more seriously.The website looks at best weird and at worst awful, but don’t pay attention to that as it’s so much better.
Location: 3/5. Definitely one for the North Londoners among us. It’s a little out of the way, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Cost: 4/5. £40 per month is OK value. The real benefit is either paying £300 for a 12 month membership or £4.50 for a day pass.
Quality: 4.5/5. Attentive staff, good equipment quality and an atmosphere carefully cultivated to help you thrive and improve. The pre and post workout nutrition is on point too.
Cleanliness: 3.5/5. Not bad, but certainly not as clean as some others on the list. Definitely a ‘put the work in’ kind of a place, which is exactly right.
Equipment Availability: 4/5. I’ve never suffered for lack of equipment here from a bodybuilding perspective. If you’re looking for something a little more it may not be perfect, but for bodybuilding and cardio it is readily available.
Another one for the south Londoner’s among us. Yorky’s is a Tooting Bec staple of bodybuilding, strength training and MMA.
Location: 4/5. Between Tooting Broadway and the overground, Yorky’s is spectacularly easy to get to for anyone on the Northern line of heading down from Clapham Junction.
Cost: 4.5/5. £4.50 for a single session is excellent and if you pay the full 12 months upfront it works out to £25 a month. I can hear your purse celebrating from here. The standard monthly membership is £40 which is a little steep IMO. But there are student discounts.
Quality: 4.5/5. The people will always go the extra mile for you, whether you’re looking to compete professional or just be more physically active, they’ll pay due care and attention. For a little extra you can top up your tan or beauty regiment in the on-site salon.
Cleanliness: 4/5. Almost always in good nick and you can tell the staff care about the place and their members.
Equipment Availability: 4.5/5. I’ve virtually never had to wait for any equipment and when I do, either the other members are happy to share or there’s viable alternatives.
Muscle Hut Gym
Smack bang in the middle of Leytonstone high road, Muscle Hut Gym is a brilliantly equipped gym. Full of good quality weight plates, heavy dumbbells and fans to keep the sweaty bastards like me cool, it’s an East end iron delight.
Location: 3/5. Leyton isn’t the most accessible area and it’s a 10 minute walk from the overground and underground stations.
Cost: 5/5. At £300 for a 12 month membership and only £20 for 2 weeks, it doesn’t get much better pricing than at Muscle Hut. You can buy a single session visit for £4.50 here.
Quality: 4.5/5. It’s a top notch bodybuilding gym and the culture is brilliant. People take it seriously but have seemingly close friends in the gym. Work hard play hard vibe with some top quality cardio equipment too.
Cleanliness: 4.5/5. The owners Yasin and Safdar have clearly but the time and effort in to make this a gym to come back to and gym hygiene and quality hasn’t been forgotten.
Equipment Availability: 4/5. I’ve only been a couple of times but have been told it can be a little busy at peak times. But that’s generally what you want from a higher quality gym. An atmosphere that breeds success probably means you may have to wait a little bit for the machine you’re after – but there are alternatives.
Owned by famed bodybuilder Ian Dowe, Dowe Dynamics is a family run gym in the heart of North London. I was a member there for a year and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a no frills, back to basics bodybuilding gym with an encouraging atmosphere.
Location: 4.5/5. A 1 minute walk from Archway tube, it’s supremely accessible from anywhere in North London on the Northern line.
Cost: 5/5. Anywhere from £6 a week to £15 per month, DD is brilliant value for money. You can buy a one off session from £5.40 here.
Quality: 3.5/5. The is solid if unspectacular. The staff are lovely and Ian’s nephew Anthony is a core part of the family run setup. There’s a small shop to buy some supplements from too which is a nice touch and the changing rooms are clean if unspectacular.
Cleanliness: 4/5. The old school setup is belied by the gym’s cleanliness. They do make an effort.
Equipment Availability: 4.5/5. I rarely found myself waiting for equipment at all. Early in the morning it was almost always empty. The evenings were busier, but I always enjoyed the atmosphere there.
Titan Fitness Centre
A great gym based on the ever buzzing Mare Street in ‘Ackney. The music’s great, the gym’s always buzzing and very friendly. There’s a few punchbags and the equipment is everything you’re looking for from a bodybuilding gym.
Location: 4/5. Mare Street. Not far from London Fields overground and pretty accessible for anyone central / east based. I’m always on a bike though so anything more central is great for me.
Cost: 4/5. I’ve only been a few times but it’s tricky to find online. You kind of have to just turn up, but it’s good value.
Quality: 4.5/5. Brilliant. I love the equipment. It’s old school bodybuilding but really well presented. The gym shop wasn’t exactly thriving when I went there, but I’ve heard it’s got better and the changing rooms and washing facilities are very solid too.
Cleanliness: 5/5. Glad to see so many reviews echoing my sentiments. They keep the place in such great condition.
Equipment Availability: 4.5/5. Always empty (ish) early mornings from my own experience. Anecdotally I’ve been told that it’s good in the evenings too.
This is a real old-school powerlifting gym; with a little bodybuilding on the side. Top notch platforms, eleiko weights and numerous squat racks with great bodybuilding and hypertrophy equipment to supplement your training.
It’s right in the heart of Putney in an couple of old houses knocked into one training facility. Really fantastic place to train and meet likeminded iron addicts, metal heads etc and they promise ‘to never be on Payasugym style websites‘ so I can’t help you there.
Location: 4,5/5. Right in the heart of Putney so very easy for anyone in the southwest. 5 minutes form the district line and overground.
Cost: 3.5/5. Slightly annoying it has no single session links, but it’s £40 / month to train there and it is worth it.
Quality: 4.5/5. The equipment on offer is brilliant and everything is almost elite level. It’s a little disconcerting working out in an old house and the cardio equipment / changing rooms aren’t amazing, but it’s brilliant.
Cleanliness: 4/5. They keep it in good nick for sure. It can look a little worse for wear at peak times but that’s due to the continued interest in such a great facility.
Equipment Availability: 3.5/5. It does get busy. And I mean really busy at peak times. And as the gym doesn’t open until late morning it’s a little frustrating if you’re a before work kind of guy.
Lastly, if you enjoyed this guide, then the best strongman gyms in London will be right up your street.
Well I hope you found all of this useful anyway. I’ll add to it whenever I visit one that deserves to be on the list and if there are any that you think I have missed please do let me know in the comments below.