8 differences between a no-frills gym and a health club

spa towels on table with rubber duck

Recently I switched from The Gym group to Bannatyne’s and I just wanted to write up my thoughts about the difference between a no-frills gym and a so-called health club.

Upgrading gyms did not come easy to me, I have been a loyal member of The Gym for around three years now, which makes me feel quite old, and honestly I have never really had a problem with it. I was always under the impression that you don’t need to pay more for all those extras as long as the equipment was good quality and varied. This is something I  still stand by, but now I am one of those people who want the extras.

Anyway here are the main differences…

(Can I also just say I was not paid by either of these gyms, I just thought it might be helpful.)

The price

Obviously no-frills gyms come at a cheaper price because you are getting less of a service. I paid £15.99 a month at the Gym Group, whereas I pay almost £30 for the same membership at Bannatyne’s. A no-frills gym is a good option if you aren’t sure how much usage you’ll get from the gym, as it’s not a huge amount to pay if you don’t end up going often.

Swimming pool

The main reason I switched gyms is because I wanted to be able to use the swimming pool, steam room and sauna. The majority of budget gyms don’t have pool facilities and the Gym group is no exception. There’s something about water that is just so relaxing, I love being able to leave my phone in my locker and switch my mind off for an hour after my workout, especially if I’ve had a stressful day at work.


Although the Gym did provide free fitness classes, they were always so full because it was on a first-come-first-serve basis and they were conducted in the middle of the gym floor, so you felt like everyone was watching. I feel quite self conscious in classes anyway, so I always ended up skipping them, or forgetting they were on.

Bannatyne’s has an app where you can browse classes and book which ones you want to attend, so they never become too full. They have a proper spinning studio (which is amazing by the way) and huge variety of classes like Bodypump, Meta Fit and Body Attack. I’ve only tried spinning at the moment, but I’m excited to try the others.

Opening hours

The Gym Group was 24 hours, which I used to love while I was a student and didn’t used to go to bed until 3am, but I found myself going in peak hours more often as I started working. Bannatynes is only open until 10pm on weekdays and I think it closes at 9pm on a weekend. This doesn’t make a huge difference to me, but it does mean I have to make sure I go to the gym before 8pm to get in a full workout and swim.


No word, not business; I am referring to how many people are in the gym at the same time. Assuming that this week isn’t a freak anomaly, Bannatyne’s is a lot less busy than the Gym was, even at 6pm on a weeknight (that time is usually a no-go for me at the Gym because it was like exercising in a bus que). The Gym is the cheapest in the city centre, so it’s understable that it gets so busy at peak time, but this is something to bear in mind if you want to pump iron straight after work.


So I’m going to get excited about sweat now…or the elimination of it! At Bannatyne’s they have paper towels and disinfectant spray in every room so you can wipe down the equipment after use, which is so much better than taking in the same sweaty towel that you’ve used for a week and rubbing all your old sweat on a machine to get your new sweat off, OR forgetting your towel completely and trying to wipe the machine down with your top (which i have definitely never done….) Yay for hygiene!

General aesthetics

Ok I don’t want to completely slate the Gym, because it’s pretty good considering how cheap it is, but Bannatyne’s is so much nicer in general.

For a start it’s cleaner, I haven’t seen mud all over the floor or clumps of hair anywhere. The locker rooms are nice, the lockers are actually big enough to fit your gym bag in and there are hair dryers (FYI though, there are no plug sockets so you can’t straighten your hair post dry). It’s also a lot more spacious so you don’t feel like other people are walking all over you during your workout and I haven’t seen anyone queuing for a machine!


The one thing I do not like about Bannatyne’s is that it doesn’t have free wifi, it has it’s own wifi but it’s really slow and doesn’t work properly for my phone. Perhaps that’s just my problem, but it’s annoying because I have to make sure I have downloaded music from spotify beforehand, I tried to do a workout listening to Drake and it was not good. I gotta hand it to them, the Gym has excellent wifi!

So yeah, sorry if this was a boring post but maybe it will help some of you who don’t know whether it’s worth paying a bit more for a fancy health club. In my opinion, it is a lot nicer, but a no-frills gym does the job just fine.