Commercial vs. Private Gym Facilities

Posted 13 Apr '21

Hi and welcome to the first ever Urban Base Fitness blog post! All of our blog posts and series will be designed to provide you with the most up to date information surrounding everything training, recovery, and all other things gym and our UBF community related.

Our first post is going to be regarding commercial versus private gym facilities. We will highlight some of the main differences between commercial gyms vs. UBF. Such as; quality of trainers, injury, recovery, load and athlete monitoring, form and technique, and athletic focus.

First things first!

How qualified are your trainers?

Do you know what qualifications your trainers have? 

At many commercial gyms the essential qualifications their trainers have to have are the bare minimum level required to work in the industry. Obviously everyone must start at the same point in the industry, however, too often commercial facilities place these trainers in situations which are far beyond their experience and qualifications! This not only results in poor training experiences and results for the clients, but also puts them at an increased risk of injury due to poor programming and exercise cueing. Is your trainer training you outside their level of experience and expertise?

At UBF all our coaches have an appropriate level of qualification, with some even holding university degrees. Along with this, as a team, all the coaches participate in upskilling and team training to keep up to date on any coaching techniques pertaining to coaching not only general population clients but athletes as well. This enables them to continue to provide the highest standard of coaching to ALL clients.

But, aren’t strength and conditioning coaches just for elite athletes?

Absolutely not. At UBF we believe in making the highest level of coaching available to EVERYONE!

OK, so I need to find a gym with highly qualified coaches! But how do I tell if my coach is right for me?

There are a number of ways to assess whether a trainer is going to be the right fit for you, one is their level of education and experience, another is how they program! Is your trainer programming individually for you, your needs and your goals? If your trainer can’t explain to you exactly why they have chosen certain exercises in a program and how that relates directly to YOU, you might need to start thinking about finding someone who will. 

At UBF our trainers do not use cookie cutter programs or a ‘one size fits all’ approach. We assess your goals, training history and functional movement patterning to ensure that your program is well rounded and specifically designed to meet your needs and goals!

Injury and Recovery

Commercial facilities regularly misunderstand the mechanisms surrounding injury, and thus don’t implement correct recovery and rehabilitation processes. They often think that recovery from injury entails foam rolling, some light stretching and having a few training sessions off. How many times have you had an injury or a niggle and ended up skipping training all together?

Have you ever had an injury and had your programming written around it, so that you can still train? 

Here at UBF all of our coaches understand how injury occurs, and have experience coaching clients with both acute and chronic injury. This coaching requires careful alterations and changes to certain exercises and overall programming to not only exercise around pain, but also continue training in the presence of injury which is something that commercial gyms just do not do. 

Have you ever sustained an injury and then not known when you can start training at 100%?

We have carefully constructed and programmed rehabilitation protocols for many differing types of injuries, which are implemented under the watchful eye of our experienced coaches. These protocols are designed in stages so that when you complete the final stage, you are ready to return to full training! Commercial facilities do not have these return to train or perform protocols and throw clients straight back into full training after a couple of sessions off, greatly increasing the risk of re-injury.

We understand that there is a lot more involved in recovery than just foam rolling and stretching. Along with our rehab protocols we also have mobility programming and both active and passive recovery procedures that all athletes and clients have access to. We offer ‘Recovery Monday’ sessions for our athlete members, which includes sports massage and ice baths. Check out our post on the UBF Performance Instagram page to learn about ice baths and cold water immersion!

So, I need to find a gym with highly qualified coaches who know how to work around and rehab an injury. But how do I prevent myself from getting injured in the first place?!

Load Management and Athlete Monitoring

Load management and athlete/client monitoring is something that tends to be overlooked by commercial gyms and trainers but is crucial in keeping client’s injury free and performing at their highest capability! Commercial facilities often think that to get the best results every session needs to be a flog session, every set needs to be performed to failure and that experiencing severe delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a sign of a successful session. They wrongly think that working yourself into the ground is the sign of an effective session!

Have you ever been asked for your ‘RPE’ throughout a training session?

At UBF we coach all of our clients like athletes. Haven’t heard of load management? This is the monitoring of athlete training loads, rate of perceived exertion (RPE), and fatigue levels at every session. We understand that not every session needs to be performed to complete exertion or failure, and our coaches program off testing results to ensure all exercises and lifts are completed at the correct sets, reps and load to elicit the best training response. 

Does your trainer track your training dosage and program deload weeks, or is every session a 10/10 hard?? If so, it might be time to start thinking about finding a new coach. 


Have you ever heard of velocity-based training (VBT)?

At UBF we also utilise the latest in VBT technology. This allows us to make sure that our clients are exercising at the correct intensity and not under or over training. A lot of commercial gyms and trainers don’t use periodised programming and just prescribe weights for clients off what they think they can lift or give no guidance at all and get clients to pick their own weights. Our coaches use scientifically based programming principles to gain the greatest results! 

What is overtraining? Check out our instagram post for more insight into overtraining syndrome and if this may be affecting your progress!

Form and Focus

Exercise form and technique are integral in maintaining quality training while also preventing injury! How often have you been performing an exercise and felt unsure whether you’re doing it right? Have you ever been doing deadlifts and felt strain in your lower back?

At UBF we pride ourselves on how we cue each exercise to correct any movement faults. Many other gyms prioritise just getting the exercise done or lifting as much weight as possible, rather than completing it with the correct technique and safe load. This places the clients at increased risk of injury, while also meaning training quality is affected.

We also ensure that we keep up to date with current cueing and coaching techniques for all exercises and continue upskilling with regular presentations and team training on all coaching techniques. Our Instagram page and those of our coaches often feature posts and coaching tips surrounding important factors such as valgus position, neutral spine and lumbo-pelvic control. This is a point of difference between UBF and other commercial facilities, as we provide educational content and insights into our coaching styles to our clients and followers! We don’t believe in gate keeping our knowledge and information, we believe in sharing it so that everyone can benefit!

Athlete Focus

The main point of difference between UBF and other facilities is our focus on field-based, court based and a range of other athletes. With this knowledge and experience, we train general population clients using the same principles and methods used in athletic development. 

Our coaches are passionate about increasing performance and enhancing the way that our clients move. This passion comes from having experience as athletes and knowledge of the scientific underpinnings of athletic development. There are very few gyms that are athlete focused, and even less that specialise in field-based athletes. Most trainers and gyms believe all that is involved in training athletes is making them strong. At UBF we know that strength isn’t the only quality that athletes need to perform well, that’s why we also prioritise movements such as jumping, landing, sprinting, lateral movement, agility, injury prevention, as well as many others.If you’re interested in reading more about why we include plyometric and jumping movements in our athletes programming, read our post on the stretch shortening cycle and why it matters in athletic development.

Dedicated space and equipment

How many times have you entered a busy gym and had no idea what exercises to do because the equipment you need is being used? When I used to train at a commercial gym, the answer was more often than not!

We ensure that we have dedicated space and equipment available for our clients and athletes. This means that there is no limit on programming as we can sequence sessions properly, enough equipment is always available so you can do your program exactly as it is intended, and we have a surplus of specialised equipment so the variation of movements and programming is endless to elevate you towards your goals!

Our gym floor space is extremely open. We don’t have pin loaded machines and treadmills everywhere taking up floor space. If you have seen our set up, you would agree that we have an abundance of space so you will never feel as though you don’t have enough room, particularly for athletic movements like bounding and jumping! 

How different is UBF in comparison to your gym?

Keep an eye out on all our social media platforms for both UBF and UBF Performance updates and posts regarding the training of all our clients and athletes. Also look out for more upcoming blog posts on all things strength and conditioning!

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