Jack France gives the low down on budget gyms and sports facilities in Bristol..

There is something enticing about the promise of a bargain gym membership. There has been a sudden influx of ‘budget’ gyms popping up in Bristol so you may be wondering which gym offers the best value for money. Whether your reason for wanting a membership is for aesthetics or for health; this guide will give you a breakdown of options help and find which option suits you! I have no affiliation with any gym, and as such I am more than happy to question whether these budget gyms offer a real bargain or no value at all!

Budget gyms pic by 'colonnade'

The first question to ask yourself is this: Will I be motivated enough to go? The trick here is honesty. For our ideally perceived selves, the answer is always a resounding yes, but statistics don’t lie. You may not keep it up. The best thing to do if you are in doubt is to avoid these budget gyms altogether – though in the long run the value they offer is unmatchable.  Costly joining fees and a month’s required membership could lead to one very expensive gym session (if you even make it to that!) Unfortunately, good intentions and a lack of realistic expectations often leads to more than one direct debit payment being taken needlessly.


Start by finding a gym which offers a pay as you go option – Easton leisure centre offers off-peak concessionary prices for students at the low cost of £4.30/session. If pumping iron isn’t your idea of fitness bliss, Easton leisure centre also offers swimming sessions for £2.15. On top of that, the centre has a range of classes on offer at similar prices, as well as courts and pitches available to rent if you want to get fit with friends. The benefits of this type of centre are obvious; the sheer range of activities on offer is mind blowing. When combined with its short term commitment costs, it is a clear choice for anybody doubting their long term fitness motivations. If however, you do start going to the gym twice a day, or even three times a week, this kind of membership becomes unviable very quickly, in which case, the budget gyms are given a platform to come into their own!


Are they the best option? All of the sports centres I will outline offer free classes, with varying degrees of intensity. This is fantastic if you need a more enforced structure to your training. However it is important to note, these kinds of gym are essentially self-service – once you have passed your induction you are left to your own devices. Pure Gym comes in at £18.99/month with a one-off £25 joining fee, coming in at the higher end of cheap; the facilities on offer are pretty extensive, 220 pieces of equipment in fact. Fitness4Less comes in at just £15.99/month; however the facilities on offer are far less extensive; just less than 100 pieces of equipment are available. The Gym comes in with the slightly higher price of £16.99/month with a one-off joining fee of £20.00 with 93 cardiovascular machines, and 35 strength machines. Budget gyms can offer these low prices because of cut backs in other areas, so don’t expect swimming pools, saunas or massages! The Gym and Pure Gym are both open 24 hours a day, which can definitely help you avoid waiting for machines (assuming you don’t mind going to the gym at ungodly hours).


Of course, there is an alternative, the cheapest of all options – and the one that (arguably) offers the greatest functional strength – body weight fitness! With a little guidance in developing a balanced routine, you can eventually achieve feats such as one-arm pull ups and handstand press ups. The real benefit is that the only piece of equipment you require is a pull up bar. These can be bought for around £10, which helps you avoid those accumulating direct debits from costly gyms. The challenge is not for the faint of heart though; this kind of bedroom bulking has distractions everywhere: Facebook, your textbooks (maybe), television, and that Playstation 4 you bought with all the money you saved on gym memberships.

So now there are no excuses, the research is done for you, choose an option and go with it – or risk never losing that Fresher’s flab!