At the start of the year, I had a huge number of responses to my post about gyms in Cambridge. How do gyms in the city differ from one another? Which gym should you choose, and why? And the most important question to a lot of people: how much do they really cost?
Here I share my favourite gyms in Cambridge, and a new opening i’m pretty excited about. My own fitness journey is for another day. If you’re interested, let me know, and i’ll share it some time…
Prices do not include sign up fees, which range from £15 (PureGym) to around £50 (David Lloyd)
The Best All Rounder & Best For Families
£80-£120 per month standard off-peak/peak
Membership Includes: Indoor & outdoor pool, sauna, steam room, jacuzzi, best equipped gym the city (IMO), fitness classes from yoga to Blaze. Cafe with all day food offering, free wifi, free kids club after school and on weekends for 3 year olds+
Additional Charges: Joining fee, towels, creche from age 3 months - 3 years, rackets membership (extensive tennis facilities), salon & physio on site.
The crèche at David Lloyd (9.30-11.30am) is the reason I got fit. It’s the reason I had to stick with it and not give up. When you have a baby, and no childcare, and everything in life goes a bit up in the air, making that trip to the gym during crèche times (it’s not like you can put it off until later) can really make the difference. David Lloyd is very expensive, and you pay extra for the crèche (priced per half hour) – but without a doubt it’s the best investment I made in those early months of parenthood.
The Blaze classes have you wearing a heart-rate monitor to compete against yourself, in 3 minute bursts of interval training (running, weights and combat). It’s a 40-mintute, 500 calorie fat burn and great fun too.
Most Affordable & Best Value
PureGym Grafton is completely new, and just £12.99 per month with no contract. So it’s obviously pretty ropey, full of rubbish equipment and smells weird, right? No. If I didn’t have kids, and didn’t need to spend extra time faffing around at a health club using the Wifi, PureGym would be the only gym membership I would need. I really recommend it. I’m a bit crazy about it. I tell everyone I meet.
When it comes to weights they have it covered. There are 3 squat racks (thats 1 more than £120pm David Lloyd) plus 2 Smith machines (vs 1 at David Lloyd) and 4 spaces to squat in the rig (4 more than David Lloyd). The app tells you how busy it is, but whenever I go, there’s been plenty of space and free equipment. Unlike its Leisure Park sister, this branch is still under-subscribed. They are looking to build membership with various offers on social media like 3 day free trials - so make sure you check out their current deals.
Inside PureGym is very ‘lockup and go’ - entry is via a code, drinks, padlocks & headphones are for sale in vending machines, and the changing rooms are very minimal. But they are clean and fine.
Membership even includes classes! Except Zumba, for which you pay a very small supplement. But don’t do Zumba. The truth of the matter is that PureGym have completely knocked it out of the park, and for those people who don’t give a hoot about a creche, a swimming pool or a spa - the other gyms in Cambridge just cannot compete on a price level.
Originating in Australia, F45 became a fitness phenomenon in London and now a franchise brach is opening in Cambridge. It’ll be located very near to Cambridge Train Station from April, offering functional 45 minute workouts, alternating between HIIT-style cardio, strength training, or a mixture of the two. At least 2 trainers are on-hand during a class, so F45 is intended to bridge the gap between PT training and impersonal group exercise classes. It has a reputation as a premium level offering with excellent facilities and amenities, and even - in some cases - live DJs for weekend workouts. This setup doesn’t come cheap. London prices are £25 per class or £195 per month for full membership. Expect Cambridge prices to be the same…
£49-£58 per month
Membership includes: Towels (unlike David Lloyd!), indoor pool, sauna & steam room, gym, cafe with basic offering, full range of fitness classes. This is a premium gym if you don’t need tennis or kids facilities.
£35 per month for full gym, weights & class access. There is a jacuzzi and great views over Parker’s Piece. The gym is recently refurbished but not as spacious as some of the other clubs.
£35 per month (or more for a shorter contract term: £55 for 1 month)
Membership includes: Indoor pool, gym & classes.
£50 per month
Membership includes: Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, gym and classes. Full spa on site with 8 treatment rooms at an additional charge. Upstairs is Six, a separate restaurant with panoramic views.
This month saw the official closure of Base Cambridge. CrossFit is a whole other post, but suffice to say it’s a big loss for the city centre. The other CrossFit boxes are a little further out, and as yet I haven’t been able to make another one work within my schedule. But I would really, really recommend you try one of these places if you live or work nearby. CrossFit can change your life, even if you’re completely new to fitness.
Price: Around £100 per month, dependent on class attendance at some CrossFit gyms
RNA - Button End Industrial Estate, Harson)
£65pm (2 classes per week) - £92pm
Or 10 classes for £97 / £12 drop-in
This is a super friendly, no-frills crossfit box with full classes and a great vibe. I’ve bumped into parents from nursery here – people who I had no idea were into fitness – which really speaks volumes for their open door policy. If you’ve never done crossfit before, contact them about foundations. Their flexible pricing structure is a great way to be inclusive, for both fitness fanatics and busy parents with less time to commit.
Stags & Does - Milton
Membership only, this CrossFit box is a favourite of many ex-Base members. I’ve heard they are really welcoming and they have a great sense of camaraderie, but beware the uneven floor!
Bearwalden - Saffron Walden
I’ve longed to live in SW ever since I saw the Bearwalden kids camp play a giant game of Hungry Hippo on Instagram. The sense of fun these guys emanate, combined with great programming and weekend bootcamp classes mean it’s my ideal CrossFIt box: just in the wrong town. Cambridge branch? Please?
Finally… Personal Training
Having a personal trainer is a big financial investment. If you’re new to fitness or want to make big changes, it’s probably an investment you’ll need to make in the short to medium term.
Price: £30-£60 per hour.
Having a weekly, regular trainer will cost you around £200 per month. Instead of that, I pay £40 per hour for occasional PTs, without Direct Debit commitments.
Some gyms such as David Lloyd throw in an introductory PT session for free, and check-ins every 6 weeks to update the programming for no cost. If you have a friend with similar goals, you could also try teaming up to share the price of a PT session.
If you’re looking for a trainer to help you improve form, to rehabilitate you after injury, to help you reach specific fitness targets like running or weightlifting, I recommend James Wilkinson. Whenever I need someone to really hurt me and push me to my limits, Selma Hannan is my woman.