The Rise and Rise of the Pure Gym

Annie Hayes

From Men's Health

If there’s one thing we advocate for at MH, it’s that health is not solely for men with deep pockets. A dumbbell is a dumbbell and at the end of the day, your muscles can’t differentiate between The Rock’s monster home gym setup and that set of rusty kettlebells in your garden shed.

The boutique gym market is booming, and there’s no shortage of spaces to sweat if nightclub sound systems and £6 adaptogenic recovery smoothies are your thing. But where can a man go when he’s yearning to shift some tin in an old Simpsons t-shirt?

For around £18.99 per month, PureGym does away with the swimming pools and infra-red saunas that, let’s face it, you never really get around to using. The reception desk is replaced by a PIN-entry door system, and there’s no overpriced cafe – just more space and more equipment. You're there to workout, after all.

“Whether it is watching online movies, grabbing a cab or getting a takeaway, people today want great value, great quality and great experience,” says Stephen Rowe, chief marketing officer at PureGym. “This is the basis for our gyms a great gym, at a great price where everybody is welcome.

“We invest in the very best kit, design a great environment and keep our gyms clean and fresh. As our brand ambassador Sir Chris Hoy said, ‘PureGym has 99 per cent of what 99 per cent of people could need’.”

Entrepreneur Peter Roberts founded PureGym back in 2009 with a vision: make fitness affordable and accessible for all. His mission started with two sites in Manchester and Leeds, and the no-frills, no-contract model quickly caught on. A decade on, and PureGym is Britain’s largest gym chain by membership – accommodating more than one million members across 239 studios, which stretch from Aberdeen to Plymouth.

Pure Gym Membership

Before the rise of the value gym sector, joining a gym was an expensive business, Rowe says, citing “twelve month contracts, typically £40 to £50 pounds per month and even higher for premium gyms. As a low price, no-contract model, PureGym took a £500 decision and turned it into an £18.99 decision.”

As well as the price, one of PureGym’s biggest draws must be its ‘Netflix’-style contract. In an economy where the average membership locks you in for longer than the lease on your rented flat, PureGym puts the decision-making power back in your hands – a huge pull for those of us suffering from commitment burnout. You also have the option to freeze your membership for up to three months at no additional cost.

“Unlike many gym operators, PureGym offers its members flexibility in membership as well as access to high quality equipment at a low cost,” says Rowe. “A great gym at a great price is central to our success, but equally important has been our no-contract model – join when you want, leave when you want. Unlike contract gyms, we have to work hard every day to make sure our members get a great experience every visit so they are happy to stay.”

It takes a few click to register online and you can begin exercising within minutes, no matter what the clock says, since most PureGym studios are open 24/7 or thereabouts, 365 days per year. “This is particularly important for many of our members who work irregular hours, or simply want to exercise before work or late at night,” says Rowe.

And with 239 sites across the UK and more to open in the coming months, “most people are not far from a PureGym which is important, as simply being able to get to the gym in and around our busy lives really helps,” he continues. “We also offer multi-gym memberships so people have the choice of working in and around both home and work, removing the ‘hard to get to the gym’ excuse that we all use.”

Oh, and if you’re away from your usual gym, or want to try before you buy, PureGym offers pay-as-you-go passes, too. These vary in price according to location, so you’ll need to check the PureGym locator on the website for specific information about your nearest studio.

Pure Gym Facilities

All well and good of course, but what do you actually get for your money? An extensive free weights selection with plate-loaded equipment, dumbbells up to 50kg, plus squat racks and Olympic platforms. There’s also a huge range of resistance machines and a well-kitted-out functional training space packed with kettlebells, medicine balls and, in some gyms, battle ropes and rope pulls. Cardio-wise, expect the usual treadmills, cross trainers, stair climbers, steppers, exercise bikes and rowing machines to test your endurance and stamina.

“Members also have access to over 50 free exercise classes a week, ranging from cardio to strength training and everything in-between,” says Rowe. “In addition to these classes, members have access to a number of expert personal trainers at each gym, who can help support, motivate and train them to achieve their goals.”

Optional membership ‘bolt-ons’ include preferential class bookings, body composition scans, vitamin-laced sports water dispensers, massage chairs, and the option to bring a mate along for free four times a month. All clubs have changing facilities with individual showers and lockers. You just need to remember to bring a towel, your toiletries and a padlock.

For those who are embarking on a new fitness regime, the gym can initially seem like a daunting space to get your sweat on. At PureGym the emphasis is heavily on inclusivity.

“What is also important to people is to train in a friendly environment where they feel welcome,” explains Rowe. “We work hard to create an environment where everybody can enjoy the gym, no matter where they are on their fitness journey or where they are trying to get to.”

Pure Gym Classes and Courses

PureGym runs around 50 to 80 classes per week on average, from yoga and pilates to abs circuits and kettlebell workouts. Most classes are included as part of the membership package at no additional cost, and can be booked through the PureGym app, which is available on both the App Store and Google Play. Every site also offers a six week-long Pure Lifestyle coaching course, which equips attendees with training, nutrition and motivation tips according to their goals.

Pure Gym Locations

Don’t waste time Googling ‘Pure Gym near me’; instead click here to find a full location list depicting each site – with more to come as the year goes on. For those living further out, the chain has designed a reduced gym format to cater to towns with somewhat smaller populations.

“Our vision at PureGym is to inspire a healthier nation,” Rowe continues. “The key to this is providing affordable access to a great gym for as many people as we can, and this means continuing to expand our gym network.

“There are plenty of areas across the UK that would benefit from a gym like ours and we are always seeking places to introduce a new PureGym. We are on course to open many more gyms in the UK this year, providing fitness facilities to more and more areas within the UK.”