Joining a Gym At University: A Honest Guide
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Joining a Gym At University: An Honest Guide

Seth Nobes January 16, 2022

Staying fit is one of the many things that is often neglected when people move to university. That could be first years eagerly gaining their independence in September, or final years coming back for exams for the final time after Easter. However, the positive influence exercise can have on your mental health suggests it is worth maintaining whilst studying for your degree.

At university, there are almost limitless sporting opportunities on offer, with a good amount of money invested in the facilities to assist with this. As a result, the sporting resources at students’ disposal is seriously impressive. For instance, the extremely successful Jamaican athletics team used the facilities at the University of Birmingham to train ahead of both the London 2012 Olympics and the 2017 World Championships. 

Gyms at universities are built to a high standard, with state of the art equipment on offer to students. This, coupled with the proximity to both student accommodation and university campus, makes joining the gym at your university the best option for students looking to pump some iron. Or so it would seem.

Is the gym a better option?

It could be argued that students would be better off getting a membership at a gym outside of the university. The main factors behind this include opening hours, costs, and the potential for student discount.

To help take a deeper dive into each of these points, ten universities from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have been researched. By the end, it will hopefully become clear what your best option is for joining a gym at university.

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Out of the ten universities researched, only the gym at Solent University opened later than 6:30am and 7am between Monday and Friday, with their doors unlocked at 12pm. The earliest gym to close was Abersywth, at 8pm. Every gym shuts its doors between 8pm and 11pm, meaning the afternoon and early evening are best workout times for gyms owned by the universities on a weekday. 

Weekend workouts

On the weekends, all but the gym at Solent are open. But their opening time tends to be a bit later, with only Stirling having the same opening time seven days a week. University gyms tend to open to those sensible people without hangovers from the night before between 8am and 9am. The earliest closing time on the weekends is at the gym at the University of Aberystwyth, at 4:30pm. Closing times vary between the ten gyms researched. The most common is between 7pm and 9pm, for those really eager to burn off that Sunday lunch. 

The three biggest gym companies in Britain (Puregym, Anytime Fitness, and Snap Fitness) have a combined 500 gyms throughout the United Kingdom, with one of the advantages being the large majority are open 24/7. Out of these three, only Puregym clearly offers a student discount, with 10% off the first six months membership. On the Anytime Fitness website it does state that ‘it is up to each location to opt-in to offer student discount,’ but the details of such are unclear. There is no mention of a student discount on the Snap Fitness website. 

Here is a list of ten university gym memberships

Note: membership covers prepaid access to the gyms during opening hours

University of Exeter- £220 

Solent University- £9.99 per month

University College London- £245

University of Birmingham- £235 for six months 

Newcastle University- £19 per month

University of Stirling- £175

Queen’s University Belfast- £240

Aberystwyth University- Free if you live in student accommodation/£125

University of Bath- £299

Loughborough University- £234

The average price of a university gym membership at these ten unis is: £220/£24.50 a month

Below is a list of the costs of the three gym companies memberships:

Puregym- Between £14.99 and £25.99 a month (10% student discount for first six months)

Anytime Fitness- £39.95 a month

Snap Fitness- £26.95 a month

Therefore, it is only cheaper to join Puregym, and then that is still only dependent on location. 

Based on the research, alongside the ease and proximity, Freshered recommends joining your university gym during your time studying. 

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Seth Nobes is a freelance writer for Freshered, focusing on university sport. He is currently studying for an MA in Sports Journalism, as well as the NCTJ diploma, at St Mary's University, Twickenham after graduating with a BA (Hons) in History from the University of Birmingham. Seth is also an editor for the Sports Gazette, with a keen focus on cricket. He has written and commentated on a wide variety of sports, ranging from football and rugby, to sailing and judo, for publications such as Vavel, Deep Extra Cover, Burn FM, and Redbrick. He is also a long-suffering Watford fan, for his sins.