Student Gyms in Oxford: How to choose?

When trying to decide which gym is best to sign up to, it can be really confusing to troll through all of the advertisements and promotions that fill your inboxes, especially at this time of the year. As a fresher, I signed up to a gym just by clicking on the first link that came up without really considering the benefits of each option. So, here are your sports editors serving up some 2020 gym-spiration.

The first gym that you are likely to hear about on arriving in Oxford is probably PureGym. With over 200 gyms across the UK, Pure are a pretty big name amongst students and other gym-lovers alike. For £19.99 a month, you get a membership to use over 220 pieces of high-quality equipment 24/7 and access to their group exercise classes. The one thing to be wary of as a student joining any gym, though, is the joining fee – this isn’t obviously advertised and can make a membership quite costly. Currently, PureGym are currently doing a flash deal where students can avoid this joining fee and join for free, as well as getting discounts on the first month of membership. The price for personal training sessions currently ranges from £30-£65, but if you’re looking for a more immersive, group experience, the gym has 50 free classes per week, with fewer on the weekends and roughly 13-15 on weekdays, spread throughout the day.

Particularly with PureGym, it is definitely worth considering how committed you are before you book onto a class; although the spaces are generally widely available and you can leave it relatively late before signing on, if you miss a class more than three times, there is an 8-day period in which you are blocked from booking any more classes. The good news is that you can book up to 8 classes at once and have until 24 hours before to cancel! So overall, PureGym is very popular amongst students, which could be a blessing or a curse (depending on whether you want a busy gym atmosphere or whether you like to train in a more private, individual setting.) One student added, “I feel comfortable with PureGym and can’t see myself changing any time soon. I’m a member in the PureGym near to my home, so I really trust them and know how the membership works.”

Buzz Gym is also one of the big gym names in Oxford, and also has gyms in places such as Slough and a new venue opening in London Harrow. Unlike PureGym, few students have heard of Buzz before arriving in Oxford and its location on the rooftop of Westgate means it can be quite easy to miss. Buzz offer a range of memberships, but the standard one comes at £22.99 per month, or £19.99 for students. Students who choose to enrol at Buzz Gym are always granted a no joining fee deal and lowered membership price, as well as the opportunity to freeze your membership and unfreeze it later, making breaking from the gym far easier. Like PureGym, Buzz currently have a January deal on, where you get a free personal training session if you begin a membership with them.

If you wanted to have a personal trainer without the cost, Buzz Gym offer a personal training program, which costs £15 and includes advice from a trained professional on how to achieve your personal goals.  The thing that really sets Buzz apart from other gyms is the fact that they try to create a really unique gym experience. They have regular ‘Club Nights’, where DJs come and play sets in the cardio section of their gym with lights to create a motivating atmosphere. When I joined Buzz I felt like the gym had a completely different feel to any other gym I had ever used. The TV screens around the workout spaces and the loud music with different zones really appealed to me as someone who loves music.

Another option for frequent gym-goers is the gym in the Iffley Road Sports Centre. For those unaware, ‘Iffley’ is the proverbial home of Oxford sport, playing host to grass pitches, a running track and a swimming pool, as well as the facilities the sports centre itself has to offer. Iffley actually has three different gyms; the main gym, the powerlifting gym and an outdoor gym too. Since it is a small part of the wider sports centre, the main gym feels slightly restricted and was described by one student as ‘quite limited’. Having visited on a number of occasions, the space does definitely feel cramped; however, one clear positive for students is the agreeable pricing. For any current student at Oxford, Iffley offers a 1-year membership for just £69, so if all you’re planning on using is basic weights and cardio machines, Iffley could be the gym for you.

As already mentioned, Iffley also boasts a powerlifting gym and an outdoor gym. Access to the latter is already included in the standard gym membership and is a nice alternative in the summer months when the sun is shining. The powerlifting gym though is where Iffley really comes into its own. As quoted on the Oxford Sport website, ‘the equipment within the gym includes an Olympic lifting platform, two squat cages, a combo rack and an Olympic bench press.’ Furthermore, the flexible memberships and passes available means that you can apply for a powerlifting only pass, or simply add it on to your existing gym membership. If you’re a more casual gym visitor, Iffley is certainly a very viable option.


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