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What Is a Private Gym?

Dan Cavallari
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A private gym is any fitness facility that has restricted membership or access. Most private gym facilities either require a membership fee or some other qualification for membership, and the general public is not allowed to use the facility. Such gyms feature much of the same equipment as any other fitness center or gym, but the private gym may limit the number of users, meaning less wait time and less risk of damage to the equipment. More exclusive private facilities may be invitation-only facilities, meaning one cannot use the facility without being invited by the gym itself or by another member of the gym.

Private gym facilities tend to be more expensive than public gyms, but they also offer much more privacy and one on one attention. Personal trainers are often on hand to help gym users improve their workouts or participate in classes. The equipment in the facility is kept in excellent condition, partly because the fees associated with membership allow the gym to maintain or replace equipment, but also because fewer users are likely to use the equipment, meaning wear and tear will be limited.

The fees associated with a private gym usually include a monthly membership fee as well as a one-time initiation fee. Some private gyms offer discounts or waivers on initiation fees, but most private members will have to pay some sort of initiation fee that will go toward the upkeep and general maintenance of the gym, as well as toward the salaries of the various employees of the gym. More expensive gyms may offer amenities not present at public gyms, such as private changing rooms, private showers, free massage services, reserved parking spaces, reserved lockers, assigned personal trainers, and so on.

Personal trainers may also open their own fitness centers that are small, personal spaces meant to be used by only one or two people at a time. Such sessions usually focus on the individual, and the trainer will design a plan specifically for that user. The idea behind these gyms is to provide one on one coaching without the distractions of a public gym. These sessions can also be held in gyms or fitness centers, though the idea of one-on-one training must remain intact even in a public space. The most private gym, of course, is the home gym, and some gated communities even have private facilities specifically for residents of the community.

Private Gym vs Public Gym 

Private gyms have stringent membership restrictions, such as residency, status, or high costs, and access is limited to those members or by invitation only. Public gyms may or may not have basic membership restrictions, but access is less limited, and often free trials are available to the general public. Other public gyms include recreation and park areas with indoor and outdoor fitness equipment and spaces for free public use. 

Choosing the Right Gym 

Despite having access to a private gym, some people opt for a local public gym instead. Others may have many gym choices but still seek out a private gym’s more expensive one-on-one training sessions. To determine the best fit for you, consider both the pros and cons of public and private gyms. 

Private Gym Considerations 

Remember, private gyms can exist in many forms. Usually, they are an option in select residences, have higher enrollment and membership fees, and have specific requirements for registration and maintaining membership. 


Less Waiting

A smaller membership population means fewer people in the gym at any given time. 

No Strangers 

Controlled enrollment ensures that you know the people with whom you will share the facility.

Individual Attention 

One-on-one services such as personal trainers provide individual attention for specific needs.

Additional Amenities 

Complimentary services such as massage, saunas, or esthetician services are frequently available in private gyms included in your membership costs or as gratuity only. 


Less Equipment

Since private gyms are for a smaller number and usually specific to a limited population, the machines are typically fewer than at a public gym, which may cause a wait.

Limited Space

Smaller populations also mean smaller spaces; if you are uncomfortable working out a few feet away from your neighbor or fellow alumni, a private gym may feel cramped. 

Less Availability

Timing can be tricky. Private gyms are not always open and staffed like larger gyms. While they often have extra amenities, your schedule may limit your access to them. 

Increased Distraction 

It can be challenging to work out with your neighbor. Whether you are friends or not, the interaction may shift the focus of your workout from gains to gab or uncomfortable avoidance since you are in such close quarters. 

Public Gym Considerations 

Public gyms are usually low-cost or sometimes even free, depending on the programs in your area. Public gyms are typically part of more extensive franchises and are sizeable fitness facilities. Membership may or may not be required to attend, but most people easily meet the qualifications for enrollment. 


Friendly Competition 

While other people may feel crowded at a public gym, some feel invigorated by others at optimum health and peak performance. Many people report ha they work harder for longer when other people are doing the same. 

Class Options 

Community fitness classes led by skilled instructors are part of public gym culture. Classes are held at varying times throughout the day to meet different scheduling and preference needs.

More Equipment 

Larger gyms may have more people that may potentially increase your wait time, but they also have far more equipment than most smaller private gyms. Rather than three treadmills for an entire community, a public gym may have 20 to serve the needs of its membership population. 

Expanded Access

Some public gyms are now open 24 hours. Many doctors, nurses, line workers, and others whose jobs keep them from regular 9-to-5 hours appreciate more and different hours to squeeze fitness into their busy schedules. 


More Distractions 

Depending on your goals and your level of focus, a public gym can be a very distracting place. From new people to loud music and noises, it can be challenging to keep your attention on fitness. 

Limited Attention 

Public gyms sometimes offer individual training classes on top of standard membership fees, but the sessions are typically held within the general population. The attention may feel limited and awkward to those that prefer a more private setting. 

Larger Population 

Public gyms are usually busy with a lot of people. Depending on the time of day, it could be crowded, and you could have to wait. The sheer number of equipment often prevents this problem, but if you are looking for a spot in a class or a particular machine, be sure to plan your trip accordingly. 

Uncontrolled Membership

While private gms ensure that you know who you are working out next to, public gyms do not always have the same luxury. Though there are some qualifications for enrollment, negative influences can still sometimes slip through the enrollment process.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Dan Cavallari
By Dan Cavallari , Former Writer
Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.

Discussion Comments

By julies — On Nov 01, 2011

As an employee of a local hospital, I have access to a private gym located in the hospital. This is a very nice facility that really doesn't get used very often.

It doesn't have quite as many machines as the gym I used to work out at, but I love using it because there is hardly ever anybody there.

The equipment they do have is in good condition and not very old. I would much rather use this private gym knowing I won't need to wait in line for something and not have to fight the crowds.

I never used a personal trainer before when I was working out and prefer to just get in, complete my workout and get on with the rest of my day.

This private gym is perfect for me and I have even saved some money every month because I don't have to pay an extra gym membership fee.

By bagley79 — On Nov 01, 2011

My son began working at a private gym as a sales person. His job was basically to promote gym memberships. This was an exclusive private gym and one of the most expensive ones in our metropolitan area.

He was interested in fitness and working out even before he began this job, but eventually went through personal trainer training and became a personal trainer at the gym.

He enjoyed this much more than the sales job and even made more money at it. He likes the atmosphere and amenities that a provide gym provides.

It is way too expensive for my taste, but it is quite nice and I can see how people enjoy using a private gym and how it might be hard to go back to a public gym once you were used to it.

By backdraft — On Oct 31, 2011

I train at a private gym that is only for MMA fighters. It has a full weight room as well as several simulated octagons and a big room with mirrors and mats.

It costs a monthly fee to train there and honestly the fee is higher than most gyms around here. But you get guided training from someone who knows what they are doing and you get access to a community that really knows a lot about MMA. I end up really liking the fact that it is only fighters. We can all focus on what we are doing instead of trying to contend with old women trying to get back onto shape.

By manykitties2 — On Oct 31, 2011

Does anyone know if there are personal trainer courses that would let you work exclusively for private gyms, or is it more luck as to whether or not you get into one of the really nice gyms?

I have been considering getting my certification as a personal trainer, as I already teach a few yoga classes at my local public gym. While the extra money is nice, I find that the facilities aren't the best. I would really like to have access to a gym with the best equipment that wasn't overcrowded, so it seems that working with higher end clientele just might do the trick.

By lonelygod — On Oct 31, 2011

There is a facility near my condo that is a personal trainer gym which focuses entirely on personal trainer workouts. As far as I know you can only go there through invitation only, as it is a pretty exclusive private gym.

I've only know one person who went to that gym and she was adamant that it was a fantastic experience but really expensive. She told me that they only have one client at a time in the main gym area and if you want something like a cardio workout you can have an entire studio to yourself. I was really impressed with the idea, but I just can't see paying a fortune for a gym like that unless you were a model or something.

By dfoster85 — On Oct 30, 2011

I lived in an apartment complex once that had a pretty nice little fitness room as these things go. The biggest thing is that it had two treadmills so that two people could work out together. It also had one of those weight towers that has lat pull-downs, a rowing station, etc. You know, the kind with modular handles.

A lot of apartment complexes say they have a fitness room, but it's like one treadmill and one stairmaster and one of them is always broken; they just have it so they can say they have it. This was something that you could really use! It had a TV you could watch, too. It wound up being very private because not that many people used it. But I still always brought my own mat. Gym germs, yuck!

By Bhutan — On Oct 29, 2011

@Suntan12 -I love going to a health and fitness club because I can meet friends for a workout which would make it more likely that I will continue my workout.

Sometimes when I get off work, I really don’t feel like hitting the gym, but if I know that my friends are going to be there than I feel a sense of obligation and I end up going. I feel so good afterward and I have to say that this really keeps me motivated.

A lot of health and fitness clubs offer specialty classes like Zumba or Spinning classes that might make your workout a little more fun than simply working out on your treadmill at home.

For me the energy of the other people in the class keeps me going when I am ready to give up. I would not have this feeling if I worked out at home alone. It really is something to think about. I rather workout with other people than workout alone because it is just more fun and the time goes by faster when I do.

By suntan12 — On Oct 29, 2011

@Moldova - The one good thing about a gym health club membership is all of the available personal trainers that can help you achieve a more efficient workout.

I always have the problem that I get stuck working out a certain way and after a while my body gets used to it and then I am not achieving any more gains in fitness or in reducing my body fat content.

This is where a personal trainer can really help and shake up your exercise routine so that you continue to feel great afterwards. My trainer normally adds short intervals of anaerobic exercises like a really fast sprint in the middle of my workout which really helps to rev up my metabolism and gives me more energy.

He also makes me swing my arms and legs side to side while leaning forward as fast as I can for a minute or two. It really does make a difference.

By Moldova — On Oct 28, 2011

I have had many health and fitness club memberships and my favorite health and fitness club was one that was located in the building in which I worked.

My company was in a large business district and this building had the most beautiful state of the art gym that I have ever seen. It has television sets on the treadmills as well as on the other elliptical machines and beautiful private showers.

What I loved most about this gym was that not only was it clean, but it was rarely crowded. I have been to other gyms and not only were the gyms crowded but I could not stand the smell of sweat that you smell in the air when you go into one of these crowded gyms. It was really offensive.

I also hate when people use exercise equipment and don’t wipe it down. It is really disgusting. I try to work out of my home because these things really turn me off about fitness health clubs.

Dan Cavallari

Dan Cavallari

Former Writer

Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.
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