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Private Gyms Vs Commercial Gyms in Singapore

There is never a better time to work out and get fit. Nowadays, gyms are popping up everywhere and it is extremely convenient for people visit a gym.

Decided to join a fitness club and start losing some weight? How do the larger, flashier commercial gyms compare with the smaller, more humble private gyms? Find out now!


Cost of Memberships

In most cases, membership prices to large commercial gyms or smaller private gyms are similar. However, in some cases, when you sign up for personal training services with a private gym, they offer you to train at their facility for free. The same is not true for large commercial gyms.

Commercial Gyms – 0
Private Gyms – 1


Cost and Quality of Personal Trainers

This is one area where the author thinks that the personal training system of commercial gyms is very unfair, both to their consumers and to their hardworking trainers. Let me explain. The rates for an hour long personal training session with a large commercial gym costs about $80. At this rate it is not very different from private gyms. However, what you don’t realise is that out of this $80, a very large percentage of the fee goes back to the club and the trainer only receives a meagre leftover. The sum of money paid to the gym is justified as the trainers are allowed to train their clients using the club’s facilities. But wait! Are the clients not paying for their membership to the gym already? Paying for personal training and having a large chunk of it go back to the gym for usage of equipment means that consumers are paying double for membership! This is ridiculous!

Continuing from here, it is well known that good personal trainers are not found in large commercial gyms (there are exceptions of course) due to the fact that the pay is so low that the capable ones would rather go freelance. Thus the turnover rate for personal trainers is high and most do not stay long enough to gain enough experience to help their clients reach their goals effectively.

In addition to this, some large commercial gyms now do not even require new staff to be certified as a personal trainer. All you need to do is to prove yourself to be a powerful salesman and chances are you’ll enter the company, undergo some in house courses that they provide and tada! you’re a personal trainer. This pathetic situation is also partly due the non existence of a regulation body for personal trainers. Anyone can call themselves a personal trainer. The next time you come across a personal trainer from a large commercial gym, ask them for the certifications they hold, the amount of experience they have as well as the rates at which they charge. You’ll be surprised!

Another dark secret that large commercial clubs don’t want you to know is their sales and marketing system that requires that all personal trainers to hit a certain quota in order not to get the boot. This extremely competitive, cut throat environment causes personal trainers to come up with a lot of hard sell tactics (instead of focusing on fitness) and makes for a really unpleasant training environment where you know that the next personal trainer who comes up to talk to you is trying to sell you a package. And how come this happens? It is due to the incompetency of the personal trainers to achieve results with their clients, subsequently losing them and so the need arises to seek more clients.

Commercial Gyms – 0
Private Gyms – 2



Since commercial gyms are so spacious, it is natural that they are packed with more equipment, even with some being labelled as ‘cutting edge’. Sometimes what you can find at smaller private gyms may just be a rack of dumbbells, a set of barbell with weight plates and some basic cardio machines.

Do you feel cheated since the membership fees are the same? Hang on! What you don’t realise is that free weights (dumbbells and barbells) are much more superior to machine training. Here is a quick summary of why machine training sucks:

Lack of use of stabilizing muscles

Unequal distribution of weight (with the stronger side ‘helping’ the weaker side, the strong side gets stronger and the weak side gets weaker)
Fixed planes of movement (movement is uniquely different for different individuals)

Feel better now? The truth is that the best gyms only have the most basic equipment. Of course large commercial gyms have these basic tools as well. You just have to learn techniques to executing the exercises using free weights and be on your way to a better body. And what better way to learn the ropes than to get a personal trainer for one on one guidance?

Score: Draw.



Commercial gyms nowadays are large and highly visible but if you dig hard enough you can actually find even more private gyms littered all over Singapore, most of them at locations convenient for you.

Score: Draw.



For this category, private gyms win, hands down. Unless you visit a commercial in the wee hours, there is a substantial number of members using the gym any time. Sometimes it is so packed that people literally queue up to use the treadmills. Many private gyms do not sell ordinary memberships and only allow usage of the gym when the client is accompanied with the gym’s personal trainer. With proper planning and allocation of slots, this helps to control the number of people in the gym at any one time.

Commercial Gyms – 0
Private Gyms – 3


There you have it – Commercial Gyms 0, Private Gyms 3. So the next time you’re stepping into a large commercial gym, think about whether you are really getting your money’s worth.

Personal Trainer Singapore Khit
About Tze Khit
Tze Khit is a distinguished personal trainer with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports & Exercise Science from Edith Cowan University. Passionate about optimizing human potential, he offers expertise in weight loss, toning, and rehabilitating injuries. His holistic methodology integrates human anatomy, physiology, and bespoke training plans, rooted in initial functional movement screening. Certified by the Singapore Sports Council and holding multiple National Council on Strength & Fitness accreditations, he masterfully employs techniques like myofascial release and neuromuscular activation, ensuring clients achieve their fitness aspirations swiftly and safely.


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