Throughout January and February, we have seen a number of people asking within forums and groups for gym recommendations in Lytham. The vast majority of respondents fell into one of two camps – YourGym or the YMCA leaving many undecided as to which one is best!
In this article we evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each establishment – having been a member of both facilities.
Important – Neither of the gyms are aware that we are providing this review, and have not incentivised us in any way to do so.
How did they score?
Gym Equipment & Facilities
YourGym has invested heavily in equipment, studios and kit – there’s absolutely no doubt that their facilities are second to none. With several bench/squat rigs, a dedicated Deadlift Platform, two large rooms filled with machines, a Skill Athletic studio, a Cardio suite, a Fit Lab, Yoga studio and outdoor space in the summer, there cannot possibly be anything someone needs that they don’t have to offer. A smoothie bar has recently been added, and a Sauna is in the process of being built.
YMCA has a much smaller setup – although it does have everything most people would need, the equipment just isn’t as fancy, or plentiful. We have however taken into consideration the use of other YMCA sites which are included in the membership, which includes St Annes Swimming Pool. Bottom line – for most regular people, the YMCA has everything you need to work out. But if weighlifting is your thing you might be frustrated with the one small area.
YourGym have recently refurbished their changing rooms, with individual shower trays and modern decor. The only reason we haven’t given this a 10 – some premium gyms have complementary use of GHDs, towels/robes and premium bathing products. Picky I know.
YMCA – we are sorry YM, but your changing rooms are gross. Think council civic centre in the 90’s. Council beige-tiled floor, public toilet partitions, and the place is freezing cold in winter.
Quality of Classes
YourGym have a very well-run programme, classes are rarely the same. They are fun and challenging, with some cool features such as Skill and Zones classes (where you are provided with a heart monitor, displaying your heart rate zones on screen and paired to your Wellness App) Hot Yoga/Hot Vinyasa are also available at YourGym, at a £3 supplement for members, or inclusive in a Platinum Membership (£59pm) It should be noted that lots of the classes take place in the Fit Lab, which is very dark and the music loud. This is obviously a personal preference, some people will love it and so we haven’t marked them down for this as we realise it’s entirely subjective – but we feel the loud, dark environment to be ‘sensory overload’ and a little overwhelming.
YMCA also has some great classes, (personal favourites are Circuits and Barbell Class, although the latter has now been discontinued) but sadly they can get a little repetitive and are cancelled at short/no notice a little more often than is considered acceptable. Classes are held in large, airy rooms with good lighting and although there is music, it is not deafening which allows instructors to offer help and advice for improvement. The YMCA Spin Studio, is generally considered by those who spin regularly, to be one of the best.
YourGym has a wide selection of class times, perhaps for those off-peak members though there isn’t much available at weekends after 12 noon. A class option around 12pm-2pm on Saturday/Sunday would give those off-peak members more choice and improve the scoring.
YMCA gains extra points in this respect, mainly because members have access to classes in St Annes too which expands the availability. They do however lose a point for having a fairly vacant timetable beyond the crack of dawn at weekends (hello, hangover? Lie in?) and a sizeable chunk of the timetable relies on Virtual Spin classes, which aren’t instructor led.
Range of Classes
YourGym are consistently trying new classes and refreshing the timetable every couple of months. The most recent addition was a ‘Primal’ class, which lends inspiration from animal movements and is an innovative workout. The team are passionate about trying new things and this shows in the ideas and timetables displayed.
YMCA have a lot of classes, but sadly lack innovation. Classes are pretty run-of-the-mill (Core, Circuits, Bodypump, Synergy) and some classes are pretty much the same thing under different names. The same classes have been going for years without much reinvention and it’s easy to become bored of the same stuff after a while.
Friendliness of Staff
YourGym staff are friendly; some are chattier than others and they do seem to make an effort to remember people’s names and say hello when you come in. Having come from the YM where there’s lots of banter and laughter before and during classes, it can feel a bit more clinical at YourGym. We’re not suggesting instructors should feel the need to start cracking out the funnies, but building more rapport with the members would be good.
YMCA’s greatest asset is the friendliness of their staff – whether it’s Reception, Instructors or general staff, they’ll always stop to have a chat, ask how things are going, make the classes fun.
Friendliness of other members
YourGym is a much larger gym than YM, so to some extent this is a little out of their hands as people cross paths less frequently. I have been in the gym at the same time as my brother for an hour and not even realised, on a few occasions! At the start of classes people tend to congregate alone without much interaction with others, which is very different from the YM. It’s not that people are unfriendly at YourGym, they are just more focused on doing their own thing, which is fine.
YMCA on the other hand is quite small and members tend to be quite habitual, going to the same classes every week. TRX in particular has a cohort of the same faces week in week out, you get to know people quite well and many have become good friends with one another socially. If you are unsure about something at YMCA, someone is always quick to help you. On my first Barbell class I clearly looked confused as to which kit I needed, and two people immediately got me a mat and setup my bar for me without me asking.
Value for money
YourGym has a range of membership options, from student, to off-peak, peak and Platinum and they all offer good value for money but it is more expensive than the YMCA. You can opt for a ‘no contract’ membership at YourGym, at a higher cost – but for the best prices you need to lock in for 12 months. We still think it offers very good value for money, but the YMCA gets the edge on this due to the flat and simple membership rate and access to several other sites, including pools.
YMCA as mentioned, is a flat rate of £33 per month – this is for anytime use and there is no contract. An any-time, no contract membership at YourGym by comparison would cost you £44.99 with a £25.00 joining fee. The YMCA does not charge a joining fee. There are a few other perks to being a YM member too, such as discounted ‘member’ rates at The Spa On the Breck (part of the Poulton YMCA) and access to several other local sites, including five swimming pools. This makes it excellent value for money.
YourGym is open 0530-2200 during the week, Saturday 0800-20.00 and Sunday 0800-1900. The weekday opening times are much on a par with the YMCA but the extended opening hours at the weekend makes it an attractive proposition for those who prefer to train later in the day. YourGym also has much better opening hours during Bank Holidays and Christmas periods.
YMCA is open 0600-2215 Monday to Thursday, with an earlier close on a Friday. Saturday last entry is 1700 and Sunday at 1600.
YourGym takes customer care very seriously, with feedback welcomed and suggestions actioned. I recently had a minor issue with something, and when I expressed this, it was immediately (within 20 minutes) followed up with a phonecall from Rob Ward (Manager). The only reason YourGym has not scored 10 marks, is that there are one or two things that can feel a little unfair. They do not make it clear when you take up the 12 Days for £15 pass, that this then makes you a member and excludes you from any other offers that are running. It perhaps then adds insult to injury, when you are told you don’t qualify for any offers, take up membership at full price and then a month later receive a text with a special offer because you did the 12 Days Pass, which you’re now not entitled to either because you already joined! Quite frustrating.
YMCA has a decent general manager (Bryce) although it is clear that he has fewer resources to work with than YourGym, in part due to the Charity status of the organisation allowing lesser budgets to work with. Enquiries are not always followed up (my Father-in-Law is still waiting for a call back about Personal Training from four months ago) and sometimes basic communication is lacking (nobody knew the hall was being used for Election Vote counting, and that classes were cancelled) Wages offered to fitness staff are not the best, which can and does result in the best employees leaving to pursue better paid roles and there doesn’t seem to be a great level of teamwork and support between the individual sites. That said, staff do their best with what they have and always have a smile on their face.
Both gyms are very good and we would gladly recommend either of these two options. The ultimate decision comes down to budget, convenience and personal preference.
For me personally, I have toyed with the idea of returning to the YM on the basis that I miss the friends I made in classes, as well as the instructors. It’s in my comfort zone; the gym is small and I can find everything easily, I know what is going to happen in the classes, the rooms are bright and it would save me some money too.
But ultimately, I have chosen to stick with YourGym because you don’t get stronger in your comfort zone! Yes, the dark rooms and bangin’ music gets on my nerves a bit, and it would be a lie to say it doesn’t feel intimidating with so many super fit and cool people in their crop tops and GymShark.
I have a reasonable fitness level, but I can imagine if you are five stone overweight and haven’t set foot in a gym for a decade, it might feel extremely nerve wracking and overwhelming at YourGym. For those people, the YMCA might be a better starting point. For those looking to take their fitness up a notch, and get out of their comfort zone – YourGym is the place to go.