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    Let this be my contribution to the future students of the University of Manchester or to whomever else it may concern, the swan song of 3 years of pumping iron while studying at Manchester. A lot of people are looking for a good gym so here is a guide to the gyms in Manchester I am aware of, written from the perspective of someone who is into serious weightlifting.

    Manchester Aquatics Center
    All things considered, I think this is the best choice of a training facility. It doesn't have it all but its a great compromise.

    It is nicely on the University's main campus, right behind the business school and adjacent to many of the other main buildings as well. The price of the pool is included in your membership so its a 2 birds with one stone deal. Speaking of the price, this year it was about 190£ for 9 months which is roughly the same as the other two uni gyms (Sugden and Armitage). As its the aquatics center, not everyone thinks of this place as the gym and hence it isn't as crowded as some of the other facilities.

    The gym is divided up into two parts:

    1. Fitness suite:
    The larger room, includes:
    A) Dumbbell area with weights from 2kg-34kg, an EZ bar and an Olympic bar with some plates. 2 adjustable benches as well.
    B) Machines (from Life Fitness):
    - Cable crossover station
    - Assisted pull up/dip station
    - Adductor and abductor machines
    - Seated row
    - Two different lat pulldowns
    - Seated chest and shoulder press
    - Leg press
    - Leg extension and curl
    C) Cardio equipment:
    - Rowers (4-5 or so)
    - A whole bunch of crosstrainers
    - A whole bunch of treadmills
    - A stairmaster and some bikes

    This room also includes a weight scale, water fountain and there is usually a member of staff on duty

    2. Strength Space
    This is where the real work gets done and the main reason to go to this gym (for serious lifters).
    Its a separate room that not everyone knows about and not everyone visits. Although it can get busy, you will pretty much always get your workout done with no problem.
    Equipment:
    - 2 Hammer Strength power racks: these are top of the line racks, the real gold standard of strength training so they're a pleasure to use.
    - 2 squat racks: non adjustable safety catches but since most people are too wimpy to squat to any reasonable depth anyway, that shouldn't really matter.
    - 2 adjustable benches
    - Flat bench press
    - Incline bench press
    - 2 Smith machines
    - A cable crossover station
    - 7 Olympic barbells
    - EZ bar and triceps/hammer curl bar
    - Preacher curl bench
    - Loads of plates and collars
    - Dumbbells from 2-34kg
    - Plyo boxes of 3 different heights, stackable.

    The main thing thats missing is an Olympic platform but as the floor is with a thick rubber coating and the plates aren't made of iron, you can get away with some dropping of the bar.

    In addition to these two rooms, there are also stretching mats with bouncy balls and medicine balls available.

    All in all, due to its combo location, price and equipment, I'd say the Aquatics center is the best choice of gym for anyone.

    The other fitness facilities:

    Sugden Center
    The university's main sports facility, this is where most teams train and the place most people associate with a gym. As such it is busy busy busy so trying to train here, unless you go at like 7 AM when it opens, is little more than a waste of time. Its located right next to the Aquatics, quite close to the main campus.

    Price similar to Aquatics.

    If you do decide to go, then the equipment is as follows:
    - Cardio and machine area, similar to if not slightly larger than in the Aquatics.
    - Free weights area has dumbbells that go slightly heavier than Aquatics (up to 40kg, if not more) but only one power rack and one squat rack, an incline, flat and decline bench press and some plate loaded equipment. Its quite a cramped place with not so great ventilation.

    Armitage Center
    The Fallowfield gym, next to the halls of residence there. Do not, I repeat, do not join this joke of a facility. Price slightly cheaper than Aquatics/Sugden but in no way worth it.

    It is extremely crowded and the only thing it is really any good for is cardio (if you can get a machine). If you are even remotely interested in lifting weights, this place is not for you. Not a single barbell in sight, not to mention power cages or anything like that. Dumbbells only up to 32kg and a selection of Technogym strength equipment.

    These are the only university gyms in the area near the University of Manchester.

    Salford University
    If you live in Salford or are willing to spend a lot of time traveling (or just have a car) then the university there has a proper strength and conditioning facility with Power-Lift racks and Olympic platforms, a real wet dream for any strength athlete. Scroll down the page here to Salford to see: http://www.rubiconsports.co.uk/default.asp?page=149
    Unfortunately this is just too far for most UoM people.

    Platt fields

    Operated by the city council or something like that, this is close to Fallowfield campus at the other side of Platt Fields park. Price is pretty cheap but a joke of a facility: a few cardio machines, a few dumbbells and strength machines but as I recall (from 2 years ago) no barbells.

    Commercial gyms
    Manchester does have its selection of commercial gyms.

    Fitness First
    Located near the Midlands hotel and the G-Mex up Oxford Road near the center of town. You can either pay for a monthly pass upwards of 40£ or enter into one of those impossible-to-escape contracts for slightly less. Overpriced.

    The place has some glitz and glamor such as complimentary soft drinks/coffee, a sauna and pretty good looking changing rooms. But once you get to the gym, this place is pretty bad.
    The selection of machines is pretty decent but everything is very cramped. Freeweights area is another joke: no squat rack or power cage, just a bench press, Smith machine and I think 2 or 3 barbells. Dumbbell selection is ok though.
    Overall a weakling of a facility with no real equipment, overpriced and cramped.

    Bannatyne's
    Located near the North Campus so not that far actually.
    Quite similar to Fitness First in its attributes, a bunch of machines and other fancy stuff but lacking in real strength training equipment. This place actually had one non-adjustable squat rack but that was nowhere near enough to make up for the general awfulness. Prices start from 40£ per month and thats with that annoying contract.

    GL-14
    Located just off Oxford Road near the Palace hotel. Has a very high end feel to it (and was actually once voted to be among the top 10 gyms in the UK) and has some very fancy attributes such a spa-like pool/jacuzzi area. If you want to relax, you can come here. But gyms are for training, not relaxing and this place does not deliver. Some machines, tons of cardio equipment but an almost non existent freeweights area. I think they had a set of squat stands and one adjustable bench press as well as a few dumbbells but that was it. For strength training, a joke of a facility.
    The price I was quoted was surprisingly affordable however, less than 200£ for 9 months.

    These are all the gyms I've personally visited (aside from the Salford one).

    There are a few more: Virgin Active and The Gym (both town center), Momentum Fitness (Whitworth park) but from what I've heard, they're not for serious lifters either. There is a CrossFit in Stockport which offers Olympic lifting facilities but yet again, that is just too far for most people to use. The Manchester Velodrome, located to the East of the town center near the Manchester City stadium, is also supposed to have a dream of a weights room courtesy of Power-Lift: http://www.rubiconsports.co.uk/default.asp?page=142
    But yet again too far.

    Its really a shame that one of the biggest, most highly ranked and best funded Universities in Britain doesn't provide its students and sports teams with a real strength and conditioning facility. Instead we are forced to choose from these predominantly weakling glitzy commercial gyms filled with random outtakes from the TechnoGym product catalog.

    As for cardio, there really is no need to join a gym for that. There are a few nice well maintained parks in Manchester where you can go for a jog.

    Hope this helps.
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    Thank you. Was planning on joining Falowfields one, but will now take your advice when im up there and take the aqua
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    The Armitage one is being expanded for Sept 2011. Not sure exactly what but they have signs up talking about a dedicated free weights area and replacing all the equipment.
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    (Original post by barrett1987)
    Thank you. Was planning on joining Falowfields one, but will now take your advice when im up there and take the aqua
    Same as you mate - thanks OP!!
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    (Original post by teriaki)
    These are the only university gyms in the area near the University of Manchester.
    There's Whitworth Park's free gym but it's an absolute joke for strength training. But then it's free and you can get in during office hours :ninja:
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    Hi Teriaki, I'm Ethan. Thanks so much for all these information!! I'm going to rep you for this Saves me all the trouble of finding a serious gym. I'm a serious lifter and I'm in the midst of finding a residential hall to stay. Yes I'm coming in as a 1st year student! When it comes to food in or around University of Manchester, do you recommend Self-Catered or Catered Halls? Are there any places which serve or can serve abundant high-protein food (red and white meat), to supplement my strength training. They can be in Catered Halls, or in nearby restaurants (if any)..
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    (Original post by ethanjc)
    Hi Teriaki, I'm Ethan. Thanks so much for all these information!! I'm going to rep you for this Saves me all the trouble of finding a serious gym. I'm a serious lifter and I'm in the midst of finding a residential hall to stay. Yes I'm coming in as a 1st year student! When it comes to food in or around University of Manchester, do you recommend Self-Catered or Catered Halls? Are there any places which serve or can serve abundant high-protein food (red and white meat), to supplement my strength training. They can be in Catered Halls, or in nearby restaurants (if any)..
    You can do either since you can always cook your own food as well in a catered hall. I don't know much about the other halls so I can only talk about my experience in Owens Park. As it was a catered hall, the kitchen facilities weren't that great and there were constant problems with my food being stolen (though the solution that a lot of guys used was to have a small fridge in their own room). Some non catered halls (Grosvenor Park is one I've seen for myself) the kitchen was much bigger and better and there are no food stealing issues (which was probably more of a Fallowfield thing and that in my particular hall the front door was often unlocked, this might be fixed right now).
    In catered halls you get a pretty good breakfast which consists of eggs, bacon, beans for the cooked part as well as fruit, bread/pastries and a full cereal bar.
    The dinner was usually a selection of 2 meat dishes (fish, chicken, beef, pork+rice, potatoes, etc, medium sized portions, relatively decent taste) and a veggie alternative. In addition to that there was also some kind of dessert (a choice between fruit and some kind of cake or ice cream) and a nice salad bar. Overall I'd say the catering was pretty decent but you do need to supplement it with your own food.

    As for your own cooking, well thats all up to you. For meat, there's a store on Oxford Road right at the beginning of the Curry Mile where the university buildings end called Worldwide. Its like a South Asian/Middle Eastern supermarket (great for exotic ingredients) but for me the main thing is their butcher shop where I go for the boneless chicken thigh which sells for around 3.60 £/kg, there's also chicken breast, lamb and beef though those cost more. They also do a good deal on eggs, the price varies but for a pack of 30 medium sized ones it has drifted between 1.99-2.69 or so. Not sure why its jumping up and down like that.
    And of course you have your Asdas, Sainsbury's and other supermarkets.
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    @ Teriaki: Are you still in Owens Park now? At present, I'm not sure whether I should apply for a catered or self-catered hall. One thing I would like to seek your advice in and would greatly influence my choice of residential hall is whether there are many restaurants within walking distance or close proximity to UoM city centre campus? Is it easy to grab a good bite in a nearby restaurant in the morning before the class starts?
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    (Original post by ethanjc)
    @ Teriaki: Are you still in Owens Park now? At present, I'm not sure whether I should apply for a catered or self-catered hall. One thing I would like to seek your advice in and would greatly influence my choice of residential hall is whether there are many restaurants within walking distance or close proximity to UoM city centre campus? Is it easy to grab a good bite in a nearby restaurant in the morning before the class starts?
    No, I was in Owens Park in my first year but now live in a private flat. Halls are mostly occupied by first years, in your second and third people mostly go private.

    As I hardly ever eat out I am not the best person to ask for advice on places to grab a bite. The Curry Mile is filled with all sorts of restaurants as well as fast food takeaways and many of the larger uni buildings also have their own cafes/cafeterias. The city center campus does have some places around it to eat but as I said, I don't really eat out and hence I'm not that well acquainted with the possibilities.

    Whether you go catered on non-catered depends on your cooking ability. Catered is nice and convenient but I personally prefer to cook for myself due to the flexibility and complete freedom in choosing what I eat, when and how much.
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    I see. Thanks for ur help!
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    This is v. helpful. Wish I saw it last year. Aquatics is a mish from Fallowfield is the only problem but I guess I could go after lectures.
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    Kinda necroing an old thread, but then I'm kinda necroing myself too to do it, so all's fair!

    http://www.trainmanchester.co.uk/ is excellent (though not at all cheap) - lots of cages and a climbing wall etc. Great for predeployment (or competition) workouts back home/uni.
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    I don't get the pricing?

    http://www.manchestercommunityleisur...mac/MEM_Isospa

    So you can direct debit £25 a month for 12 months = Total of £300

    Or you can pay £99 for 6 months all up front

    Or you can have 9 months for double the price of 6 months at £200??
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    (Original post by samba)
    Kinda necroing an old thread, but then I'm kinda necroing myself too to do it, so all's fair!

    http://www.trainmanchester.co.uk/ is excellent (though not at all cheap) - lots of cages and a climbing wall etc. Great for predeployment (or competition) workouts back home/uni.
    Seems decent, awful opening hours though.
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    Do people use the squat racks in the Aquatics centre? There's a myth going around on another forum that the majority of the British lifters don't squat, bench or do any other olympic lifts.
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    How much is a single session at aquatic centre,and do they do trial sessions?


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    Armitage has 3 squat racks, 5 adjustable benches, flat, incline and decline bench presses, plenty of plates and dumbbells up to 48kg while being cheaper than the others. It's a bit small but this thread needs updating!
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    I've done a bit of looking around so in case it's useful to anyone:

    Armitage is currently not taking any new memberships for peak time (can still get off peak), they will reconsider in Jan. I didn't bother looking because of that, I assume it means it's rammed.

    Aquatics is weird, obviously focused on cardio with strength stuff tucked away in a little room. Equipment is as listed before. Doesn't seem to get horribly busy but not quiet either. Has been suggested it might see some re-development in the not too distant future with new company taking it over and wanting to compete with other gyms better.

    Sudgen is better for equipment but it was too crowded for me. I don't want to feel like someone's going to curl a DB up my arse whilst I'm squatting- really it's that busy.

    My overall conclusion was Manchester seriously needs to invest in it's gym provision, it's obviously not up to demand.

    Virgin at Great Northern is now Lifestyle Fitness. It's got DBs up to 60, plenty utility benches, fixed incline and decline benches, 4 flat benches, 3 3D smiths (to keep stupid out the racks), 4 half racks with platforms in front of them plus a built in stand thing in the crossfit-ish area, weird combination of very good and very bad bars.
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    (Original post by barrett1987)
    Thank you. Was planning on joining Falowfields one, but will now take your advice when im up there and take the aqua
    Carl?
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    As a powerlifter (who has no knowledge of Manchester and wants to go to UoM), I would love it if there's a gym close by with stuff like deadlift platforms with hooks for bands/a set of chains/ a variation of bars/ some strongman stuff like farmers walk bars/ and all the obvious stuff of course like multiple bench presses/power racks ect. Generally a gym with that warehouse feel to it (like metroflex).
    (The kind of gym where i wouldn't look silly doing floor press)

    I was hoping to stay in Fallowfields but I would stay somewhere else if there was a gym like that close by. Anyone got any suggestions?

    Btw this is a great thread, really useful believe it or not.
 
 
 
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