Access to a quality gym is critical in the quest to get fitter and healthier… but which type of gym is right for you? Choosing the right venue is critical for gym goers, as it will ensure you have access to the equipment and training you need, in a place that you feel comfortable and will want to return to.

Gyms come in two distinct flavours: commercial and private. These gyms offer different experiences and have their own sets of advantages.

In this guide we’ll take a closer look at commercial vs private gyms, including their definitions, differences and pros and cons, to help fitness fans decide which might be right for them.

What is a commercial gym?

A commercial gym is a gym business that practically any member of the public can join. You pay a fee, usually as a member, to gain access to the gym and its equipment, classes and trainers. Examples include Anytime Fitness and Snap Fitness.

Why is it called a commercial gym? In short, because more than anything else, these gyms are designed to make money. They cater to the masses, they make ongoing membership alluring, and they employ business models that minimise cost and optimise operational efficiency.

Most commercial gyms are owned by large corporations or operate under a franchise model, although privately owned commercial gyms can be found across Australia.

What is a private gym?

The term ‘private gym’ covers a wide variety of venues, from home gyms, to the exclusive gyms found in residential towers and country clubs, to privately owned F45 and CrossFit franchises that employ specialised coaches to deliver focused results.

Private gyms are smaller fitness establishments than commercial gyms. This category of gym is predominantly defined by lower, and often limited, member numbers. In the case of a home gym, these ‘members’ are limited to members of the household.

What's the difference between a commercial gym and a private gym?

How do you know if a gym is commercial or private? There are a few key differences to look out for, including:


Commercial gyms are usually quite a bit larger than private gyms, and feature sprawling floor plans and open spaces. Private gyms, meanwhile, tend to be far smaller – particularly residential gyms.


Commercial gym membership is open to the general public. If you fill out the forms and pay the fees, becoming a member is essentially guaranteed. Private gyms can be more selective – you may need to be a resident of the building, club or community, or in the case of a private gym business, you may need to wait for a spot to become available.


Commercial gyms benefit from economies of scale. By delivering bulk services to bulk customers, the cost of membership is often lower than that of private gyms, which deliver more focused, personal and bespoke fitness to a smaller membership base. Home gyms demand an upfront investment in equipment like treadmills, exercise bikes and workout stations, but you avoid paying a membership fee.

Fitness focus

Commercial gyms offer a wide range of equipment and classes, while private gyms tend to have a more specific fitness focus, such as yoga, boxing, CrossFit or bodybuilding.

Is a home gym better than a commercial gym?

It depends who’s asking.

A commercial gym grants you access to a huge range of fitness equipment for a relatively low fee. But if you are looking for a specific workout, it may not be worth paying for these endless options – investing in home fitness equipment and avoiding membership fees can prove to be the wiser financial move over time.

But it’s not all about the money. Commercial gyms can be quite social places, while a home gym will see you working out alone, and most people will prefer one of these options over the other.

Advantages of commercial gym

Commercial gyms offer a few distinct advantages to their members:

  • Equipment variety: The wide range of equipment is a major selling point for commercial gyms. You’ll rarely find a full complement of power racks, leg press machines, stair climbers and functional trainers in the one private gym.
  • Class/trainer variety: No matter what type of workout piques your interest, a commercial gym will usually offer a class or an expert trainer to suit. Add the variety of equipment, this makes commercial gyms an ideal place to start your fitness journey.
  • Low fees: By offering fitness at scale, commercial gyms are able to charge low membership fees.
  • A social atmosphere: Commercial gyms are usually buzzing with activity, and can be vibrant, sociable places to workout.

Benefits of private gyms

Private gyms also offer a number of unique benefits, including:

  • Focused fitness: If you know the type or workout you prefer, you can find a private gym or build a home gym that can deliver exactly that, and avoid paying for access to equipment and classes you’ll never use.
  • Expert, personalised training: Private gyms often feature specialist trainers who can help you to reach more specific fitness goals.
  • Privacy and convenience: Home gyms offer unmatched privacy and convenience – you can work out as soon as the mood strikes, and away from prying eyes.
  • Return on investment: Sure, you’ll need to spend money to fit out your home gym, but with no ongoing membership fees, this is an investment that can eventually save you money.

No matter whether you are looking to set up a home gym, test out a commercial gym, or even fit out your own private gym business, GymQuip is a one-stop shop for all your fitness equipment needs.

Between our online store and our sprawling 2000m² premises – the largest in Australia – you’ll find every fitness product you could ever need. We deal exclusively in leading fitness brands, and our Lowest Price Guarantee means that you can be confident you’re getting the best possible product at the best possible price.

From basic weight setups to high-end, specialised training machines, our expert team is ready to help you find the equipment that will make you better, fitter, faster and stronger.