Best Bodybuilding Gyms In London
A little closer to home for us, but somewhere we often overlook, London. From North London, to Central, the East-End and the edge of the A406, we discovered the best bodybuilding gyms in London for you to check out.
Bodybuilding Gyms and London
Here at Barbells Abroad we are both from the UK and while we spend a lot of time travelling around the world reviewing places to work out, we missed doing our home country’s capital city. We did our research by breaking a sweat in a load and we whittled it down to two we loved the most, but for different reasons. So, we settled on picking a best bodybuilding gym in London for being the most old school and another one for pure hardcore training vibes.
We think you’ll like them too.
Bodybuilding has been an organised competitive activity in London as far back as 1901 with King George V’s fitness advisor Eugene Sandow’s ‘Great Competition’ at the Royal Albert Hall. This same Sandow is what the premier trophy in the Mr Olympia competition is named after and he is held in global regard as integral to the growth of the modern bodybuilding sport.
In addition, the Universe Championships of the 70s and 80s saw names like Frank Zane, The Austrian Oak (Arnie) and Serge Nubret compete in London and to this day major events continue to be hosted here.
As a major capital city it’s never going to be hard to find gyms, and being the host of major bodybuilding competition dates throughout the year, it has a good selection of weightlifting gyms too. British men like being alpha and none more so than around old man letchy Wayne Lineker at O Beach in Ibiza. This means looking extra pumped and juicy come the Summer season. You aren’t going to get that look from hours on the treadmill, making for a nation of young men (and women) who queue up by the cable crossover on a Saturday afternoon.
Yes, bodybuilding is popular in London.
How we picked the best gyms around London?
How do we pick the best bodybuilding gyms in London, or anywhere? Well it requires secret visits to gyms so they don’t treat us any different, which means we pay our way and don’t take fees to list anyone in here. If there is a featured promo, that would be marked as such.
We visit the gyms, we get a sense of the customer base, the music system, the gym equipment and how it feels to move from station to station. Is it easy to find, is it open late, is it worth the money and does it have the special extra touches? Those gyms others laugh at because they have old school pictures of bodybuilders on the wall, are the ones we hold dear to our hearts.
We are both trained in PT qualifications and have lifted weights for decades. We know the difference between Hammer Strength and Mirafit, Technogym and Primal. We think we bring something in our reviews that other mass directory sites can’t offer, and that is authenticity. We hope you enjoy this guide.
Winner - Best Old School Bodybuilders Gym In London
Muscleworks - Bethnal Green, London
Take a stroll around London and you’ll see that space is at a premium. Within central London there isn’t much room to swing a cat, let alone a kettlebell. For this reason a lot of gyms tend to be more studio focused in the inner city, while the big box gyms are trying to cater to a wider audience than simply bodybuilders to make their investment work. This means, you need to get a little toward the edges of London to find it’s bodybuilding gym gems.
Bethnal Green famous for it’s East End folklore around the Krays, tv soap operas and just the caricature of old London life, hides one stand out name that any bodybuilding gym fan is likely to have heard of. We paid it a visit to see if the reputation holds up. Welcome to Muscleworks Gym in East London.
Why we love Muscleworks - Bethnal Green
There is something very community about Muscleworks and the surrounding area. You’re in London but you’re also in a fiercely proud local urban village. You walk past the old home of Reg and Ron Kray on Vallance Road, past old school pubs, past a melting pot of locally owned stores from first and second generation immigrants coming to make London their home, and find yourself outside a modern and slightly imposing looking building, lit up like a candy store for those who like lifting weights.
Muscleworks is big as gyms go, and it’s quite vast for Central London. From boxing rings, to calisthenics rooms, as well as the usual leg, or pin selector spaces etc, the gym is packed to the rafters with credible brands of gym equipment and customers who care about their training.
Expect to feel small – but not intimidated, as like all respectable bodybuilding gyms the atmosphere is friendly and they have a great reception desk, that is well controlled, friendly and inviting. It’s a top gym.
Touches we love the most?
Amazing quick and easy protein meals in the dining space, as well as a ridiculous range of protein bars decked out along the reception counter. Day passes are affordable, I think we paid about £7, give or take and while everyone there deserves to flex in front of a camera, there wasn’t much posing about. It felt working class and friendly. Nothing snobbish, nothing elite, just a local community gym that happens to be a bodybuilding gym first and foremost. And when it comes to talking ‘Old School’ bodybuilding gyms in London, this one has been on the scene longer than most. Opened in 1988, there are some serious pictures dotted around the gym that keep that nostalgic flame burning.
How to find Muscleworks in London
Easiest way to get here if you’re in central London is by tube or train (The Overground). Get off at Bethnal Green and it’s a 5 minute walk to the gym. If you’re driving in, there are controlled parking areas, so you want to watch out you don’t end up with a clamp and a tow. You’re in the ULEZ as well, so it means getting a permit for many.
We actually got the train into Liverpool Street Station and then did 20 minutes of steps to get here. It’s not much more than a mile and if you’re going there and back, you’ve got some low intensity cardio nailed.
On the way back, if you follow that route, you can get there via Brick Lane and pick yourself up a post workout Reuben Beigel. Go easy on the sauces is all.
Address: 114 Vallance Rd, London E1 5BL, GB
Monday – Sunday: 24 Hour access.
Catering to a community that often work late hours or in the night industry, 24/7 access is a top tier move.
Winner - Best Hardcore Bodybuilding Gym In London
A little credit goes to Lee for discovering this gem, but North London hosts a bit of a legend in the gym game full stop. During lockdown in the UK, all gyms had to close, but one gym fought to stay open. Providing a place for people to train, stay sane and picking up a shed load of fines in the process. You can debate the rights and wrongs of that as much as you like, but to their community they were loved. Gym fans around the UK helped out with the fines out and this place’s social following rocketed.
That sent Lee on a little trip to see what it was all about and with his feedback, I took the time to check it out myself too.
Let’s talk about Zone Gym, our pick as the most hardcore bodybuilding gym in London. And you don’t get much more hardcore than facing down the ‘System’, I don’t care what rock music your gym plays.
Zone Gym - Wood Green, Haringey, North London
While Bethnal Green has the community gym, Wood Green has the hardcore choice. Zone Gym is situated off Green Lanes in Haringey, a short walk from Wood Green tube station, so it takes a little longer to get here if you’re in Central, still, it’s a popular self contained London suburb and importantly – it’s driveable. I came here by car from Essex, which is where I’m from, and while I’d seen videos of the gym from the outside on Instagram, I didn’t know what to expect as I made my way here.
As I pulled into the road it’s based off, the place looks almost unassuming and quite boutique. It doesn’t look massive. But, it has free parking and I was immediately won over, as I grabbed my lifting straps and headed in for a workout.
Why we love Zone Gym - North London
Sexy weight plates, Ivanko everywhere, loud upbeat music that renders headphones unnecessary, this place has got a lot to love about it. Add to that, the £8 day pass was a snip to use a gym that felt hardcore from the entrance. We think this is most hardcore bodybuilding gym in London.
As you enter the gym and over the Zone floor mat, there are murals on the walls of Ronnie Coleman, Arnie and Dorian. All signed. If these guys are happy to sign their name on the walls, then there’s a good chance it wasn’t going to be a bad place to workout.
While Muscleworks felt more local focused, this gym has a bit more bite. Maybe it’s the music, maybe it’s the old school branding and equipment, it just feels a bit more intimate and somewhere you can be dialled in at. It’s not a massive place but don’t get me wrong, it’s not limited either. Ironically something both Lee and I said separately to one another, is that there is nothing dirty about this place, it’s spotless. Given the grief they got during the great ‘ahem’-demic, I wonder how many of those people visit gyms that are less clean than this place. That spotlessness, paired with some old school brands and machines, give this bodybuilding gym a great balance, between hardcore and practical.
We love Dallas’s best bodybuilding gym, Metroflex; but sometimes it can be a little impractical where things are smashed to bits. This is not that. It’s hardcore but you could eat your ‘ProteinWorks’ microwave meal off the floor.
In a nutshell, it’s affordable to use, it has that London rarity of free parking, they are loaded up with Ivanko, their barbell range is stacked and the owner is forever goated. Also, I’m going to say this now, ridiculous eye candy on the counter.
How to find Zone Gym in North London (N22)
If you’re coming in from central London, it’s about a 45 minute Uber. The nearest TFL station is Wood Green Tube, which is about 250 metres away from the gym. Wood Green is on the Piccadilly, that means it’s 25 minutes from Covent Garden – not too shabby, making it the cheapest and fastest way to get here. Or you could come by train from Kings Cross / St Pancras using the Great Northern Line to Alexandra Palace which is 37 minutes, or 55 minutes if you start at Liverpool Street.
I drove in off the M25, and along the North Circular, before reaching Green Lanes and parking at the gym in their visitor bays. While it’s on the outer edges of London, it’s still pretty accessible.
Address: Unit A, Cypress House, 2 Coburg Rd, London N22 6UJ
Monday – Friday: Open 24 hours
Saturday: 8 am–8 pm
Sunday: 8 am–8 pm
Other Great Bodybuilder Gyms In London
So that’s two of what we believe are the best bodybuilding gyms in London, but we want to hear from you too – what other hardcore training facilities should make our list? If it’s within the North Circular, we want to hear about it. What makes your gym worthy of getting on this list? Drop us a message on Insta to @barbellsabroad.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay and train while you’re in the city, try this guide next:
Axioms Fitness, E La Palma Ave, 92807: 'Best In Anaheim'
Anaheim is a bit of a hub for statewide bodybuilding events, that means we had to track down the best bodybuilding gym in Anaheim while we were in the area. Axioms is a bit of an arena and has something for everyone. It’s got space for powerlifters, punch bags, outdoor prowler and tire space, but importantly for fans of the pump, they are decked out with Life Fitness plate loaded machines as well as half a dozen cable stations. I counted about 8 racks and was pleased to see a military press station too. We ran a GVT chest workout here – click to check it out.
Pricing: 1 Day Pass = $15: 1 Week $25
Flex Fitness, Ridge Rte Dr, 92653: 'Best In Laguna'
24 hour gyms always get love from us and Flex Fitness was a bit of a life saver as we had left our leg day till last minute. So, we pretty much stumbled across this place where the other local option closed early. Well, that was a touch as we discovered Laguna’s finest.
An angry red powder coat set up, kitted out with EliteFTS plate loaded machines and nicely garnished with Troy plates, this a real gym for bodybuilders. They even offer competition and meal prep services.
Pricing: 1 Day = $25 per day: 1 week $90
House of Power, Westminster, CA: 'Best Hardcore Gym In OC'
What could make you more old school than an incredibly friendly policy of a one week free trial? This gym in Westminster, OC, is well stocked with plates, racks, benches and leg kit, they also offers 24/7 access to monthly members. So not something you could use on a one off.
The trainers here are legit and have some incredibly reasonable personal packages. If you want a hardcore gym in the OC that gives you Texas’s Best Bodybuilding Gym “Metroflex” vibes – House of Power is it.
Pricing: Day Pass = FREE For Newbies.