A review of The Atrium Club by Ville written on Thursday 28th of September 2006
I was a member of both Atrium and A-Max for 3,5 years.
A-Max is a brilliant gym for people who want to train with free-weights. They have a lifting platform and couple of rubber bumper plates that are ideal for olympic-style lifts, which improve explosive strength and power for sports. Unfortunately, it is difficult to train when the gym is over-crowded and the barbells keep breaking apart, which was the main reason I cancelled my membership. They also started putting notes on walls saying "Please don't perform cleans with these bars." That is a real shame, A-Max is the only gym in Cambridge that has a decent platform and bumper plates. It is sad that the management refuses to take customers like me into consideration. They should advertise the gym as "bodybuilders and powerlifters only", that's what it is in practice. If you are an athlete, you are better off training outside and at home (read Ross Enamait's Never Gymless to get started).
I never really enjoyed lifting weights in Atrium. It is full of machines that are so carefully calibrated that you won't gain any functional strength, i.e., you'll get good in one dimensional movements, which don't translate to real life situations or sports. The music makes you want to exit the gym as soon as possible. The classes I went to: Aerobiking (the instructor pushes you really hard, you'll get a good sweat), Step classes (very good as well, although one instructor was just confusing) and Pilates (good as well, although quite often cancelled). I also tried to attend a Swissball class, but it was cancelled because if less than 6 people show up, the class is automatically cancelled. Bit of a bummer really for anyone who wants to train consistently.
The contract that you sign allows Atrium to do anything they want: Cancel classes, increase membership fees and ignore broken equipment for weeks. In 2005 Atrium was suffering from blocked sewage pipes for many weeks. Did they offer reduced membership fees during that period? Nope. That's the kind of people you have made a contract with. They are not interested in your health, only in your money. Why else would they have a 30 day notice period (it takes one day to cancel a direct debit) or 30 pounds cancellation fee? This is no joke, you are paying lot of money just to leave their gym!
If you are serious about training, steer clear from Atrium. If you are a bodybuilder or powerlifter, A-Max might be the right place for you, but be careful what you sign into. Personally, I enjoy now working out with kettlebells, running outside and doing various bodyweight exercises at home. There are Pilates classes in Cambridge that are lot cheaper than Atrium membership. Train hard and have fun with sports, don't let them discourage you. You don't need to train hours to lose fat. It is scientifically proven fact that 20 minutes of high intensity interval training burns more fat (after the exercise) than one hour of low intensity aerobic exercise. The gyms don't want you to know this so you'll spend hours "working out" but not really getting anywhere. Be a smart customer, do some research.
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Map showing The Atrium Club on Newmarket Road