Our Name

Gambaru’s literal translation ‘to be the best you can be’ misses its deeper meaning – in Japanese culture Gambaru is about ‘going beyond what you think you can achieve’.

Sound inspirational? That’s what we think…when you’re stretching the boundaries you need a place that motivates the soul and being surrounded by others on the same journey can’t fail to lift the spirit. It also raises the bar and helps you over.

Two years after Jonathan Walker bought this gym he lost his left eye to cancer. It was 2008; he was 33 and had just won the silver medal at the British Power Lifting Championship. Lying in hospital he decided to change the name and ethos, it was the best decision I’ve ever made. The spirit of Gambaru and its members have pulled him though and it can do the same for you.

Our Environment

There’s been a gym on this site since the late 1980s and before that it was a dance-hall – yes, you can almost sense its natural rhythm.

Our space has character; it extends into the roof across five separate properties, with views across the town. Its light and airy, we open the windows to three sides on sunny days and have industrial fans to keep you cool.

But we’re not here to pamper, our changing rooms don’t have marble floors or leather suites and there’s no swimming pool, but we have showers and saunas, do a mean sports massage and a top notch spray tan.

Our Members

Our membership covers the full spectrum, from 6th form students to those that qualify for a bus pass. It includes nurses, teachers, firemen, self-employed, retail and hospitality staff, stay at home mums and dads, business professionals and business owners. We are proud of being the ‘gym of choice’ for serious trainers but it’s our constant flow of new members which confirms our belief that we have the balance right.

Our Community

How lucky are we? We’re fit and well and living in this beautiful town…we count our blessings every day.

But we know there are those who aren’t so fortunate and we take our role as Harrogate’s award winning leading independent gym seriously.

We are happy to support good causes, sponsor local events, and engage with schools, clubs and local initiatives. Our pockets are limited but our heart is huge so please come in and ask, we’ll always try and find a way.


The pioneer behind Gambaru, Jonathan’s been training here since 1998 and bought the business in 2006. The gym has changed radically since then, all linked to the name change to Gambaru, a Japanese word meaning ‘to be the best you can be’. This was prompted by Jonathan’s own survival against cancer which began shortly after he started work on a new ground floor reception in 2008.

Incredibly fit, a healthy diet, and never taken anything other than the odd aspirin, cancer was the last thing Jonathan expected but on his 33rd birthday surgeons removed his cancerous left eye. It was a cross-roads for Jonathan, he had option of returning the ground floor lease to the landlord but instead returned to work to continue the transformation. He also started training and just three months after leaving hospital broke the British Deadlift record.

While his competing days are behind him Gambaru is his beacon now. Every day he helps people take control of their lives, through his concept of Gambaru, his personal training and his emphasis on putting something back into the community. This year sees the launch of the Gambaru Adversity Awards, which will be launched at the beginning of February.