I used to lift at a local gym. I became friends with a few members. After lifting at the gym for a couple of years, I realized the typical gym wasn't for me. While there were a few hardcore lifters (aka, my friends), most were your typical hop on a treadmill for thirty minutes while watching some lame talk show or reading the latest People magazine. I think most people at the gym were there to socialize, and not to become stronger and healthier.
I heard from others that there are gyms that don't allow members to deadlift out of few of injury. I didn't believe them until I saw pictures. CRAZY!!
Many gyms now have more machines than free weights, and plenty of mirrors for one to admire their accomplishments. Gyms are filled with tanning beds, juice bars, and sappy music. Juice anyone? This isn't for me.
I left the gym. I turned half of my garage into a gym. Now, I have a place where I can drop the weights, listen to load music, yell after I hit a new max, and get serious about becoming stronger.
If you want to become stronger, you need to lift in an environment that promotes strength. You need to lift in a gym where you can yell, throw weights around and even deadlift.
If you cannot find a place like this, create one. I've only spent around $1,000.00 on my gym and I have everything I need. If you want to be strong, think strong, act strong, and don't be afraid to test your limits.