The more I think of it, the more I'm convinced that commercial gyms are not for those really looking to build a better body but as a place to socialize. It even acts like a pick-up joint sometimes. I go the clubs and bars for that.
For 1.5 years I have spent my time at the gym going on those elliptical machines, crunch machines, leg extension machines, preacher curl machines... you got the idea... and although I saw some improvement, I plateaued quite quickly and didn't see any significant gains in strength, let alone size after awhile.
In my quest to improve myself I bumped into DailyMuscle.com and later on I had a meeting with the good man behind the blog who mentioned something about bodyweight training. I didn't jump on the idea immediately but once I knew how effective it was, I didn't look back.
Weight machines aren't natural. I have often wondered how I could lift 40kilos using the Glutes machine but lunges and squats while holding a meer 5kilo dumbbell would make me whimper like a child.
The thing is weight machines work muscles in isolation instead of working the total body (which is more ideal, especially for beginners and intermediates). You don't get much functional strength if you workout with machines. Using bodyweight and free weights would make you stronger faster.
I will never let myself near any weight machines ever again. The free weights area is definitely my cup of tea.
P/S This little entry is purely based on experience. I can't back it up with research although I'm pretty sure there are a lot of studies out there that can support my claims.