GO Hub Guide to Becoming a Gym Trainer

One of the most exciting and competitive aspects of the game is battling for control over Gyms. Gyms are essential landmarks in Pokémon GO, where players can prove their skills, earn rewards, and show off their strongest Pokémon. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the fundamentals of Gyms, from joining a team to mastering battles and defending your territory.

Choosing a Team

Before diving into the world of Gyms, at level 5 you must first choose a team. In Pokémon GO, there are three teams to pick from: Team Mystic (Blue), Team Valor (Red), and Team Instinct (Yellow). Each team has its philosophy, but the choice ultimately comes down to personal preference.

From left to right - Team logos for Instinct, Mystic and Valor

Team Instinct

Prioritises instinct and trust in Pokémon. Members have a strong bond with their Pokémon and believe in their natural abilities.

Team Mystic

Emphasizes wisdom, analysis, and calmness. Members believe in evolution and taking a methodical approach to training.

Team Valor

Values strength and passion. Members believe in the inherent power of Pokémon and focus on rigorous training.

Once you’ve made your decision, you can’t change your team without buying a team medallion for 1,000 coins, so choose wisely!

Finding a Gym

In-game screenshots showing an Instinct held Gym and the Pokémon defending it

Gyms are typically located at prominent landmarks and points of interest, such as parks, statues, and public buildings. On the game map, they are depicted as large, towering structures with a distinct colour representing the controlling team. To find a gym nearby, simply open the Pokémon GO app and check the map for gym icons.

How to Battle a Gym

In-game screenshots from left to right 1. Showing Pokémon defending the gym 2. Showing the team selection page 3. Showing Slaking losing motivation 4. Showing next Pokémon auto lined up to battle

To engage in a gym battle, you must be physically close to the gym. Once you’re in proximity, tap on the gym and select ‘Battle’, the top icon on the bottom right of the screen. Battles are real-time and involve selecting up to six of your Pokémon to challenge the defending Pokémon. A gym can have up to 6 Pokémon defending it at one time.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to battling a gym:

Choose Your Pokémon

Before starting the battle, assemble a team of six Pokémon with types that have an advantage over the defending Pokémon’s type(s). You can also check the defenders to better prepare for the fight. The game will auto-select a team for you, if you are unsure which Pokémon to take in.

Tap to Attack

During the battle, tap your screen to perform fast attacks. Swiping left or right allows your Pokémon to dodge enemy attacks. 

Use Charged Attacks

As your Pokémon attack, the charged attack circle at the bottom of the screen fills up. Once it’s full, tap the circle to perform a more powerful charged attack.

Switch Pokémon (optional)

You can switch to a different Pokémon mid-battle by tapping the arrow icon in the bottom right corner. This can be useful if your current Pokémon is at a type disadvantage.

Defeat All Defenders

Continue battling until all the defending Pokémon are defeated. If there are multiple defenders, you’ll have to beat them all in a row. One battle will take around one-third of the motivation (indicated by the heart next to the Pokémon) of the opponent’s Pokémon. If they have full motivation to begin with, it will take 3 rounds of attacking to defeat the gym. If you’re interested in strategies to defeat gyms quickly and efficiently, check out this article.

Claim the Gym

After defeating all defenders, the gym will turn grey. This means that you can leave one of your Pokémon to claim it for your team.

Winning a battle at a Gym only provides 200 XP. However, the Gym’s photo disc can be spun for items (similar to PokéStops)

How to Leave a Pokémon Defending a Gym

In-game screenshots showing how to leave a Pokémon defending a gym 1. Defeated a Gym screen 2. Empty Gym 3. Leaving Pokémon to defend a gym confirmation message 4. Pokémon left defending the Gym

Once you’ve conquered a gym you can leave one of your Pokémon there to defend it. This Pokémon will act as a guardian and help maintain your team’s control. Follow these steps to leave a Pokémon:

Visit the Gym

Make sure you are in range of the gym you want to leave a Pokémon in.

Assign a Defender

Tap on the gym and select the “Add Pokémon” option in the bottom right-hand corner. Choose one of your Pokémon to leave at the gym.

CP Matters

The CP (Combat Power) of your Pokémon influences how strong your gym’s defence will be. If you are aiming to earn the maximum 50 coins a day, it may be better to leave lower CP Pokémon so the gym is easier to be defeated. Some of the toughest Pokémon to defeat are:

You can defend 20 gyms at any one time. It is important to note that you cannot leave a Pokémon defending a gym whilst it is under attack.

Gym Etiquette: Restrictions

To promote fair play and balanced gym battles, Pokémon GO imposes some restrictions:

No Legendaries

Legendary Pokémon cannot defend gyms. They can only be used in raids and special events.

No Duplicate Pokémon

You can’t leave two of the same Pokémon species in a gym. This rule encourages diversity and prevents gyms from being dominated by a single Pokémon.

Feeding Pokémon in Gyms with Berries

In game screenshots showing how to feed berries Once you have Pokémon defending a gym, they’ll gradually lose motivation over time. The rate at which motivation decays is directly proportional to a Pokémon’s maximum CP. Pokémon with a very low maximum CP will decay very slowly, at a rate of about 1% per hour. Pokémon with very high maximum CP will decay much faster, at a rate of up to 10% per hour. To keep your defenders in top shape, you can feed them berries remotely. There is a medal for feeding berries in Gyms, some trainers are keen to get all the medals possible.  To do this:

Visit the Gym

Tap on the gym if it is visible on the map or go to the research tab, ‘today’ and scroll to ‘Pokémon in Gyms’. Click on the Pokémon you want to visit.

Feed Berries

Once you can see all the Pokémon defending the Gym, you can feed them berries to restore their motivation. Click on the Pokémon you want to feed and the berry will auto-show towards the bottom of the screen. You can feed any Pokémon on your team, not just your own. Feeding Pokémon in Gyms also earns you stardust.

Razz Berry

A Razz berry (or Pinap and Nanab berry) will increase the motivation only slightly, so is better used on a highly motivated Pokémon. You can feed up to 10 Pokémon 10 berries within 30 minutes. That means, whether you feed 10 Pokémon one Berry each, or 10 Pokémon 10 Berries each, you still have to wait 30 minutes before you can feed another Pokémon a Berry. It is likely that you use Nanab berries the least, so feeding Pokémon in Gyms with these should be your go-to.

Golden Razz Berry

A Golden Razz berry will fill the motivation meter completely, meaning it is great for Pokémon with extremely low motivation. There is no limit to the number of Golden Razz Berries you can feed a Pokémon in a gym. Golden Razz berries are harder to come by as they can only be obtained by winning a Raid Battle, completing certain Research Tasks, and spinning a PokéStop or Gym with a Great Buddy.


Sometimes a Gym will be hosting a raid. If there is an egg and timer above the gym, you are still able to battle the gym and claim it as your own. However, if the Gym is showing a Pokémon above it, the raid is active and the Gym cannot be taken over.

Earning Coins

When your Pokémon is knocked out of the gym, you will receive a reward of PokéCoins automatically. This is the only way to earn coins in-game without buying them for real money. These coins can be used to buy premium items in the shop or different outfits for your avatar. The amount of coins you earn depends on how long your Pokémon defended the gym.

It’s important to note that there is a daily limit to the number of coins you can earn through defending gyms. The maximum limit is 50 coins per day. Even if multiple Pokémon return to you on the same day, you won’t receive more than 50 coins in total.

The coin calculation is straightforward. For every 10 minutes, your Pokémon defended the gym, you will earn 1 coin, up to a maximum of 50 coins if your Pokémon defends the gym for at least 8 hours and 20 minutes.

Gym Badges

From left to right - Bronze, silver and gold gym badges

Gym Badges are guaranteed items when you spin a Gym photo disc. The more you level up your Gym Badge, the more items you will receive. Your gym badges can be seen when you click on your avatar in the bottom right-hand corner of the map, and scroll to ‘recently visited’. You can level up your Gym Badge from Bronze to Gold by doing the following:

Action Reward
Adding Pokémon to Gym 100 Badge XP
Defending the Gym 1 Badge XP per minute
Defeating a defending Pokémon Defeated Pokémon CP divided by 100
Winning a Raid Battle 1000 Badge XP
Feeding Berries 50 Badge XP, 30 Stardust, possibility of candy


The tier requirements for Bronze, Silver and Gold Gym badges are:

Badge Additional XP Total XP Reward
Bronze 500 XP 500 XP 1 bonus item
Silver 3500 XP 4000 XP 2 bonus items
Gold 26,000 XP 30,000 XP 3 bonus items

If the Gym is controlled by your team, you will receive a Team Bonus when you spin the photo disc, which gives you an additional item.  You can only receive one free raid pass per day from a Gym, which can be used to join a raid battle. If you have an unused raid pass and the day has passed since you received it, you must use it before you can receive another free one. Your free raid pass 

Gym badges are very much a passive aspect of the game, and you will earn badge XP through regular playing. It is not something you need to be focused on.


Gyms are a core part of the Pokémon GO experience, and becoming a skilled Gym Trainer will enhance your enjoyment of the game. So go out there, join a team, conquer gyms, and defend your territory with your mightiest Pokémon! Happy hunting, trainers!

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Hey! I'm phrixu, a Pokémon GO player from the UK. I am dedicated to making Pokémon GO as accessible as possible, to the whole community!

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