by: Paul Leonard
Inside Metroflex Arlington
The key to success in any physical endeavor is simply possessing the motivation to grind out grueling work which allows you to progress. Where does this internal drive come from? For me, one of the keys to continually improving over my strength athletic career involved travel. I began my lifting career in Massachusetts, an area that was famous for many inspiring gyms in the 80s. My first gym, was the West Roxbury YMCA which had a weight room that was a converted racquetball court area, loaded with old school Jubinville black iron racks and benches. The weight plates were all York and our dumbbells were the York globe versions. I cut my teeth in that weight room, but did not look back after high school when I found out about Work Out Plus in Dedham. Work Out Plus would be my home gym until I relocated to California upon graduating college. Although I had two great places to train in, I learned that I loved to take road trips to other gyms in order to further inspire me to get stronger, train harder, and introduce more stimulus to my training.
One of my first serious training partners, Mark Govoni used to say let’s bend some strange bars and leave some scars Paul. That meant it was time to set out on a Saturday or summer morning to a different gym and have a bezerker workout. If you have not heard about bezerker workouts, the concept came to me from Arnold’s Education of a Bodybuilder, in which Arnold describes how he and his training partners would bring their weights into the forest to do marathon workouts of 50 sets of squats or the same number of curls. Arnold described the scene as the workout being the prelude to a party involving beer and women. My college training partners and I were well aware of this muscle building folklore and would call for a bezerker road trip to a gym within striking distance that we had heard good things about.
I can still recall the names of some of the iron establishments we frequented, Nautilus Plus – Revere, Golds Gym – Braintree, Vinnie Grecco’s Powerhouse Gym – Watertown, Big Daddy’s, Hard Knocks, the Body Exchange in Holbrook, Train Right Fitness, Rama Fitness, and P&P. Mark and I would train from 9 am to noon, achieving incredible amounts of volume, variety, and stimulus. Subjecting ourselves to this conjugate way of training, over a decade before we heard this phrase from Louie Simmons, allowed both of us to have such a great base that we both eventually competed in National level Powerlifting and Strongman Contests. Mark and I both love lifting to this day and are able to lift successfully because we put in considerable time and effort during our formative years.
Today through the wonder of social media and the internet, great gyms are more well known. I myself have a bucket list of gyms that I need to train at before I die such as Westside Barbell, Brute Strength Gym, Zoo Culture, Iron Addicts, Metroflex Long Beach and Thor’s Gym in Iceland.
When I lived in California I was able to train at many amazing gyms such as Sampson’s in Orange, Golds Venice, Worlds Gym Venice, Powerhouse Venice, Marina Athletic Club, Club Metrx, American Eagle, World Gym San Diego, the Powerhouse Gyms in Fullerton, Fountain Valley, and Huntington Beach. My all time favorite commercial place to train is Uptown Gym in Whittier. Many of these gyms have long been closed but the experience of training at them will remain with me forever. During my years in Texas I was a member of Metroflex Arlington, Martins Hardcore Barbell and Strouds Fitness in Bedford. I traveled all over the Southwest while living in Texas and I got to train at notable gyms such as Red’s in Lafayette Louisiana, Olympic Gym San Antonio, Ken Lain’s Powershack Gym Abilene, and the Weightroom in Oklahoma City.
The key to a successful road trip training session is much like the oaths the Doctors take, promising to do no harm. In this case, that means do not get hurt while you are training at a new facility. If you are like me and you love to train, temper that fire with some restraint. At a new gym it is far better to try out different pieces of equipment that you do not have access to for a volume training session day of 5 sets of ten repetitions rather than to max out to see how much you can handle on a new machine, bar, rack, or Strongman implement. I always enjoyed meeting new lifters and a road trip to a new gym is a great way to meet like minded serious strength athletes. While preparing for a road trip, do as much readership online as you can prior traveling to the new gym. Make sure you will be able to access the gym through a day pass purchase or an online sign up for a free trial period. I always am straightforward with the gym owner or employee at the counter as to why I am there. It should go without saying that you should respect every gym you enter, especially the members, employees, and equipment.
During any gym road trip, I make sure to pack sufficient fluids so that I can replenish myself and perform at my best. I prefer some BCAAs, electrolytes, in cranberry juice ala Eddie Hall. With more of a volume based workout you do not want to crash in the middle of your planned session. Remember, fuel up to get your moneys worth. We would try to be the best customers in the gym, patronizing their juice bar and buying a t-shirt as I love a good gym shirt. Do not forget your workout log as this becomes even more important when you are training in a different environment with different implements. Keep the phone handy for great picture taking. Many of these gyms are like living museums with awesome images on the walls, unique equipment, and possibly even a fitness industry celebrity who would not mind their picture taken. I enjoy YouTube vlogs and ones centering on gym road trips are must see viewing in my opinion.
Stuck in a training rut, looking to buy some new equipment for your garage gym, are you an extrovert, or are someone who enjoys the unique physical culture lifestyle that brought you to this great website? If you answered yes to one or all of the above, then a gym road trip is for you.
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