For the past week, my family and I have been in the middle of a move from Maine to
Georgia, so needless to say I am pretty frustrated with my time off from training, and am itching to get settled in a new gym as soon as possible! But, as I'm finding
out, this may be easier said than done. I have been absolutely spoiled at USA gym in
Bangor, Maine. I started there, so I really didn't know that every gym isn't centered on hardcore powerlifting. It never occurred to me that people go to the gym
for any reason other than to get bigger and stronger. I was sadly mistaken.
I do not mean to put anyone down here—there is definitely something kind of neat about a gym that feels like a trip to the spa. I can appreciate that on some level—after all, I like the spa...but I also like high heels, and I don't train in those,
either. My fiance and I have been seriously considering setting up our own gym in the garage, but until we take the plunge and spend thousands of dollars, we decided to give the local gyms a chance.
Our first stop was a nearby gym historically known for hardcore olympic lifting. We
decided to leave our bags in the car and take a tour, just in case. I've never done that before but I'm glad we did. What we saw was absolutely tragic—it was a
graveyard of equipment (circa 1973?) so tightly crammed into such a small space that
there really is no way anyone could use any of it. The tour took us into a tiny room
reserved for “hardcore powerlifting,” though the guys seemed to assume that I'd
have no use for that room. They were right. The room pretty much consisted of a squat rack crammed into a corner with no room for a bar, another rack crammed across from it, and a barbell stacked on boxes. Needless to say, we got in the car andvowed to never go back.
Our next try was a little better—we actually stayed to train. Despite bad reviews for being badly managed, we found that the management was the only good part. Today was our back day, so we were there to deadlift. Unfortunately, there was no
deadlift platform, or any evidence that anyone had ever deadlifted in this gym. So we did what anyone would do—we set up in front of the squat rack while everyone stared at us. No one was going to squat in that rack anyway. Things went well for a
while, until later when I went looking for a pullup bar. There was not a single one! What kind of gym doesn't have a pullup bar?
Finally, just before I was ready to submit this piece, I received a call back from the owner of a gym known for hardcore powerlifting and strongman training. We visited that gym today and were sincerely impressed by what we found. The owner warnedme (was he trying to scare me off??) that it's not a pretty gym; he was right. Set in what looks like a huge storage unit, the gym is designed to pretty much just get it done. Chains line the walls, and loud music fills the room. There are no cardiomachines (unless you count the prowler and the sled, both of which I am pretty excited about!), and the atmosphere is meant for hardcore lifting. I'm not exactly the most hardcore person you'll ever meet in a grocery store, but I'd rather lift withthose who are, so I can really appreciate this setup!
I am excited about this new gym, and am confident that we will find ourselves in a room full of people more interested in their training goals than in their social goals. It will be nice to make it through my next contest prep in an environment
where I won't be out of the ordinary to anyone. I'm also excited to improve my numbers and learn new techniques from the people around me--this is definitely the place to be during my bulk this fall, so stay tuned!
Sheena A. Hunter
University of Maine
BA, Women's Studies
"When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then
it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” --Audre Lorde