Hardcore gyms are amazing! If you know, then you know. I had the pleasure of going to one in Maryland during my old high school days. I hope I don’t confuse any of you. If you’re thinking state-of-the-art equipment, a powerful air conditioning system for the summer months, a great audio system to get you through the workouts and other “luxurious” amenities typical commercial gyms have, you’re wrong!
In fact, the gym at my high school had paint peeling of the walls, just one working window that opened up to the roof of our school for air, no HVAC system strong enough to keep us from boiling during the summer or warm during the winter, barbells that were bent in a U-shape, dumbbells that were rusted and damaged, worn benches that needed replacing and the list goes on and on.
I remember walking in there knowing that I was going to get a great workout whether I just stood in the middle of the gym or not. I was bummed when they had to perform renovations to the gym during the final offseason of my high school career. You’re probably wondering why I loved this place. You’re asking yourself…
So, why was this his all-time favorite gym?
Simple. Similar to what people say about New York: I knew that if I could make it in this weight room, I could last in any other weight room in the country. The fact that we had to forego the luxury of an adequate training facility gave us that grit we needed before the start of the season. We knew that everything had to be earned and we were willing to put the work in to earn it.
Unfortunately, this gym was demolished when the school was renovated in 2016 and all we have now are the memories we made and close relationships built because of what we went through many years ago.
The sad part is that I have yet to find a true replacement. That is why we became curious and scoured the web looking for gyms that fit that mold. Gym’s that have a bold and rugged personality. Gyms that have a “no nonsense” persona. Gyms where people leave broken to never return or become obsessed with pushing their bodies beyond their limit.
If you’re looking to stay away from the commercial gyms and you’re ready for an intense, rugged, no non-sense workout, you’re going to want to read this list of 10 great hardcore gyms you’ve probably never heard of. Since everyone has their preferences, I will not be placing these in order. However, you must have a personal invite and a death wish to walk into #1.
10. Super Training Gym, West Sacramento, CA
Most, if not all, commercial gyms have a one-day guest pass. However, you must be accompanied by someone who has a membership. The only thing you need to try a workout session at Super Training Gym is your spirit (which may not make it out with you when you’re done).
Amongst the lifters in this gym are super athletes who can squat 1,000 lbs., bench press over 800 lbs. and deadlift over 700. However, there is no weight lifting qualification you need to lift a dumbbell off the rack here. The “Workout of the Day” is created by Mark Bell, the owner of this famous establishment. His attention to detail and willingness to help others grow produces some of the greatest vibes you can get in a gym facility regardless of your fitness level.
This passes the “Toughness Test” but is also much more inviting than other gyms of its kind. As long as you come with everything you have within you, you will have a spot here. In a gym made up of kettle bells, chains, barbells and dumbbells, there is no wonder why this gym has a five-star rating and positive reviews. Whenever you’re in West Sacramento and need a quick lift, make a stop here.
9. DeFranco’s Gym, East Rutherford, NJ
Joe DeFranco is one of the most famous and world-renowned strength and conditioning masters in the world. Similar to my favorite high school gym, this gym is limited in size, space and clients. Joe’s special techniques and training styles have been featured around the world on many different platforms including the WWE Network, NFL Network, and Men’s Fitness Magazine. Joe is considered a pioneer in the space and the innovator of the warehouse, hardcore gym. This speaks to our brand at Achromous Fitness because we love the rugged, no-nonsense approach to exercising.
The small, private gym caters to private clients only, as they welcome in 25-30 athletes at a given time. This privacy and exclusivity allow the qualified trainers to spend more time with each athlete based on their specific goals rather than having gym-goers wandering aimlessly without goals or an effective way to accomplish them. The “customized group training” approach at Joe’s gym allows athletes to train and motivate each other. This gym covers all aspects of athletic performance including speed, agility, endurance and strength. Whenever you’re in New Jersey, be sure to make an appointment here.
8. Firehouse Fitness, Abilene, TX
Built inside of a repurposed fire station, Firehouse Fitness brings a new type of approach to fitness. It still meets our “Toughness Test” because firefighters are amongst the bravest people in the world. This 24-hour gym allows you to get a workout in before of after work, seven days a week.
Their unique “Firecycle” classes are a fun, interesting way to begin your day with loud music in an old-school-style cycling studio. They bring a new meaning to strength because of their nonprofit foundation that helps cancer patients with a free exercise treatment. We love a true gym with meaning and uniqueness and Firehouse Fitness fits that mold.
7. Stern’s Gym, San Diego, California
This establishment has been training legends around America since 1946, making it one of the oldest gyms on the west coast. This gym pays homage to the “old-school” approach and you must have a hardcore mentality to workout in this gym. With a solid array of dumbbells, sturdy barbells, and cardio machines, you can expect to get a great sweat while looking at a photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger on the wall for extra motivation. If you’re ever in San Diego and are looking for a solid gym, make a stop at Stern’s.
6. Jakked Gym, Montgomery, IL
This old-school family-owned gym is perfect for your advanced powerlifts and your novice gym goers. The reason this facility made the list is because it’s focus on strength building for all levels of fitness. We at Achromous Fitness believe in building a foundation first and elevating from there at a sustainable pace. Jakked Gym believes in this as well. With no binding contracts, no sign-up fees or cancellation fees, this gym is perfect for all levels of fitness in an old-school gym.
5. Gold’s Gym, Venice Beach, CA
If you’re in love with fitness and you haven’t heard of this gym, then are you really in love with fitness? Dubbed “The Mecca of Bodybuilding”, Gold’s Gym in Venice Beach, CA is the most famous gym in “Muscle Beach”. With over 47,000 sq ft of gym space, a variety of state-of-the-art machines, and walls of floor-to-floor ceilings, there is no wonder athletes of all levels travel around the world to have a chance to touch machines some of most famous bodybuilders used.
The list stretches from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Sylvester Stallone to Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan to Hulk Hogan and actors like Samuel L. Jackson, Mel Gibson, Kurt Russel, Mickey Rourke and many more. This legendary gym has become more innovative in these current times, but the old-school mentality remains. I know when we’re in California, this gym will always be on our stop.
4. MetroFlex Gym, Arlington, TX
With notable bodybuilding champions like Ronnie Coleman and Branch Warren, this old-school style gym is the perfect place for bodybuilders to prepare for a competition. The personal training sessions conducted here have been created by legendary all-natural bodybuilder, Brian Dobson. With dumbbells up to 250 lbs., you will gain strength in absolutely no time.
Like many other fitness facilities, this gym offers the opportunity to own a MetroFlex facility through gym licensure. We believe it is important to continue building these types of gyms that foster through growth and allows bodybuilders, both amateur and professional, to reach their fitness goals.
3. Apollon Gym, Edison, NJ
Achromous Fitness understands the power of motivational and inspirational messages. Can you imagine a facility where motivational videos play 24/7? Welcome to Apollon Gym where athletes at all levels have an opportunity to lift and workout in a facility with Dorian Yates and Rich Gaspari posted on the wall.
One day gym passes start at $15 and that is more than affordable to enter this gym for a great workout. If you’re in the mood for supplements, you can check out their online store where they offer protein shakes, creatine, BCAA supplements and many other items. If you’re ever in the mood for a challenging workout where you can be inundated with motivational videos, stop in at Apollon Gym.
2. Old School Gym, Etna, OH
Old School Gym had to make this list for the name alone. Founded by Cory Gregory and Dustin Myers in 2003, it quickly became a perfect example of a no-nonsense facility in Ohio. Besides functional knowledge taught at the gym by their world class trainers, Old School Gym offers personalized regimens for their gym guests, awesome apparel, and e-book bundles that will help you on your fitness journey.
Recently, Old School Gym worked collaborate with our #1 selection to create a line of strength-training equipment designed and manufactured specifically for them. In this industry, it is imperative that you build connects with others who are interested in achieving the same goals. Our final entry for these gyms is considered the “Go-to” for the warehouse gym industry.
1. Westside Barbell, Columbus, OH
I want to start off this entry by mentioning how much Louie Simmons has inspired our brand. From a dedication and discipline perspective in the powerlifting community, there are few who can measure up to this man. In his facility, five of the 10 powerlifting totals in the world are being held there. His influence on the culture has been immense. Sadly, Louis passed away on March 24, 2022. His facility will be remembered as one of the toughest, intense, mentally & physically grueling places to lift a dumbbell. Westside Barbell stands alone as one of the toughest fitness environments on the planet.
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