We've been gone for some time, dealing with a big move along with other business-y stuff, but now we're settled and ready to rock. Last month we moved into a building that has roughly twice the training space as our previous location. This sounds big, but our gym went from being really goddamn small to being adequate.
Since we are all advocates of the 80/20 principle, we figured we didn't need an extra 2,000 square feet for a machine preacher curl or cable pullover setup. Instead, we intelligently filled the space we had with a 3 squat racks, 2 bench racks, a competition squat/bench combo, a reverse hyper, a host of specialty bars, dumbbells, strongman equipment, and more. To put that in perspective, we are right next to a 24 Hour Fitness 'Super Sport' that is over 20,000 square feet and we have more bench and squat racks than they do. Actually, we have infinity percent more reverse hypers, specialty bars, and strongman equipment than they do. And 675lb bencher LeRoy Walker works out here. Just keeping it 100.
We struggled with the direction we wanted to take our gym amidst our great leap forward. We wanted to treat this as a business first, something that we could use to pay rent and fund our riverboat gambling trips. Thusly, we felt that we needed to appeal to as many different people as possible. Your typical casual-fine dining restaraunts offer pancakes, sushi, tacos, and pizza at all times of day. Walmart has hostess cakes next to the diabetes medication. It only stood to reason that we needed 5am booty bootcamps and a Crossfit corner to build membership and turn a profit. This was a hard pill to swallow since 2/3 of the owners are competitive lifters with a certain affinity for offensive music and bloody shins. And Jared.... well, Jared takes care of our old ladies.
Immediately before our final move into the new facility, we attended a USPA powerlifting meet at Grinder Gym in San Diego which was officiated by Jim Kerns from Deadweight Strength. A gym(Jim) after our own heart, Deadweight is small and grimy and caters only to the dedicated lifter. Jim bent our ear for a minute about the struggles of running a small 'non-box' gym. Among the list of things they got right was the hard line in the sand they drew that excluded non-competitive trainees. According to Jim, non-competitive lifters are less likely to value the experience of coaches and the rarity of specialized equipment, meaning they are more likely to haggle on prices, disregard coaching, take up space, and most importantly, not see results. Because we are venturing into a super niched area, we must survive off of members who have a vested interest in keeping the gym afloat. Members who don't feed into that mission are dead weight that need to be cut out. Taking his advice to heart (to the chagrin of Evan, who had been telling me this for months), I joyfully plagiarized Jim Kerns' exact words and made 'Competitors Only' the official motto of IE Barbell.
We are growing and spreading our reach, but we aren't in the business of building and flipping commercial membership machines. Our growth will not result in some watered down version of the fundamentals that built us and we will not be a consumerist good that yields to the ignorant demands of the customer. Rather we are the service that tells the customer what they need and, more importantly, how to get it.
And don't be mistaken by our discriminatory headline: 'Competitors Only' is neither smug nor elitist. We all hold the belief that ALL trainees are competitors and should view themselves that way lest they be content to spend their time, money, and energy spinning their wheels in the mud. Competition is calling you out everywhere, on the world stage and in the mirror in front of you; so long as you are up to the challenge, you have a home here.