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New Jersey’s Ronald and Anna Lubischer are bonded in fitness. As former athletes and lifetime fitness enthusiasts, the two were introduced by a mutual friend in 2010, and were married four years later. Then, having already owned his first gym, Ronnie would take his partnership with Anna to the next level when they decided to team up professionally and get serious about launching multiple locations. Now, with a busy family life, and a passion for creating the perfect place to pump iron, this duo is disrupting the sterile, franchise gym model.
As fans of old-school, dungeon style gyms, Ronnie and Anna are being innovative with their facilities, while staying true to the idea of the hardcore workout. M&F sat down with the pair, who operate multiple locations of their Burn-N-Blast gym concept, to find out more.
“We encourage hardcore training but demand ‘no nonsense’ respect for our gym and members,” says Ronnie. “If you bend a bar from pressing a heavy weight, we take that bar and retire it to a special rack that has all the bent bars that our members have earned over the years through impressive lifts!”
There’s no doubt that Ronnie understands the mindset of an all-in workout since he played semi-professional football before competing as an NPC bodybuilder, in the heavyweight division. “However, “If you’re dropping your weights and screaming and yelling for no good reason, we’ll politely tell you that this isn’t how we do it here,” he adds. “You can bring your own chalk and use it anytime as long as you clean up after yourself. You can load the leg press with twenty-four 45s, but your reps better be immaculate… and it’s understood that you always rerack your weights.”
He adds: “Our motto is ‘Where old school principles meet new school technology,’ and we stand by that to this day. Our gyms are a throwback to the old hardcore basement style gyms of the past where everyone is accepted, so long as they respect the way of the iron and their fellow gym members.”
There’s no doubt that there’s a plethora of clients looking for an alternative to some of the modern, anonymous looking gyms, that often offer style but little in the way of substance. Ronnie and Anna are enjoying huge membership numbers from all experience levels—from beginners to advanced lifters to professional athletes. Fortunately, they are more than qualified to take every individual through their journey to greatness. Anna was a nationally-ranked figure skater and coached ice skating for more than 15 years. She’s also a successful bodybuilder, earning second-place at the New Jersey State Championship just six months following a C-Section after giving birth to their first child.
By design, each Burn-N-Blast location is unique, with an individual list of equipment, but one thing that they all have in common is that they are proudly independent.
“We are totally independent, family owned and operated, with zero outside investors,” says Ronnie. Many gymgoers may not be aware that franchise gyms are often controlled by huge conglomerates that don’t always choose their equipment based on a love of working out. All too often, deals are done to make sure that gym locations all feature the same equipment thanks to lucrative distribution agreements and an emphasis on maximizing profits instead of maximizing muscle-mass.
“Quite literally, myself and Anna own everything down to the drywall of our locations, and this gives us the freedom to run our gyms exactly how we see fit,” adds Ronnie. “And this provides our members with a direct link to ownership, to expedite any and all questions, suggestions, concerns, etc. This also allows us to equip our gyms in any way possible without the handcuffs of a corporate floor plan, or a set ‘buy list.’”
“There are certain gym chains that are required to carry a predetermined inventory of equipment,” says Ronnie. “In our case, we can mix and match not just brands but eras of equipment too. Each of our locations is a unique mix of the best of some new, cutting-edge brands such as Prime, Watson, Arsenal, and Atlantis mixed with up-and-coming mom-and-pop designers like Raw Motive Works, Cross Axes Tech, and GymBros. Then, there’s old-school pieces that are out of production, like the original Nautilus, BodyMasters, Flex, and Paramount pieces just to name a few. Our goal is to build bigger and badder ‘garage style’ gyms.”
For Burn-N-Blast gyms, everything stems from a love of bodybuilding. “Selfishly, for myself and Anna, we plan with the exact specifications of what we want for our own perfectly executed workouts, but then we invite all of our friends to come and train with us too,” explains Ronnie of the development process. “As an equipment collector and aficionado, I love to just let other people enjoy tools they either don’t have access to, or never even knew about. We offer an environment that doesn’t really exist in the current gym landscape anymore and our membership pays tribute to that.”
The bottom line, as Ronnie explains, is every person of every skill level is welcome at Burn-N-Blast, as his daily glimpse of his attendance proves. “For instance, recently at our Long Branch location I was training a rising sophomore ice hockey player from the Citadel while a newly minted IFBB pro was smashing legs, along with two NFL starting offensive linemen who were getting in a workout pre-beach, as we’re a beachfront location. Then, one of my older ‘gym rat’ type members came up to me and thanked me for the two new curated pieces that I’d added—a rare and extremely functionable Cybex Eagle Kneeling Lateral Raise and a Life Fitness Signature Series Seated Uni-Lateral Biceps Curl.”
“Everyone who comes to [Burn-N-Blast] loves to train but we have a greater cross-section of clients that you’ll experience at a ‘harder-core’ atmosphere gym,” explains Ronnie. “That’s why you’ll see families training together at our locations. We have one family that comes almost every day together. We also see three brothers who all are police officers or fireman locally, their sons who are college athletes, their daughters who are local high school athletes, and their wives who use the cardio machines. They all come and train as one unit almost on a daily basis even with different levels of fitness and goals. That’s really cool, that’s really something we’re proud of, and that’s what makes [Burn-N-Blast] unique.”
The Lubischers own two, 24-hour gyms (in Long Branch and West Long Branch, New Jersey) as well as a high-end private personal training studio in West Long Branch. Right now, they are actively scouting for a third, 24-hour location. So, as a defender and innovator of the hardcore gym empire, what part of Ronnie’s collection is he most proud of? “Wow that’s a tough question,” he says. “Almost every piece of equipment at every location is special to me for different reasons. For instance, in our private studio we have three original PowerTecnic pieces. We have the Super High Stepper, The SuperCAT Squat, and an original Power Runner. To this day, for athletes, you can’t get much better.
“All of my Randy Coyle original pieces are near and dear to me as well, as we boast a SwingSquat. We’re also one of less than 50 gyms in the country with a plate loaded front squat machine called the Saxon Squat, as well as a custom-made plate loaded multi-grip bent over leverage row that was hand delivered to us. We also have a prototype gifted to us called the GlutePress. And then there’s the Flex Hamtractor, or tall frame Pit Shark. I could go on, but that’s why I truly say we don’t purchase equipment like most other gym owners. We curate our Burn-N-Blast gym floors for maximum results.”
With half of all gym members expected to quit within their first six months of membership, finding the right environment is essential for staying motivated and sticking with a sustainable workout regime. Fortunately, with their Burn-N-Blast locations, the Lubischer’s are taking the time to share their lifelong passion with those who want to become the best versions of themselves. “Our members know we’re here to help, and I’m more than happy to let people make their own mistakes,” explains Ronnie, who along with Anna, created their own barcode-activated instructional videos for each Burn-N-Blast machine. “But, if they’re doing something that can endanger themselves or other members, it’s my job to step in and stop it, but these are teachable moments where hopefully they take our advice and grow mentally and physically for many years to come.”