For more than 30 years, Bev Francis Powerhouse Gym—a hardcore gym opened in 1987 and located in Syosset, NY, a hamlet on the North Shore of Long Island— has served as an iron playground for the workout aficionado. The “East Coast Mecca” has quietly usurped Gold’s Venice as bodybuilding’s most renowned training facility, routinely drawing in everyone from aspiring bodybuilders to Mr. Olympia legends such as Jay Cutler and Ronnie Coleman and celebrities such as Dwayne Johnson and Jennifer Lopez.

“I never thought I was going to have this life,” says co-founder and IFBB Pro League head judge Steve Weinberger. “I thought I was going to be delivering newspapers for the New York Post for the rest of my life.”

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But in 1983, Weinberger had a chance encounter with Australian powerlifter and bodybuilder Bev Francis. She was filming Pumping Iron II: The Women, a follow-up to the popular 1977 documentary Pumping Iron, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Weinberger was hired to show her around New York. 

The film helped raise Bev’s profile in the industry and led to the pair transitioning into a business partnership and, eventually, a marriage with two children.  A lot has changed in 30-plus years—the 5,000-square-foot space has expanded to more than 30,000 square feet, the pair have since separated but remain closer than ever, Steve became head judge of the IFBB Pro League— but one thing has stayed consistent: The mecca of bodybuilding has migrated east, and its name is Bev Francis Powerhouse Gym.