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There is no such thing as a free day pass anymore. Most gyms will charge nonmembers at least 20 bucks to get onto the floor. But one of the most hardcore gyms in powerlifting, Super Training in Sacramento, CA, is actually free to try. You can walk in, tell owner Mark Bell that you’d like to check the place out, and start training.
“The only thing we’ve ever asked of people is that they work hard,” Bell says. “I don’t care if your best bench is 185, anyone can train here. You just might be benching with the girls to start with.”
And there’s the kick in the teeth that comes with your “free” trial. Chances are, you can’t keep pace with the girls, unless you’ve got a 400-pound bench press to your name. Want to hang with the guys? Three of Super Training’s members, including Bell, have benched more than 800; eight have deadlifted more than 700; and four have squatted 1,000.
Building lifters from the ground up is Bell’s passion. Developing strength over a period of years is a long, tedious slog, and having a gym owner who doubles as a program designer (he writes the daily exercise selection and order on a white board) and de facto coach is an amenity no commercial gym can match.
The self-proclaimed “Strongest Gym in the West” is little more than a dark cement room measuring 2,000 square feet. A typical night sees about 20 members, ranging in weight from 200 to 400 pounds, simultaneously descending on the place for a training session, and it can look like total chaos.
The chaos, however, is organized. Groups of three or four rotate in and out of the two monolifts, two competition benches, and three power racks. A gangsta rap soundtrack bounces off the walls, which are tagged with spray-painted slogans like “Get Strong or Die Trying.”
The equipment is mostly a collection of customized barbells (which can fit 15 plates per side), dumbbells, kettlebells, bands, and chains. Besides the monolifts and racks, there’s a Sorinex Back Attack—a plate-loaded good morning machine—that runs for about $3,700.
“It’s more than three grand, it weighs a ton, and it does only one thing,” Bell says, laughing. “I said, ‘Yeah, that’s just dumb enough to put in my gym.’”
If you’re looking for something not directly related to improving your squat, bench, or deadlift, you can always try Midtown Strength and Conditioning—a separate 4,000-square-foot facility with Olympic platforms—with which Super Training shares a roof.
If you’ve ever dreamed of outrageous lifting numbers, or maybe just for once in your life want to have a stranger confuse you with the Incredible Hulk, everything you could ever need to get there is all in one place, provided you have the balls to walk through the door and the guts to do the work.
See what the workouts are really like at Supertraining.tv.