Tag Archives: gym

Finding Value in a Gym and a Coach

By far, my least favorite thing about being a gym owner and a coach is “selling myself”.

The truth is, I’m about as straight a shooter as you’re going to get. I don’t sugarcoat things nor am I a “salesman”.

Perhaps that is one of my vulnerabilities. Like I said, I don’t “sell”, but across the fitness industry as a whole, there are tons of salesmen, fakers, and frauds. Hell, I would venture to guess that there are more pretenders than their are legit experts, which is disheartening to say the least.

But the longer I’m in this business, the more I realize that it’s not my fault that lifters fall for the gimmicks and the snake oil salesmen. It’s not my job to “sell you”.

It’s YOUR fault for not recognizing value when you see it.

I get “tire kickers” all of the time at Primal Strength Gym. They will come in, take a look around, ask the usual questions about price, and be on their way.

When I follow up, I’ll hear the typical excuses if they don’t want to join.

“Globo Gym down the street is $20 cheaper.”

“I want to go to a gym that offers more classes.”

“I don’t know how often I’ll actually use the gym to make it worth it.”

“Wish you had a stair stepper.”

I could go on.

My initial reaction is to want to shake them and wake them up.

How can you not see the VALUE in a place like Primal?

  • Primal is home to multiple nationally qualified athletes, which means they continually compete against some of the strongest people in the nation.
  • Primal continually wins competitions. In fact, I can’t name one competition we attended that we didn’t place in the top 3.
  • Primal athletes have set national records.
  • The training environment Primal offers is unrivaled in the area.
  • The diversity and quality of equipment in the gym is second to none.
  • Primal coaching is first class.

I have people that commute in from hours a way, sometimes multiple times a week, just to train at Primal Strength Gym. Now those are the people that see value, far beyond the perspective of monthly membership dues.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a rant. Maybe this whole post rings with a little bit of irony as I tout Primal’s accolades after I open the post saying I’m not a salesman. Perhaps I’m selling you a bit, but more than 90% of my readership reaches far beyond my local market area.

So my main intention is to really just change your perspective and to implore you to examine the hidden value of opportunities in your training future.

Ditch the globo gym and towel service, and pay a bit more for a quality environment and lifting culture.

Train at the places with the most USEFUL equipment, not the shiniest.

Drive the extra 20 minutes to get quality coaching.

Recognize the quality of other lifters in more hardcore gyms, even if it makes you feel weaker initially. And soak up every ounce of knowledge they have.

Train at the place that scares you a little bit. Don’t be the strongest guy in the gym because that is a sure fire way to make you stagnant.

Stop getting hung up on price comparisons and adjust your perception of true value!

Lift on my friends,

— Tank

You Are Where You Train

Over my 16 years or so of lifting, I’ve trained in every sort of environment you can imagine.

No frills high-school weight rooms, flashy expensive health clubs, corporate commercial gyms like Golds, a rock-climbing gym, and even a makeshift gym built out of one of Saddam Hussein’s old palaces when I was deployed to Iraq.

Each of these places held their own merits, and all of them had their fair share of problems as well. A lot of what you find attractive in a gym may come down to personal taste, but one thing nobody can deny is that your gym environment has a direct impact on how much you increase your performance.

I put a lot of thought into this topic recently as I opened the Primal Strength Gym. Thinking back to where I have trained in the past and what is important to develop a results-oriented training center, I’ve been able to key in on three vital issues that you should look for when seeking out a place to train.


#1: Culture

This is by far the primary problem I see with a vast majority of the gyms I’ve come across. Most gyms, like any other business, are so focused on their bottom line (profit) that they bring in whoever is willing to pay their price, despite what baggage the prospective client brings to the gym environment.

Commercial gyms, like Golds, make a fortune off people that pay for a membership but don’t ever show up. But, on the flip side, what happens when people with poor attitudes show up and kill the gym energy with their negativity? It contaminates the environment and it will have an effect on you whether or not you even realize it.

In the gym, and your personal life, you are a product of who you surround yourself with. Surround yourself with slackers, whiners, complainers, and fearful people and you start to become one of those people. Surround yourself with hard-chargers, ass kickers, and strong, bad ass mother f’ers and you become a bad ass mother f’er. That’s just the way it goes.

At the Primal Strength Gym, I only maintain 50 membership slots, most of whom are referrals. I make sure I bring the right people in because maintaining the right kind of people and preserving the culture of the gym is paramount.

#2: Equipment

I’m going to take the opposite approach you may think on this one. Bottom line, most gyms these days have too much shit in them. Typically, when I walk into a gym, the more equipment I see, the worse the gym is.

You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to get big and strong, and too much equipment just turns into a distraction and throws people off from the basics of hardcore fundamental lifting.

The Primal Strength Gym has 3 power racks, a number of specialty bars, bands, sleds, multiple pull-up stations, heavy dumbbells, and some strongman implements like a yoke, log press, kegs, and ropes. My training revolves around the basics. Most people, with the right programming, can make tons of gains without specialized equipment and training protocols. The basics work…



#3: Environment

In large part, culture and environment are interchangeable. The environment you create will dictate the culture you bring in and you need the right culture to maximize your gains.

Swanky health clubs and corporate box gyms simply don’t breed the intensity and grittiness that you need to train like an animal. So when you’re looking for a place to train, you need to pick a place that breeds aggressiveness and intensity, not complacency and restraint.

Primal Strength Gym has no heat or air conditioning. The radio blares death metal and gangster rap. A normal person might be intimidated walking through the door for the first time, but a little bit of fear can take you a long way. In order to be at your best you need to rise to the occasion, not shrink to normalcy.

So think about where you’ve been training. Does it fit my 3 vital characteristics? Does it fit the mold of a place that will bring out the best in you? Or are you coasting and wasting your potential?

— Tank

Top 2 Gym Mistakes You Must Avoid

As a beginner, it’s easy to make a myriad of gym mistakes that will cost you results.gym mistakes

When I first started lifting, I made a ton of mistakes in the gym. I thought I had all the answers, but fast forward years later and I realize I made gains mostly out of luck and despite what I was doing, not because of it. I dare to dream where I would actually be had I avoided these top 2 gym mistakes.

#1: Not Having a Plan

This is by far the biggest gym mistake I see with new lifters but also the most correctable.

As a rookie, the good news is you will get great results from a simple plan, so you don’t need to put together anything elaborate. The more muscle you can recruit, the more muscle you can build, so build your program around compound exercises like bench press, squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses.

Have the plan in writing and know exactly what you are going to do before you even set foot in the gym. This will prevent you from wasting time and wandering around aimlessly.

#2: Not Lifting Heavy Enough

A lot of new lifters are worried about lifting heavy because they fear injury. While this is a legit concern (I don’t advocate lifting too heavy too soon without demonstrating proper form), the far more common problem I see in beginners is not lifting heavy enough.

Individuals are far more capable than they often give themselves credit for. This mindset causes them to underperform in the gym, especially in weight lifting. You must lift heavy enough weights to provide a stimulus to your body.

How much weight should you be lifting to build muscle and strength? Read this.

So now that you know what the top 2 mistakes are, where do you go from here?

Suggestions for Beginners

  1. Progressive overload above all: This is one of the most basic strength training principles and understanding it is fundamental to making progress in the gym. This principle basically states that you must eclipse your previous workout in order to progress. According to progressive overload, if you hit 6 reps at 135 pounds on bench, the next time you bench you either need to hit at least 7 reps at 135 or 6 reps at more than 135 pounds. More weight or more reps. Keep progressing from session to session.
  2. Keep a training log: This goes for everyone, not just beginners, but charting your progress over time is key to making long-term gains. To make sure you are following the principle of progressive overload, you must chart your progress to ensure you are improving day to day, week to week, and year to year.
  3. Write down your workout prior to training: Studies of basic human motivation show that people are far more likely to follow a goal or plan if they write it down ahead of time. Having your training pre-determined is a contract with yourself, and you are far more likely to complete it in its entirety if you have it in writing. This will also make you much more efficient at the gym, allow you to keep your rest times in between sets, and improve your focus during your training sessions.
  4. Know the “Why” in addition to the “What”: Following a plan blindly is a ticket to apathy. You don’t need to have a degree in exercise science, but you need to know why you are doing certain things. Knowing why you are performing certain movements or rep schemes, etc. gives you confidence in your plan. Having “buy-in” to the process you are undertaking is important and keeps you motivated during your journey, despite any adversity that comes your way.
  5. Keep it simple: The less experience you have, the simpler your training should be. Don’t overcomplicate things. There is a reason why the basics (bench, squat, overhead press, deadlift) have been around so long. I’ve been lifting for more than a decade, and those still form the foundation of my training. Master those before you progress into advanced lifting routines.

— Tank