Most people have a bucket list and they include goals like jumping out an airplane, visiting a faraway land, or going to a memorable event.
We, as lifters, should have a bucket list of our own.
What do we love to do more than anything else besides eat? We train.
So it should make sense that a lifter’s bucket list includes famous or special places to train at.
Do you have a gym bucket list? If not, consider this a template.
Here are 10 places that you absolute MUST train at before it’s time to go to the big gym in the sky.
Before we get into the list, there are a couple things that should be made clear. This is only a list and is not in numerical order or ranked. No gym on this list asked to be included and is only suggested based on reputation and notoriety.
1. Gold’s Gym – Venice, California
It’s the freaking Mecca of Bodybuilding! So, you know this is first on the list. From the Golden Era days of Arnold and friends to top industry stars of today like Mike O’Hearn and Dexter Jackson, Gold’s Venice has always been a training hotspot.
You could see stars, from fitness or mainstream celebrities, in there at any time. But they will likely be focused on training, so if you show up there, you need to make sure you put in work too. Then maybe you can get a selfie with someone famous.
2. Iron Addicts Gym – Signal Hill, California
Home of the original iron addict himself, CT “MothaF%@Kin” Fletcher. Iron Addicts Gym hasn’t been around very long. It’s developed a reputation as a training hot spot very quickly thanks to seeing it come to life on the film “My Magnificent Obsession” and several hardcore videos that you can find on YouTube.
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CT has had several of the fitness elite there lifting. If you’re able to make it there, remember the letters ISYMFS.
3. Super Training Gym – Sacramento, California
“The Strongest Gym in the West” is the home of Mark Bell and is only for competitive and qualified lifters or by invite by the man himself.
Anyone who has seen videos of the place knows why it has the reputation it has. It is designed for lifters and isn’t your run of the mill commercial gym. If you’re able to walk in the doors of Super Training, you better come correct which means putting in work.
4. Metroflex Gym – Arlington, Texas
Besides Gold’s Venice, Brian Dobson’s gym may be the most filmed gym ever. The bodybuilding champions that have trained there reads like a Who’s Who list. Of course, right at the top is the eight time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman. Other greats include Branch Warren and Johnnie Jackson.
It’s hot in the summers and they don’t care. The weights and machines there aren’t fancy but they have sculpted serious muscle. If you make it there, just don’t yell out any of Ronnie’s catch phrases. You will be tempted to but don’t do it. Just grab some iron and get to it.
5. Powerhouse Gym on Long Street, Columbus, Ohio
You might know this place under its former name of Metro Fitness. It’s now Powerhouse Gym Columbus, but the attitude there is still the same. It’s hallowed ground because if you happen to go to Columbus for the Arnold Sports Festival, this is THE spot to work out at.
Imagine standing side by side with your favorite industry star at the dumbbell rack. It could happen at this gym during the first weekend in March. YouTube comes to life in front of your eyes. Of course, it’s still an awesome place to lift at any time of the year.
6. Bev Francis Powerhouse Gym – Syosset, New York
Bev Francis Powerhouse has developed a revered reputation of its own as the “East Coast Mecca”. Owned by Bev Francis and IFBB Head Judge Steve Weinberger, this gym is home to many champion bodybuilders like Kai Greene, Juan Morel, and several others.
Athletes have traveled the globe to step in to this bodybuilding landmark. Several seminars and popular events have taken place there and if you live on the eastern side of the country, it’s a place to definitely visit.
7. Quad’s Gym – Chicago, Illinois
With two stories and over 40,000 square feet of lifting paradise, Quad’s Gym is best known as the home of one of the greatest powerlifters ever and International Sports Hall of Famer, Ed Coan.
There are all types of equipment here that are sure to leave you sore and battered if you work hard enough. Quad’s has everything for everyone who bleeds iron. When you go to the Windy City, make sure it’s your first stop.
8. Monster Gym – Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, UK
This place is no joke. Monster Gym is just the place for England’s lifting monsters or anyone else for that matter. Regardless of your sport of choice, this place will satiate your fitness needs. Their dumbbells go up to 150…kilos. That is over 300 pounds each.
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With all different types of equipment and plenty of bars and plates along with chains, logs, and kettlebells, you won’t need to wait on anything for long (if at all). This is one of those places that you will tell your buddies about when you get back home.
9. Doherty’s 24/7 Gym – Brunswick, Australia
Tony Doherty is the most famous bodybuilding name in Australia and his gyms are a big reason why. I am not sure how many opportunities you will get to travel "Down Under", so if you do, make sure you mark this place as a spot you MUST stop at.
Ronnie Coleman filmed one of his DVD’s there and anyone who is known in the industry in that part of the world likely calls Doherty’s Gym their training home. As a 24/7 gym, you can travel there and train anytime, so you won’t have to worry as much about the time zone difference.
10. Oxygen Gym – Kuwait
This is a place that has made its mark on the bodybuilding and lifting scene in the last couple of years. And there is a BIG reason why it has. Big as in “Big Ramy” Mamdouh Ellsbiay. When he first stepped on a stage people had to figure out where someone that size would come from and Oxygen Gym is the answer.
Owned by Bader Bodai of Egypt, this place is becoming known as the “Muscle Factory” and for good reason. It’s become a regular stop for any bodybuilding or fitness personality traveling in that part of the world. If you’re into the industrial setting along with serious training, this is as good of a place as any in the world.
Ok, before you get mad at me for not including your gym or one that you feel is a must, I had to keep the list to ten. There are obviously many places around the world that are considered bodybuilding or powerlifting hotspots. Some are commercial gyms and others are invite only so I couldn’t include them.
The good news is you can add to the list in the comments section by including a gym you feel should be among the best. Who knows? If there are enough, we might do a volume 2.
Free’s Gym, San Marcos, CA. Located in a lumber yard, this hardcore underground gym has been around since the 60’s and has been home to many powerlifting greats including Bill Kazmaier. Dirty, vintage and awesome, you won’t find a more timeless gym than Free’s. INVITE ONLY.
Barbell brigade, Sterns in San Diego (oldest gym in the US, muscle beach in Venice.