Choosing The Right Powerlifting Gym
While a lot of you guys are already training in a powerlifting gym or are on a team, there are always a few people that are looking to join their first powerlifting gym. Hell, there are even people who are training at a powerlifting gym who are considering switching gyms altogether for various reasons. Maybe you’re not getting the quality advice you were expecting from your coach / gym owner. Maybe the two hour commute from the gym to back home is finally getting to you and you need a more sustainable daily routine. As someone who has switched between different teams for the exact reasons I just wrote, realize that your reasons for considering another gym are perfectly reasonable and normal. Since training at a powerlifting gym is supposed to be a long term commitment, here are some things I would consider when assessing whether a new facility or team is a good fit:
- The coach / owner. Is the coach an elite lifter? Do they still compete? Do they have a good reputation within the powerlifting community? What powerlifting federation are they affiliated with, if any? Is the federation they’re affiliated with using the set of rules you’re willing to compete under? Do they run meets at the gym, or regularly have their lifters go to a venue close to the area for competition? What training methodology do they use for behalf of the team’s programming? Is your coach going to provide you personal feedback on your individual performance as you train? How many elite lifters have they produced? How many elite lifters are they currently training right now?
- The gym. Are they fully equipped with everything you’ll need? While having access to a monolift isn’t necessary if you’re not competing in the RPS or SPF, you sure as hell need access to a squat rack, competition grade bench, and quality bars for each lift. Is the gym open on the hours and days you plan on training? How much do they charge per month? Why does the gym charge $350 per month when a comparable gym 45 minutes away only charge $100 a month? (The figure of $350 a month is a real monthly fee being charged by a powerlifting gym in my area. I’m not making this shit up. Paying $100 a month if absolutely acceptable for a powerlifting gym, paying $350 a month means you’re being conned by a shitty owner.) Are they trying to lock you on a contract, or do they offer month to month billing? How far away is the gym from your house? If the gym is within 30 minutes of your house and you’re thinking that the commute is too long, you are a pussy. If it’s going to take 60-90 minutes to get back home and you plan on training here for the next few years, are you willing to stand by the commitment?
- The atmosphere. Will there be lifters to train with during the hours you’ll be training? How about strong people with elite totals – can the coach name off elite lifters that regularly train during your scheduled time slots? Do the people in the gym seem to work together in split teams, or is everyone somewhat scattered around and doing their own thing? Are the lifters taking their shit seriously, or does the room look like a pony show that’s performing for social media?
While these series of questions might seem asinine for something like joining a gym, realize that you take powerlifting seriously and that it’s not just something you do to pass the time. You are goal oriented, and as such the powerlifting gym must be results oriented for its lifters. With some experience, you can figure out all of the above by scheduling a visit with the facility and talking to the coach / gym owner for a few minutes. That’s exactly what I did when I came to CSA for the first time and talked to Jesse about becoming a member of the team while asking a few questions. Don’t get caught up with what seems like a cool looking clique of lifters on Instagram when none of them can bench 315 for god’s sake. Find a good coach that has a reputation for being strong, experienced, and can name off lifters they’ve trained who are doing well in the current scene. Once you find the right fit between yourself and a solid powerlifting gym, you are all set to make some really fast progress and get stronger more quickly than you could ever fathom training by yourself.