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Hardcore or girly?

August 28th, 2010
Henry Day

“Hey! Check out this gym it’s hardcore”
“…….. REALLY!!! “

Over the years I’ve heard the term “Hardcore Gym” bandied around by many people from all walks of life only to be disappointed at what I eventually saw and experienced when I finally got to train at “So & so’s hardcore gym”.  In fact to be brutally honest reflecting on what I know today most of them weren’t worth a knob of goat shit.

It’s a phase I normally don’t give a second thought too as it has been used by so many gym owners in various marketing campaigns its lost all credibility in my eyes. That was until someone I know quite well, that hasn’t even stepped inside the walls of my own gym, (the muscle pit), said he didn’t want his son training there because he believed it was too hardcore and his boy just needed fitness for his sport. I won’t go into details of the preceding conversation however the point is it did get me thinking what the hell is a hardcore gym?

Have a think of what it means to you, & as you do, here is a myriad of people’s comments on what has been fed up to me over the years to support claims & views of hardcore gyms:

  • “So & so won some big bodybuilding contest and he runs the gym”
  • “So & so trains there” (ex – sporting champ – generally a bodybuilder)
  • “They have a whole lot of bodybuilders train there” (Substitute bodybuilder for doorman, local tough guy, gang members, etc..)
  • “They’ve got guys benching 3 plates (140Kg) aside”
  • “Man, they’ve got the latest Hammer strength machines “(substitute Hammer for Pantera, Nautlis, Flex etc…)
  • “It’s Gold’s gym … Arnold trained at Gold’s”

I’ve even had both a brand new chrome gym full of lycra and an old run down gym with decrepit equipment banging out George Thorogood music, tossed up to me as hardcore.  How much more diametrically opposed can you get?

From the small list above & probably combined with your own thoughts it’s a tuff one to be specific on, and I guess that’s the dilemma. Everyone has a different interpretation on what constitutes hardcore as it is generally based on your own gym experience, level of training knowledge & fitness goals.

Basically one man’s “hardcore gym” is another man’s “girly gym” to coin half a phrase from Arnold.

So if it’s down to self evaluation here is my spin on the question of hardcore, split into various areas:

1. A hardcore gym must poses individuals with a focused & committed mindset.

To me hardcore starts at the front door, with you, the individual, & your approach to training. How focused you are on achieving your goals & demonstrating that commitment with consistency to training & nutrition both in and out of the gym. To have the will power to push yourself beyond your limits regardless of the level you are at today.

2. To have no fear of challengers is hardcore.

It’s then about harnessing that desire to be the best and still show good attitude & respect to others that train around you.  A willingness to support, help-out & share information with others and encourage their ambitions. Nothing annoys me more than ass-holes who just take without giving back. It’s like they try to keep you down to stay ahead. I’ve always been of the belief the more you help others with their goals the more it will keep you moving towards your own goals.

3. Be inventive with the tools you use & always seek more knowledge. This helps develop a hardcore attitude.

As the owner of the Muscle Pit those that train there know my preference for equipment. First choice has always been for free weights, thou I will acknowledge machines do play their part, and as my focus has always been strength & conditioning, my tools of trade in no particular order will always consist of Olympic bars & weights, Glute-ham machine, Power racks with 1inch hole spacing, Reverse Hyper, Bands, boards, chains, kettlebells, a decent bench and a few cambered bars. These tools have been proven over time that with the right training template they produce results. The thing with training tools is you could spend a good chunk of Bill Gates fortune & still want more. When you have a good base of equipment it annoys me when I hear people blaming their tools of trade as hindering their progress when there is ton of work a rounds that can be utilised. You just need to build their knowledge base. “No excuses” is the mantra…

4. Respect of your training facility & peers will create a hardcore atmosphere.

The condition of the premises that houses the equipment I have no preference, old, new, it’s all the same to me.  I couldn’t give a rats about air-conditioning and beautification as long as it’s not a slum & people put there weights back from where they got them. Putting weights away is a respect thing – you don’t shit in your own nest. (Unless you’re doing really heavy squats – that’s allowed… well more to the point, expected!!) Remember your training area is a temple – take ownership.

5. Stay 100% focused on the task at hand eliminating all distractions is hardcore.

Music has always played a big part in the gym experience ever since Olivia Newton-John paraded around in a leotard to “physical”. Which is juxtaposed to most powerlifting & strength facilities which shroud themselves in forms of metal music: heavy, death, black, thrash, glam, stoner, death-core, rap, gothic etc…, Frankly, I don’t care most of it just makes me mad. I don’t need sounds to pump me up to get the job done. If someone farts when lifting encourage them to shit. It shows they’re putting in, don’t snigger & laugh, concentrate at the task at hand you’ve heard & smelt worse.

Here are a few extra thoughts on the topic:

  • Most gyms today are measured in dollars while hardcore gyms are measured in results.
  • Hardcore doesn’t mean you bust ass over training, repping every set to failure to the point you are puking up all over yourself & the floor. Train hard, train smart. Hardcore Gym is not Stupid Gym
  • Hardcore gyms should educate & inspire you.
  • The equipment purchased for these gyms are done so because it’s the shit that works and fits with proven training templates.
  • There must be a thirst within the place for knowledge & more importantly people that can gift that to others.
  • Chalk is allowed to be used….make that encouraged!!

In Conclusion

So…  Did any of the above match-up with your definition of hardcore?

As I said earlier we are all different in our evaluation of what it takes to make a hardcore gym. All the above I have tried to instil into the crew at Muscle Pit. However I’m uncomfortable to call it hardcore as in my eyes we still have a bit of a journey to go and a lot to achieve before it can wear that mantle in my eyes – Maybe it never will.

Here is a little something someone once told me in reference to training facilities and maybe applicable here “It’s not the gym… it’s the animal in the gym.”


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