The classic era of bodybuilding and weightlifting undoubtedly occurred in the 1970s and early 1980s. Back then, gyms weren’t deemed “hardcore,” they were just gyms. Filled with iron, chalk, and sweat, these gyms weren’t fancy because they didn’t have to be. After all, “fancy” didn’t belong in a gym because it didn’t produce results. However, somewhere between then and now, something happened to our beloved gyms. Fancy happened. Machines started providing assistance, flat-screen TVs appeared, chalk disappeared, grunting was frowned upon, and the elliptical was born (don’t get me started on the elliptical).
Basically, gyms became soft. Subsequently, its members did, too. What do you expect when facilities are no longer conducive to hard training? Weak gym, weak members.
Every gym has those few members who can get past the fluff. They go hard because they have goals and focus. Sadly, no matter how hot that fire burns, progress can be limited by the Globo Gym conditions. But put those same athletes inside a real gym, with like-minded people, legit equipment, and an aggressive atmosphere—that’s when progress breaks through the boundaries and becomes limitless.
In 2010, I knew that hardcore athletes needed something more than corporate fitness and cramped garage gyms, so I decided to do something about it. I set out to create a home for the hardcore enthusiast.
Metroflex LBC was founded and built upon the embodiment of old-school hardcore training. Its principals are based in hard work and the people willing to do it. So that’s what I wanted to create: a training center for hard workers. To many people (including my parents), it was a recipe for a madhouse. But to those who understood my vision, it was a temple. It was our salvation.
Working at corporate fitness centers throughout much of my early years taught me a lot about running a training facility. What to do and, more importantly, what not to do. Similarly, fact-finding missions to legendary facilities like Westside Barbell ignited my creativity. I saw unique equipment, unorthodox programming, and detailed coaching. I’d ask myself, “Why didn’t more people train like this?"
Then it hit me. “Train” was the key word. Real athletes train. They don’t exercise. “Train” means there’s a goal to achieve. “Exercise” means it’s a chore. People who exercise lack the focus of athletes who train. What dictates a training mentality is the athlete and their level of focus and commitment. Attitude is everything. I wanted to build a facility for people who wanted to train. And I wanted to include everyone: powerlifters, bodybuilders, Strongmen, CrossFit athletes, MMA fighters, endurance racers, and everyone in between.
Blending different sports and training styles into one facility was an important part of the equation. I adamantly believe that a successful athlete, especially a hybrid athlete, will explore different fitness routines and modalities in order to improve their overall athleticism. For example, a bodybuilder might use powerlifting in order to develop overall strength and muscular density. A CrossFitter can use machine isolation exercises to focus on weak spots in order to improve the overall system. And a powerlifter can add a little boxing for some conditioning and work capacity. Everything has its place. So instead of separating athletes according to their sport or goals, we created a vastly equipped facility that welcomed athletes of all different endeavors and gave them a home to execute real training.
When Metroflex Long Beach opened for business on May 28, 2011, it was with extremely limited means. We had about one-tenth of the equipment that we have today. That’s when atmosphere becomes an important component in a gym. Camaraderie, loud music, wall murals, and a code of conduct are all intangible qualities that define a gym. We turned an empty warehouse with a few barbells, plates, and sleds into a battleground of pain and hard work. And the atmosphere we created fueled our members.
Initially upon opening, I thought there would be a line out the door and around the corner. I couldn’t have been more wrong. When the doors opened, I heard crickets. Everyone was still lost in the Globo Gym bubble. So when nobody showed up, I realized it was up to me to bring people in and change their perspective. One by one, people tried Metroflex LBC, a workout in a “real gym” as many people described it. After one workout, people were hooked. They never wanted to go back to their corporate gym again.
People felt at home here. No egos or diva behavior, just sincere lifters who were passionate about the iron and a healthy lifestyle. Anyone else would have just left this grungy old warehouse. But for us, it became a special place of self-development. Upon those principles and ideals, a community was built.
Fast-forward to today and Metroflex LBC is thriving. It’s become an icon for hardcore training in Southern California. Through the use of social media and YouTube, we spread our message and vision around the world, touching 10 million collective viewers every month. As an authority on unique, progressive training, I intend on sharing what I’ve learned and what our athletes have applied to ensure success.
By Eddie Avakoff