TRAIN LIKE MR OLYMPIA
At some gyms you get nice towels. Others give away rucksacks. But at Metroflex, expect sweat and tears
We step inside Ronnie Coleman’s gym, where ‘Hardcore’ isn’t a buzzword, but a way of life
This is a ‘meathead’ gym in its most literal sense: hunting trophies adorn the graffiti-covered walls. “I eat a lot of the meat,” says Brian Dobson, gun-toting owner of Metroflex in Arlington, Texas. “But I do give some to our competitors who need the boost wild game can give them – and it’s a break from chicken breasts.” It’s also a strong indication you’re not in Kansas anymore.
Metroflex’s clientele are in a constant state of beast mode: grunting isn’t frowned upon, it’s mandatory. “The only things we don’t tolerate are extreme profanity, bullying, illegal drugs and equipment abuse,” says Dobson, who established Metroflex as a no-bs alternative to comfy, corporate health clubs catering to “the 3% of their members that actually use them”. Unsurprisingly, towels are not provided, but there is a spa – of sorts. “May through September, the whole gym is a sauna,” says Dobson, who signs off emails with “Stay HARDCORE” (his caps, not ours).
This hostile environment breeds such animals as Ronnie Coleman, who lifted the Mr Olympia title eight times, along with everything else in his vicinity, presumably. Less aesthetically obsessed strength athletes also flock here, while American football and baseball players pitch in during the off season. Dobson attributes its appeal to “the atmosphere, the equipment, the loud music and just the overall anointing from God Almighty bringing out the overcoming spirit in people.” It’s hashtag-blessed.
While Metroflex is uncompromising, it’s by no means unfriendly, organising charity powerlifting meets, outreaches for the homeless and holiday feasts with some of that game we mentioned. “The atmosphere can be intimidating,” admits Dobson. “But it shouldn’t be. Being hardcore doesn’t mean benching 500lb. It just means you have to give 100%.”