TRAIN LIKE MR OLYMPIA

At some gyms you get nice tow­els. Oth­ers give away ruck­sacks. But at Metroflex, ex­pect sweat and tears

Men's Health (UK) - - 7/17 Your Summer Starts Here -

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%.”

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