Gym Of The Month: Los Campeones Gym

When Benjamin took over this gym it was out of date on the gym floor and the back end. Modern technology and new equipment brought Los Campeones into the 21st century.

You don't really need much to call a gym a gym. You need weights, bars, platforms, trainers, lights, a roof (maybe), and the urge to make your body move. This powerlifting, strongman, everyman, neighborhood gym needed a new owner, new equipment, and a business plan that accounted for change.

Benjamin Loehrer took over the 30-year-old gym in 2010 and helped resurrect its image. He brings in new equipment on the regular—does your gym have a monolift? He also organized the business side, because if you don't make money the lights go out. His trainers are all independent operators. He works with the community and children's groups, like any responsible citizen.

Local gyms represent their communities. They can't shrug off citizens in need. Institutions like weightlifting should be shared with everyone via fair methods. That's how champions are made ... Asi es como se hacen los campeones!

How did the gym start and why did you decide to begin (or work within) the gym business, especially at such a young age?

The gym was started in 1983 by two college athletes who saw an opportunity to bring fitness and bodybuilding to the close-knit Seward neighborhood in South Minneapolis. I have always been passionate about fitness and helping people with their goals and found the gym in 2008 when I started training a few clients there every week. I was presented with the opportunity to purchase the business in 2010 and I didn't hesitate!

"Local gyms represent their communities. They can't shrug off citizens in need."

When I bought the business, it was on a downward spiral and struggling financially. I have changed a lot of things for the better since taking ownership, but I have done everything I can to not lose sight of what makes this gym great: commitment to the members and staying true to our hardcore, no-bull heritage.

Can you give us a description on what went into opening your awesome establishment under your ownership?

The biggest thing for Los Campeones Gym (The Champions Gym) was bringing the equipment and the back office up to date. Much of the equipment was homemade and worn out; the back end of the gym was run completely by pencil and paper. I invested the time and money into giving the members what they deserve, and that is a facility with great equipment and an up-to-date business plan that keeps the gym running smoothly.

"I invested the time and money into giving the members what they deserve, and that is a facility with great equipment and an up-to-date business plan that keeps the gym running smoothly."

What makes your gym different?

The first and most important thing about the gym is that we actually care about the members and treat them like family. I literally know every person who walks in that door and make it a point to know something about them. We are here to help them achieve and be their best every day. So many other places in town are too corporate and are just concerned about getting as many much money as they can out of the members without taking the time to actually get to know them as individuals. At Los Campeones you will find a diverse group of people, but the one common factor is that everyone shows up every day because they know they are welcomed and cared for. They are there to work hard and become better.

"We have world champion powerlifters, national-level bodybuilders, strongmen athletes, college kids, and everyone in between."

What sort of people do you attract into your gym?

Literally every type of person! We have world champion powerlifters, national-level bodybuilders, strongmen athletes, college kids, and everyone in between. We also have a lot of senior citizens just looking to keep up their strength and fitness each day. It's a warm and friendly environment; everybody knows everybody and people will drop everything to help you if you need it.

What inspires people to train at you facility?

It's a motivating facility. The most inspiring factor is the people. Everybody is in there working hard and pushing their limits. You won't see anybody standing around watching television or reading a magazine. Many of the members compete in various sports and they bring a high level of intensity to their workouts, and that is totally infectious. We play our music loud and don't have frills like a sauna or pool so people take the gym seriously.

Do you have any top trainers and why are they so good?

The trainers at the gym are independent contractors who rent the gym and have a wide range of skills. We have trainers who specialize in rehabilitation, Crossfit, Kettlebells, boxing, and general fitness. We have trainers who have been here for more than 10 years! Each person brings their own skills and knowledge to the mix. It makes for a productive and successful group of professionals.

What special services do you provide?

Our greatest asset is the attitude and motivation we provide to our members. If you want hot yoga or a massage you absolutely won't find it here. Our greatest service is the quality of workouts members will get at our gym and the knowledge and skillset of the trainers. No distractions ... just great equipment, and the freedom to do pretty much whatever you want. Too many clubs implement so many rules and limitations on the members that it takes a lot of the fun out of it. To push your body and mind to the limit you need to be able to use chalk, scream, and drop some weights; it's that simple!

On top of personal training, do you also work up meal plans for individuals?

Yes meal plans are complementary with training or membership. We know that members are going to get better results and be more successful if they have the tools they need to get there; we give that information freely. We have such a great pool of knowledge to pull from to help our members. We know more than just lifting weights.

"Meal plans are complementary with training or membership."

It's interesting to see all the strongman type training tools at your gym. Can you tell us what all you have and a little bit about what people who are in strongman can expect when they come train at your gym?

When it comes to strongman and powerlifting we have it all. We have Atlas stones, a yoke, circus dumbbells, farmer handles, and a farmer (rickshaw) frame. We have a 600-pound chain, logs, axles, tires—both for flipping and for deadlifting. We have chains, bands, chalk, and tacky! We have the space to use it and the know-how to teach it safely and effectively. For people looking to get into it we have training available and free training programs as well! We've been hosting strongman competitions around the Twin Cities so our members have a chance to actually compete and show off their strength and skills.

Something else you don't see every day in a gym is a Monolift, can you explain what made you add that to your gym?

We have many competitive powerlifters in our gym and it just made sense to get it. To go from training in a traditional rack to competing in a monolift is a little tough, this way the athletes can practice every facet of their competition. That is also why we have competition bars in the gym. A group can squat together safely and effectively with a monolift. It makes it easy for a 5-foot-tall guy and a 6-foot-tall guy to share a squat session.

What was the hardest part about operating your gym?

My main focus is just on upholding a safe and serious facility. We aren't the most tech-savvy gym out there, but we are working to get there! Something as simple as key cards and health insurance reimbursement have made things easier and made our members happier.

"My main focus is on upholding a safe and serious facility."

What makes you competitive over the other gym chains?

We are not a chain. We give the members the attention they deserve. If someone needs help I am always personally available to help them. The rich history of the facility gives us roots within the community and a loyalty and dedication from our members you can't get anywhere else.

You also hold competitions at your gym. Can you tell us a little bit about what all you hold?

We host the state championships for powerlifting every spring and that is always a lot of fun for everybody at the gym. We also put on a big strongman contest every fall at a park near the gym. It is a highlight for me and many of the members each year.

You also have a YouTube channel. What can people expect to see when they go visit your channel?

We are working hard on expanding our YouTube page to encompass everything from a gym tour to instructional tools and some fun little workouts anyone can try. I want all the content to be accessible and easy to try. So far we've hit on kettlebells, chains, and bands for powerlifting and some mobility and health exercises. My goal is to have an entire library of videos that anyone can use!

How have you been able to remain so successful and how do you hope to remain so?

Again, it's all about that personal commitment to the members. I was a member before I bought the gym so I always try to look at situations from their perspective. We have no contracts and no sign-up fees; I wouldn't want that so don't do it. I am always improving the gym with better equipment and better class options based on what I see and hear from people who work out with us every day. Members get excited every time a new piece of equipment shows up!

"It's all about that personal commitment to the members."

Does your gym have any special charities/community outreach organizations you raise money/volunteer for?

We participate in an organization called Hopekids. It's an organization that focuses on children with serious illnesses. It gives them hope! This year we helped to raise more than $100,000! Additionally we just had some Boy Scouts come in to learn about health and wellness; we put them on the battle ropes and they had a blast!