Although Monster Gym is still manifesting itself as the leader of independent gyms in the UK, it has already been nominated as your Gym of the Month due to its collage of opportunities offered to its public.
They house every piece of Hammer Strength equipment (included deleted pieces), Strive, Forza, Classic Cybex, Cybex VR2, they have 3 qualified cooks on the premises that offer healthy meals to its members, and it's the first American Style gym in the UK. At over 22,000 square feet, it's becoming more popular to more people as we speak.
Name Of Gym: Monster Gym Limited
Name Of Owner: Steve and Angie Collins
Square Feet: 22,000sq ft.
Website Address: www.monstergym.co.uk
Contact Details: Steve Collins 01992 637 999
Hours Of Operation:
Monday - Friday: 6am - 10pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8am - 4pm
Open 365 days of the year
Founders/Owners: Steve and Angie Collins
[ Q ] How did the gym start and why did you decide to begin (or work within) the gym business.
It all started when I was 15 years old and my mum did not want me hanging around the house, as I had stopped competitive
swimming and canoeing, so she took me down to the local bodybuilding gym and that was it, I was hooked.
While I was at school I studied to be a graphic designer, but never gave up my bodybuilding training, that was always where my heart was. When I left the university I found it hard to get continual work as a graphic designer, so I decided to enroll with the YMCA and study to be a personal trainer.
I loved the gym industry and what it stood for and ended up with 58 diplomas from various training bodies, in all aspects of training from bodybuilding, nutrition to training the disabled and pregnant women! I did a bit of competing myself, whilst I worked in the top fitness centers in London and found that my strong passion was bodybuilding. It was at this point I decided that I wanted to have my own bodybuilding gym.
[ Q ] Can you give us a description on what went into opening your awesome establishment?
Research was the key to opening the gym. I had to find an area which did not already have a bodybuilding gym and then look at the demographics to decipherer the age groups of the locals and their lifestyles.
The plan was always to be bigger and better than anything anyone else had ever known in the UK and that costs a lot of money, so I could not afford to invest and get it wrong. All in all it took my wife and I two years to find the right spot and the right building, but nothing is ever straight forward. It took months to get planning permission to convert the premises from an industrial warehouse to a gym.
The warehouse was disused for about 6 years before we took it over and there were holes in the roof, rats, leaks everywhere and the toilets were growing their own plants! We had a very tight budget to work with, so my wife and I did most of the clearing and laboring ourselves, whilst hiring professionals for the jobs we could not do.
I gave up my job to work on the warehouse, whilst my wife continued to work to support us both. Every day I worked at the gym and when my wife finished work she came down too. It took us 8 months to complete and then we had to keep moving the opening day back as the delivery of machines did not arrive on time.
I bought everything new from the States, but for some reason they just kept changing the delivery date and there was nothing I could do. In the end I got half of my order delivered and we had no money left at all, so I had to open the gym just before Christmas with only half of the machines.
I was gutted, as I wanted the gym to look perfect for my customers when I opened the doors for the first time. The rest of the machines did turn up in the end after a few months. I have to say setting the gym up was the hardest thing I've ever done, but looking back now I got my dream so it was worth it.
[ Q ] What makes your gym different?
We are the first American style warehouse bodybuilding gym in the UK and we are big. Most gyms in the UK are small and have only a few pieces of Hammer equipment. We have 95 pieces of Hammer Strength including Hammer ground base, that is the whole range, plus deleted pieces that you can rarely find anymore.
We also have Strive, Forza, Classic Cybex and Cybex VR2 and over 30 pieces of cardio including versa climbers and stairmills. My dumbbells go up to 150 kg (about 330 pounds); they are the biggest dumbbells in Europe and no one has managed to lift them yet! I'm now working on getting strongman equipment, a cage and sparring ring to compliment the full size boxing ring and selection of speedballs and punch bags we already have.
We have 3 qualified cooks who prepare healthy nutritional food to order on the premises, as well have having a protein bar and a supplement shop and are currently looking into creating our own brand of
We are self financing, so we got no freebies and no sponsorship from any of the manufacturers. Everything is paid for out of my own pocket, so to achieve what we have on this scale is a big deal in the bodybuilding industry in the UK.
[ Q ] What sort of people do you attract into your gym?
There are no stereotypes here, we get males and females, basically everyone because of the range of equipment we have. Yes we do have pro bodybuilders, but most of our members range from serious trainers and athletes to people just wanting to lose weight or rehab with our in house physiotherapist.
[ Q ] What inspires people to train at your facility?
I think the atmosphere and the fact that Angie and I are visible to the customers, we don't believe in letting the staff run the gym, we are here every day in person, so it gives it the family feel.
We know our members by their first names and have very good personal trainers to give them motivation to train when they are lagging. We are a very down to earth gym, although our website gives a glossy image of us.
We are always adding pieces of equipment or updating and improving something, so our members can see their membership fees being invested back into the gym. At present we are creating new walk-in showers and installing saunas for both men and women. I don't think there has ever been a period of longer than 2 weeks where something new has not been added to the gym.
Click Image To Enlarge.
We Are Always Adding Pieces Of Equipment
Or Updating And Improving Something.
[ Q ] Do you have any top trainers and why are they so good?
We are very honored to have
Eddie Abbew, Britain's top IFBB pro and Annie Ottey, IFBB pro, fitness and figure competitor training here. They are quite in demand and usually have a waiting list of people who want to be trained by them.
We also have Carmen Knights, British champion and IFBB pro and Lee Williams, ANB Overall Mr. Briton, EFBB lightweight Mr. Briton and 2008 overall Mr. Southcoast. They all know their stuff and are very good at what they do.
[ Q ] What special services do you provide?
Our in-house personal trainers Helen Sharpless and Lee Williams from Body Synergy have 30 years experience between them. They are both competitors in natural bodybuilding. Body Synergy provides a range of services for our members; they believe in training the body from the inside out.
Key services include weight management, nutrition, trend analysis and functional corrective exercise. They also prepare professional athletes and boxers for competition and fights (www.body-synergy.co.uk).
[ Q ] Who are your most notable present and past members?
We have only been open for 3 1/2 years, but so far,
Eddie Abbew, Annie Ottey (who we currently sponsor), and our oldest bodybuilder
Spencer Churchill, who used to be
Reg Park's old bodybuilding
training partner. Spencer will be 80 years old this May!
Click Image To Enlarge.
Spencer Churchill, Who Used To Be Reg
Park's Old Training Partner, Trains Here.
[ Q ] What was the hardest part about operating your gym?
The long hours Angie and I have to work whilst trying to juggle family life to be with our toddler. We have never had a holiday together as a family and because our families live far away we don't get to see them, so we don't have much of a social life.
Staffing is also a continual headache, but I suppose the real eye opener was when we opened the gym 3 1/2 years ago and people who we thought were friends just stopped talking to us through jealousy.
Some of them to this day have never been round to have a coffee with us and look at the gym, so you soon find out who your friends are. They do say it is lonely at the top!
[ Q ] What makes you competitive over the large gym chains?
I suppose the first notable difference is price - we have a very flexible tariff in that you don't have to be a member to train here, you can just pay £5 (about $7.39) to train for the day and for those that do want a membership we are very competitive and much more reasonable than the big gym chains.
The atmosphere here is good, we offer help and advice to our members on their training and provide them with a clean spacious training environment with ample equipment so there are no ques.
I think anyone coming into the gym will soon see that the gym has been created out of love and passion, therefore no expense has been spared.
[ Q ] How have you been able to remain so successful and how do you hope to remain so?
Investment and reinvestment into the gym I think is key to our success, whilst making sure everything is in tip top working order and providing equipment that our members enjoy using.
It really is a labor of love - we take a basic wage and the rest gets ploughed back in to the gym. My idea to be the first to create this size and style of gym in the UK was never a money making venture.
Anyone thinking about getting into the industry on the size and level we have done to make money is on a losing streak, as to create a gym like ours and to run it successfully does not earn big bucks, but this does not bother me, as I look forward to going to the gym.
Each day I'm living my dream when I walk in here. The day we stop reinvesting back into the gym is the day of our decline, we are probably the best Hammer Strength gym in the UK, so we will keep going.
Our website is about 2 years out of date, although people say it is impressive. When the current building work is complete in the next couple of months and I've got the other pieces of equipment in I've just bought, then I will update the website so people can see exactly what an excellent facility we are.
Finally, a big thank you to Bodybuilding.com for awarding us
Gym of the Month, as this will no doubt raise awareness of our gym in the big wide world and be a contributing factor to our continued success.
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