We spend a lot to time here at Bodybuilding.com showcasing the best athletes, trainers, training programs, nutritional plans, motivators and more. But none of that is worth a hoot if you don't workout, and having a great place to workout greatly increases your chances for success.
To highlight great gyms, we're going to award one gym per month our Bodybuilding.com Gym of the Month Award! So unless you're the super disciplined home gym type, we hope you're looking for the same things we are in a great gym; friendly knowledgeable staff, lots of free weights, the right type of machines, and a motivating environment where serious training is taking place... all at a price we can afford.
Name Of Gym: Houston Gym
Owners: Johnnie West, John Langerman
Personal Trainers: Brian Barth, Wes Simon, Kash Guidry, Tina Chandler, Jaymes Alexander Jr.
Houston, Texas 77007
They say everything is bigger in Texas, and with the NPC Nationals taking place in Texas this year, we selected a gym that will be sending some serious competitors as our first Bodybuilding.com Gym Of The Month. We paid a recent visit to Houston Gym and found that owner Johnnie West has created the type of environment you want to keep coming back to!
Right inside the beltway at I-10 and Durham, the Houston Gym is not in a fancy neighborhood but is easy to get to for those living or staying in the city. You can tell when you pull up that the place is not for those looking to show off their latest workout wear. Housed in a new, insulated metal building, the outward appearance reflects the owner's desire to provide a no frills, all-you-need training experience.
When you walk in you feel right at home. Behind a small retail counter that appropriately offered Lee Labrada's supplement line (Lee is a fellow Texan), were a couple of pretty dang fun guys that were ready to let me get training. I told them I was just a visitor.
That's usually when you get the look down the nose or the sales pitch from the trainee, but they just wanted to know how many days I needed and asked if I would like a discount. You bet!
Once I had my three day pass, I was treated like a lifetime member and waived right through each day with a "have a great workout." No smugness here even though a glance around the place revealed a few trainers and some guys working out that looked like they were ready to step on a bodybuilding stage.
Getting some water before I got started, I couldn't help but notice all of the bodybuilding show awards, trophies and pictures dedicated to the Houston Gym. Most were acknowledging owner Johnnie West as their personal trainer. No doubt this gym is a supporter of the sport of bodybuilding and proud of it. Nice!
With about eight trainers on staff and another dozen independent trainers working in the gym, you have no problem getting a question answered or a little advice from trainers that look like they know what they're talking about. They know how to gain muscle and get lean.
Once I said hello I was able to get a few tips on how to get a better bicep workout with less weight and without working my shoulders from trainer Brian Barth. Brian was training for the Nationals after taking 2nd at the Jr. Nationals in the heavyweights.
If the figure of Nationals competitor Kim Sheppard, whom Brian was training while I was there, is any indication of his talents then this is the kind of trainer we all should have.
Some of the other personal trainers include Wes Simon who recently traveled all the way to California to compete in John Lindsey's Tournament of Champions, placing 2nd in the heavyweight class, and Kash Guidry who this year took 2nd place at the Bodybuilding.com/Europa NPC show.
Want a female trainer? How about the winner of the middleweight class at the 2007 USA's, Tina Chandler? She is one of the favorites to earn her pro card at this year's Nationals. With four personal trainers that have competed on the national level sharing their knowledge and passion, you can see and feel the confidence of their clients as they work to obtain their goals.
No standing around and watching as their clients train either, they were all working hands on to ensure proper techniques and effort. With racks of free weights, loaded barbells and dumbbells, benches and squat racks, the Houston Gym has all the equipment the old school lifter needs including an old chain driven weighted dip machine.
Owner Johnnie West competed as a powerlifter and the mix of equipment reflects the importance he places on lifting heavy to gain size and strength. There are plenty of machines to round out your workout, including some Hammer Strength, Cybex, Bodymaster, and Life Fitness. An upstairs cardio room that overlooks the weight area has everything you need to warm up or pound out that cardio, and the locker rooms are kept clean at all times.
Though the place isn't large it is certainly making a big impact on our sport and their clients' fitness goals. With a great staff, the right mix of equipment and an environment that makes it fun to train, the Houston Gym stands out as one of the best serious training gyms in the country and that's why they're our first Bodybuilding.com Gym of the Month.
So if you're in Houston, Texas you owe it to yourself to check this place out. A day pass is just ten bucks and I guarantee you will get a fifty dollar workout. They also have monthly plans starting at eighteen dollars a month. I'll be watching the Nationals this year to see how the Houston Gym trainers do, but they're all winners just by helping to create such a motivating place to train.
I look forward to returning and trying the new bicep techniques they taught me to get better results. We've sent the Houston Gym a banner for them to proudly display their selection as Gym of the Month with 100 gym towels for their clients and some t-shirts, hats and samples for the staff. Congratulations to the Houston gym!
A Few Notes About Houston Gym
Houston Gym was founded by Johnnie West and John Langman almost 15 years ago. John and Johnnie were both in the fitness industry for about 10 years prior to forming Houston Gym. In a world of big box chain health clubs and upscale "spa" facilities, the two longed for themselves and their personal training clients, a low-key, fun gym with top-notch equipment where everyone from world class bodybuilders to stay-at-home moms and working couples could have fun and exercise together.
The club was started in an 800 square foot "facility" with barebones equipment and the hard work, determination, and knowledge to build a club from the ground up. Fifteen years later, in a new 12,000 square foot facility with all new state-of-the-art equipment, that dream has been realized and continues to grow. The club recently added a mezzanine for an all new cardio theatre area and a full aerobics studio. Over the years, Johnnie West has been at the local forefront of bodybuilding competitors that stretches coast-to-coast. He has utilized his extensive knowledge of fitness, nutrition, and bodybuilding to land scores of trophies and champions both locally in Texas and on the national stage.
I think what inspires both John and Johnnie is desire to keep fitness fun, enjoyable, and accessible to everyone. With a staff of over 25 personal trainers and fitness professionals, we are able to pass along our dream to our staff who have done an excellent job of embracing that original vision. Over the years, we've encountered numerous challenges and hurdles but the desire to help people achieve their fitness goals at every level of the spectrum from losing a few pounds or toning up to competing in a local or national bodybuilding event is all the inspiration we have ever needed. The results have been both phenomenal and rewarding to not only John and Johnnie, but to the efforts of our entire staff.
Words Of Advice:
A few words of advice to those selecting which fitness center to join for themselves. The first factor is location-if the club isn't close by and easy to get to, chances are you won't go. Spend more money for the club that is most accessible. Secondly, make sure the club is clean, well organized and employs a staff that genuinely enjoys fitness. And thirdly, try it out at least once before you join and talk to other members about what they either like or dislike about the club. Lastly, when you join make a few friends and KEEP IT FUN!
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If you know of another gym that stands out as supporting our sport and providing an atmosphere that encourages clients of all ability levels to reach their goals please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can showcase the hard work our gym owners and managers do to provide us a great place to train.