Hidden on Central Ave. in Albany, between a pizza shop and Ichiban, there lurks a gym.
This is not any old gym. Albany Strength is home to world class power lifters, bodybuilders, and dozens of other athletes who don't work out. They train.
In short, it's a goldmine for anyone who's serious about getting big, strong, and conditioned.
When you first walk into Albany Strength, you are confronted with rows and rows of supplements, ranging from natural health, to hardcore bodybuilding supplements. They have some of the best prices out there, and run specials from their mail-order business. The range of choices can be intimidating, but don't let it scare you. Owners John and Corey are there nearly all of the time and have years of experience and wealth of knowledge. They're great about helping people out. Even if the gym isn't a fit for you, this is a great place to pick up your supplements.
Some people who buy supplements at Albany Strength don't even realize that there's a gym there. It's a bit hidden in the back half of the space. Make no mistake though, this a great place to train. The music selection is the first cue. If you're looking to hit the elliptical while listening to 92.3, forget it. There are a few treadmills in the back, but whacking a tire with a sledgehammer, dragging a sled loaded with weight, or pushing the prowler are more in the Albany Strength style. There's two types of music played here: hardcore hip-hop, and heavy metal. Unlike other gyms, at Albany Strength, chalk, slamming weights around, grunting, screaming and cheering on your training partners are not only allowed, but encouraged. There are two rules at Albany Strength: rack your weights, and no cell phones.
All this may sound intimidating, but all of the experienced lifters here are friendly and approachable, and it is due to this that yours truly was able to pack on 40 lbs of muscle over the course of two years. Again, if you're just looking to work up a sweat and "tone up", this may not be the gym for you.
Why it works for me
First: I've never been quite vain enough to work out just to look good, and I've never been quite mature enough to work out to be healthier, but give me something to compete in, and I'm motivated. There are multiple power lifting and strongman competitions throughout the year, held at Albany Strength that are open to lifters of all levels.
Also, when you really work hard, you grunt. When you've really pushed yourself as hard as you can to improve at a specific exercise, you might be so tired that you can't lower the weights quietly. At most commercial gyms, you will be quietly asked to leave for making noise or dropping your weights, and I knew that wasn't for me. No, Albany Strength might not be the gym for everyone, but if you're looking to get big, strong, and conditioned, and want to be around people who reset your standards on what those words mean, this gym could be a great fit.
You can find Albany Strength on the web at albanystrength.com and get access to their online forum, and you can follow them on twitter @johnjpayette. You can also follow me @erikdred where I occasionally tweet about my exploits here.
Earlier on AOA: Fitness without the frills.
330 Central Avenue
Albany, NY 12206
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