Body building at Albany Strength

Albany Strength exterior.jpg

They want to pump -you up.

By Erik Dollman

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.

The Store

Albany Strength store.jpg
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.

The Gym

Albany Strength gym.jpg

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.

The People
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 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.

Find It

Albany Strength
330 Central Avenue
Albany, NY 12206


I've walked past this place many times but haven't had the nerve to walk in - it gives off a very "bro" vibe. Still sounds pretty bro-y, but this article makes it seem a little more appealing. I'm a novice weight trainer (following the New Rules of Lifting for Women) and I really, really love it. I'll have to check them out sometime.

Katie - Eric isn't exaggerating the atmosphere or the friendliness. I've been in for supplements and they've been nothing but helpful and kind.

Eric - is it something with the lifting/training environment that lends friendliness? I've been to other gyms that focus more on weights and overall both the staff and patrons are really nice and willing to help you with training or setting up a schedule.

40lbs of muscle in 2 years? Sounds like weight lifters and fisherman have a lot in common.

@katie It is bro-y. But my fiancée lifted and competed there and will tell you that it doesn't matter if you're a guy or gal, everyone is behind you if you're there to work

@Albany Jane I think there is something to be said for the camaraderie that builds between any group of people that share the experience of sacrifice for long term goals. I would imagine that a hardcore cheer-leading facility would be just as supportive.

@JoeAlbany I ain't telling no big fish tale. I walked into that gym weighing 170lbs, and 2 years later I was at 210, and 220ish today. Move big weights, don't miss training sessions, eat like a horse, get 8 hours sleep per night and anyone can do the same thing. If you show up Wednesday nights, though, there are at least 3 hardcore anglers there, who would love to talk fish.

Try Albany Crossfit ( it's a much more welcoming place to get in great shape while doing the same bad @ss stuff - pushing prowlers, throwing sledgehammers, flipping tires, etc. It's a great community to be a part of while getting in shape!

Owning a gym in Albany NY is just so great. I am here all day everyday and dont care if i go home or not. 365 days a year open means exactly that,you dont have to ask if we are open or not,just refer back to what 365 means. Watching guys and girls make the transition from casual lifter to hardcore competitor fires me up and I'll probally be at your competition when that day arrives! Hardcore simply means trying harder when it isnt comfortable. Once you find that zone and a support system your potential is unlocked. Stop in and chat me up,lets see what you can do. John Payette XXXL

I joined Albany Strength 4 yrs ago,it was an exciting transition from local commercial treadmill gyms to this. I now am part of a elite family with a yearly mission to improve my strength and endurance. people check on me all the time, is there pressure YES! Maybe i thrieve on that and didnt know it before. either Im not leaving. I advise other people with competitive natures to go to XXXL.

@Jen C: I hope you were not trying to indicate with your comment that AS was anything but welcoming. I've been to many great gyms through the years and I've never felt more instantaneously at home than at AS. There is a place for everyone here, the competitive powerlifter, bodybuilder, weightlifter or the fitness enthusiast looking for a change.

AS is a phenomenal environment to workout/train. The place is conducive to increasing your motivation because everyone here is chasing a goal, perhaps in different disciplines. Overall, it is great for people to be surrounded by others who have goals in mind to increase their own drive to succeed. Very knowledgeable staff and patrons who are willing to lend a hand at a moments notice to anyone is certainly the highlight of AS.

I would put myself in the competitive lifter category, but before I came to AS about a year ago I was your normal fitness enthusiast looking for a change of pace and a cheaper membership (occupation:student). I came here and got interested in what a group of powerlifters was doing and have been hooked. The mere thought of having to leave AS when I graduate causes me extreme anxiety!

I went to Albany Strength only because i know John pretty well. Its exactly the opposite of what you'd think. Its very friendly from the questions you get answered to the checkout. Actually my gf and i got a kick out of the experience.,Parking isnt great but its Albany. When i get my butt working out more,Im gonna get my supplies there,it seems to be the right place. Certainy a special stop. Heather B Rensselaer

SOOO excited to hear that Albany Strength is a part of this conversation about what's positive in Albany. Did anyone hear that they are moving to a bigger, better building?!

Glad to see there's some AS supporters here.

@Carolyn This is confirmed. I'm gonna try and get an exclusive from JP before they open :)

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