In Support of Barbell Gyms: Building a Global List

, June 30, 2017

Searching for barbell gyms has become a short stay ritual for me. Resoundingly uniform and effective for training, a vented barbell gym offers the simplest way to patch up some mischief with some disciplined lifting, heaving and pulling.

Climbing gyms are often a good place to find a barbell, bench and cage to complete your routine workout, but as yet the climbers aren’t listing their facilities so comprehensively on their websites. Casual references to “weights area” or worse “fitness studio” require a leap of faith, and usually a phone call to ascertain the setup, which normally end up including a healthy selection of barbells.

We can forgive the climbers – they’ll always have sufficient holding boards to surpass your meanest pull-up sessions. As for regular gyms – they’re caught between the hotel gym with all the weights equipment you can remember being invented since the introduction of high-tops, and crossfit gyms where the high-tops crowd can now be found.

Crossfit gyms are however class-only, requiring a tribe ethic that can be tough when you’re passing in merely to shrug off a long flight or a few too many ounces of indulgence the night before.

The sweetspot is quite simple – a barbell gym. Where floorspace is plenty, with cages, benches and those weighted cumaband numbers that wreak of hygge. Music should be amicable, and the room lofted or at least properly vented. Those spongy floormats are good but frankly, unless your going for gold, rubber weights with a soft landing saves a whole load of extra cost and maintenance.

This is where I veer off track – when lifting barbells becomes a sport, beyond its check and balance against modern living. But’s let’s build a list, email me your favorites (will@zafiri.com). I’ll start.

San Francisco, California

SF Iron (545 Folsom Street)
$25 drop-in. Open 6am – 10pm weekdays. Closed on Sundays.

Los Angeles, California

Venice Barbell Club (712 Lincoln Boulevard)
$20 drop-in. M-F 1-4pm, Saturday 10am-4pm. Sunday 10am-2pm

Squamish, British Columbia

Squamish Athletic Club (37827 Second Avenue)
$8 drop-in. Open seven days a week.