Table of Contents
Intro: Why This Gym?
Not long ago, I found a photo of a stunning looking but mystery gym. Tony recognized it as the gym of ‘AttyGuy’, a longtime regular on the bodybuilding.com workout equipment forum.
I quickly realized that nobody has done this gym justice. The brand new commercial grade equipment is nestled in a museum of rare old York weights and collector’s items. Pieces of info from AttyGuy were scattered around on several-years-old forum threads, and there was a small showcase of the gym on Legend Fitness’s site. The full story of this gym needed to be told. I got in touch with AttyGuy to learn all about how he built this gym and the choices he made in selecting equipment.
AttyGuy wanted to make his new gym as good as any commercial gym that he would like going to. Just as important, he knew that he wanted all American made equipment. Cheap production in Asia and stricter US environmental regulations have forced most manufacturing of gym equipment to Asia.
This meant that plates would have to be either Ivanko or York. He couldn’t afford Ivanko, being on military orders at the time. He bought a set of new York Legacy plates, picked them up at the facility in York, PA, and got a tour of their museum.
Those plates worked fine but somehow lacked the character he was looking for, and none of the plates York has in production are made in the US anymore, which was important to him.
So he did some research and learned how to flip used gym equipment, buying people’s entire home gyms on Craigslist and other sites in order to keep the one piece he wanted for his gym and re-sell the other pieces, sometimes after cleaning them up to make them more valuable. This included weights, machines, everything, and many different brands.
AttyGuy had a 400 sqft basement to turn into his dream gym. That’s about the size of a 2 car garage. Lots of possibilities with a space that big!
Weights are one thing, but for the larger equipment, the level of technology on modern equipment can’t be compared to older stuff that was built when they were still figuring things out.
During the process of flipping equipment, AttyGuy got to know various brands and types of gym equipment really well. The vintage York weights he would keep. The rest – racks, benches, machines, etc. – he would keep for a while, work out with, replace, and gradually clear everything out for a profit to use towards eventually buying all brand new equipment.
He looked closely at Rogue and Sorinex and settled on Legend Fitness.
The center piece of his gym is this Legend Performance Series Power Station, along with the Beefy Spotter Arms and Beefy J-Hooks. He chose this model of open-top rack for a few reasons. First, Legend Fitness has a great reputation and has their own fabrication shop in the US, unlike most other manufacturers who get everything from China and can’t oversee the quality of the construction. The open-top design lets him do standing overhead presses without restriction, and it’s a design that makes it look different than everyone else’s rack. The 6 plate storage pegs on each side are useful. It’s heavy enough at 460 lbs that there’s no need to bolt it down.
Attyguy reports that the Legend Three-Way Utility Bench feels very solid, no undue movement of anything at all, and the same for the other Legend pieces.
The color options was one reason he went with Legend for everything. Legend sent him a set of fabric samples so that there weren’t any surprises with the orange color.
The 2,500 lbs of York plates he already had was enough to spread over the rack and any machines, so he went with plate-loaded machines like this Legend Leg Extension/Curl rather than getting machines with selectorized weight stacks.
On leverage leg machines like this the resistance is a lot less in certain areas of the range of motion, specifically when the lever arm is close to vertical, which is the bottom part of the movement on leg extensions. Still, the movement is very smooth and he likes this one better than a couple Body Solid leg machines he had in the past, which had too much play.
He made 3 orders of new Legend equipment over time, one or two pieces per order, until he had everything you see, in the process continuing to flip equipment sell off his remaining Body Solid equipment to fund it all.
As far as the flooring, the whole area is covered with Regupol 3/8″ rubber flooring, which AttyGuy was able to pick up at Regupol’s facility in York, PA (not too far from York Barbell!). If you need flooring, I talk about Regupol in the flooring guide.
Vintage York Weights Collection
Now on to the weights…
During the process of collecting and flipping equipment, AttyGuy learned about the history of York and the founder, Bob Hoffman, who was a bit of a shady character but also was responsible for keeping the U.S. Olympic Weightlifting Team going against the Soviets, quite the noble endeavor. Being an Army Reserve Officer, AttyGuy developed an appreciation for what they did for the country’s place in the sport.
Bottom line, York was going to be a prominent feature in AttyGuy’s gym.
Some were in good enough shape to be restored only minimally and the original finish left on for that vintage look (the best choice, IMO!), while others needed to be completely cleaned and repainted.
Even a set of vintage York steel powerlifting discs!
AttyGuy was partly motivated by becoming a steward of the old York equipment he was collecting for his gym and someday pass it on to others when he can’t lift anymore. The history behind all of these old weights mean more to him than just having weights.
He found some really rare York stuff occasionally but didn’t want to be spending exorbitant amounts of money. Focusing on the 1960s to 1990s York equipment worked out well.
Note that the weights shown here are just the ones he kept. All in all, he refurbished 10 or 15 thousand pounds of plates and dumbbells, reselling most of them. Doing a good paint job involves a lot of steps and considerations. He had it down pretty well for the ones he kept.
Iron Island was a gym in Long Island, NY in the 1990s that became famous as a powerlifting center, serving tons of national-level powerlifters and putting on large meets. York made a batch of 240 plates branded for the gym.
Ken Leistner aka “Dr. Ken”, the founder of Iron Island, saw the above photo and contacted AttyGuy, stoked that he was so into the plates, and sent him an autographed photo of himself at Zuver’s Gym in Costa Mesa, another legendary hotspot for powerlifting.
A full set of 10-100lb York roundhead dumbbells on Legend dumbbell racks, along with a Legend stool for seated dumbbell work.
He built the set of roundheads a little at a time. Nobody had very many. It’s quite rare to see a complete set of them all in one place like this.
A closer look at the York dumbbells. Yep, they’re gritty. That’s part of the appeal.
Legend Bar Holder holding York bars and an Ivanko curl bar, along with a deadlift jack from the defunct West Cary Barbell store. Rogue now makes a jack like it.
Legend’s landmine, the Ground Based Grappler, which includes a landmine base and two handles, one of which is shown. Used with a York bar and York plates.
A pair of vintage York squat stands, purely for decoration at this point.
Speaking of decoration, let’s take a closer look at what’s on the walls…
The Art Collection
In appreciation of powerlifting and weightlifting history, AttyGuy has lined his walls with pieces of history featuring old posters and photos of legends like Tommy Kono, Norb Schemansky, Dave Draper, Franco Columbu, Frank Zane, and John Davis.
The artwork changes the whole vibe of this windowless basement gym into a small museum of powerlifting and weightlifting icons and history, along with all the classic York weights to give it an authentic feel to match.
It was important to have several women featured. AttyGuy has daughters and wants them to see that women can be strong too and not look like freaks.
In the same vein, note that most of the men featured in the artwork on his walls are not primarily bodybuilders trying to look good. He’s featuring icons from the past who were into getting strong, competing, and coaching.
Some of these framed photos were provided to AttyGuy by Bruce Klemens, a prominent photographer of weightlifting back in the day.
eBay and other online stores were also helpful for getting some old pics and original posters.
All pics of AttyGuy’s gym on this page were taken by his friend John Choe. Thank you to John and AttyGuy!
Very Nice! 400 sq ft. goes very quickly, so it’s always interesting to see what pieces of equipment people prioritize. The absence of a bunch of specialty bars is telling. That mini-seat is perfect for the space! Awesome to see the respect paid to those who paved the way in the sport. Folks like Frank Zane and Ed Kawak and Bill Kazmaier were getting it done without the playbooks and advanced technology we have today.
Good point on the lack of specialty bars. Usually a gym this size has a bunch lining the wall.
I have that exact deadlift jack!!!
Maybe it will be a collector’s item soon!
Hey, I’m the marketing manager for Legend, and I just wanted to say thanks for featuring this and we are glad that you were able to get the owner’s cooperation in putting this article together. Photos of this space always get a lot of attention whenever they’ve been featured on social media and such. It’s a visually impressive space with tasteful nods to the history of the sport. The article was very well done as well. I’m tempted to just scrap the copy that we wrote for this in the showcases portion of our site and use your words instead!
I’m glad you like it, Todd! I just sent you an email.
hey there i am just reading this blog because i am interested to setting up my own home gym but just how much space would i need for a very comprehensive gym where i can do heavy lifting as shown here, n the article, as well as the cardio segment like treadmills , exercise bikes and spinning bikes, rowing machine pullup bars multigym stations and kettlebells etc.
is 400sqft enough? or wouldi need 450 sqft? thanks.
Attyguy’s is 400sqft. You should be able to fit several pieces of equipment. You just have to plan it out on paper, giving allowances for how much space you need around each piece to move around. For the power rack ideally you’d need a 12ft wide area to give yourself plenty of room to stand and load plates on each side of the 7ft bar.
This gives a little more info on space: https://www.tworepcave.com/673/how-much-space-do-you-need-for-a-home-gym/
hey there david thanks so much for your response, just asking for the average american home if u had a gym in your basement carpark or carport backyard or a converted room, and this gym is 400sqft where do we stand in the larger scheme of things when it comes to home gym size comparison?
i know some residences have gyms of 200sqft, some are 300, 400 or even 1000sqft. so i was thinking if i were to copycat some of the major commercial gyms like anytime fitness or fitness first, what in your idea would be a small, medium , large and very large home gym size that would be considered enviable and a wow factor? cheers buddy. anyways i am from singapore, and covid 19 has forced all of us to think of alternative ways to exercise without a regular gym haha
A basic commercial gym could be ballpark 4,000 sqft. Some big clubs with many rooms and every feature imaginable like a sauna etc. could be ten times that size.
Holy crap! Building up my own home gym at the moment with about 2/3 the floor space, and I have to say, this is inspirational. Nicely done (and nice write-up)!
I’m glad you liked it, and I hope your gym comes together as planned!
Well, I’m staring from a decent foundation and growing significantly in a few weeks, so I’m fairly certain it will. ;)
Before this gets out of hand, I want to request that we avoid personal attacks. I had to delete one comment here that was all a personal attack. I don’t want this to be the spot where anyone can do that without repercussions. I normally avoid deleting any negative comments (other than spam) if at all possible, but I have to draw the line when it’s not even a criticism of equipment.
Really cool gym. He has a lot of nice stuff, but if you’ve been on the BB forums you’ll quickly figure out he can be arrogant and seems to love talking down to those that are not as “knowledgeable” as him. It’s cool being a “expert” but don’t be a dick about it. Just my 2 cents.
Sorry to hear about your bad experience! He was really helpful and nice to me in getting this post together.
Joe, if you’ve ever dm’ed him, you’d know that he has a public persona and a private persona. He can be a dick. He’s also a friendly and helpful guy.
Sounds like you yourself can relate in the same way E. Mann, yes? Haha