Started by a pair of Walla Wallans, The Muscle Shack isn’t your average gym. That much is apparent, whether it’s the snarling jacked bear pumping iron in the logo, or the fact that there are only two cardio machines in the joint and are only for cool-downs between lifting, co-owners Greg Delp and Nathan Tebeck are quick to emphasize.
Instead of a modern gym with a snack bar, a climbing wall and a lounge á la Gold’s Gym, The Muscle Shack is a place to come in, lift weights — maybe let out a grunt or two — and go home. It’s the Gold’s Gym of Venice Beach, not the shopping mall.
“There’s a lot of gyms around town, and they’re all good, but they have their different niches,” Delp said.
Tebeck finished the thought: “They haven’t nailed the niches where you’re here to come in and just get the hard work done.”
Delp and Tebeck, who graduated together from Walla Walla High School in 2008, are proponents of a weight training philosophy called High Intensity Training. HIT, popularized in the 1970s by Arthur Jones, posits that workouts should be brief and infrequent, but intense.
As of now The Muscle Shack operates solely as a personal training gym thanks in part to its size, meaning it’s only open to clients of Delp and Tebeck, who are both certified HIT trainers.
But they have plans to move to a larger location on Isaacs Avenue this summer and operate as a traditional gym in addition to their personal training services.
Delp and Tebeck have been friends and trained together since high school. They hatched the idea to open a gym together shortly after graduating. Their gym would be a fantasy land for body builders: a place where you could use chalk, drop weights if need be, grunt and listen to loud music. Whatever they needed to do to work out to their full potential.
“We want you to walk in and everybody is working hard and is motivating each other,” Tebeck said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
“If you’re not allowed to let out a grunt if you’re pushing out 800 pounds on the leg press, then you’re not working out to your potential,” Delp said. “And that’s what we’re all about — we’re all about showing you what you’re capable of and showing you your full potential.”
In June fantasy became reality. After years of working day jobs, saving money and hoarding exercise equipment, the duo opened their gym at 2136 Eastgate St.
Since opening they say they’ve had between 20 and 25 clients at any time ranging from high school students to people in their 50s and 60s. Although they focus on weight lifting — posters of Arnold Schwarzenegger and other fitness celebrities adorn the walls — they say when they open their new gym it will be for anyone, young or old, who is willing to work hard.
“When we get a (traditional) gym open, I don’t want people to come in and feel like they have to do our training,” Delp said. “I’m perfectly fine if they want to be a champion basketball player or a body builder, as long as they’re there with a goal and they want to work hard.”