By Chris Harms
Early in my strength and conditioning career, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon Deuce Gym in Venice, California. Well, I didn’t exactly “stumble upon” it. I was still in the midst of my internship at UCLA, working with the baseball team. We would have lifts in the morning and then practice or have games at night, so I’d often find myself with free time in between. And since I was living in Pasadena, it didn’t make since to make the dreaded commute back and forth from home to the ballpark in Westwood. I’d instead try to make use of the time, studying strength and conditioning textbooks at coffee shops, libraries, beaches and parks.
I’d been following Deuce and its founder, Logan Gelbrich, on social media since graduating from Occidental the year before. Gelbrich’s battery mate in college happened to be a stud pitcher a few years older than me in high school named Matt Couch, who was now a strength and conditioning coach at their alma mater the University of San Diego. Still unsure of my next career move, I had reached out to Couch during my senior year of college and was so impressed with how passionate and helpful he was that I decided I wanted to be like him.
After a morning lift one day at Jackie Robinson Stadium (home of the Bruins) before the season started, I remember looking up directions to Deuce and seeing that it was only a few minutes away from the ballpark. Tired of reading my textbooks, I decided to drive over to check the place out. With no real intentions of actually going in (I think I just wanted to see if the place was real), I planned to just cruise by. Sure enough, just as it looked digitally, the place was booming with people banging weights out in the yard, getting after it. That’s what really drew me there, I think. The grittiness. They had odd implements like stones and sandbags, kegs and tires, yokes and farmers handles. Stuff I hadn’t been exposed to coming from the clean-cut collegiate weight room. Deuce is on the busy street of Lincoln Boulevard - I couldn’t really get a full look at this former auto repair garage turned gym on the first pass, so I decided to turn around. As I was doing that, who did I see but Logan walking up the street towards the gym. Deciding this was fate, I quickly parked my car and hopped out. I introduced myself as “Former Matt Couch Award Winner” and Logan has been in my corner ever since.
Training at the gym multiple times a week, eventually enrolling in Strongman 101 as well as Coaches Prep enriched my coaching abilities. I was exposed to a whole new side of strength and conditioning, one full of creativity and color, something that I didn’t know existed at the time, and not sure if I ever would have. I continued training and learning at the gym throughout the rest of my time at UCLA and well into my year at Occidental as a strength coach (until I took on 7 varsity sports and wasn't able to make the commute). Deuce was instrumental in helping me craft my training and coaching philosophies, and I am thankful for the impact Gelbrich and all the other coaches at gym had on me.
I write all this to say, Deuce Gym is not for everybody. In fact, there's even a little hand-carved wooden sign posted by the entrance on the front gate that reads "Motivated People Only." It is primarily an outdoor facility with their main group classes focusing on GPP (general physical preparedness) by implementing a style full of metabolic conditioning circuits similar to CrossFit. Often times, you will get some dirt on you and maybe even bleed a little bit (I tore my forearms up doing heavy atlas stone picks and my hands on the pull-up bar during Murph). Maybe it’s the baseball player/farmer in me, but I enjoy getting dirty. Regardless, everybody training there has one thing in common: motivation to become a better person. People show up ready to work. They don’t rely on the coaches to give motivational speeches day-in and day-out. The environment takes care of that.
Here at the Farm, it’s no different: we show up to work and don't stop until the job is done. Of course, we will challenge you and take you out of your comfort zone because that is how you grow. But ultimately, you have to be the one to do the work.
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