Muscle And Fitness Interview

The following brief interview was done for Muscle & Fitness (August 2009 issue) as part of an article about the so-called toughest gyms in America. I only buy "tough" if we use the current, watered-down definition because, compared to what used to be considered tough and remarkable, what we do at Gym Jones is "passable".


Can you briefly explain your training philosophy at Gym Jones?

The mind is primary. Physical training is easy, especially if you only do what you already do well. Psychological training is hard. If sport performance is 90% mental - as most people insist - and you aren't training your mind in concert with your body you are wasting time. Unfuck your head and physical performance increases instantly.

Our athletes carry their engine or fight in a specific weight class so power-to-weight ratio is our main objective. No one has ever gained weight in our gym but everyone is stronger, faster, and more capable than when they arrived. Yes, we know how to put on size and we've done it for certain fighters but really ... yawn.

Improving sport performance is a question of attention, discipline, and effort. Practice makes habit. You become what you do. Do it right and evolve. Do it wrong and stagnate. Every level of performance has an entry fee. If you can pay you can play. Want to race bikes or Nordic ski at an international level? It costs 1000 hours of training volume per year. 1100 would be better. Only have 500? Welcome to the regionals, maybe nationals ... there are no shortcuts. Want to earn a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu? Invest nine or ten years ... there are no quick fixes.

Work + Recovery = Training. Everyone forgets the second point. Many will work hard. Few treat recovery with equal discipline. Do it and surpass. Don't and plateau. It's simple.

Some might consider [what we do] tough simply because what constitutes hard work has slipped over the last 30 years. These days unremarkable fitness is called elite. What we do in the gym isn't old-school hard. But it's passable and our guys fairly capable.

Can you tell me why you choose to keep your gym so small (so few members) and why you don't openly welcome very many people?

We believe the mind is primary, and we cultivate its growth by controlling the environment. Gym Jones is a place of work. It's obvious when you cross the threshold. We insist on a high standard of effort. We believe that you become what you do, but perhaps equally important, you become who or what you hang around: if you want to improve find someone better than you to teach and inspire. We have "cast" our place to provide these examples and trainees develop quickly and well because of it.

Finally, the number of people who train here (around 30, a dozen of whom are sponsored) is limited because time and energy are finite. We actually coach. We get up in our athletes' lives. We care about them. And there's not an endless supply of care for anyone who wants it. Hence the private nature of the place.

Can you provide me a sample workout that has been done recently at Gym Jones?

First, no training session exists in a vacuum. It is influenced by what came before, by the objective of the training, by the seasonal or annual plan, and, of course, by the needs of the individual(s) for whom the training is prescribed. The following workout was done by some of the fighters during a month of split emphasis on strength, and also power-endurance (aka work capacity). By our definition we classify this as a strength workout because the business is in the lunge/hop/jump segment. The upper body circuit ensures no movements are neglected, and although hard at that point in the session, it is not enough on its own to cause any stimulating stress for this group.


January 15th, 2009

6-Way BB Complex (thank you Istvan Javorek)

6 reps each of the following movements done non-stop without setting barbell down

Snatch, Overhead Squat, Back Squat, Good Morning, Row (back parallel to floor), Deadlift

2 sets @ 75#, 2 sets @ 95#, rest 2-3 minutes between sets


6x Weighted Lunge (barbell on back, @ 40% of Back Squat 1RM, 3 each leg) +

6x Weighted Step-up/Hop @ 2x 30# DBs on 10" box +

6x Split Jump (3 each)

6 sets, rest 2-3 minutes between sets


Pull-up & Ring Dip circuit:

10/1, 9/2, 8/3, 7/4, 6/5, 5/6, 4/7, 3/8, 2/9, 1/10

First round looks like: 10x Pull-up + 1x Ring Dip

Second round looks like: 9x Pull-up + 2x Ring Dip



Cool down

Mark Twight
Mark Twight