I assume most of you reading this would train at the elitefts compound if you had the chance. I will also assume very few of you, if any, have actually trained there. I am 100% certain that not one of you has accidentally or purposely driven past elitefts. I visited for the first time last week, so I wanted to explain what it was like for those of you who will likely never get to see it. That’s not me rubbing it in that you can’t train there, but the reality is that you have to be a part of the elitefts team, be invited to train there, or take advantage of one of Dave’s instructional classes.
First, understand that I say no one has ever driven past it because it’s honestly and quite literally out in the middle of nowhere. I knew it was located in a small town in Ohio, but I admit that I expected what most people would expect: a warehouse area or a place where a lot of factories would be located but still inside the small town. Yeah, it’s not that.
After getting off the highway, it was one state road after another, finally turning onto a gravel road with a small park and picnic tables—the kind that is covered in case it rains while you’re having a picnic. The dead-end road ends with fresh asphalt, and a modern warehouse building that I had no choice but to believe was elitefts. I would say it looked out of place, but you really couldn’t see it until you were on top of it. It would never be seen from the main road.
As much as I knew how great this gym would be, it’s hard to put into words. To most, it’s just a gym. In fact, as well-equipped as it is, most bodybuilders would notice right away that there are no Hammer Strength machines or any of the novelty items found in most gyms. You will find pieces of equipment that are made for one reason: to move a LOT of fucking weight.
I’ve never been in a gym with five or six monolifts. In fact, I will go on record as saying I have never, in my almost 40 years of training, used a monolift. I squat numbers that can be walked out of a squat rack. I’m normal—a mere mortal—like most of you reading this.
The leg press was big enough and built strong enough that a train engine could have been loaded onto the damn thing instead of plates. A Cable crossover machine? Please. I noticed there wasn’t one and was going to ask but then figured the last thing I wanted was for him to laugh at me. Even the sissy squat had a bad attitude. *zing*
Unfortunately, I was in a position where I couldn’t train while there. As depressing as this was, there might have been a small part of me that was relieved that I couldn’t train. I was mesmerized, and though I doubt I have ever felt like I didn’t belong in a gym, I felt that in this gym. The silence alone was eerie. NOTE: I could have gone with “deafening,” but I didn’t want to sound cliché). I could have heard a pin drop (not a weight pin; it’s a figure of speech) because there was no one training, and we were getting ready to do the podcast. To know the caliber of the people who have trained there over the years and then to hear it so quiet—no music, no weights clanging or dumbbells hitting the floor—was, well, ironic.
I was there to do the Table Talk Podcast with Dave. Though I have had a lot of communication with Dave over the almost ten years I have worked for elitefts, I never met him face-to-face. Based on past interactions, I felt we would click, but you just never know until you know. Within 10 minutes of speaking with Dave, I felt like we had been friends for 20 years. It was bizarre—not in a bro-xoxo type of way, but more like you just felt like shooting the shit with him, and that’s what we did. We sat at the table talking for another four hours after the podcast.
As I walked back to my rental in the parking lot, I was reminded how much I enjoy being a part of the elitefts team and how grateful I am for being involved with them for the last nine-plus years. Dave opened the podcast by laughingly saying that I have no credentials, and he’s correct. On paper, I’m certainly not the smartest guy on the team. It’s kind of like having the worst house in a nice neighborhood. Your property value goes up just for being a part of a great neighborhood. That’s me; I’m that little two-bedroom-fixer-upper that’s just happy to be respected enough to be in the same neighborhood as the five-bed/seven-bath homes.
Ken “Skip” Hill has been involved in the sport of bodybuilding for almost forty years and competing for twenty-plus years. Born and raised in Michigan, he spent 21 years calling Colorado home with his wife and their four children. Four years ago, he and his wife traded the mountains for the beach, relocating to South Florida. His primary focus is nutrition and supplementation, but he is called upon for his years of training experience, as well. He started doing online contest prep in 2001 and is considered one of the original contest prep guys (when the bodybuilding message boards were still in their infancy). Skip’s track record with competitive bodybuilders is well-respected, and he also does sport-specific conditioning, including professional athletes.