Power Lifters Feel Pressed Out at Woodbury’s Xperience Fitness

New “sarcastic” signage at the gym targets common gym practices of power lifters, they say.

The writing, apparently, is on the wall.

Since , power lifters say new (or newly enforced) rules are singling them out.

New “sarcastic” signs have been put up, warning members about grunting, using chalk and wearing torn clothing, said Val Huerta, of Woodbury, who has been a member there since Gold’s Gym opened. He says the signs target power lifters such as himself.

One sign, according to Huerta’s son Chago, says: “We want our members ripped, not their clothing.”

“It was really disrespectful,” said Huerta, who has since quit the gym. “Basically, you’re not wanted there.”

He and Fenn Cournoyer, also a power lifter, said a friend was told not to wear sleeveless shirts and the signage seems aimed at keeping power lifters out.

“We feel like we were blindsided,” Huerta said.

Patch stopped in at Xperience Fitness and left two messages but never heard back from workers there.

Regarding grunting—or hearing encouragement from a spotter—Cournoyer, who recently got back into competitive weightlifting since he turned 40, said, “That’s going to happen when your body is under strain. And your spotter (shouting encouragement) kind of helps you finish the rep.”

He added: “It’s like banning belching when you’re drinking beer.”

“They’re trying to get rid of us,” said Cournoyer, who also equated not being able to wear torn gym clothes to cyclists not being able to wear spandex.

Also, equipment at the gym—particularly the grip on barbells—has worn thin, making chalk a necessity when they lift heavy weights, Cournoyer said, adding that they always clean up their chalk when they’re finished.

Huerta said he thought about just “riding it out,” but in the end decided that he goes to the gym to get away from stress and the atmosphere at Xperience “isn’t fun anymore.”

Cournoyer said he switched over to LA Fitness, where there haven’t been any problems with noise or chalk.

Huerta said he feels that he was “pushed out the door.”

“I feel like they forced me out of there,” he said.


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Annon June 18, 2012 at 02:20 PM
I have been a member of Gold's Gym in Woodbury since it opened and everything about this article is correct! Equipment is old and broken (of which the yearly maintenance fees are supposed to fix), there are way too many members for such a small gym, and all the members that actually cared, cleaned up, put weights away, are all leaving.
David Salchow June 18, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Hard to understand why a business would want to drive customers away?
Kris Janisch June 18, 2012 at 08:35 PM
I didn't mention this in the story, but they also brought up a $25 per year equipment maintenance fee, and they wondered where that money is going.
Jeff June 19, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Article is spot on. Xperience is quickly becoming the wal-mart of fitness. The power-lifters were nice people who were training for a sport understood by few. There is a right way and wrong way to go about implementing change. Xperience chose the wrong way. Xperience does not cater to athletes in training for any sport. They are unorganized, unprofessional, and take customers for granted and take forever to fix equipment. The gym has the business model of high volume and low margin which says alot. They don't truely care about you and your goals, they only want their $$ margin. While cheap, their customer base will deteriorate as people become fed up with how they are treated. L.A. Fitness -> $20 a month, is still free with insurance coverage after sign up fee...also coming to Cottage Grove.
Jeff June 19, 2012 at 12:35 AM
The hazards at Xperience are too many to number. The flooring is ridiculous. There are bubbles every where. I am not sure the waiver you sign covers equipment not properly maintained.
Nick June 19, 2012 at 12:23 PM
I was at Xperience in Woodbury last night and people were laughing and saying it looked like amateur hour there. People leaving weights all over, not using equipment correctly (of which I have never seen a trainer actually help or show someone how to do something unless they are paying them to train them), large groups of people just standing around so you can’t use any of the equipment. It was such a joke. The entertainment value makes up for the monthly fee, the equipment sure doesn’t!
guy June 19, 2012 at 06:07 PM
I signed up with a power lifter named Chris at La Fitness in Oakdale. Very professional and the place is awesome. The other guy was right that he will get you in to a 19.95 a month and if you have insurance it is free.
Anon June 20, 2012 at 10:48 AM
The changes have made the fitness club more respectful and welcoming to most of us. Sorry, power lifters, but we have rights too.
Workout Guy June 20, 2012 at 09:13 PM
I don't know anyone more respectful than the Power lifters... when I started working out there they helped me with advice on how to build my chest, biceps, and abs more. They don't really bother you, and just stay in their corner of the gym. How can that be considered disrespectful? I switched to LA as well because my ripped shirts and cell phone usage is against the rules.
Kris Janisch June 20, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Forgot to mention the phone thing too Workout Guy. Val's son said a lot of people use their phones for music when they workout.
Steve June 20, 2012 at 10:00 PM
The "power-lifters" can be intimidating to new gym goers. This has been an issue at gyms for a long time. Many gyms do not allow the use of chalk and ban "olympic" style lifts. As for torn shirts...come on, the 80's are gone and this is not Pumping Iron.
guy June 21, 2012 at 04:15 AM
Hey Steve where do you think gyms came from? What Olympic lifts are you talking about? The more advanced lifters are the guys putting wgts away and keep it clean. La Fitness is great place for both beginners and the advanced.
The Lion June 21, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Unfortunately Jeff, it is covered. Almost every single little detail even verbal abuse is covered and any fault you can find toward the gym will be disregarded because of your signature on your month to month (contract). I hate it.
The Lion June 21, 2012 at 07:07 PM
I don't know about you guys, but I never went in to a gym nit picking about who goes there. I respect everyone for making an effort to start working out. Why would any one intimidate you at a gym? That's like saying you don't like big guys walking in the streets. I think deeper issues lie in that statement made earlier about "being intimidated". Hands down, for the 11,000+ members that they have, and $25 fee being collected once a year, you would think they could afford new bars, fix equipment, and buy new mats (which are gross). I am one of those power lifters that got pushed out that trained with Val and Chago, and I can't count on my hands how many times someone shook my hand because I helped them figure out an exercise or routine on my own time, for free. The sad thing is that it's not just changing externally, internally it's gone down hill since it became Xperience. They are worried more about putting up stupid signs than finding those members that come every week and rep their home gym. Sad...sad..sad.
Kris Janisch June 21, 2012 at 07:12 PM
I'll admit that when I started at my old gym, I was somewhat intimidated by power lifters. But once you see them once or twice you realize that they are usually the nicer, more gregarious people at the gym. (Probably because they're there all the time.) And you see them talking to all sorts of people, too.
Joe Kuphal June 22, 2012 at 12:36 PM
Powerlifting is a sport understood by few, I do it because I enjoy it no different than a runner enjoys running, or a cyclist enjoys cycling, or a swimmer enjoys swimming. Thanks Golds/Xpereience for tolerating us as long as you have. I wish them success and understand we aren't money makers for them. We aren't bad people just looking for a place we can continue to do what we enjoy without the stereotypes and harassment or danger of injury. I have to respond to Anon's comment though, a right is guaranteed by the constitution (chuckle) such as the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, right to own property etc. You don't have to exercise a right. A privilege is something asked for. In a gym situation? You are exercising privileges. You have a right to go somewhere else. The gym makes the rules, it's their company. I can go somewhere else. But lifting hard and heavy does not infringe on any of your rights. It might bother you, sorry about that. Its not our intentions. In fact we probably didn't even know you were there. Come strike up a conversation some time. You might be surprised. Best of luck to everyone in whatever they are training for. If I see you in the gym, I could always use a spot and more than willing to offer one in return. :) Enjoy life. God Bless.
anstorm June 27, 2012 at 02:54 PM
I am not a power lifter, but I agree, the lifters at Gold's were super nice guys. Always waited for me when I was doing my sets, didn't jump in while I did a set on a different machine since I do circuit training. I quit Gold's in November after being a member for 2 years, and losing 50 lbs mind you. I logged some serious hours there, but the writing was on the wall when the equipment went downhill with membership going up. I am now a very happy member of Lifetime. Yes it is much more expensive, but you get what you pay for! I give this place 18 months, max.
Joe Jr Shabadoooo July 05, 2012 at 10:35 PM
I’ve been lifting at Gold’s/Xperience for 2 years now. The powerlifters were extremely nice people. Just because some guys are “loud” during their reps doesn’t make them worthy to single out as some sort of a nuisance like Xperience just did. For a gym to go out and make signs that are aimed at scolding loyal, paying members tells me this place has its priorities out of order. It's almost as if they are mocking the powerlifters. Very disrespectful. These guys are putting 500+ on the squat racks, bench, or deadlifts. The last thing they should worry about is how much noise they make during the lift. I (and many other members) are impressed by these guys, and respect the amount of time and effort that it took to get to that level. Xperience Fitness apparently doesn't respect that.
Doyle Hargraves July 05, 2012 at 11:40 PM
The power lifters have nothing to worry about, they can yell and scream all they want. The gym staff won't get involved. I have been a member there since the beginning and have only seen gym staff get involved in one instance of member misconduct. (A situation where one member threatened another and the police were called) Otherwise, weights are left out, machines are mistreated and broken for weeks, trainers spend the day texting or flirting with one another....etc..... and staff does nothing. (Today the roof was leaking in the mens locker and there was water all over the floor with no safety warning or otherwise....sigh....) I agree with the above posters. Me thinks we all will be looking for a new gym soon.
HHF34 July 06, 2012 at 07:10 AM
While I'm not a member, I did check Gold's out when my previous gym closed in Woodbury. Unfortunately at the time Gold's did not have regulation bars or benches that I felt comfortable training with. Some of my previous training partners did move there. That said, Powerlifting and Olympic Weightlifting are two uniquely different sports, and just because one lifts weights does not equal one being in either sport. Most lifters who use chalk bring their own and are respectful of others in cleaning up after themselves. That said, there are power gyms in the area such as The Press in Little Canada, Riverfront Fitness in Hudson, there's one in Cottage Grove (can't think of the name) that are welcoming to lifters. The gym rats (not necessarily lifters, but train in the weights area) are some of the best people in the gym, they're watching the beginners and newbies at all times and before they even realize they're going to "eat it" are already on their way to step in and save individuals like Anon above from doing a chest compresson on the bench or busting their back on a squat, etc. When you put 400+lbs. on your back (I'm a chick, and BTDT), you will make noise from time to time, and your spotter is using the command tone for a reason, because their tush is keeping yours from getting crushed, and you do the same for them. It sounds like they're just trying to use a "Planet Fatness" model which is great - until they realize the lifters were easy money...
Kris Janisch July 06, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Has anyone heard from the Xperience folks on this? I stopped in and left a few messages but never heard anything. Just wondering if there's been any chatter at the gym about these concerns.
Dan July 06, 2012 at 01:52 PM
I think the signs are meant to be a joke. They are trying to be campy. The no chalk rule was in effect before it changed to Xperience and people still used chalk. I still see people with ripped or cut shirts. Their own trainers are on the cell phone while working out. I truly believe there is some over-sensitive people complaining. You complain because the trainers won't teach anybody anything and yet you think they're going to come up and tell you to leave because of your chalk use or torn shirt, they barely acknowledge your in the gym. 6 months going to the gym and I've heard grunts about 3 times. The gym is no worse than when it was Gold's. The same people are there, they just changed the name and painted. I don't know how a gym can make grown men feel pressed out.
Anonymous July 07, 2012 at 07:52 AM
Feels like they latched onto the Golds name until they got as many members as possible then split, felt schemy to me. I loved the power lifters. They are part of what made the gym seem powerful. The Mr. Universe pictures on the wall and the big Gold's emblem with the ripped shirted muscley guys made me feel proud to be there a part of it all. Being a female and involved with all female activities and does the classes(wish more guys would go but classes seem to be mostly women).I just loved the refreshing energy of the power lifters being around after exiting. My brother wishes they had more in the free weights area as that's what he associated with the name "Gold's" and thinks they are being more honest to call it Xperience now in that regard. I also saw one of the Xperience owners working out at Lifetime recently, as an interesting side note.
Kris Janisch July 07, 2012 at 03:00 PM
That is interesting... And I totally understand if they want a culture change, but the guys I talked to seemed to think management could have gone about it in a different way.
guy July 08, 2012 at 05:36 PM
My friends just joined La Fitness in Oakdale today. Great pricing specials today. Huge what room. Very nice and clean. Thanks La for taking Care of my friends.
Ben Jones August 05, 2012 at 09:53 PM
I couldn't agree more with how unprofessional the staff is. I've been a member for nearly 3 years and can count on 2 hands how many times staff (other than the person scanning your membership car) has acknowledged me. Usually the trainers and membership advisors look right through you or pretend you're not there even if you walk directly passed one another. I'm not expecting them to treat me like their best friend and realize these people aren't the brightest bulbs on the tree, but this is as basic as customer service gets. If and when the Cottage Grove LA Fitness opens I will leave Xperience immediately along with a good chunk of their current members. I give the place 12 months before they close their doors.
Hockey Guy September 26, 2012 at 10:12 PM
How would you of changed it? What % of members are power lifters or body builders these days?? National average is less then 1% posted by URSA so should Xperience cater to the 1% or to the 99% of the general public?? Looks like they're doing a lot of things right!
Debbimac December 24, 2012 at 01:54 AM
I recently joined xperience fitness..when I declined to pay for the 300,00 personal training package the representative basically stopped talking to me. I asked if I could ask him questions about machines if I had any..he said ". No not really , that's not free",, I'm thinking about going to lifetime.
Vall December 30, 2012 at 08:43 PM
Ive been at Golds/Xperience ever since it opened. Ive started to hate it the last few years, and honestly don't feel safe there anymore. The people are crazy wackos, and you never know when someone will snap. The manager of the front desk is super rude, and is always either on FB, his phone, or flirting with other people. They don't care about you at all there. I wasn't aware that LA was 20 dollars a month too, however they just gained a new member! : )
Moose5308 February 12, 2013 at 08:03 PM
Says the guy who sits and texts instead of using the equipment...


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