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TTAG’s resident war hero Jon Wayne Taylor trains at Austin’s Atomic Athlete. It’s not a place for the feint of heart. Literally. To boost membership numbers, AA’s owners devised a ballistic solution. Here’s their email blast:

You already know what we do here and most likely, you’ve told anyone and everyone who would listen about us. You’ve probably gotten one of two reactions:

– You’re fucking crazy! Why would you do that?!?
– That sounds pretty badass, but I don’t know…

Well, FYF week gives these folks a chance to come check things out for themselves and see if it’s their cup of tea. Most likely it won’t be, and that’s okay. After all, we only want Athletes that are willing to work hard, have a dedication to improvement, and consistently show up with a good attitude #nopityparties . . .

To incentivize you guys to bring people in we’re running a little lottery that is only appropriate for a gym such as ours. For every person you bring in you will get one entry into the lottery for a GLOCK 43 9mm Handgun.

Yep, a real gun.

If you wear a shirt that says “Harder to Kill” on it [ED: Atomic Athlete’s motto] then it is only appropriate that you own a defensive carry gun!

My kinda gym! If it weren’t all the way ‘cross town I’d so be there. Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it. Cigar time!

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    • RF, I just mapped it. It is less than 30 mins from your house. You go that far for a cigar, and twice as far for good pizza. (Both serious priorities, to be fair.) Come on, I’m tired of being the oldest guy in the gym.
      Also, it’s war “hero”.

  1. Whatever gets people in the door and keeps them coming back. You can buy a gym membership but you can’t buy the benefits of using it.

  2. Oh yeah, well my gym gives a senior citizen discount… wait, that’s not as cool.

    Oh, I know! At least my gym doesn’t have hot chicks, just “gym bros” and old people who walk on the tre… hold on…

    OK, OK, OK, there’s this guy in the locker room at my gym who walks around without pa…

    F*ck! My gym sucks!

  3. I dropped by to check out the new location yesterday during lunch. I was thoroughly impressed. I watched the last 5 minutes of a class, and I won’t lie, it looks like they’d push me to my limits, and I really like that. BUT (and this is a big one)… As much as I would LOVE to join up, $180/mo for unlimited access is just way too steep for my wallet. And the punchcard option isn’t really cheaper either, considering how often I want to drop in to do the Warrior One program. It looks like I’ll stick with buying up individual workout programs as I develop, and maybe at some point when I’m fit enough I’ll switch to the $30/mo online access.

    • Good lord, $180/month? I got a powercage, barbell, bench, and 245 pounds in weight for $300 on craigslist. Had to buy more plates but overall, I think I have spent like $600 tops for my home gym which I have been using for 3 years now and which will easily last me for another 20 years.

      • It took everything I had not to look visibly shocked. It IS a super nice gym though, I will give AA that. And locally, they have a phenomenal reputation. That $180/mo is not just getting you a place to work out, I should point out. From what I understand from those who go, is your membership includes getting the Physical Trainer experience, and they really do get to know you as a person, they find out what your fitness goals are, and they help you accomplish that. If you just want a place to go and work out and lift weights and do your own, you might as well go to the YMCA or Gold’s or 24-Hour Fitness or any other workout place. They give you a lot more than that.

        What I’m really looking for though, is a place with their atmosphere, without necessarily getting the one-on-one PT experience, and I don’t want a contract that locks me in with all kinds of hoops to jump through when I want to do something else for my fitness. I just want a place to go to workout, but I don’t want that YMCA atmosphere with all the Treadmill Moms watching their Maury while they give each other side eye for having last season’s yoga pants, and some grouchy 60 year old man ready to yell at you if you’re not immediately wiping the sweat off the seat the half second you stand up.

        If they offered a “use of facilities only” punchcard that was like, $5-10/hr, I’d be all over it.

      • It really depends on what you want.

        If you just want access to weights and machines then a 24 Hour Fitness/Anytime Fitness membership works well at about $20/month.

        If you want a pool you’re probably going to pay a bit more at a rec center, YMCA or similar.

        No matter where you go if you want classes or any type of instruction it’s going to start costing significantly more money. It doesn’t matter if that class/training is aqua-aerobics, lifting, cardio or martial arts. A trainer’s time is valuable and you’re not going to get it for free. The person teaching that class has a family to support too ya’ know.

        Realistically, if you’re serious, it’s going to cost you more. Classes actually don’t hurt the wallet as bad as you might think because you’ll make friends and be entertained much more than just going and lifting/swimming/running/whatever so you’re not just paying for “the class” you’re paying for “the experience”. People from my BJJ school regularly get together outside class, sometimes for a workout, sometimes it’s wings at B-dubs, sometimes it’s a BBQ at someone’s house and sometimes someone is down and just needs to sit at a bar and vent over a beer. We do all that while laughing about the injuries we’ve inflicted on each other (I currently look like the irresponsible gun owner from a few days back because I decided to do something I knew was dumb and ate a knee for it) or how quick someone got choked out. Three days a week I meet my instructor at 6 AM for a swim at the local rec center. I don’t know anyone else crazy enough to meet me at 6 AM to go swim a mile.

        One of the reasons I recommend BJJ isn’t just for the health and self-defense aspects of it but for the fact that, if you avoid the McDojo’s, you’re not joining a sport you’re joining a family. It is significantly different from any other martial art I’ve encountered in that respect. Plus we cross train with all the other schools in the area so it’s not just BJJ for $150/month. It’s BJJ, Wrestling, Judo, Karate, Muay Thai, Akido, Krav Maga, Boxing etc. along with even more extras like monthly clinics from professionals and seminars from professionals and/or masters. What you get out of it depends on which classes you attend but regardless of which classes you choose you won’t find a better use of an hour or two of your time in terms of fitness and self defense at the same time. In terms of fitness, no matter what level you’re at, hit the beginner’s classes. There is no workout quite like having a big fat guy on top of you and getting out from under them. Those squishy motherfuckers might not have any technical skills but grappling with the Marshmellow Man is a serious challenge. Plus you get to choke or submit them as a reward for your hard work.

        If that’s not your style then look for discounts at your local rec center/Y. Our local rec center is $5/day pass ($100/month if you go five days a week) or you can get a year pass for two people (family only) for $305. Kind of a heavy up front cost but that’s $12.71/month for full access including the pool and track. Then you can add classes if you like and the price varies by class.

        Still not your style? Buy a nice hiking/hunting pack, load it up and hike around (The SlumberJack Bounty 2.0 is fantastic). Take up archery or whatever it is that floats your boat. No matter what you do, you’re gonna end up spending money on this unless your style is sitting in your basement doing a prison (body weight) workout for an hour or more a day.

        I find it somewhat surprising that a bunch of people who think nothing of buying a gun at $600+ or ammo by the caseload scoff at dropping less than $200/month on a serious fitness program which, if you use it, gets you results that are quite literally priceless. Ah well, to each their own. Kissing cows and whatnot.

        • You summed it up very well. I really have no knock against their pricing. It just puts it out of reach of what I can do right now.

    • Warren, Jake told me you stopped by.
      Yup, expensive as hell, and for me, worth every penny. I limped into that gym using a cane most days of the week, about a year later, I went to the Grand Canyon and solo hiked the rim to floor to rim in one day, and the rim to rim trail as well. Then, when I had my back surgery, they gave me a 9 week lower back program for me that substituted exercises that would give me trouble, while strengthening the structure that I had. They’re always good if I need to fit a workout in off-schedule, they answer emails if I’m travelling and I train, they throw in online courses to help me substitute or supplement exercises if I need to work on something specific, and they pay attention to me during the gym time to make sure I don’t injure myself. There are no long term contracts, so it was great when I had my back surgery and I could just tell them to not charge me for a while when I couldn’t come in. No questions, no contracts, quick email and it was done.
      The results, the vastly increased mobility and lack of pain being the biggest, are benefits worth the cost for me.

      • They’re not on my “never will go there” list… it’s more, “not possible right now.” The Warrior One program I think will fill the gap between “want it” and “can’t have it” nicely for now. I will likely switch to the $30/mo online access to their workout programs once I finish Warrior. Mostly I just want a place to do my workouts that doesn’t feel like the Y.

  4. Robert,

    It’s faint of heart, not feint of heart.

    I struggle with not making this mistake, too.

    Looks like a great place. Too expensive for me, though. Not that it wouldn’t do me good.

    To keep myself in shape I help out with a Boy Scout troop. We do a lot of backpacking. I’m 63 and can still mostly keep up with the 15 and 16 year olds. I highly recommend it.

    My last dayhike to climb Half Dome kinda kicked my ass, though. It’s 8 1/2 miles one-way with 5000 ft elevation gain, then 8 1/2 miles and 5000 ft back down. It’s the Mother-of-all dayhikes.


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