The evolution of The Training Room (15 Year Anniversary Edition)

Part 1: The Belmar Years

For the most part, things have gone rather well for us in our FIRST fifteen years of business.

It all started a year ago TODAY back in January of 1999…

Time has really flown by quickly.  So much has happened in 15 years.  So many things pop into my head as I think back to our first years…so much, that I could really write a book!  Instead, I will give you a quick summary in this 2-Part series.

We (Milkman and I) started out in Belmar, NJ as a one-on-one training studio that charged $20 for a 30-minute training session.  Some weeks, we would log over 150 sessions per week between the two of us.

Our 800 SF facility was located right in the heart of town between a vintage clothing store (Nostalgic Nonsense) and a hair salon (Terri’s Place), both of which are still there.

We were directly across the street from a telemarketing place and a bar called Captain Kern’s that was more like a freak show Star Wars bar. Captain Kern’s was shut down for serving underage drinkers and the telemarketing place was raided for drugs. NO shortage of characters in Belmar (affectionately known as Belmartians.

Our 800 square foot facility was located right in the heart of town between a vintage clothing store (Nostalgic Nonsense)  and a hair salon “Terri’s Place” which I believe are both still there.


Milkman taking “Big Joe” through the paces back in the Belmar days!

The Belmar years brought us characters such as…

Tommy Yam Bags (TYB) who ran the bagel store in back of us.

His sign said he was opened at 6 am, but was barely open by 9…

He lived right above the gym, and we could hear his alarm going off for hours.

Milkman and I used to hit the ceiling with a broomstick to try to wake him up.

We wanted our multi-grain bagel with chunky peanut butter or salsalito turkey with eggs.

Even though  Tommy Yam Bags did not succeed in business, he still had the best bagels around and the best part of going to there was seeing all the characters such as….

  • Fishing Tackle:  She has so many piercings in her face and body that she looked like a fish hook dispenser.
  • Stripper: You  can figure this one out. Our friend Pedro took his son to her go go bar on his 18th birthday.
  • Morticia: Mrs. Tommy Yam Bags looked like Morticia from the Adams Family.
  • Tattoo Derrick: An angry dude named Derrick with a crap ton of tattoos. He was also a mason, and did some work for the Milkman until he broke one of Milkman’s sprinkler lines. Needless to say, It was the first and last job he did for Milkman.

We enjoyed the entertainment…

Belmar also brought St Patrick’s Parade parties with 200 people packed into the gym including…

  • A drunk woman in full length fur coat on the Air Dyne Bike
  • Jello shots from the salon girls next door
  • Bag pipers and drummers in the gym and the Milkman walking around pounding on the drums and scaring the crap out of people.

The Milkman shut the party down one year when some drunk girl spilled a bunch of drinks she was carrying on a pizza box.

Even though TYB was one of the main characters in the Belmar chapter…

A few others come to mind.

  • Rock Star Aaron
  • Bed Head Aaron
  • Fisherman Tom
  • Derrick “the shopping cart” King
  • Mrs Shopping Cart (Derrick’s Mom)
  • Ralph and Friend (two girls and one looked like Ralph Macchio)
  • C-Ring
  • Shaft (the shady telemarketer with the big fro)

That small 800 square foot store front brought in some heavy hitters such as…

  • Legendary UFC  fighters Renzo Gracie
  • Ricardo Almeida
  • 7 foot NBA player Yinka Dare who used to drive all the way from Englewood, NJ to train with me every day. (God rest his soul)
  • The Base guitar player from the band “Blondie”
Ricardo Almeida, Flavio Almeida, Renzo Gracie and Ryan Gracie

Ricardo Almeida, Flavio Almeida, Renzo Gracie and Ryan Gracie

In three years, we grew out of Belmar and moved into Avon-By-The-Sea (Avon).

We had that nervous feeling making a move to a new location with more rent and responsibility.  Although, we had that same feeling when we opened up in Belmar and had to pay $800 in rent.

When we first moved into Avon in 2001 or 2002 (it’s been a blur!), we only had 1,000 SF, in what is now affectionately known as the “Sissy Room” – which will soon evolve into the “Strength Room” or “T Lab”.

It was also then that we purchased our very first kettlebells from Dragon Door, along with the “Russian Kettlebell Challenge” VHS tape by Pavel. We watched this over and over and got a kick out of Pavel. I think we had it on a continuous loop on our old school 12″ TV.  (Yes – 12”!!)

This initial exposure to kettlebell training changed our training style to this very day! We have Pavel and Dragon Door to thank for marketing and selling the first kettlebells in the US!

Ok, time to get back to training….Stay tuned for Part 2 and a FULL list of nicknames and how much the Training Room family has grown!

Those of you who have been with us since the beginning or have trained with us consistently over the past few years know of the great friendships that have developed and the fun that’s been had at the TR.

Please feel free to drop a comment below and share your personal TR experience!