Have Belt, Will Travel: Training at the Lab Gym

For the thanksgiving holiday my wife and I went back to Saint Louis Missouri to visit with friends and family. It is always a great time to be back in the area of my childhood home and see how things have changed. This also means getting to go back to old gyms that I used to train at and then even try out a new one or two. On Thanksgiving Day I went and trained with some friends at The Lab Gym in Saint Louis. This gym is owned by a friend of mine; Justin Thacker. Justin is a competitive weight lifter and previously competed in both strongman and powerlifting. This is the third location for his gym which started in a small commercial space off of Laclede Street in the central west end of STL and has now moved to Manchester road between Hampton and Kingshighway. I was actually a part time personal trainer at his first location for him. He and I would do insane training sessions on Saturdays for a year or two before I left Saint Louis to do my PhD at Kansas, but that is a story for another day.

My sister and I got up somewhat early and then drove to the house of an athlete that I used to coach while he was still in high school and is now competing on the Lab weightlifting team. He is one of the better athletes I have had the chance to work with and his ability to work hard and be disciplined is the greatest I have ever observed in someone his age. I will refer to him as my Luke Skywalker as I attempt to be his Obi Wan as he has steered from the dark side for so long, and gives me hope in the future of the force.

lab gym front sign.jpg
The front door for the Lab in Saint Louis.

We drive up to the gym and walk inside. The current Lab gym location used to be a YWCA and has a nice lay out in that he has a normal gym that one would expect to the right when you enter. A cardio area to the left with any machine you would expect and then straight to the back he has an Olympic lifting area and adjacent a CrossFit area to train in. There is even a room with strongman equipment that was sadly locked up on that Thursday so I wasn’t able to go in and train there. Seriously though, if you need a good place to train in STL especially if you are in to weightlifting this is the place to go check out.

lab-gym-panoramic
Panoramic shot of the weightlifting training area in the gym with the pookie monster pictured on the far right.

When we set up in the Olympic lifting area we saw Big Ben. I have to put the word “big” in front of his name since that is what you do in bro culture. I’m omitting his last name so that he won’t be associated with a mediocre blog like this one. Ben and I have known each other for years and he has not only been training in Olympic lifting, but he has also been coaching a number of high level kids. I’m always impressed with what he gets these teenagers to do on the platform. Turns out by focusing on their technique and slowly developing them year after year he eventually can turn these kids in to champions.

My sister and I did some deadlifting while Luke and Ben did some snatch work. I was deloading and making up for not doing any real training on Wednesday due to traveling back to STL from Kentucky for the holiday. The great thing about Justin’s gym aside from having just about any type of equipment one would want, it has ropes hanging from the ceiling in one part so I did a few leg less ascents which it was great to finally do these pain free since until then my pec was too bad to even attempt to do any climbing with for almost two months.

Back on the platform Ben and Luke did some head to head snatching with ben doing power snatch and Luke doing the full snatch. They were competing with one another and the competition essentially ended like this and this. It was fun to watch and light hearted.

While going back and forth over the gym to do the rope climbs along with other assistance work my sister ran in to a friend of hers who was trying to teach her son how to lift. This was fun since we got a chance to hop in with them and help out with teaching the kid proper technique on squatting and military press. He was making a few simple mistakes like knees caving in and going up on his toes in the squat and on the military press he was pressing the bar in front of himself and setting up his elbows too low, but was looking decent by the time we left them.

We wrapped up our training and said our goodbyes to the athletes that I hadn’t seen for a while that have obviously made some good progress since I last saw them. I’m always impressed with what Justin has built over the years with his brother Chris and other employees. They really do have a great set up for anyone that is looking to make some progress may it be with just weight loss or for true competitions. If you are in Saint Louis I thoroughly suggest checking out the lab gym. Thanks for reading.

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