'We're trying to create a community'

New powerlifting gym plans October opening

Brickhouse Barbell will feature a variety of weightlifting options. (James Jennings/The Union)
Brickhouse Barbell will feature a variety of weightlifting options. (James Jennings/The Union)

WASHINGTON — For those serious about weight training, a new gym will be opening in October.

Brickhouse Barbell is the brainchild of three friends – Greg Wertz, Jeff Wenger and Cody Sobaski – who are actively into powerlifting and bodybuilding.

“We’ll be offering powerlifting for people who are really serious about weight training,” Wenger said.

Wertz had planned to move to Rapid City, S.D., to start a gym with a friend there, but the COVID-19 pandemic shut down those plans.

“Jeff was a training client of mine and a friend,” Wertz said. “We had talked about, in passing, opening a gym – just jokingly and not real serious. Cody and I compete in bodybuilding shows together, and we had talked about it.

“We all got together, and it organically grew from there.”

Wenger said that they saw a powerlifting void in Washington.

“We saw that bodybuilding and powerlifting could use a step up,” he said.

Wenger was quick to point out that the new gym is different than the YMCA, and they are not in competition with each other.

“In fact, I think we complement each other well,” he said.

Wertz added, “We’re a little different. We’re a little more hard core. We’re more about serious training.”

They secured a location – the warehouse in the Sitler Electric building on North Iowa Avenue – and began purchasing equipment.

Wertz said that a friend in Iowa City had a gym that had closed and had all sorts of equipment in storage.

“He asked if anyone in this area was planning on opening a gym,” Wertz said. “We ended up renting his stuff for the time being.

“Things kept falling into place as far as equipment and location.”

The group had some apprehension about opening a gym in the time of COVID but decided to move forward.

“People who are healthy and have a healthy immune system are in a better position to fight it if they are exposed,” Wenger said. “A lot of people realize this and are looking to get into fitness for the first time.”

Wertz said the building skeletal muscle mass is key to maintaining good health, especially as people grow older.

“Studies show the more skeletal muscle you have in later years, the less likely you are to get diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure,” he said. “This is a lifestyle that we all believe in. It’s a fun way to stay in shape.”

The gym will offer 24-hour access, an outdoor lifting area in the spring, online coaching and training, supplement sales and apparel.

“We’re trying to go down every avenue possible for revenue streams,” Wertz said.

He added that they are trying to build more than just a gym.

“We’re trying to create a community,” he said. “We want to be a part of the community, not just a place to go work out. We want people to come here and hang out.”

They have yet to set an opening date, but it will be announced on the Brickhouse Barbell Facebook page.