The gym is called Center of Mass Destruction, inspired by the infamous Gym Jones in Salt Lake City, aka House of Pain. Military personnel and actors left a bit of their soul in the gym in order to transform into superheroes.
This is the story of how I discovered a groundbreaking gym in Motala called Center of Mass Destruction (CMD). The founder of the CMD, Mario Donato, is a disciple of infamous Gym Jones in Salt Lake City, aka House of Pain. Military and actors left a bit of their soul in the gym to form their bodies into superheroes.
Mario is out on a crusade to create one of the most intense gyms, and if you want to achieve a superhero’s level, you need to push yourself longer than you ever imagined possible.
“As Winston Churchill said, if you go through hell, keep going”
The gym started out as an overnight sensation. They went from a per-invite-only gym to sudden fame when the movie “300” premiered and turned the gym into a fitness mecca. Their website went from a few hundred hits a month to astonishing 13 million.
June 2015, I was driving up to Gym Jones. I had expected a big sign above the door saying something like “we have been training the Spartans since 480 BC”. I do not see a sign. Instead, there is a tiny Gym Jones logo down in the left corner of a big dark window pane.
I greet the Gym Jones head coach and general manager Rob MacDonald, aka Booby Maximus. The only thing that makes Rob happier than when people reach their goals in the gym is when they miss them with a calorie or a fraction of a second. “Only girls watching Frozen for the first time could be as happy“.
When you fail, Rob commands, “Do it again until you f**king succeed!“. Now, I understand why Rob stared at me with anger only seen in the Hulk. Rob’s energy can be seen in many instances in the gym. “So this guy Freddie comes dressed in spandex shorts, a white t-shirt, five-toed shoes and a sweatband around the head. He came without the invitation and I thought, "who in the hell is this guy?".
A few days later, I burn my five-finger shoes in the parking lot outside the gym and are told to say: “Bobby Maximus, I’m sorry to mess with you by using these douchebag shoes”. The video was then placed on his Instagram. Learned my lesson there.
“We’ll make a man of you Freddie,” said Rob, “I’m doing my first test.” 2K rowing, timed. “The loser will be booted from Gym Jones forever!”, cries Rob and we begin to calm down.
I beat my opponent Viet, who is a celebrity cookie from Salt Lake City. Rob asks me:
- What time did you get?
- Seven minutes.
- No, what exact time?
- I’m going forward, 7.00.4 minutes.
- You must be kidding with me?
Gym Jones standard for 2K rowing is under seven minutes. I realize that if I’m going to keep my honor, I’ll have to get out of the box like the Phoenix. I hit the rowing machine again.
Something I’ve never experienced before. Instead of thinking, if I die I will never be ashamed, now I am thinking that I’m doing it for my friends who believe in me. I make it in 6 minutes and 56 seconds. I have proven that I am motivated and willing to give it all, and I earned my right to stay.
Gym Jones originates from American cult leader Jim Jones, known for mass assassination in November 1978 in Jonestown, when he managed to convince 918 of his members to commit “revolutionary suicide” through cyanide poisoning. To help their disciples achieve their best form ever, the Gym Jones system consists of a philosophy, methodology, and exercise. To quote their website, “complete commitment to the task characterized by mobilizing all available resources to achieve a certain goal”.
”The film “300” succeeded recreating the image of Spartans as Greek gods chiseled from large blocks of marble”
Over the years, Gym Jones has abandoned a popular mass-production gym with a robotic style that is known by the masses. Founder Mark Twight refers this to the Globo-Gym mentality and his answer to the problem is to create an anti-gym of the gym where no free lunches are included, no shortcuts exist and no magic pill does work.
Theoretically, it’s impossible to get a better result in the second try if you gave 100% the first time. This phenomenon is common, so what is it that keeps us back? Have we inherited it from the Stone Age? Minimum resistance team? Or is that fear?
The art of giving 100% is what distinguishes Gym Jones philosophy from other concepts out there. It is crucial to overcoming the mental barriers to perform better.
When Professor Timothy Noakes began studying sports physiology, the general perception was that a muscle becomes tired due to the lack of energy or due to the build-up of excess lactic acid. But no one had proved that muscles were running out due to lack of oxygen or energy. “Studies show, however, that people never use more than 50 percent of their muscle fibers, even during intensive training”, says Prof. Noakes. The theories simply did not match reality.
“Your brain sabotages your achievement. When you feel tired, it’s only a feeling. It has nothing to do with your physical condition to do”
Eduardo Fontes, Ph.D. found that the limbic-emotional part of the brain illuminated under increased intensity and when cyclists became more tired. The more active limbic lobes, the more feelings were tied to fatigue and the result was that cyclists became slower. “The key is not to judge the feelings as something positive or negative; that’s when your brain sets limits”.
After spending two months at Gym Jones, I returned to Sweden. I call Mario Donato, the only certified Gym Jones instructor in Sweden. He has created a gym in Sweden, CMD (Center of Mass Destruction). I meet Mario on a snowy day at Motala train station and he gives me a welcome hug.
- Lovely to see you, boy!
Mario is temporarily home before returning to England to turn actors into superheroes for their role in Zack Snyders next movie. We drive straight to the gym.
- I’ve arranged something very special for you tonight!
I feel the smell of nervousness. I am in a 200 square meter industrial area converted to a gym. Six people stand in a circle with staring eyes and receive instructions for the exercise. In 15 minutes, a lightning war of brutal exercises will convert hard into soft. The hip-hop music bounces against the walls adorned by laser-engraved metal boards representing Wolverine and the Hulk, while Mario walks around with a timer tied around his throat and shouts, “If you’re going to spit, you’ll have to do it either in the toilet or in the bucket but not here!”.
- What are these people?
- Oh, here are all kinds of people. Sorry, Christy cannot be here tonight. The first time she came here, I asked her after the training session about what she thought. She pointed her finger, said “fuck you” and threw the door afterward. One month later she came back and paid for a membership.
It looks like any gym with the only exception that it’s in the middle of nowhere. Empty. one in an industrial area in Motala. But here all the comparisons end. Everyone who comes to CMD wants to learn something from Gym Jones’s philosophy and to quote Mario, “the body is waiting for the mind to catch up.”