Westside Power Gym gets ‘Rocky’ start

In the back row, from left, are Jason Hall, Rocky Ramirez and Matthew Thomas; in front are Daniel Nguyen, Joe Ottusch and Jose Sanchez.


“You’re gonna hear grunting. You’re gonna hear cursing. You’re gonna see guys with their shirts off.”

No, this isn’t your typical warning before your family’s Thanksgiving dinner, but what Westside Power Gym owner Rocky Ramirez tells prospective members of his gym.

He’s serious about power lifting, as are the bulk of his Rio Rancho gym membership, which has grown in numbers (from 50 to 325 members over the past five years) and size (from 2,000 to 6,000 square feet).

Westside Power Gym is building muscle mass as it builds membership, which has also grown when it comes to Natural Athlete Strength Association (NASA) — lifting without performance-enhancing supplements, in other words, and even caffeine is a banned substance — state and national record-holders. (A look at the state records on the NASA website shows Rio Ranchoans Mike and Teale Adelmann own quite a few.)

Ramirez raved about his team’s performance in Roswell at the NASA Grand Nationals, held at the Best Western Sally Port Inn, with nearly 130 competitors. Events are the bench press, squat and deadlift, and individual combined totals.

At such meets there are weight divisions, and more divisions (novice, junior, masters) within those, and three other categories for each: equipped (with special gear, like supportive shorts or knee wraps), unequipped (Westside Power Gym guys were in this category) and raw, “basically just shorts or a singlet,” Ramirez said.

“Everybody here placed in their divisions,” Ramirez reported. “And we won the team powerlifting trophy.”

These guys aren’t full-time lifters, although it’s clear by looking at them getting stronger has been a priority in their lives. One is a retired, disabled military veteran who served in Afghanistan; another is a personal trainer; one is a full-time college student, another is an architect; Ramirez and another work for a water company.

“It’s family; it’s a good time,” says one gym member, hanging out at the gym at dinner time recently. Added others: “We BS and talk,” “It’s a squat bar,” “(It’s for) escape, therapy,” and “My wife says, ‘Please get out of the house.’”

Ramirez, suffering from the “walking pneumonia” at the last state meet and able to claim a few state records, had since seen those records fall. Fully healthy in July, he reclaimed his state and national records.

Thanks to their efforts in Roswell, two Westside guys, Ramirez said, “are among the top-50 squatters in the U.S., by weight class.”

Winning in Rowell:

• Jason Hall (Masters division; first in deadlift).

• Rocky Ramirez (Submasters 2; first in all four categories, setting four state and four national records).

• Matthew Thomas (220 and novice; first in all lifts).

• Daniel Nguyen (148 open; state records in squat, 358 pounds, and deadlift, 413 lbs.

• Joe Ottusch (165 novice; national records for squat, 462 lbs., and total, 1,201 lbs.)

• Jose Sanchez (181 novice and 181 juniors; national record 352 bench press; novice national records in squat, 468 lbs., and deadlift, 562 lbs.; combined poundage of 1,382 lbs. also national record.)

“Westside Power Gym is the hardcore weightlifting gym and personal training facility you’ve been waiting for,” Ramirez says on the gym’s website. “You won’t find any distractions here, just lifting the way it should be. Along with our free weights, hardcore machines and cages, you’ll find chains, 100-plus pound tires for flipping, chalk, grunting, music to train to — and drop a weight if you have to. You don’t have to be a monster, or a competitor to be hardcore, you just have to be serious about lifting.”

Given that, “You’d think there’d be egos,” Ramirez said. “There aren’t — I tell people you can get a lot out of lifting.”

Memberships range from $20 to $55 monthly, and the gym is available for its members around the clock.

Westside Power Gym is at 1542 Stephanie Road, south of Sara Road. (westsidepowergym.com)