Hells Angels at New Haven’s Gold’s Gym

Today I accompanied my uncle on my first ever visit to Gold’s Gym. He’s a Yale professor—not a bodybuilder—but he likes going to this gym, reviewed on Yahoo as “New Haven’s last hardcore gym,” because the population is vastly different than the people he encounters at work. My uncle is also 6’ 4”, all muscle and carrots. By contrast, I’m 5’ 10”, not all muscle, and mostly rice.

The fact that we couldn’t find parking in the already ample-sized lot should have been indication enough that something was different about this Gold’s Gym on this particular day. The array of motorcycles was our second clue. But even still, we strode up to warehouse-sized facility completely clueless to the fact that those motorcycles belonged to New Haven’s Hells Angels, that the extra vehicles belonged to family and fans, and that the wide-opened garage doors of the gym were to facilitate a “macho vibe” (according to the owner) for that afternoon’s Bridgeport House of Pain 1st Annual Powerlifting competition.
That’s right: powerlifting. Little to no rules compared to other weight competitions. But still—some of these guys had biceps bigger than my head. There were more tattoos in that place than blades of grass on a golf course. Later, I learned that Bridgeport House of Pain is a sort of conglomerate for area powerlifters, offering training, events, advice, and even their own blog. Don’t ask me where or how the Hells Angels came in, but they were there, badass leather logo vests and all. I jogged on a treadmill on the open loft above the event while, down below, a handful of them posed for photographs with the winners of the event. “No, no, man, turn sideways,” one man said after smiling for a photo. Then the Hells Angel turned sideways, back angled just-so for the camera to pick up his logo. He flexed. Cameras flashed. In a nearby corner of the gym another man with tattoos over his entire skull signed autographs over his own, glossy face. He kept only a 2×2 inch area of hair growing from the base of his skull, sporting a two-foot long ponytail.
When the awards were all said and done, I wondered what it would be like to spend a day with a Hell’s Angel. Maybe even a week. What makes him Hells Angels quality? What’s the motivating factor? What’s a Hells Angel look like when he’s trying to fall asleep? What’s a Hells Angel’s kitchen sink look like? Why isn’t there an apostrophe in Hells?
The gym was ferociously hot. I beat the crap out of myself in my workout. Yet my mind was racing with story ideas: A short-short about a Hells Angel. A personal essay about the Hells Angels, right? Putting this one down on the list for sure.
Showing 4 comments
  • Cosima Franke

    Haha! I love this post Katey. I have subscribed to your blog so that I can keep up with you. Keep on writing! You are so great at it!

  • Wesley Middleton

    Ha! Beautiful. I laughed out loud at this one. Definitely an experience I did not have while an undergrad in New Haven, but one I can imagine happening in that town…yes, please write a Hells Angels story! (And thank you for pointing that out about the missing apostrophe…)

  • IronBear138

    Lee Moran, the first man to Squat over 1000lbs, was a long time member of the Hells Angles. It was the craziest thing I ever saw. He passed out on his first attempt. The collars weren't tightened properly on the second attempt and all the plates fell off one side almost killing him. He nailed it on his third attempt. You can see it for yourself in the video "Power Unlimited". Lee was a crazy fucker. Nice blog you have here.

  • Anonymous

    The 2010 powerlift was actually a trial run, it turned out to be such a success the we had a second powerlift held on 10-1-2011. The second was actually APA sanctioned and included competitors from all over the country. We are also planning a third for Sunday Sept.30th 2012. Feel free to stop down and check it out, Lou HAMC Bridgeport

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