New Gym “The Pit” In Dickinson, North Dakota

Update 5/27/2018:  When I first wrote this blog post article about the Pit Gym in December of 2017, I had a very positive and favorable opinion of this gym because it was the only weight room gym in town.  I am not going to re-write my initial reaction, but I have added to the bottom of this blog post, a description of what I think is going to be a frustration for powerlifters and bodybuilders at this gym.

Approximately one month ago I was driving south on 10th Avenue East toward Villard when I saw a sign for the gym “The Pit” right next door to East End Towing.  I have lived in Dickinson for a little over five years, and in this particular neighborhood for six months, and this was the first time that I ever saw that a gym was in this building.

I turned in to the parking lot, and I got out of my vehicle to look in the windows.  The gym was mostly free weights, weight benches, and weight lifting racks.  I had not seen a gym like this in years.  Virtually all gyms in the United States have been transformed into “Fitness Centers” over the past 25 years in order to have a wider range of customers.  The “Weight Rooms” are almost all gone now.

I thought for sure that the owner must be a Power Lifter, because who else would open a gym now with mostly free weights and weight lifting racks?  I went inside, and there was a blond lady sitting at the desk, which was a surprise to me.  I said, “I was expecting to see a guy at this gym, not a lady, this is a Weight Room.”  She mostly understood what I meant, especially because her husband is a Power Lifter, but she probably didn’t like me saying it, because she is a Power Lifter too.  This was probably Step #1 of me getting kicked out of this gym.

I talked to her probably longer than I should have, but I wanted to see if she and her husband had had the same experience as me at the West River Community Center.  There are just so many people at the WRCC, and so many things going on, that it is difficult to get to the free weights and the weight racks at the WRCC.

For instance, I could plan on using one of the weight racks at the WRCC to safely do overhead press, squats, shrugs, or dead lifts, using 300 lbs or more, and all of the racks would be taken up by “Fitness People” who wanted to do multiple sets of lunges or bent over lifts using just the 45 lb bar, with no weights at all.

When I found out who her husband was, Dave Clem, I remembered seeing him at the WRCC many times.  I believed that he probably wasn’t very happy with the “circus” at the WRCC, and it was no surprise to me that this was his gym.  Dave is a Power Lifting competitor, and he currently holds several national Power Lifting records.  He routinely squats 750 lbs at meets.

Membership at “The Pit” gym is $40 per month.  If you are serious and goal oriented in Weight Training, Body Building, or Power Lifting, here are the advantages of this gym:

  1. Multiple sets of dumbbell pairs, ranging in 5 lb increments from 5 lb to 100 lb, with no gaps.  Four weight benches dedicated to the dumbbells.
  2. Two heavy duty Power Lifting bench press benches.  Adjacent weight plates to load 700 plus lbs.
  3. Two heavy duty Power Lifting squat racks, with quick release bar rests, safety bars, and safety chains.  Adjacent weight plates to load 700 plus lbs.
  4. Dedicated dead lift platform, with bar jack for loading and unloading weight plates.  Adjacent weight plates to load 700 plus lbs.
  5. The walk from your car, to the weights that you want to use, is less than 75 feet, with no one, and no thing in your way.  Going to the WRCC, is almost like going to an airport.
  6. The Pit gym has 24 hour access.  If you come during the day, or later in the evening, you will almost certainly have immediate and uninterrupted access to the weights, weight bench, or weight rack that you want to use.
  7. At certain times during the week, Dave Clem and the Power Lifting team are training for squat, bench, and dead lift, and are watching and assisting in improving each other’s lifts.

Dave and Wendy Clem have a Power Lifting team that trains at The Pit gym.  There is a large white competition board that lists each member’s weight class, competition record for squat, bench press, dead lift, totals, and personal best lifts.  They encourage high school students to become involved in Power Lifting and they provide coaching.

At this gym, it is more goal oriented and results oriented.  In Weight Training, Body Building, and Power Lifting, people are interested in increasing the weight used in lifts, increasing repetitions with weight, increasing the size and definition of muscle, and increasing strength in a measurable way.  It is not like a “Fitness Center” where people dabble on a piece of equipment until they become bored or distracted, and then wander over to another piece of equipment and watch television on a monitor, not paying attention to what they are doing.

Change in my opinion of The Pit Gym 5/27/2018:

The whole reason for The Pit Gym to even exist in my opinion, was to provide access to heavy-duty, high weight capacity squat racks, bench press benches, dead-lift platform, incline leg press, and dumbbells in a way that the West River Community Center, and Anytime Fitness in Dickinson, North Dakota do not.

The West River Community Center is one of nicest fitness centers in the United States.  It has two very large indoor swimming pools, one outdoor swimming pool, two tennis courts, four racketball courts, four basketball courts, a rock climbing wall, thirty pieces of cardiovascular equipment, and a weight room with squat racks, bench press benches, dead lift platform, and dumbbells, all for less money than The Pit Gym in Dickinson.

What the West River Community Center and the Anytime Fitness in Dickinson do not have, is an area for adult men to use heavy weight equipment, free from women and children.

At the West River Community Center in Dickinson, there are all kinds of things for women and children to do.  Swim laps, use the water slide, play tennis, play racketball, climb on the rock climbing wall, play basketball, walk the track, run the track, do yoga or floor exercises, take an aerobics class, use thirty pieces of cardiovascular equipment, and even go do squats, bench press, dead lifts, with just the bar, with no weight, for as much as they want, for as long as they want.

The West River Community Center also has a day care for kids, and a very large women’s locker room with many lockers, toilets, and showers.  The Anytime Fitness in Dickinson is also very large, with just as much cardiovascular equipment and weight lifting equipment as the West River Community Center.  The Anytime Fitness has a women’s locker room with several toilets and showers.

The Pit Gym in Dickinson is small in size, approximately 35’x 50′.  It has no women’s locker room, no women’s only bathroom, no shower, just one piece of cardiovascular equipment, no floor exercise area, and far less weight training equipment than either the West River Community Center or Anytime Fitness.  The only thing that The Pit Gym has that what appealing to me, is the heavy-duty weight benches, squat racks, dead lift platform, and dumbbells, combined with the absence of women and children.

If you add women and children to The Pit Gym, and you have either a woman or a kid on the two squat racks, the two bench press benches, and using the dumbbells, The Pit Gym in my opinion is not worth going to.

I thought that Dave Clem the owner of The Pit Gym and a power lifting competitor, went through the trouble of finding a building to rent, and moved all of his heavy-duty, high weight capacity, power lifting training, exercise, and competition equipment into this building, so that people who wanted to lift and train with heavy weight, could do so without any conflict or interruption from the women and children at the West River Community Center or Anytime Fitness.

Yesterday, I went to The Pit Gym in Dickinson, and two young men had brought their two young girlfriends with them.  The Pit Gym is very small, about 35’x 50′, there are only two squat racks, and two bench press benches.  I got to use the squat rack that I wanted to use, but one of the young men’s girlfriends was talking a lot, and playing around, like this was their garage, an afternoon barbeque, or a social occasion.  I was not as focused, or trying as hard as I should have been, I was distracted.  The space is so small, that you can’t really escape how other people want to act, or what they want to do.

Soon, there was another young man that arrived with his young girlfriend.  She was attractive, and was wearing training shorts, and a sports bras top.  I became even more distracted, not just because this girl was attractive, but because she was talking on her phone, and talking about other things.  Again, this was like a social occasion for her.  And again, this gym is only about 35’x 50′, if other people want to talk about food, and what they want to go eat, you can’t help but hear them, which takes your mind off of what you are doing.

I realized that I was stopping short of where I should have in my exercises, because I was not paying attention to what I was doing.  It was not just the distraction, it seems like there is a natural response to not completely disregard or ignore other people, as if this would be rude or impolite in a social situation.  However, I was not looking for a social situation, I had intended to focus completely on my lifts, but I was not able to.

There was one bench press bench that I needed to use next, which was available, except one of the young women had left her head phones on the weight bar.  What else would this bar be used for, other than to hang personal belongings on?  I moved her head phones to the adjacent bench press bench.  I was going to do behind the head pull over curls while laying on the bench, and this was the only bench with enough room to do this without hitting anything behind your head while laying down on the bench.

I didn’t realize that the young woman was going to use the adjacent bench press bench, to do bench presses with just the bar.  I dragged the bench press bench that I was going to use, away from her, so that when I was doing behind the head curls while laying down, I would not hit her with the bar.

Lately, I would go up to 135 lb with behind the head curls, and in the past I was able to go up to 160 lbs.  But today, I stopped at 105 lb, and left the gym before I was done with this exercise, and before I was done with the remainder of my exercises, because of these two women.

I did not want to continue with behind the head curls while laying down, for more sets with more weight, because I was worried about hitting the young woman with the bar, hurting her, and possibly losing my balance, and getting myself hurt too.  I did not think that she knew the range of motion that I was going to make in this exercise, and I did not think that she understood how difficult this is to lower 135 lb behind your head and pull it back up using just your triceps.

My next exercise was going to be dumbbell flys, but the other young man and his girlfriend were socializing by the dumbbells and the dumbbell benches.  I was concerned that I was not going to be able to make a maximum effort because of being distracted and not being able to entirely block out this couple.  I was also concerned about being bumped into by the young woman who might not have understood the range of motion that I was going to make, possibly hurting her, and possibly losing my balance and hurting myself too.

In the 30 years that I have been going to gyms, I have always sought to go to weight room gyms where everyone uses heavy weights.  At Anytime Fitness, the West River Community Center, or any gym where there are women and children, I have often had to stop what I am doing in the middle of a repetition, to avoid hitting or harming a woman or kid, that did not know the range of motion that I was going to make, or understand the amount of weight that I was moving.

For instance, in the past, I would train with 120 lb, 130 lb, and 140 lb dumbbells doing dumbbell presses.  I could not use more than 100 lbs, at the West River Community Center, because women would come walking up beside you when you were on a bench, totally not understanding that this was 100 lb in each hand, that you were going to extend your arms completely in a press, and this movement was going to hurt them if they got in the way.  And after five or six repetitions with 100 lb in each hand, they had better not be standing where a dumbbell could land on their feet.  Women and children did not know, or understand, when you were lifting heavy weight.

In my opinion, there is absolutely no point, no reason whatsoever to join The Pit Gym in Dickinson if the owners Dave and Wendy Clem want this to be another fitness center with women and children.  This gym will no longer offer anything that is any different from what the West River Community Center and the Anytime Fitness have to offer.

I have seen from my experience in going to many gyms over a 30 year period, that most women and children have no understanding or comprehension of an adult male making a maximum effort to lift the heaviest weight he can lift, for one or two repetitions, in an exercise where he can be severely injured or fail at the lift if he is distracted.  Or, the understanding that they could be severely injured if they don’t move the fuck out of the way.

Here below are some examples with photographs:

What this guy below needs, is for someone else’s girlfriend to stand at the weight bench next to him, so that her leg gets broken when he puts down one of those 200 lb dumbbells.  Maybe he should learn how to put them down gently, 200 lb each isn’t very much is it?  That’s not that much more than 10 lb, is it?


These two guys below, what they need is someone else’s girlfriend standing in front of them wearing a sports bras, and talking on her phone about where they are going to eat.  Some kind of distraction is what they need, to cause them to fail in the lift and get hurt.



All three of these guys up above need someone else’s kids running around them and bumping into them, to cause them to lose their balance so that they can fail in the lift and get hurt.

Today, in response to my updated blog posts, Wendy Clem, the wife of Dave Clem, wrote some comments.  She completely disagrees with my opinion and my wish that her gym be oriented primarily towards men.  She believes that her gym should be open to everyone.

Wendy wrote some comments saying that I was Chauvanistic.  I agree on this, as far as my opinion on having one gym in Dickinson that is primarily for men.  Wendy called me on the telephone, and said that if I came down there right now, she had two women in the gym who could kick my ass in the gym.  I said that I would be right there.

When I got to the gym about fifteen minutes later, Wendy met me outside the gym with a refund of money.  She wanted to tell me what she thought.  I said where are these two women who can out lift me?  I was introduced to a very large young woman who had just completed a 400 lb squat.

I said to the young woman, O.K., you have me beat on squat, I admit it.  Let’s go do some 100 lb dumbbells.  She wouldn’t do it.  Then, I got told to leave the gym, and never come back.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s