Midtown Strength & Conditioning: A New Kind of Gym

By Amelia McLear

Now that we’re entering February, the question is — have you kept up with your New Year’s Resolution to get fit and lose those extra pounds gained over the holidays? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Well, I have. And that’s all thanks to the folks at Midtown Strength & Conditioning (also at  www.facebook.com/midtownstrength).

Midtown, located at 3rd and T streets in Southside Park, is a gym I was introduced to by a friend of mine about six months ago and it’s unlike any other gym I’ve been to in Sacramento.

There are no treadmills and no TVs . Instead, there are giant tires, barbells, kettle bells, sleds and gymnastic rings. Going to a class at Midtown is like the most awesome version of a boot camp you can think of “x 10”. Previous to Midtown, my favorite form of exercise was running. I would run pretty much every day and maybe do a couple of yoga classes.

I’ve tried going to various gyms around town, especially in the winter when it gets cold and rainy, but I have never stayed longer than a few months at any of them mainly because I get really bored. The cardio machines are painfully monotonous. I never seem to know how to work the weight machines, and the free-weight area just scared me with all of the huge dudes sweating and grunting and no way was I, as a female, about to invade that space. And the group classes are always way too crowded or not enough of a workout for me.

So I kept going back to running, which, as I’ve been getting older and my body has been changing, has not been enough to keep me in shape.

So, enter Midtown and my new favorite person, Tara Getty.

Tara Getty, Midtown’s co-owner, is 5’4”, 39-years-old and currently squats 250 lbs, bench-presses 135 lbs and dead-lifts 275 lbs. She is also a former Capitol staffer and grassroots campaign consultant at Ross Communications, so she gets the whole concept of being a career gal in addition to trying to stay fit on a daily basis.

Tara and her partner, Camilo Gutierrez, opened Midtown Strength & Conditioning in 2007 after deciding they had grown out of their previous gym and were ready to start their own. She was also ready to transition out of politics.

“Midtown is based on Camilo’s vision of the perfect gym. There are no mirrors, no machines and no attitude,” she said. “The unofficial gym motto is ‘Strength is the core concept of all that we do.’ It is a collection of serious people who don’t have time for the distractions associated with a commercial gym.”

Midtown offers group-training classes six days per week (they are closed on Sundays) in addition to personal training. You can also train on your own by following the daily workout they post on the whiteboard every morning.

Classes are an hour long, and are offered frequently throughout the day to fit a variety of schedules. They also offer women’s only classes, which Tara oversees.

As there are no “typical” classes, a few of the exercises I have done in these classes include: kettlebell swings, tire flips, lunges, burpees, Turkish dead lifts, Russian twists, pull-ups, squats, ball slams and sand bag runs. Many of their exercises utilize bodyweight only.

Classes can range in size from one person to 15. They also recently started a boxing class, run by a real boxer, three days per week, capped at three people per class.

In addition to both being group and personal trainers, Tara and Camilo split the business side, with Camilo focusing on all things related to training and the recruitment of new trainers and Tara handling much of the paperwork, including marketing, finance and daily operations.

She also specializes in women’s training—approximately 80 percent of the women at Midtown attend her group classes or see her one-on-one.

“The biggest and most frustrating misconception I deal with everyday is that women who lift weights will automatically become bulky,” Tara says. “Bulky happens as a result of junk food and bad diet. Women do not develop muscle because we don’t have testosterone. Period. If you see a woman with a ton of muscle she is either gifted with natural testosterone or on steroids. That said, lifting weights over time, for most women, will make them stronger. Stronger is better. There is no such thing as ‘long lean’ muscles. That’s just stupid.”

Tara told me this the first day I joined. I told her I was worried about getting bulky, and she stopped me to explain how the female body works. It was like an epiphany—no one had ever told me that before. Bulk is what comes from not improving your diet; not lifting dumbbells. Amazing!

(Did I mention that Tara’s style is very no-nonsense? She’s like the big sister I never had.) In addition to small groups and personal training, Midtown provides nutrition/meal planning based on the goals of the individual member.

They work with people at all levels of fitness; everybody is welcome and they tailor your workouts accordingly. They are also very kid-friendly. I’ve seen both moms and dads at the gym participating in the classes or personal training, and their kids are sitting there waiting for them or reading a book. I’ve even seen babies in pack-n-plays.

“We have clients seeking to lose substantial weight, gain weight and maintain current weight,” Tara says. “And, right now, I have two women who are newly pregnant, one woman who will give birth in a month and one woman who had a baby 10 weeks ago. I take special care to ensure they are training within the parameters of their doctor’s orders but also are doing what they need to do to reach their goals.”

Midtown will celebrate its third birthday next month, and they are continuing to grow their operations. They just finished a building expansion project and they are now up to about 150 full-time members, which has grown pretty much through word of mouth – in fact, they just launched their website a few months ago. Tara keeps a daily blog on their website at http://www.midtownstrength.com/blog.

Monthly membership for group classes range per month from $120 to $225 depending how often you attend. Your first time at the gym is free. They also offer a free class at 10:00 a.m. every Saturday.

Tara says their goal is to continue growing and helping their members get strong. Eventually she says she’d like to open a smaller gym, closer to the “actual” Midtown or East Sacramento, and focus even more seriously on women’s strength training.

“I do what I do because I have the opportunity everyday to change someone’s life,” she says. “I also do what I do because there is nothing else like going to ‘work’ where the community is supportive of one another and invested in the success of other members as well as the gym as a whole.”

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