Welcome to the first edition of “My PRIME With…”. Each month, we will feature a PRIME customer, friend or employee to uncover what motivates them, their training philosophies and where their sights are set for the future. Who knows, hearing their story might help you #FindYourPRIME!
This month, we put the spotlight on none other than Ben “BPak” Pakulski. Ben is a world-renowned Canadian born IFBB Pro bodybuilder. Known for his cerebral approach to training, Ben is a 3x Mr. Olympia qualifier and the 2016 Vancouver Pro Show Champion. Ben is also the owner of MI40 Gym in Tampa, FL – one of the most sought after private training facilities in the country, attracting bodybuilders, athletes, movie stars and fitness enthusiasts from all over the globe. MI40 is also home to 20+ pieces of PRIME equipment, making it one of the most “PRIMEified” gyms in the USA. Interested in training with Ben and his team at MI40? We recommend attending one of their camps, it will change the way you train, your perspective and most likely your life. Learn more here: www.mi40nation.com/camp/
PRIME: Ben, how long have you been bodybuilding?
BPak: I’ve been training since I was 15 years old. I started as a long-distance runner. I was 155 lbs and decided I wanted to be stronger and faster for sports. I primarily played baseball, hockey and football at the time, so I started doing some weight lifting. I enjoyed it. I found I got faster and stronger, so I stopped doing long distance running and started eating meat (I was a vegetarian at that point in my life). I found my passion for bodybuilding at literally 15 years old. I had no desire to be a bodybuilder at that time, I just loved to train. By about 17 years old I became a little more indoctrinated into the bodybuilding lifestyle and decided I wanted to get bigger. I went from 165 or 170 to 235 pretty quickly because I was training twice a day and started eating diligently, I ate a lot of food!
PRIME: At what age did you know you wanted to be a pro bodybuilder?
BPak: I don’t know that I ever really decided I wanted to be a pro bodybuilder. It was something that just kind of happened. I loved training and bodybuilding, and I knew I could be a pro bodybuilder. The first time I thought about it, I was probably 18 years old, but I don’t know that it was singular goal for me. When I was 17, I went to my first Mr. Olympia contest in 1998 in NYC and in 1999 I went back in Las Vegas. Both of those events were massive eye openers for me. Between those events, I had actually put on about 60 pounds of muscle- I think I was about 230 in 1999. By that point, I knew I enjoyed bodybuilding and knew I wanted to compete. I wanted to compete because I wanted to get in shape to look great in a suit. After University, I got a pharmaceutical sales job and wanted to look like a boss in a suit! So, I competed and won – I basically won every event I entered. Two years later, in 2007, I did two national shows and lost each by 1 point. The following year I came back and won my pro card at the Canadian Nationals in 2008.
PRIME: When you started your bodybuilding journey, who motivated you? Who were the people that inspired you? Why?
BPak: My biggest inspiration in the sport of bodybuilding, without a doubt, was Dorian Yates; six-time Mr. Olympia. He just had this amazing mystique about him. He was the hardest working guy. His look was incredible, so hard, so grainy. I loved the idea of his work ethic, because that is what drew me to bodybuilding. It was never the aesthetic appeal, just the masculinity of it and the hard work. It was a really definitive, objective way for me to work hard. I enjoyed that idea of constantly building myself. I was also inspired by Jay Cutler, Lee Priest, Milo Sarcev and many other guys along the way who were great inspirations for me.
PRIME: You’re known for your intelligent approach within bodybuilding community, where did that originate and how do you think it’s affected your bodybuilding career?
BPak: I think I knew from the time I was 15 years old that I was particularly gifted. I knew that because the guys I trained with, who were the same age as me, were much stronger than me and more muscular than me. They had a much easier time building muscle than I did. So, I started reading. I read everything I could get my hands on – magazines, books, and I started to look for people I could rely on as being authorities. I went to the University of Western Ontario in 2000, and studied kinesiology and biomechanics. So, I guess that was the start of my ‘mindful approach’ to my training. But, like other people aspiring to have a great physique, my focus was primarily on nutrition and periodization, which is how to logically vary your stimulus. Unfortunately, that’s a huge mistake for most people. It doesn’t matter how many sets you do, how many reps you do, what your stimulus is, if it’s strength, if it’s hypertrophy, if it’s neurological, if it’s is metabolic – none of those things matter if your execution is not on point. Proper execution is more important than any of those other things, including nutrition from my perspective. Without proper execution, nothing matters – and I didn’t know that. I studied it, but I didn’t really know it until about 2007. I learned that from a gentleman named Peter Chiasson, who unfortunately passed away in 2012. He was my greatest influence in execution to begin with and it’s obviously expanded a lot from there. It started because I realized hard work was awesome and it got me far, but it also developed massive, glaring imbalances in my physique. I had great strengths and great weaknesses. I didn’t know how to develop those weaknesses because ever time I would pick up a weight, my strengths dominate movements. Then someone said something that really opened my eyes. The idea is, your body is the same on the inside. There is no such thing as strengths and weaknesses. It’s all the same muscle fiber composition, it’s all the same hormonal profiles inside your body. The only difference is, when you pick up a weight, how your body distributes tension throughout your body. So, genetics refers to how your body mechanically distributes tension throughout your body, so you have certain body parts that tend to take tension and certain ones that don’t tend to take tension. Thankfully, that allows us to realize that we’re in control of the ability to build a symmetric body. Some people do it really easily genetically, and don’t have to think about it. Some people, it requires a lot of thought and a lot of mindful dedication to perform very precise execution. So, I’ve developed a system called Precision Exercise Execution, which is what MI40 started around.
PRIME: In 2015, you opened MI40 Gym in Tampa, Florida. You have 20+ pieces of PRIME equipment. Why was having PRIME equipment in such a big way so important at MI40?
BPak: Once you learn how to execute effective exercise strategies, you realize the importance of loading a muscle at every aspect of the range, and varying that load at every aspect of the range and most importantly understanding that your body has a varying capacity to generate force at each part of the range. So, having the ability to manipulate how much load I put at each part of the range of motion is a massive advantage and necessity for me in my training – and that’s exactly what their SmartStrength technology does. So, when I built my gym, I literally hand selected each piece of equipment for myself, because I was selfishly trying to build the perfect training environment for me. That included as many PRIME pieces I could fit. I got the entire Plate Loaded line and a large number of their Selectorized pieces. To this day, they are still the best and most used pieces in my gym.
PRIME: What’s on the horizon with BPak? What can everyone expect from you in the next 5 years?
BPak: In the next 5 years, I expect to be synonymous with the #1 muscle building brand in the industry. We’re teaching people effective strategies to learn execution and now progressing in to teaching people intelligent programming, nutrition, theories, protocols, and expanding in to other avenues such as supplementation – just full life optimization. I think as I age, my focus becomes not just being as big as possible, but being as healthy as possible. That includes health optimization from the inside, as well as looking like a badass on the outside.
What can a locally owned and operated gym do when the big gym chains come to town? With the continued growth of national and regional gym chains, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult for privately owned local gyms to compete against the big marketing budgets and cheap membership dues.
That’s exactly what happened to Achieve Fitness in Fleming Island, a locally owned gym in the quaint, water-locked suburb of Jacksonville, FL. After over a decade of service as the community’s “go-to” gym, Achieve Fitness found themselves in a turf war. With the opening of not one, not two, but three national gym chains just miles away, their membership base started to erode – and who could blame their members? Cheaper prices, newer versions of the same equipment and a constant bombarding of advertisements and promotional offers. It didn’t take Achieve long to reach a critical crossroads; close the gym or punch back… harder. They chose the latter, developing a full-scale plan to overhaul of the gym. New paint, new logo, new equipment, new everything. There was just one problem – the competition’s paint was also new, and their logos were nice too. So, what would bring those members back to Achieve Fitness? Game changing equipment. Enter PRIME Fitness.
Achieve found their PRIME in a big way, totally revamping their strength machines with the most innovative, versatile and intelligent equipment in the world. With the inclusion of over 20 pieces of PRIME equipment, Achieve had their differentiator in PRIME’s SmartStrength technology. Today, Achieve Fitness is the ONLY gym in the Jacksonville area offering a plethora of benefits that can only be achieved (pun intended) using PRIME equipment. Whether it be a newcomer to the gym looking for a total body workout in 30 minutes, a member rehabbing an injury, or a serious lifter targeting the extremes of the range – Achieve has equipment with the versatility to be tailor-made for every member’s goals.
In late May of 2017, the PRIME equipment arrived to the gym. Over the next several days, dozens of training sessions were held for the gym staff and its members. The sessions included basic overviews of each piece of equipment, education on the value of variable resistance training and the proper use of PRIME’s SmartStrength technology. “The feedback from the members has been incredible,” said Jarrod Saracco, President of Health Club Doctor Inc., and the consultant who has been responsible for the club overhaul and turnaround. “We knew we needed to bring something to the table that wows people and commands a higher dollar value than the $10/mo. gym model. That’s why we chose PRIME, because of its differentiating technology, its wow factor and its ability to sell memberships and personal training. When you put someone on it for the first time, they will never walk out the door and wish they would have went to a cheaper gym.”
If you are a club owner and you’re feeling the pressure of new competition in your market, don’t fall in the trap of a price war, it’s a battle you can’t win. Learn from Achieve Fitness, increase the value of your membership with the best equipment in the world. Email us today at info@PRIMEfitnessUSA.com to learn how PRIME equipment can drive your business forward.
Here are some pictures of the new and improved Achieve Fitness:
It’s becoming easier and easier to #FindYourPRIME.
In large part because more and more people are learning the advantages only PRIME can offer.
Men’s Health, the world’s largest men’s magazine, recently launched the 2nd Edition of their popular “Men’s Health Gym Bible.” The book is “the ultimate resource for the total gym experience,” and covers a wide variety of gym-related topics from exercise tutorials, equipment overviews and expert advice.
Men’s Health Gym Bible – 2nd Edition
PRIME is included as a featured equipment line with an overview of how our SmartStrength™ technology offers a game-changing advantage to traditional strength machines. The feature also highlights the PRIME Plate Loaded Extreme Row as a “Must Try” piece, detailing how the machine eliminates the user’s ability to “cheat” the exercise.
It’s been a wild month for the PRIME team. Over the past 30 days, PRIME exhibited at two of the largest fitness trade shows in the world – IHRSA and FIBO. Here’s a photo update of what went down at both shows.
IHRSA – Los Angeles, California
The PRIME team flew out to LA to show our world class equipment at the IHRSA show on March 8th – 11th. With over 350 exhibitors on the show floor, the IHRSA show is the largest fitness show in the USA. PRIME exhibited with a 20’x50’ sq. ft. island booth that featured a variety of equipment from our 80+ product portfolio.
Also featured in the PRIME booth were dumbbells from our good friends and partners in the UK, Watson Gym Equipment. Watson Dumbbells are the best dumbbells in the world, if you aren’t familiar with Watson, take a minute to check out their website HERE.
PHOTO: Watson Dumbbells in the PRIME Booth
Overall, the show was a big success for PRIME. Hundreds of fitness professionals, equipment dealers and gym owners were introduced to PRIME products and our SmartStrength™️ technology. A BIG ‘Thank You’ to all our friends, partners and customers that came by to visit the booth and say ‘hello’. We appreciate your support!
PHOTO: PRIME Team Members, Nick Pang (Watson), Eric The Trainer and Jimmy The Trainer
FIBO – Cologne, Germany
As PRIME continues to grow, our mission is to share our innovative equipment throughout the entire world. As part of that initiative, 2017 marked our second year showing PRIME equipment at FIBO – the leading international fitness trade show. This year, over 150,000 people attended the show representing over 117 countries across the globe. PRIME was featured with a 52 sq. meter booth in Hall 6.
PRIME showed the following units at the show:
Evolution Leg Extension
Hybrid Arm Curl
Hybrid Pec/Rear Delt
Plate Loaded Extreme Row
PRIME Steel Half Rack w/ XL Bench
PHOTO: Adam w/ Flex Gym Budapest and Big Ron Partlow
It was great to see so many familiar faces from last year, stopping by the booth again. We were humbled to sell nearly all our floor pieces on the first day of the show! In fact, of the show units that sold, we are pleased to share that PRIME equipment can now be found in Germany at Champ Performance and Budapest at Flex Gym! Thank you for support!
All of the equipment was well received, but one piece in particular was a big draw – the Plate Loaded Extreme Row. Hundreds of people stopped by the booth to take a spin on the unit and experience the TorqueArm variable resistance technology!
PHOTO: Booth Visitor Demoing the PRIME Extreme Row
Another highlight of the show was the interest in the PRIME RO-T8 handles. We had the handles for sale in the booth for a Show Special of 100€. Thank you to everyone that took the opportunity to purchase a pair of the best handles in the world!
PHOTO: PRIME RO-T8 Handle Customer at FIBO
With the 2017 trade show season behind us, we look forward to seeing everyone again in 2018! Again, thank you everyone that make these shows so special and showed their support.
If you haven’t heard of PRIME Fitness yet, it’s probably because the company is less than 2 years old, but don’t be fooled by the newness, PRIME is turning a lot of heads in the fitness world. Important heads too. It seems like the biggest and best gyms in the world see something special about PRIME equipment. Last year, Ben Pakulski’s MI40 Gym in Tampa, FL installed over 20 units of PRIME equipment, spanning their selectorized, plate loaded and PRIME Steel rack offerings. Most recently, Dana Linn and Rob Bailey have also added a wide range of PRIME equipment to their ever expanding Warhouse Gym in Reading, PA.
So why are these gyms choosing PRIME? If you ask BPak or DLB, it’s because “it’s the best equipment in the world.” Sounds cliché, but there is merit to their claim. PRIME is one of the few strength equipment manufacturers that are 100% made in the USA. From frames to weight stacks, every single piece of PRIME equipment is American made. In an industry plagued with imported, cheaply made equipment, a steadfast approach to quality is a fairly rebellious approach. But there is more to the PRIME story than quality, much more in fact. What truly separates PRIME from other equipment is their innovative approach to strength training. Enter SmartStrength(R)… a variable resistance technology that allows the user to manipulate the strength curve of a given exercise motion. With SmartStrength, the peak load (or resistance) can be moved through the entire range of motion, (beginning, middle or end) essentially allowing for muscle fiber recruitment of the entire stretch of muscle, from origin to insertion. PRIME’s SmartStrength technology is a real game changer in the strength equipment industry, where little to no true innovation has occurred in decades.
Strength in Numbers – How does SmartStrength work?
SmartStrength is featured on PRIME’s selectorized and plate loaded equipment, however the technology is cleverly engineered into each type of unit.
PRIME selectorized units feature a SmartCam that moves the peak resistance of the load by a simple adjustment of the cam lever. As the chart below depicts, on setting 1, the SmartCam places the peak load at the middle of the range (similar to any other piece of traditional equipment). However once moved to setting 2, the peak load is moved to the end of the range (shortened position), meaning the load is lighter in the start and progressively gets heavier through out the range. Setting 3 is the exact opposite, placing the peak load at the beginning of the range (lengthened position), meaning the load is heaviest at the beginning of the exercise motion and the resistance decreases through the range of motion.
PRIME’s Plate Loaded units also feature SmartStrength technology, however unlike the selectorized units, there is no SmartCam. Rather, the manipulation of the resistance curve is achieved by their unique 3-peg torque arm design. By simply loading the weight plates on a given peg (or a combination of pegs), the resistance can be placed at the beginning, middle or end of the motion. As the chart below indicates, when the weight is on the middle peg (peg 1), the load is in the middle of the range. Once moved to peg 2 or 3, the peak load is initiated at the beginning or end of the motion respectively.
“Our goal is to manufacture the best and most innovative equipment in the world, if we do that, we think people will notice,” said Jarrad Griffin, SVP of PRIME. And notice they have, PRIME can be found in elite gyms all over the globe including Mark Coles’ M10 Gym in Nottingham, England and Tony Doherty’s Mecca gym in Melbourne, Australia. “Our technology is unique, that’s a good thing, but it also presents a set of challenges for us to penetrate the market,” Griffin continued. “When people truly understand what PRIME equipment does and the legitimate value it provides, it’s a simple recipe for success for the gym, their members, and PRIME.”
PRIME Fitness, an American made strength equipment company, has partnered with Canadian born IFBB Pro Ben Pakulski. The partnership positions the world-renowned bodybuilder as a brand ambassador for the rapidly growing strength brand. The partnership comes on the heels of the inclusion of over 20 pieces PRIME equipment at Pakulski’s new MI40 gym in Tampa, FL. “With everything we did [at MI40], the intent is ‘best in the world’. The addition of PRIME and their variable resistance SmartStrength technology fits that methodology perfectly,” said Pakulski.
PRIME Fitness has been making waves in the fitness industry since late 2013 after the parent company, Specialty Fitness Systems, acquired STRIVE Strength and launched the PRIME brand at the Club Industry show later that year in Chicago, IL. PRIME has been turning heads, most notably with their patented SmartStrength® technology, which is featured on both the selectorized and plate loaded lines. “SmartStrength® is what separates us from the pack,” said Jarrad Griffin, Sr. Vice President of PRIME. “Giving users the ability to alter the strength curve of a given exercise is something only PRIME equipment can achieve [on selectorized and plate loaded units]. By moving the peak resistance to the beginning, middle or end of the exercise motion, SmartStrength® delivers total muscular exhaustion more efficiently and effectively than standard equipment, ultimately recruiting more muscle fibers in the process.” Griffin continued.
While the partnership with PRIME is new, Pakulski was already familiar with the SmartStrength technology. “My brain is constantly looking for ways to improve my workout efficacy and get the most out of every single set and every rep. When I turned pro in 2006, I stumbled upon STRIVE (now Prime), I was hooked. I started making calls to find out which gyms around me had this equipment. I found one, and signed up immediately. Truly understanding the full benefit of the technology took me a few months, but once I “got it”, my workouts improved dramatically and my results skyrocketed,” said the 2013 Arnold Classic Runner-Up. When I decided to open my gym, having STRIVE was an absolute MUST, so I bought 19 total pieces. Only 4 months later it was brought to my attention that PRIME was now making new equipment with the SmartStrength technology I literally jumped on the phone that day and ordered all the pieces I was missing,” said Pakulski.
“The partnership with Ben [Pakulski] is really a natural fit for us. We feel that his reputation as ‘the thinking man’s bodybuilder’, compliments our brand and SmartStrength® technology nicely. His deep knowledge of biomechanics and kinesiology and how it relates to our products provides us with credibility that is critical to building our brand globally. Moreover, his large scale reach via social media and other digital platforms offers a plug-and-play avenue to deliver our message/grow awareness around the world,” said Todd Prichard, PRIME’s Director of Marketing.
PRIME has their sights set on continued growth both domestically and internationally, and with the support of Pakulski, PRIME is looking forward with a very enthusiastic mindset. “The sky is the limit for us,” Griffin stated. “Through strategic partnerships like these, we feel that we’ve developed a recipe for success. Our entire team is committed to the growth of the company and we look forward to enjoying that ride with Ben.”
Pakulski also believes that PRIME has a bright future. “For anyone serious about building muscle, or improving performance, nothing even comes close to matching the potential for output and efficiency that this technology offers.”
For more information about PRIME, visit PrimeFitnessUSA.com
For more information about Ben Pakulski and MI40, visit MI40gym.com