• About: Gun Club Brooklyn

    The secret to staying in shape isn’t much of a secret at all: set good habits.  We paid a visit to Gun Club Brooklyn, a movement studio and muscle club in Wallabout, Brooklyn and talked to founder Greg Ramirez about his fitness philosophy. 
    Photos by Frankie Marin 

    You have quite a diverse work background. Can you tell us a bit about your path to founding Gun Club?
    The Gun Club grew out of my lifelong relationship with exercise and athletics. I have been playing sports since the time I could walk. I have been fortunate to have supportive parents, coaches and senseis that have encouraged and nurtured my love of exercise and human movement. I didn't realize until I started to help a friend get in shape a few years ago, that this is not the case for everyone.

    I had just returned from a six month butchering and charcuterie apprenticeship on a hog farm in southwest France where I had accepted a job at a meat plant that was still being built in Northern California when the first version of the Gun Club began. I had a few months of downtime that was mostly being spent doing jiu jitsu, working out at home with a few pieces of equipment that I had collected and odd butcher jobs. One of my restaurant co-workers asked if I would help him get in shape. We started meeting at Ft. Greene park a few days a week- running stairs and doing light calisthenics. Other friends- most restaurant workers- started to join. We started monopolizing the park equipment, so I suggested we meet at the apartment I was staying at to exercise. I had a roof deck and enough equipment for circuit training similar to what I was already doing. Word spread, and before I knew it, 3-4 friends were showing up every hour from 8a-noon most week days having fun and getting in shape. It was on that roof deck that I realized how good it made me feel to teach and coach others. It was an incredible four months. It was difficult to leave to take the meat plant job in California, but I had made a commitment. After six months I was laid off. Within a month I was back in Brooklyn, set the equipment up in a 200 sq ft. living room of my one bedroom apartment and the Gun Club was born.

    How long has fitness been a part of your life? How has your fitness philosophy changed over the years?
    Over the years I have done many different types of exercise- jiu jitsu, strength training, running, swimming, cycling and yoga. The one thing that has remained constant for the past 15 years has been jiu jitsu. As this is a combat sport, it has been brutal on my body. This has forced me to not only change the way I train and how often, but it has also made really think about longevity. Not only how I can extend my jiu jitsu practice, but how can I continue exercising into my twilight years. These things are not mutually exclusive. What I am doing daily to keep me on the mats, are the same things I am teaching in the GC to help our members become stronger, durable and more mobile. Exercise should not be thought of only in terms of meeting our short term goals--weight loss, muscle gain--but as a way of life. Longevity is the key.

    Can you tell us about the different equipment you utilize at Gun Club?
    The equipment in the GC is minimal. We have pull-up stations, a squat rack, dumbbells, kettlebells, step-up benches, resistance bands and various types of sandbags. My mentor and friend Steve Maxwell once told me "all tools work". What is most critical for me- us in the GC- is that we are using these tools safely and with proper technique. Until someone can demonstrate proper technique in basic body weight movements- squat, hinge, push/pull + getting up + down from the floor- we don't load (add weight) or start using these 'tools'. Our bodies are machines. We just need to learn how to use and care for them.

    Gun Club serves an atypical fitness clientele, everyone from artists to chefs to lawyers to musicians. What is it about your approach that attracts your clients?
    I can't say if it has anything to do with me personally or my approach, but one of the best things about the GC is the people that train here. If these people didn't know each other before they started exercising together, they should have. As this started out from a group of my restaurant industry co-workers, most everyone also had a creative talent/endeavor that they supported from their food & beverage job. Very few of these artist, musicians, photographers, actors and (especially) chefs had little to no inclination to working out or belonging to a gym. Gym rats/meatheads they are not. I believe that training in a group setting made everyone more comfortable from the get go. If he/she can do this, so can I, eventually turns into lets do this together. Like minded people bonding through vigorous exercise rather than partying, as it turns out is a great way to make friends (In Real Life).

    Do you have any pre- or post-workout rituals?
    I do a series of tension release, mobility and diaphragmatic breathing exercises everyday. I feel like these are especially important on days that I train. As for my post workout protocol I try to be diligent about some static stretching, icing and self massage- foam/lacrosse ball rolling and eight hours of sleep.

    How important is nutrition to your methodology? What’s your go-to fuel for
    As I am not a nutritionist, nutrition advice is not really a part of our methodology in the GC. Diet can be a very individual thing dependent on many factors related to each person. Our family- my wife, son and myself- pretty much only eat one ingredient, whole foods. I have tried many different styles of eating through the years- vegan, vegetarian, Atkins, multiple daily meals, ect.- but what works best for me personally has been eating little other than premium coffee with half/half, an all natural ATH protein bar and maybe some sunflower butter before I train, a large açái bowl (my wife Frankie makes the very best!) full of fruit, greens + super foods post-training, then hormone free, antibiotic free meats and vegetables for dinner. Most of my calories come in the late afternoon/early evening. I have plenty of energy throughout the day, and this gives my digestive system some down time. I also drink an ounce of water for every pound of body weight. Over a gallon a day.

    When’s the best time of day to work out?
    The best time of day to workout is whatever time you can get it in. I personally train in the morning or afternoon.

    Gun Club occupies a gorgeous studio space in Brooklyn. Do you think the
    immediate environment has an effect on workouts?
    It is not an accident that the GC space is a very cool environment to exercise. I spent three years looking for a space with built in character and plenty of natural light. The equipment and layout involved much trial and error in our different spaces. The paint choices, all of the plants and general vibe is all my wife Frankie. She deserves the credit. I believe that the environment- natural light, open windows, we don't use heat or A/C- created allows people to feel comfortable even while we grind.

    What’s next for Gun Club?
    Next up for the Gun Club is a kids jiu jitsu program starting this fall, then GC Nashville fall 2016.

    Shop Men's