Best Bodybuilding Gyms In New Jersey

Best bodybuilding gyms in new jersey

We flew 8 hours from London Heathrow to Newark, NJ, so we we could show you what we think are the best bodybuilding gyms in New Jersey. We even managed to pack belts, straps and wraps into our carry on too. Result.

Find out where to train below.

David // Barbells Abroad

Bodybuilding Gyms and NJ

New Jersey – to most non residents, strikes you as exactly the kind of place that would have some incredible bodybuilding gyms, strong people, men in vests with gold chains and….wait, I’ve watched too many gangster movies. Serious note, we get asked a lot where’s good to train in NJ, so we jumped on a long haul flight to find out. 8 hours later and a bit of jet lag, we got cracking on day one with finding out what really is the best bodybuilding gym in New Jersey. 

Don’t want to wait? 

Jump to: Winner

Home state of ex Mr Universe ‘Dragon Killer’ Rich Gaspari, and of former NPCC Night of Champions winner Phil Hill, New Jersey has a stellar cost of legendary figures in bodybuilding. While it may not be the first stop on most Pros training camp wishlist, with its colder climate, bodybuilding as a sport has had a foothold in the state for decades. The late Dave Draper ‘The Blond Bomber’, hailed from the state and the National Physique Committee has had New Jersey on the schedule since the early 1980s.

With two of the best known bodybuilding gyms in America less than an hour apart, (Bev Francis Powerhouse etc) NJ is always going to see bodybuilding retain it’s prominence in the state. Add to this, the Arnold Classic, NPC events, and a number of IFBB tour card competitions, the sport has an ongoing healthy demand here. There is no shortage of gyms in Newark, Jersey City, Randwick and beyond; and with billboards like below dotted around, you get the impression that people care about training.

I guess when it’s as cold as it is, what else is there to do ;)

Bodybuilding Gyms In NJ
When you have billboards like this....bodybuilding is popular nearby

How we picked the best gyms in New Jersey?

I must have written this section about 3 dozen ways since beginning these reviews, just to keep them interesting. So, how do we review the gyms and what makes one eligible to be visited by us?

For starters, we have never been given a free workout that we asked for, in return for a review. I’ve even turned down a free membership at a gym near me because we do this for love. We focus on several key things:

  • Is it independent or a massive chain?
  • Is there a good vibe here – are we greeted well and does it feel like you can have a savage workout?
  • What brands are held. So, are they buying the right items for the gym, or just the items the gym brand stocks.
  • Opening times – accessibility – the usual standard stuff.
  • Does it have lore. 

Importantly, we visit, hence the pictures below. Legitimacy is key for us because we know you want that too. We don’t say we are reviewing until after and we always, as you will have noticed, do a leg day. Why? Because it means a variety of machines and stations get used, and we test out how much weight they have, how easy they are to load and unload, and it gauges what the gym can accommodate at busy times.

This is our passion and with decades of training experience behind us, as well as fitness qualifications too – we like to think we can do this justice.

How we pick the best bodybuilding gyms in new jersey
Selfie before leg day at Apollon Gym, Edison, NJ
Lee squatting at Firehouse Gym NJ - one of the best bodybuilding gyms in the state
Lee ATG squatting at Firehouse Jersey City

Hopefully the pictures prove the real reason why you can trust our bodybuilding gyms of New Jersey review. We visit them, we lift in them, we even pack our knee straps. When it comes to reviewing gyms, this is a hobby, not a business, which means (we hope) about a lot less BS.

Read this next: Best Bodybuilding Gyms in NYC

Winner - Best Gym For Bodybuilders In New Jersey

best bodybuilding gyms in New Jersey
Apollon Gym, Edison, NJ

If you find yourself in New Jersey, there really is one grail gym you are going to want to visit. It’s outside of the main cities, but easy enough to get to. A short drive from the transit station and easily found off the main roads, Edison houses a gem of a gym and one that draws in elite bodybuilders every year. The walls are covered with murals of the greats, and in this case, these are ‘greats’ who themselves have made the pilgrimage here.

We took a trip from Manhattan’s Penn Station, which door to door was a little under an hour to check out once more, what we think is New Jersey’s best bodybuilding gym. Before heading in, we stopped at a little deli, which seemed popular to the local Latino community, and loaded up on a food bomb, that ticked all the boxes. You won’t find it on Google Maps, but it has a shopfront that says ‘Chicken and rice’ and something else. 

Anyway, you’re here for our take on old school and hardcore gyms in New Jersey, so read on.

Apollon Gym - Edison, NJ

(Online Reviews 4.7)
Bodybuilding Gyms In NJ
Bodybuilding Gyms In NJ

As we pulled up and said goodbye to the Uber driver, we surveyed this legendary gym from the outside. A car park, a couple of other retail units near by, and the sound of cars zooming past. It’s not a glamorous location, but it’s not the Bronx in the 80s either. In reality, it’s a clean but austere town, and perhaps this is exactly the kind of backdrop you need to showcase a really special destination.

It’s hard to call out any one gym in any state of the US, and say ‘this is the best gym ever’, but it gets a little easier when that gym is used by the greatest names in bodybuilding over the years. This place may not look like much from the outside, just another brick box along the side of a motorway (or is it a highway), but inside you discover what draws in hardcore trainers day after day.

The front desk was staffed by a friendly pair and there is both a supplement shop behind you when you walk in and a fridge of pre-workouts and protein by the door. I grabbed a can of Ghost (no paid plug) and we got shown around the gym. They didn’t know we were here to review and this was I assume just how they normally are. They seemed proud to represent the gym and I felt immediately at ease here. 

Big W for the Apollon team.

Why we love Apollon Gym

So what do we like about Apollon? It looks intense, that’s for starters. The red powder coat effect gets any hardcore lifter in the zone. I love seeing the national flag hung, I love the friendly front desk team and the range of equipment shows they have the best items for the job, rather than just keeping all one brand.

As an example on equipment…

I used a leg extension machine which was by ‘Bodymax’. I have not used that brand before, but the adjustment for the shin pad was so easy to amend I was insanely impressed for something so random. It looked old school but was massively functional, with a ton of torque, so it locked tight, fast. It might sound like I’m fanboying a leg extension shin adjustment, but actually I am fanboying the quality and detail of their equipment range. Everything was perfect. 

(In case you wonder what we were doing in the gym – we were doing my mass gain quad workout with a bit of posterior workout thrown in, so we got a chance to use a wide range of leg machines and kit.)

Back to the friendly front desk team. This is so critical to developing a good gym. If the first interaction someone has with your gym is flat, muted, awkward etc – it kills the workout’s start. Apollon nailed it. Nice work. 

There is a sense of ‘Ronnie Coleman would love this’ to the gym. It’s perhaps the decor, or the lack of soft touches which you see at more commercial gyms. This has an independent vibe with a global impact. It works. I could train hard here and I didn’t feel remotely uncomfortable letting out some gutteral noises while working the teardrops in the power rack.

Chuck in the art murals around the walls, and their regular bodybuilding community contributions such as panelist speeches and sponsoring events, you’ve got a great bodybuilding gym here in New Jersey.

Final thing I loved – nice weight plates – proper old school ‘Barbell Standard’ and ‘Ivanko’ style. 

What makes it the best in New Jersey? I’ve told you, Rich Gaspari calls this his home gym – the place is goated.

Best Gyms in New Jersey for bodybuilders

How to find Apollon Gym near Edison, NJ.

If you’re making a pilgrimage to Apollon like we were, on our fitness holiday to the Eastern Seaboard, you are most likely to get here via the NJ Transit from New York. It took us about 45 minutes from Penn Station NY, and once we found ourselves in Edison, we hopped in an Uber for the 10 minute ride the rest of the way. Done this way you save a fortune and you don’t lose any time. If you are coming in by car from one of the 5 boroughs of NY, then you’ve got to contend with the congestion of the tunnels and bridges, while things are sometimes not much easier coming in by road from Jersey City and the surrounding areas.

Where possible try to use the transit, it’s not as scary as the media likes to make out, it’s cheap as hell and often quicker. If you are driving, there is parking outside in a free parking lot, and you’ll want to be taking the 95 from Newark, NY or Brunswick to the South. From the East you’ll want to took for Route 287 and jump off there when you see Edison signposted.

Address: 160 Talmadge Rd, Edison, NJ 08817

Other Great Bodybuilding Gyms In New Jersey

New Jersey state has a proud personality all of its own, and there are more great old school training gyms than just Edison’s Apollon. Jersey City, Newark and for hipster emigres you have Hoboken to consider too. Once we worked out how to use the NJ Transit from NY, to avoid sending ourselves into a Chapter 11 over Ubers, we made the time to explore a few more gems for you too. Here’s two you need to see if you’re in the Garden State.

Jump to your preferred city

Best Bodybuilding Gym In Jersey City & Hoboken

These guys made us feel welcome when we stepped through the front door. The gym is clean and fresh but not so clean it’s uncomfortable socially to train here. Your front desk have great personalities and your gym designer did a wicked job. 

Firehouse Fitness: 520 Palisade Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07307

(Online Reviews 4.5)
Bodybuilding Gyms In NJ

Firehouse is located on the edges of Jersey City where it meets Hoboken, it serves both communities perfectly well and sits along a busy parade of shops and outlets. It means it’s easy to reach by car or bus and the place is decked out with some wicked looking kit. 

While the graffiti coated bumper plates look cool, what actually IS cool, is the fact they have an owner who is prepared to put some pieces in the gym that don’t brand or colour match, if it’s the right item. The plate loaded standing press, is a case in point. While everything else is powder coated red Mayhem Strength, there’s a random white Dynabod up near the sled track. To the untrained eye, that looks out of place, to those who appreciate the best bits of gym equipment, we get why it’s there.

Firehouse Fitness perhaps wouldn’t call themselves purely a bodybuilding gym. That being said, they are fitted out that way, yet it retains a community and broad market style charm. Either way, they have a really welcoming vibe to all. I reckon some of the locals don’t realise how lucky they are to have Jersey City and Hoboken’s best bodybuilding gym on their doorstep. It’s not a stretch to say this is one of New Jersey’s best gyms full stop. If you’re in town, pop by.

Best bodybuilding gyms in Jersey City

Brands: Mayhem Strength – Dynabod

Pricing: 1 x Day Pass = $20 + Tax | 1 Mth $89-99 

Cons: Only two, and they are NOT dealbreakers.

The music doesn’t get you wild for a session. It was a bit like it had been picked to suit everyone, but in doing so, only probably pleased 10% of their customers, and annoys the ones who would spend on supplements etc. I love 80s music, but it’s a bit flat for a weights heavy workout centre. Bring headphones. 

Second point – not 24 hours and 10 pm can catch people with kids and a work commute out. 

Secret Wins: On top of the other things we like – we LOVE the scales in the changing room that are free to use. We LOVE the water bottle refill station, which is easy to use, pumps out cold water and saves the earth :)

Verdict: Come and train here. Avoid the post work rush and take the time to use some really nicely invested in gym kit in a clean and friendly gym. For us, a few hours off a long haul flight, this was a lovely workout. 

Bodybuilding Gyms In NJ
best gyms in hoboken nj for bodybuilders

Best Bodybuilding Gyms in Newark, NJ

After ticking off some of the usual haunts a bodybuilding gym tour will take you on, we ended up back where our trip began, Newark. Not the place that most Brits make a bee-line for when heading to the States, we reckoned, this city had some gems up its sleeve. We weren’t let down. Here’s what we think are the best bodybuilding gyms in Newark.

Runner up: Colosseum Gym, 525 Irvington Ave, Newark, NJ 07106

A big gym with a lot of plate loaded equipment, including Hammer Strength and room to swing a landmine extension. It’s not 24 hours and we found the timetable was great if you’re an early bird, but not so much if you like to lift after dark. Parking out front and not pretentious. The only reason we drop it to 2nd, is it’s a bit more out of Newark than our winning pick.

Winner: Ironbound Fitness

Ironbound Fitness: 115 Ferry St, Newark, NJ 07105

(Online Reviews 3.7)
Ironbound Fitness In Newark for Bodybuilders.

Get closer to Newark center and you’re in the Ironbound region, which is home to Ironbound Fitness. A Cybex loaded, angry red coated 24/7 gym with a focus on bodybuilding. This place has been around for many years, and for us we had no issues with our experience. While it has a lower Google score than Colosseum, you can miss out on some great gym visits if you don’t assess it on it’s own merits to you. It seems like they had a lot of bad reviews in the months before we got here, and a lot seem related to the same issue. Maybe that’s what pulled the score down, but we can’t say anything but – we had a sick push day here. 

Yes, we have to admit, we didn’t train legs at Ironbound, it was a Saturday and our Triceps needed some love. Running our 5 Day PPL workout means it can’t be quads every day. The machines were well maintained, the atmosphere was good and the day pass price was very reasonable for the part of the US we were in. If you are working close by, you can’t turn your nose up at $35 a month.

What makes it the best bodybuilding gym in Newark to us? 24 hours, damn central, independently owned, loaded with supplements at the front desk, the equipment looks good and IS good, posing mirrors, IFBB Pros who use this place probably aren’t dumb, plus it was easy to get here.

Cons: Can get a little crowded and that’s part of the issue with a popular gym. We don’t like to see that some lifters have had negative experiences in the reviews, but that honestly wasn’t our experience. Get a day pass and see for yourself. It’s a great gym.

Brands: Hammer Strength, Cybex, Life Fitness, InTek, Nautilus

Pricing: 1 Day Pass = $20 : 1 Mth $35

Bodybuilding Gyms In NJ
Newark NJ best gym for bodybuilders

About The Writer

David Mason

David Mason

Bothering dumbbells since 2003. I visit a lot of hotels with terrible gyms so you don't have to. Co-founder of Ibiza's 1st Gym based restaurant 'The Skinny Kitchen' - Qualified SAQ Trainer & REPS UK PT. Catch me on Insta or Threads @masononsocial
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