San Clemente Gym - Where Every Day is a Good Day to Work Out
Dec 03, 2018 10:35AM
● By Nina Welch
by Nina Welch
Music of the ‘70s included funk, soul, pop, rock, and yes disco, coming from car radios, boom boxes and runners with their Walkmans. Popular cars were the VW bus and bug, and gas was 35 cents a gallon. In San Clemente, video stores lined Del Mar and El Camino Real. Movie lovers could rent The French Connection, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and of course Jaws. And in 1977, Arnold Schwarzenegger was first introduced in a popular movie, Pumping Iron.
In 1978, Arnold’s best friend and fellow Austrian power lifter, Harry Gerefalt, bought the San Clemente Gym, which was known at that time as the San Clemente Health Club. It was the first original gym in San Clemente, and is one of the oldest ones in Orange County. Body builders from around the world have been known to stop by for a work-out. Sylvester Stallone has signed an 8 x 10 glossy that is displayed in the glass case at the front, and weatherman, Dallas Raines, has been said to be a frequent visitor.
Along with Harry, Sean Murray and Eric Lucy were past owners. The current owner, prominent San Clemente realtor Jennifer Blake, listed the gym when Eric Lucy decided to sell to embark on missionary work in Mexico. When there were no offers, she bought the place on September 1, 2015.
Jennifer fondly refers to the gym as a down-and-dirty work-out gym. “We’re all family here.” Generations of San Clemente families work out there and Jennifer also references it as the Cheers of gyms where everyone knows your name.
JC Boushh, General Manager and trainer with the focus on weight loss, comes by his expertise with fervor. Five-years-ago, after a divorce, he lost 65 pounds. He lived in Monterey and taught himself how to train by doing research online and in books in order to develop a program for himself. He moved to San Clemente and started training at the San Clemente Gym. After being certified with the National Academy of Sports Medicine, a trainer position opened up at the gym. He has been training for three years and is now General Manager.
He and Jennifer have realized their goals by adding new equipment and bringing the gym back to its original roots. New additions include: a rower, abs machine, air assault bikes and equipment designed for powerlifting. Keeping its origins as an old-school strength gym, the original steel weights from 1978 have been refurbished. According to JC, “Everyone likes the clanging sound of the steel when they put them on and when they hit the floor … very different than the plastic-coated weights.”
On September 28th, the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to honor the 40th Anniversary of the gym. Plaques and certificates were presented to Jennifer and JC by representatives from the City of San Clemente, Assemblyman Bill Brough, Senator Patricia Bates, State Board of Equalization Diane Harkey, Representative of the 49th District Darryl Issa, and Supervisor Lisa Bartlett. A reception was catered by The Local, a restaurant located adjacent to the gym. The Orange County Recovery Lab was also introduced as a permanent fixture in the gym to aid members for over-use injuries. They offer sports massages, normatec compression, and percussion therapy.
An integral part of the gym is the San Clemente Beach Barbell Club, a monthly club that meets there the first Wednesday of the month. The term “muscles and the beach” seem to go together, and could apply to the 400-members. They are like-minded lifters who meet to improve and learn the art of lifting. The group varies in skill level and experience and includes those just learning to lift, those that may be training in preparation for competitions, and those veteran, skilled lifters who have spent years lifting. Coach Drew Chilcott helps club members improve and learn the art of lifting.
Deb Lewis, age 63, has been a San Clemente Gym member for 24 years. She recently joined the Barbell Club. “I wanted to learn how to lift free weights and develop my strength- training to get stronger. Part of the class is also to focus on nutrition.”
JC is proud that the gym has become a one-stop-shop. Nutritionist Joseph Pruitt provides nutritional planning as well as strength and conditioning. The gym has partnered with Element Seven to offer nutritional meals ready-to-go, plus they have protein donuts.
Sporting a much-needed facelift the San Clemente Gym is ready to help members old and new make and keep their New Year’s resolutions.
For further information log onto