In this three-part series, get to know Coach Mike Burgener, who runs the CrossFit Weightlifting Trainer Course and coached the American Women’s Junior National Team for about a decade beginning in the mid-’90s. He’s also the man behind Mike’s Gym, a two-car garage in Bonsall, California, that serves as a USA Weightlifting Regional Training Center.
In the final episode, we learn how Burgener’s now-famous garage gym came to be.
“When I moved to Rancho Buena Vista High School, I had a gym that was state of the art,” Burgener says. “I had Olympic lifts, I had bumper plates, they gave me a budget that was just out of sight, and I got to run the whole thing and design the whole thing.”
Burgener often stayed at the school from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. because students wanted to lift. His wife made him realize he was missing out on other parts of his life.
“The boss and I talked,” Burgener says, referring to his wife, “and she says, ‘You’re not seeing your kids grow up.’ She says, ‘I want you to build a gym in the garage.’ And that’s the way it started.”
The gym started small, and many years later much of the original equipment is still being used.
“We started out with one platform,” Burgener says. “And about a month later we had two platforms. A month later we had three platforms. And a month later we had four platforms. These platforms have been in this garage since 1986.”
From the shoes to the bumper plates to the barbells, every piece of equipment has a story behind it. Coach B. reminisces as he tours his gym and offers some advice for those looking to start their own: “You can have all the crap that you want but when I built this gym, the first things that I bought were bars and bumpers. Ya gotta have ’em. Bars, bumpers and platforms—in that order—’cause there’s a lot of stuff that I can do with that.”
Video by Jordan Gravatt.
Additional reading: “The Garage Gym” by Greg Glassman, published Sept. 1, 2002.