Powerlifting friendly gyms series: Iron Arena

Iron Arena Powerlifting & Performance, housed within a century-old converted "Wonder Bread" Factory, is Hoboken NJ's only training facility equipped to surpass the needs of Competitive Powerlifters and Performance Athletes. We have interviewed Jason Manenkoff to learn some more about it. 

PLW - When was Iron Arena founded? Was it powerlifting friendly since the beginning or was it gradually turned into a training center for the sport?

Iron Arena was founded in 2012. It has always been my goal to create a training environment for my clients/lifters that is highly conducive to results. Iron Arena Powerlifting & Performance was developed to be the absolute best place to train in Northern NJ.

PLW - How did you get personally involved with PL? What is your relationship with the sport now ( coach, athlete, meet organizer, judge, etc) ?

I played both football and ran track at the collegiate level. I continued running track five years after college. I competed in my first official powerlifting contest in 2007 while still sprinting/long jumping. In 2010 I stopped running track and committed exclusively to the sport of powerlifting. Aside from competing (since 2007 I’ve competed in 29 contests) and coaching I also hold credentials as a referee with the United States Powerlifting Association (USPA) and serve as the State Chairman of New Jersey.

PLW - What makes your powerlifting friendly gym different from other gyms in your area?

The unofficial nickname of the town, Hoboken, where I currently reside, is “Mile Square City,” although it actually covers an area of two square miles when including the underwater parts of the Hudson River, and it's the birthplace of two American icons: Baseball and Frank Sinatra. In this town there are 10 health clubs, which means there is about one gym every 3 blocks. The 10 health clubs I mentioned do not include the 3 Crossfit gyms, 3 wanna be Crossfit “HIT Bootcamp style” gyms, two commercial boxing/UFC clubs and a rowing studio. None of these “places” are private strength training facilities dedicated to the barbell lifts and certainly none train competitive powerlifters. At Iron Arena we “Train”. TRAINING not to be confused with
merely "working out", is the process by which a specific physical adaptation is obtained over a course of time. Simply put, Training is the formulation and implementation of an exercise and diet plan intended to achieve a specific goal. In contrast, most of the gyms in my area are designed for or focus on “exercise”.

PLW - In your opinion, does being powerlifting-friendly conflict with providing general strength, conditioning and fitness service to the community?

No. Although a large part of the demographic that walks through my doors are those that compete in the sport of powerlifting, I also train those with no interest in competing but still value the importance of strength training.

PLW - How does your general public react to powerlifters, to powerlifting equipment and to powerlifting specific activities going on at your gym?

They admire my lifters dedication. It also changes their perception of what “strong” is and shows them what the human body is capable of. The equipment I have in my gym is the best money can by and is used by everyone.

PLW - In your opinion, can powerlifting provide helpful resources to the general public?

Absolutely. Aside from what I said above, the health benefits associated with spinal loading and the barbell lifts as one age are vital for maintaining health.

PLW - What else goes on in your gym?

We are a private strength training facility as opposed to operating as a public gym. Membership is by invitation only. We offer Personal Training, Small Group Training, and Online Programming with access to the facility. Due to limited space The Online Training with Access Membership is reserved primarily to those competing in Powerlifting and other strength/power sports and those interested must go through a selection process via information obtained from a specific questionnaire. Those who compete at an “Elite Level” and train under another coach or wish to train under their own programming are considered on a case-by-case basis. Iron Arena is 24 Hour key card access.

PLW - Please add whatever other information about your gym that could be interesting to our readers, stories, anecdotes, or anything you want to say.

We welcome out of area/state/country lifters visiting for short spans of time (traveling for
work, holidays, etc.) Additional info about Iron Arena Powerlifting & Performance may be found at www.Iron-Arena.com or by emailing Jason@Iron-Arena.com.