HomeInspirationStep into Joe's 'Gray Matter Lab' Garage Gym

Step into Joe’s ‘Gray Matter Lab’ Garage Gym

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Meet Joe.

Joe has built one of the more impressive, organized, and efficient garage gyms that I’ve seen. His garage gym journey, as you’ll see below, is one that started from humble beginnings. Today, he’s the envy of the neighborhood.

Join me as we step into Joe’s ‘Gray Matter Lab.’

The Journey

Joe’s journey started like many of us garage gym owners. With a training style that mixed bodybuilding and powerlifting, he grew tired of not having access to quality equipment at the commercial gym. He was stuck fighting for the one squat rack and he was sick of having to be delicate on deadlifts. Finding an open bench was difficult, and trying new things like SSBs, chains, and weighted carries, was impossible.

In addition to the training issues, Joe’s real-life time commitments were ever-increasing. Not only was he in the process of getting a master’s degree and moving through a career in HR, but his wife was finishing up nursing school and working nights. When they had their daughter, driving to the gym was simply wasted time.

Can you relate to any of this?

I know I can.

So, Joe, being the intelligent and rational-minded person that he is, set out to do something about it. In 2014, a year after buying his house, he started his garage gym. His first purchase? A metal pipe, some clamps, and about 100 lbs of plates. Can you say ‘humble beginnings?’ Later that year he took advantage of Black Friday and bought a Rogue R3 power rack, a Rogue Ohio Bar, and a few accessories. Since then, he’s been accumulating equipment to create what is now version 4 of the Gray Matter Lab.

Gray Matter Lab Plates Garage Gym

In my opinion, Joe’s gym is a perfect example that you don’t need everything at once. Part of the garage gym journey is growing it over time. Firstly, not many of us have the money to throw down on an epic gym in one fell swoop. Secondly, new equipment is being introduced all the time. And thirdly, when you look at your gym that you’ve worked hard to create, there’s a sense of accomplishment knowing where you started.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how you get there… just that you do.

Gray Matter Lab Equipment

Joe has no shortage of awesome equipment. From specialty bars to DIY gear and everything in between. Let’s break down his impressive gym piece by piece:

Bars & Dumbbells

The Gray Matter Lab has an awesome assortment of bars, including numerous specialty bars from the likes of Edge Fitness and the Strength Shop. If you’re looking at either powerlifting or general bodybuilding, you’ll find some great stuff in this list. I particularly like the slim football bar from Edge, and I use it regularly in my own training.

Gray Matter Lab Bars Garage Gym

Rack, Bench, & Accessories

Joe has the R3 power rack, which I find to be the perfect rack for most garage gyms. It’s compact, strong as hell, and it looks nice too. There’s a reason the Westside Barbell guys use this rack. Joe also uses the Thompson Fat Pad, which is a great pad to create a better foundation on which to bench.

Joe Gray Matter Lab Garage Gym


Joe is the king of plate restoration. You can check out the video of how he beautifully restored these 100 lb plates here:

In addition to these, Joe also has:

  • 140 lbs of Again Faster Bumper Plates
  • 885 lbs of Vintage American Olympian Plates
  • Standard Weights for Loadable Mace
  • Maxicam Weight Tree
  • 400 lbs of Misc. Hundos

Machines and Cardio

The Powertec WB-LS headlines the machines in the Gray Matter Lab. What Joe has been able to do with the unit is really cool. For instance, he rigged up a belt squat (video below) and he also uses the machine for banded one-armed rows, among other things.

Misc. Equipment

What gym is complete without some awesome miscellaneous and accessory pieces? The organization in this gym is absolutely top-notch. The Wall Control pegboards  are a brilliant solution to cleaning up your gym and making your space much more efficient. Check out some of Joe’s remaining equipment below.

Joe Gray Matter Lab Garage Gym

Joe lives by the motto ‘better than yesterday,’ and I think we can all take something from that. When you look at his gym today and consider the fact it started with a metal pipe and a few plates, it’s easy to see he’s been living by his own motto.

I’ve personally really enjoyed following Joe’s journey. He puts out great and helpful content on his various channels, including DIY stuff, product reviews, etc… He’s truly passionate about garage gyms and training.

You can follow Joe on Instagram, YouTube, and on his blog.

I want to thank Joe for sharing his journey and list of equipment for the community!

If you would like the chance to be featured on the site, shoot me an email at Adam@garagegymlab.com.

The bar is loaded,


Adam Hensley
Adam Hensley
Adam is the founder of Garage Gym Lab. He serves as the chief content creator with over two decades of training experience. When he's not testing equipment and writing about all things fitness, Adam loves spending time with his wife and two children.

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