Joe is a veteran U.S. Navy Officer and current Certified Personal Trainer living in San Diego, CA.
I first learned of Joe and Illuminati Iron on Instagram, where he posts some great motivational content and some seriously impressive feats of strength & endurance.
His garage gym is beautiful, well laid out, and organized… and did I mention San Diego!? Year-round open-door lifting!
Join me as we step into “Illuminati Iron.”
Joe's journey began in 2015 after graduating from the United States Naval Academy. He was commissioned as an officer and stationed in San Diego, where he soon after began searching for a home. The one stipulation he had to his real estate agent: “MY FUTURE HOUSE NEEDS A GARAGE!” After finding some great homes, without garages, Joe's agent asked if there was any way he would make an exception.
Being the guy that he is, Joe stood his ground and made it clear that a garage was absolutely necessary… he was going to fulfill a dream. Like many of us, he was tired of paying monthly membership dues to crowded gyms, driving, finding parking, etc… he wanted to invest in a space where he could train himself and his clients. What better place than a garage?! Especially in sunny San Diego!
After finding and closing on his first house, he had three months until he was being deployed overseas for eight months. He decided to use that time to prepare and understand exactly what he wanted and needed in his new gym space. The goal: have all the equipment on pallets in the garage when he returned from deployment.
And that's exactly what happened. Joe took all the necessary measurements of his gym ahead of his deployment and then starting researching and drawing layouts of his soon-to-be masterpiece. He scoured the internet reading reviews, blogs, Reddit posts, etc… just trying to learn about equipment.
With much help from the home gym community, Joe decided it was in his best interest to “buy once, cry once.” He saved as much money as he could on deployment to turn his dream gym into a reality.
After eight “grueling months” in the Middle East and Asia, Joe arrived back home where his friends and family were waiting for him on the pier. After a celebratory lunch, Joe made his way back home where… you guessed it… pallets and pallets of gym equipment were stacked in the garage. The game was on. He got the gym up and running in less than 24 hours… Illuminati Iron was officially born.
Since setting up his gym, Joe says his fitness and performance has improved at a much faster rate than when he belonged to a commercial gym. He's currently training to beat the world record for most pull-ups in 24 hours. I'm not betting against him! Go look at his Instagram and see for yourself… the dude is a badass.
Joe's motto of ‘Buy Once, Cry Once' meant he didn't hold back on his equipment choices. All of his equipment was purchased new from companies like Rogue Fitness, Elitefts, Body-Solid, Tuff Stuff, TRX, Onnit, etc… He didn't just stop there though… he laid down a very proper 3/8″ rolled rubber floor from Regupol. It not only looks beautiful, but it functions superbly. I also recently decided to install a rolled rubber floor and the difference between it and stall mats (still good!) is astounding. It's an investment to be sure, but a great one in my opinion. I actually solicited Joe's advice when going through the process myself. His Regupol flooring is virtually seamless, like rolled rubber should be, and it's adhered to his foundation with very sticky double-sided tape.
When I asked Joe what his favorite piece of equipment was, he responded with his Rogue RML-490 power rack with all the accessories. He went on to add that the versatility of the rack is incredible and that the quality is top-notch. He also stated that his Reverse Z Hyper from Rogue was high on the list. He's found that it's really helped strengthen his posterior chain and reducing his low back pain.
Let's have a closer look at Joe's setup piece-by-piece.
Rack and Bench
Joe's rack setup is simple and versatile. The Monster Lite line from Rogue has westside spacing on 3×3 uprights and they make a variety of attachments, several of which Joe owns.
- Rogue RML-490
- Rogue Monster Lite Matador
- Rogue X-43M Multi-Grip Crossmember
- Rogue Landmine
- Rogue Monster Lite Safety Straps
- Rogue Monster Lite J-Cups
- Rogue Wall Ball Target
- Rogue Adjustable Bench 2.0
Barbells and Plates
Joe's barbell lineup is well-rounded. He has a multi-purpose bar, a dedicated power bar, and a few specialty bars to round out his training. He has a great selection of Rogue black training plates too.
- Rogue Operator Bar
- Rogue Westside Power Bar 2.0
- Elitefts SS Yoke
- Titan Yukon Bar
- Rogue Curl Bar
- Rogue Mutt Bar (66 lbs)
- Rogue Black Training Plates (700+ lbs)
Dumbbells and Kettlebells
When it comes to dumbbells, urethane is one of the best you can buy… Joe didn't hold back with his 5-50lb set from Rogue.
Conditioning and Machines
Joe has a few nice conditioning/machine pieces, headlined by a selectorized functional trainer. He even has a dedicated T-Bar Row, which is a great piece, but not something you see often in a home gym.
- Tuff Stuff CXT Cable Trainer
- Rogue Reverse Z Hyper
- Rogue Echo Bike
- Rogue T-Bar Row
- Body-Solid Seated Calf Machine
No gym is complete without some miscellaneous items!
- Regupol 3/8″ Flooring
- Rogue Plyo Box
- Rogue Weight Tree
- Rogue Dumbbell Rack
- Rogue Deadlift Jack
- Rogue 9-Bar Holder
- Various Cable Attachments
- Arm Blaster
- Foam Rollers
- Jump Ropes
- Fit Map
Overall, I think Joe has a great-looking setup with all the essentials and then some. From the floor to the equipment, his selections were quality, and it shows. Joe's mission is to inspire and help others reach their health & fitness goals every single day.
I want to thank Joe for sharing his journey and his gym with the Garage Gym Lab 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,