Tucked away in the corner of the lounge area of Powerhouse Gym is a small statue of a chiseled, masculine bodybuilder in mid-pose. Etched on the base is IFBB North American Overall Winner – 1993.
It is the only trophy Dave Fisher has kept from an illustrious bodybuilding career. Yet it does not represent the gym owner’s most prized accomplishment.
“I’m proud to say that I have never taken anything from the government,” Fisher stated. “With the exception of some assistance from friends, everything I have accomplished I have done on my own.”
Twenty years ago, Fisher left his home in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with little more than the clothes on his back. His destination was Venice Beach, where he could train with fellow bodybuilders and learn from the best.
“I was sleeping on lifeguard stands in Venice,” Fisher recalled. “My buddy and I had to keep one step ahead of authorities. Eventually we found jobs, got an apartment and moved up from there.”
Fisher obtained his Green Card and became a United States citizen five years ago. He went through the L.A. County Sheriff’s Academy and was hired but a torn hamstring put an end to that career.
“They asked me back six months later, but I wasn’t sure it was for me,” Fisher said. “The hamstring probably wouldn’t hold up to all of the running they do so I decided to start my own gym.”
On July 5, 2010, Fisher opened Powerhouse Gym in Torrance near the intersection of Sepulveda Boulevard and Palos Verdes Boulevard.
“I’ve been in bodybuilding most of my life and I think deep down every bodybuilder dreams to own their own gym,” the 49-year-old Fisher said.
It took a couple of years for Fisher to find the right location for his gym, acquire funding and the necessary permits. He admits many people questioned his move, asking him why he didn’t wait until the economy improved.
“There’s never a perfect time to open a business,” Fisher said. “I said, ‘The time is now.’ If you wait until it’s absolutely right, you’ll never do it.”
Fisher said the first year was very hard with seven-day, 100-hour weeks, but now he is able to take weekends off which he enjoys spending with his girlfriend on mountain climbing excursions in the Sierras, particularly Mt. Whitney.
Fisher no longer trains for bodybuilding competitions when he would pack on 250 pounds of rippled muscle on his 5-foor-7 frame.
“You can’t be a bodybuilder forever, just look at Arnold Schwarzenegger,” Fisher explained. “If I was heavy, I wouldn’t be able to carry a 50-pound backpack up and down a mountain.”
Despite his bodybuilding background, Fisher has tailored Powerhouse Gym to cater to the entire community, including athletes from the many high schools in close proximity to the facility. The membership gym offers free weights and cardio equipment for a daily or monthly fee.
Fisher supports numerous high school athletic programs and is involved with fundraisers such as Toys for Tots and Wounded Warriors.
Redondo Union High School senior Andy Humphrey played football for the Sea Hawks last fall and continues to work out at Powerhouse Gym three times a week.
“I like it because it’s close to my house,” Humphrey said after finishing his reps on the bench press. “It’s got everything I need. There were a lot of things I couldn’t do before but they’ve really helped me here.”
It’s not uncommon for a power lifter using a chalk bowl and platform for dead lifts to be next to a 70-year-old woman taking instructions from a trainer while a teenager is running on a treadmill a few feet away.
“People told me that if you open up a small gym, you’ll get swallowed up by the big guy,” Fisher stated. “But I said there’s always a need for a small gym. People like small gyms but it has to be done right. We don’t have all the amenities the large gyms do such as cardio classes and theme rooms and hot tubs and towel service. But we have a really great atmosphere in a small friendly environment.”
Unlike larger gyms and fitness clubs, trainers pay rent to Powerhouse Gym allowing them to instruct their clients as they see fit.
“My philosophy is that I treat each member like they’re my only member,” Fisher said. “I know my members names. People are serious about their training. Don’t come to my gym to socialize and hang out. People come here, do their stuff, and leave without having to pay for parking. It’s a serious atmosphere, yet friendly. I don’t allow attitudes. I have gotten rid of a few attitudes. I won’t tolerate it. I won’t allow teenagers to come in with their pants hanging down below their ass. Pull ‘em up or get out. Put the weights back. Follow the rules. Respect my gym and you’ll get respect from me.”
From the front door to the bathroom, Fisher takes pride in the cleanliness of his facility.
“Our bathroom is unlike any bathroom in any gym,” Fisher boasts. “We do a lot of little things to make the gym special. No one will ever say we have a dirty gym. People may not notice a clean gym, but they will a dirty gym.”
Along with winning some of the most prestigious bodybuilding awards in his weight class, Fisher has been featured on the covers and inside pages in many of the top Fitness and Body Building magazines providing training tips and personal interviews.
Fisher has been on the cover of Ironman magazine four times and, in return, allows the magazine to use Powerhouse Gym for many of its photo shoots.
“Someday I’d like to write a book on my experiences,” Fisher said, adding one more project for the self-made man. ER
Powerhouse Gym is located at 22216 Palos Verdes Blvd., Torrance and is open Mon-Thu 6 a.m. – 9p.m.; Fri. 6 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. 424-206-1596.