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New weightlifting gym a ‘breath of fresh air’

by Joe Buttweiler –

MASON CITY — Jake Prazak knows that walking into a weight-lifting gym can be a bit intimidating.

So he and his partner, John Berding, make it their job to help everyone feel comfortable at their new gym, North Iowa Powerlifting and Fitness Center, 2324 S. Federal Ave.

The gym opened in early February, built mainly by them and their friends, as a place where serious power-lifters and bodybuilders can access all the equipment and training they need.

The center is open to the public, and the owners are happy to welcome newcomers and make sure they’re comfortable and getting off to a good start.

New members get a half hour of free personal training time tailored to their fitness goals. For some it may be orientation to the equipment and tips on their lifting techniques and training regimen. Others may know the equipment well and just want to get after it. And if anyone has questions about nutrition supplements, the information and products are available.

Prazak said he and Berding decided to open the gym “because we could not get everything accomplished anywhere else in the sport we compete in. It was either travel around or we build our own place.”

The two have been powerlifting together for 12 years, but each began lifting in grade school, said Prazak, who by day is an electrical designer for Winnebago Industries. Berding owns John’s Small Engine Repair.

“We have every aspect of fitness here,” Prazak said. “We cover women’s fitness, bodybuilding, powerlifting, cardiac and all the nutritional side.”

The 5,100-square-foot fitness center features Hammer Strength plate-loaded and Magnum pin-select equipment, a women’s training circuit, cardiac equipment, personal training, and supplements.

“I love it. Out of 10 I’d say it’s a 10,” said bodybuilder Brad Mayo, who works out at the center in preparation for a competition in September.

“It has good equipment, good people. Jake and John are really knowledgeable about supplements. If there’s someone new and they don’t understand a certain machine, they’ll take the time to show them how it works so they can use it correctly.”

Fitness center member Chad Arndt said it was “a long time before they built this place that I’ve been a member of a gym, other than the Y.” He said there’s plenty of room, new equipment, and people dedicated to training. “There’s not a lot of goofing off and running around.”

He said his wife, Janna, and other women enjoy working out at the center because the women’s equipment is set up in a way “so they can carry on a conversation while working out.”

“It’s a pretty nice place – clean, a lot of natural daylight from the windows. It’s kind of a breath of fresh air here. And the supplements are cheaper, too. All these guys are so dedicated and educated.”


North Iowa Powerlifting and Fitness Center is open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.
Day passes cost $3. Adult individual memberships cost $30 per month, $85 for three months, $150 for six months or $250 per year. Family memberships are $150 a month, $220 for six months or $350 per year. Passes for students 14-22 are $150 a year.
For more information, call 641-201-1035 or e-mail Find the gym on Facebook at N.I.P and Fitness Center.

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