If you've been to Ramona Fitness Center in the wee hours, you've probably noticed a group of buff men and toned women using the free weights and laughing raucously.
That's the Gymbos.
"We're old school," said unofficial Gymbos founder Tom Hedges. "We use free weights, none of those machines."
Hedges started the group a couple years ago with an exclusive Facebook page to boot. There's no "member's only jackets," but Hedges said you've got to pay your workout dues before you can even address the Gymbos.
"We have to know you for six weeks to talk to you," he told Patch. "We don't want to waste our breath—we don't have much left!"
Members of the casual workout group range in ages from 40 to 56, perhaps proving "old-school" gym methods work nicely to preserve strength and agility.
Hedges says his group of workout buddies are the "top dogs" in the gym each morning (yes, they're there everyday), and that the younger crowd doesn't quite appreciate what the Gymbos have going for them, with some of the younger gym goers even "intimidated" by the older group of workout junkies.
"The new school is a fad. Everybody migrates back to free weights," Hedges said. "People in the weight room are more religious about working out."
Gymbo member Kevin Price said the group is a close-knit group of friends, outside of Ramona Fitness Center and their private Facebook group.
"We have Gymbo events," Price said, noting that big holiday parties are usually reserved for gym rats.
Shelly Larvenz, proud female member of the Gymbos, said the men of the club keep her motivated and help teach her things she otherwise wouldn't know.
"For women, you come in here and think, 'what do I do with this?'" Larvenz said. "The guys keep me motivated—they make it fun."
Larvenz said a lot of people stop coming to the gym because it stops being fun, but with the Gymbos, the fun doesn't stop. It's what keeps her and the other members coming back every morning.
"They're not everyone's cup of tea," she said about the give-a-hard-time men. "But I like them."
Hedges couldn't say how many people are unofficially part of the club, but he said there are people involved who really keep the members happy.
Gaynell Hardesty, who runs the front desk at Ramona Fitness Center, "keeps this place spotless," according to Hedges. But it's not without some give and take.
"I always call them my bodyguards because they're here early in the parking lot when I open up," Hardesty said. "They're great guys."
Ramona Fitness Owner Peter San Nicolas, Hedges said, is also responsible for the existence of the Gymbos.
"Pete does a great job of maintaining the facility," Hedges said. "He keeps us coming back."
Price and Hedges, who used to compete in Mr. Olympian, said the Gymbos will continue doing what they do at RFC until they can't any longer—"which might be soon," joked Price.
"It's not just about coming to the gym—there's a whole nutrition thing," Price said. "We know it's not just about working out; we're the real deal."
Have you seen the Gymbos at Ramona Fitness Center throwing around their free weights?