El Segundo’s Gate 14 Takes Fitness to the Next Level by Knocking Down Mental Hurdles, Offering Intense Training Sessions and Providing a Strong Sense of Community
Mind over matter.
- Written byAmber Klinck
- Photographed byShane O'Donnell
It can be intimidating walking into a new gym or fitness studio. Maybe you’re not quite familiar with the equipment, you don’t know your way around the space. And if you’ve been assured ahead of time that the next hour will be the toughest part of your day, you might be doubting your capabilities.
All of those pesky anxieties were rearing their ugly heads at the start of a midweek group session at El Segundo’s Gate 14 when something remarkable happened: People actually walked up and said hello to the new kid in class.
“The ingredients for every gym are the same,” explains Gate 14 cofounder Alfred (Al) Brown. “You’ve got resistance, intensity, duration. There are only so many different ways you can move your body. What we try to do here is completely remove the aspects of other gyms that, to me, are uncomfortable. What we try to do is create community.”
Now despite this welcoming mentality, don’t expect the trainers at Gate 14 to go easy on you. “At about minute 26, you’re going to have a choice to back off or to push through,” Al notes. “And it’s going to be up to you. No one’s going to know if you’re doing that or not except you.”
“The workouts have nothing to do with your body. Everything that happens with your body is a side effect of what we’re trying to do psychologically every day: make this applicable to your life in bigger ways.”
Which is true. But just when you think you’re spent and somebody next to you says, ‘You’ve got this,’ that word community starts to mean something. And then the last thing you want to do is give up—especially on yourself.
Al didn’t have big plans to start a gym. His childhood buddy, business partner and cofounder of Gate 14 Ediz Basol gave him a nudge. Both South Bay natives, they found themselves back in the Beach Cities around the same time as each other. Al had been enrolled in a doctorate program at USC; Ediz had just moved back from San Francisco.
“I’ve always been known as the crazy workout person,” Al notes. So when he found an apartment near a massive hill—the top of which has a Chevron sign labeled Gate 14—he thought, “This is perfect. I can run this hill over and over again, and I can put my workout stuff in the garage. It’s going to be great.”
It wasn’t long before people started asking Al to join his workouts. It started with friends—some of whom were training for long-distance endurance goals—and then eventually curious bystanders looking for a challenge.
“When you go work out with Al, you realize you haven’t been working out very hard,” explains Ediz. “I’m not talking trash on anyone’s workout. As long as people are moving, it’s great. But what he’s able to pack into an hour is unlike anything I’ve ever done.”
It was clear Al had a training style people were drawn to. He was offering 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. training sessions in his garage five days a week. Ediz thought: Why not take it to the next level?
“No, I’m good,” Al told Ediz when he suggested they open a gym. And Ediz replied, “Well, you already opened a gym, so why don’t we just do it for real?”
Gate 14 celebrated its El Segundo grand opening in 2018. Things were going well, and the guys were excited because they’d found their stride. And then COVID-19 hit. They found creative ways to keep their members moving, like offering training sessions outdoors.
“We had to start adapting,” Al says, “and I think what we did for our community was really important.”
Today the Gate 14 team is back to business as usual with their focus on the principles that drive them. “The workouts have nothing to do with your body. Everything that happens with your body is a side effect of what we’re trying to do psychologically every day: make this applicable to your life in bigger ways,” Al says. “If this can be the toughest part of your day, great. Then the rest of your day is going to be easy.”
In a society obsessed with pleasure, convenience and ease, the Gate 14 team asks its members to get out of their comfort zone for a while. “Life is hard; people are going through stuff all the time,” Ediz says. “But if you can have that same mentality of just taking the first step and knowing it’s going to be uncomfortable—whether it’s your inbox or things you’ve got going on with your kids—that same mentality is helpful across the board for everyday life.”
But hey, if you’re just looking to get faster, stronger, leaner, you’d be hard-pressed to find a workout that pushes you more. “If we can get people to shift their mindset, then all the physical stuff follows suit,” Ediz notes. “Change your mind, and you can change your body.”