The Nines fitness center

The Nines is a Starwood luxury hotel in downtown Portland. I had an underwhelming stay there, but was glad for the opportunity to check out their fitness center.

As hotels go, it had more than most. As gyms go, this could probably pass for a small Curves or Snap. There was a good-sized line of dumbbells (Hampton), a line of slightly oversized machines jammed together assembly-line style (TechnoGym), a small area for floorwork, and a comparatively large number of cardio machines - high-end LifeFitness treadmills - the wide-dash style, and stationary bikes and elliptical trainer.

Although the room was on the small side, the mirrored walls gave it a bigger feel, and the TV sets, magazines, towel supply and oh-so-Nines funky water dispenser make it feel more alive than most hotel fitness centers. I stopped in during evening and morning hours, and there were a few people in it each time.

Don't expect to get a big squat night in, and there aren't any bars, but you can get a decent maintenance work out here on your resistance training schedule, and if you're looking for a cardio machine session, you're all set.

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hawk in january

registration open for weightlifting virtual meet

Come join the fun! Registration for the next Olympic-style lifting Virtual Meet is now open. The meet is Feb. 6 - 8. The deadline for lifters to sign up is Monday January 26th at 10p.m. GMT. Also looking for judges.

So far, Switzerland, Canada and the U.S. are represented.

Virtual Meets are a terrific way to compete with the utmost of convenience and the home-court advantage, while lifting with folks from around the world. It's free and totally for fun, so give it a try!

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Portland Oregon Weightlifting

gThere aren't a ton of outlets for us Olympic-style weightlifters in the Pacific Northwest. There's the main hub through Ironworks and Tom Hirtz in Creswell, just south of Eugene, and Crossfit-based PDX Weightlifting Club based in Loprinzi's Gym in downtown Portland.

There's also Portland Oregon Weightlifting gym in Sherwood, in the Willamette Valley.

It's small, cozy (in a no-frills gym way), and has everything you need and nothing you don't - including bad attitude. Jordan Franco opened it in 2006. He's just 26, an athletically accomplished local guy who's investing in his community with his independent gym. He makes his bread and butter through training area students for improved sports performance.

Jordan's a friendly guy. He's created a warm yet serious training atmosphere. The gym is stocked with bars of various weights and lengths, bumper plates (mostly in kilos), a power rack, blocks, stands, plus dumbbells, metal plates, and even a few kettlebells. The platforms feel great, and so do the extra thick bumpers, which just make you itch to pinch grip train with them.

Alas, rates are high, but terms are flexible. There aren't any crowds to fight. Oh, one other perk - Franco has the best set of gym rules I've ever seen, including "No yawning," "No stinking up the joint" and "No looking for your ride to come get you." Violations can cost up to 50 push-ups.

Photos from POW

Related link
Oregon LWC 37 events and info

Elite Kettlebell Gym in Tigard, OR

Update: It appears this gym has closed and just the MMA portion remains open into 2011. The gym links now point to, which advertises the Skogg Gym at 312 NW 10TH Avenue in Portland, Oregon.

I attended the grand opening of the Elite Kettlebell Gym in Tigard, the first gym of its kind in Oregon. Think kettlebell culture meets MMA. It's the lovechild of Michael and Sue Skoggs from Wisconsin.

It's small but the space is used well. It's very spiffy, all fresh paint and new floormats. Lots of simple cool stuff for strength and conditioning - thick rope rings, thick ropes to pull, tires to flip and beat with bats, strongman logs, stability balls, and kettlebells galore.

The downstairs is where Next Level Martial Arts lives, with various bags, a few pieces of exercise equipment, and dark open space. They advertise UFC coaching. Although the MMA action is downstairs, the vibe is pervasive throughout - that'll either turn you on or off.

Back upstairs, looks like the kettlebell gym is geared for for classes and personalized training rather than being an open playground (Note: ETA Once you progress through the classes, you are permitted to use the gym freely). The class schedule is intense, running all day M - F. Rates are really high. Guess rent ain't cheap on 99W, but I can't see them surviving like this.

  • Day $25
  • Week $95
  • Ten sessions $200
  • Month $149
  • Quarterly $400
  • Annual $1500
They also house two Swedish Sports Masseuses, male and female. It's just south of the I-5 exit, next to the Regal cinema. Oh, and I have to warn you - parking sucks.

Thanks, guys!
ETA: Michael and Sue treated me and a friend to a free beginners' kettlebell class (my first opportunity to try kettlebells!). Enjoyed my visit. The dynamic swinging of the bells is a full-body work out, and gets the heart racing. I liked that the instruction was kept as the focus, and the music and timer were relatively unintrusive. Michael's manner was welcoming and not intimidating. Also, since I dragged in half-dead at the end of a 12-hour day, I liked that the work out atmosphere wasn't manic - my body was able to slide into it and I left feeling refreshed. We also had the pleasure of trying out some of the other toys afterward.

And here's a bit of gossip - they say they just signed the Portland LumberJax!