The mecca of Texas bodybuilding lies in Arlington, Texas at the world famous “Metroflex Gym." Metroflex is a hardcore gym that caters to bodybuilding competitors and to this day has changed very little since opening in the late 1980s.The gym has been made famous by eight time Mr. Olympia, Ronnie Coleman—one of the many reasons competitors and bodybuilding enthusiasts travel from all over the world to train at this gym.
The gym is located in a warehouse district of Arlington surrounded by car garages and construction companies, making it easy to miss when you drive by. Metroflex is a no frills type of gym, meaning no air conditioning. In the peak summer months the interior of the gym reaches triple digit temperatures, which is hardly a deterrent for its members. Its chorus is the sound of barbells hitting the ground, grunts, and of course hard rock always playing in the background. Between the original Metroflex and the Austin location, there is a special community of people who inhabit these spaces day after day, training for various competitions yet still maintaining a universal goal of having the best physique on stage. I was surprised by the sense of the community, especially with an individualized sport that is often criticized by those who do not identify with this subculture.
This is a sample of my project "American Standard". The body of work examines and celebrates the individuals who make up the Central Texas, North Texas, and Colorado community of bodybuilders. My goal for this work was to explore the process and commonality between the members by using the stand alone portraits to present a softer more tranquil version of these competitors, in hopes to gain a more well rounded perspective of the sport. For them it's not only a sport or hobby, it is something that grounds their day to day lives.
Matthew Defeo · MatthewDefeo.com · Photo@MatthewDefeo.com · 214.662.7373