Spike TV’s newest reality series, ‘Gym Rescue‘, is set to debut this Sunday, August 10th, at 10 p.m. ET. Last week, Craig Marks — the glasses-tossing gym owner featured in the episode 1 sneak-preview — reached out to CagePotato.com to discuss how the new series inaccurately portrayed what went down when Randy Couture and Frank Shamrock “rescued” his gym. Marks claims that the show wound up destroying his business, but ‘Gym Rescue’ host Frank Shamrock maintains that he offered Craig valuable assistance, and that Craig’s lack of business expertise is what really sunk his operation. Join us as we present both Craig and Frank’s versions of the experience.
By Seth Falvo
“The entire ordeal was supposed to be fun and beneficial. It was to the production company. To us, it was a disaster and we have had to start our business over from scratch.”
This isn’t what Craig Marks — former owner of T3 Health & Fitness in Cooper City, Florida — thought he’d be writing about his experience when he allowed his struggling gym to be “rescued” as part of Spike TV’s newest reality series. He also didn’t anticipate thousands of dollars worth of fines, a nasty mold infestation that forced him to relocate to nearby Davie, and the loss of several longstanding clients in the process. When Marks reached out to me last week, his ensuing diatribe placed the blame for these and other struggles that his business has endured solely on Gym Rescue.
Needless to say, Gym Rescue host Frank Shamrock does not agree that the show has ruined T3 Health & Fitness. Rather, Shamrock painted Marks as a good-hearted person who is unfortunately trying to blame the reality series for his own shortcomings as a businessman. “Craig was a unique individual who reminds me a lot of what you see in the martial arts,” Shamrock said. “A guy who has a passion for helping other people, but doesn’t really have good business sense.”
What’s indisputable throughout all of this is that Craig Marks has recently filed for bankruptcy. While he’s looking to rebuild Xcelerate Training — the new name for his gym — he’s facing an uphill battle.
(Image courtesy of XcelerateTraining.com)
So how exactly was T3 Health & Fitness chosen to be featured on Gym Rescue in the first place? That would turn out to be a very good question. Craig Marks never gave me an answer. Frank Shamrock didn’t know, and I was told through Spike TV representative David Schwarz that Spike declined to comment on my story.
Marks never denied that his gym was in rough shape, though perhaps “rough shape” is putting things too lightly. While speaking about T3 Health & Fitness before Gym Rescue, Shamrock referred to the establishment as a “homemade deathtrap.” The facility suffered from shoddy design and dangerous equipment to the point where Shamrock recalled that an object actually fell from the ceiling and hit co-host Randy Couture as they first arrived; Couture was also unavailable for comment.
It’s at this point where Craig Marks swears that the series became more about making him look like a pushover and less about actually helping his struggling gym. Marks claims that nearly everything you’ll see when the episode premieres was scripted. “We were told how to dress, what to wear, what to say,” he remarked. “I was even told not to shave my hair, as I usually do every two days, because it would make me look ‘more vulnerable’ on camera.”
Interestingly enough, Marks insisted that the moment that the CagePotato.com staff thought was most likely to have been staged was actually the only non-scripted segment that made the episode — the moment where Marks shoves Frank Shamrock out of frustration. Marks claimed that the tension between himself and Shamrock was very real. “He was a narcissistic asshole from the get-go and [he] kept flirting with my wife,” said Marks, “even texting her after one night of shooting to come join him in the jacuzzi at his hotel.”
While Shamrock vehemently denied that he was ever flirting with Craig’s wife, he was not surprised that Marks had made unflattering comments about him. “My role was to go in there and call him on his craziness,” he told me, “and he didn’t take that very well.”
Shamrock also denied that the exposed piece of metal at the foot of the stairway shown during the episode preview was staged in any way by the producers. That something so potentially dangerous could be “either completely forgotten or overlooked” provoked Shamrock’s reaction.
The renovations made were supposed to save the facility. According to Marks, they did anything but. “All renovations made to the fitness studio were done without one single permit being pulled from the City of Cooper City,” he wrote. “Fines issued were in the thousands and left to the responsibility of the unknowing owners.”
“The owners had supplies and equipment stolen and thrown away. According to the chief building inspector, the renovation work was ‘unlike anything I’ve witnessed in 30 years on the job, horrible.’ The relocated stairway was not up to code and extremely dangerous. They converted the upstairs loft into an office and yoga area even though that space was zoned for storage only. The drywall removed and then put back was coated with mold.”
When all was said and done, Marks speculated that the fines he had to pay the City of Cooper City have financially set him back over one year. He cited ongoing issues with permitting and mold as the reason the gym was forced from its old location to a spot in nearby Davie, Florida in March.
The Chief Building Official Responds
Shortly after Marks wrote to me describing the renovations that Gym Rescue had made, I asked Mr. Ted Fowler if he would like to comment. Mr. Fowler is listed as the Chief Building Official of Cooper City on the city’s official website, and had been directly quoted by Marks when he wrote about the allegedly reckless repairs that the Gym Rescue crew had made to his facility. However, Mr. Fowler did not have any recollection in having made the comments attributed to him by Marks. He also wrote the following:
“A building permit was applied for and issued after the fact, all required inspections were obtained and the permit was closed.”
As of Today
As mentioned earlier, Craig Marks now runs his gym — Xcelerate Training — out of Davie, Florida. Marks claims that most of his clients have remained loyal to the gym throughout the ordeal, but several clients have stopped attending due to the rude treatment they received from the show’s producers. Marks also expressed disappointment over the fact that no one from Gym Rescue has checked in on the gym since filming ended.
When I mentioned this to Frank Shamrock, he replied that he doesn’t keep in contact with the gym owners featured on the show in order to maintain a level of professionalism and distance between himself and his clients. “At the end of the day,” he said, “we’re just helping other people help their communities.”
What the Future Holds for Gym Rescue
Frank Shamrock is optimistic that Spike TV will bring Gym Rescue back for another season. “Gyms are the second place besides the bar where people go to socialize,” he said. “Unfortunately, a lot of gym owners are wonderful people with great intentions, but clueless with how to run a business. That’s why the average gym owner is struggling.”
In the meantime, Shamrock did offer some valuable advice to prospective gym owners — the most important stages of opening a gym are preparation and planning. “Study your market. Does your community really want this? Do your potential clients really want this?” Since everyone has their own expectations of what a workout should be and what a gym should include, it is important to make sure that you’re offering something for any trainee who may attend your gym.
Also, despite the negative comments that Marks made about the show, Shamrock still considers working with struggling gym owners to be rewarding.
“Seeing a gym go from near failure to ‘they have a shot if they keep going’ — that’s why I’m doing this. Just for that payoff. If we make the gym a better place for the two hundred, three hundred members there, their lives are going to be better, they’re going to feel better and the community is going to be better.”
“Before that, I’m beating the heck out of people.”