In the thirties, when Walt Disney first started developing a theme park that would bear his name, he was met with great skepticism. So too was Christian Guzman’s vision doubted when, in February 2020, he announced plans to turn an old factory into a mega gym (aided by a $17 million business loan). Was he really expecting people to fly in from all over the world to . . . exercise? The skepticism was heard mostly in a Reddit channel called Gymsnark, in which members of the bodybuilding community say bitchy things to one another. Guzman’s dream was the subject of many posts, with titles such as “WTF is Alphaland?” and “Can someone explain to me what Alphaland is supposed to be? Does anyone think it will be successful?” For a while there, it seemed it wouldn’t be. There were pandemic-related construction delays, and Guzman was working so hard and sleeping so little—powered by the nonstop consumption of his proprietary energy drinks, 3D Energy—that his family wondered if they should take him to the hospital. But eventually it all came together. By the end of 2021, Alphaland was ready to open its doors. According to Guzman, 1,800 people came to work out on opening day and, perhaps more important, to document themselves doing so.
Alphaland isn’t a regular gym—it’s a cool gym. Well, it’s three cool gyms, plus an outdoor workout area with ramps for sprinting up and down, two basketball courts, a football field, an in-house chiropractor, a cafe, a pizza oven, a retail store, Alphalete’s corporate headquarters and its more than 250 employees, and a VIP lounge that has a full bar, a glam room and photo studio, and a Skee-Ball machine.
On the Saturday after the Summer Shredding Classic, there were more meatheads pumping through the halls of Alphaland than had been at the competition itself. Guzman told me they were expecting four thousand, and while I’m not sure he achieved that, I do know I had to weave in and out among many young, buff, and good-looking people during my tour of the facility. The line to buy day passes was steady, and sometimes out the door. I don’t think I saw any unoccupied equipment, and every mirrored nook and cranny—of which there were several, as this is, after all, a space designed to support content production—was taken up by someone trying to capture a 360-degree view of their musculature in a single photograph.