Our History

Our History

The name Wareing has been synonymous with physical fitness for almost 100 years. As early as 1923, Bill Wareing, Sr. began coaching group training and gained a reputation as a physical culturist. Living in New York City he trained with people like Charles Atlas and held the world record for the single arm dumbbell press at 127 pounds – not bad for a guy who weighed 150 pounds. His son, John Wareing, took over the family business in 1960 when he opened the very first Wareing’s Gym on Laskin Road in Virginia Beach. The legendary John Wareing touched the lives of thousands of people during his life. He was a fitness guru, war hero, strongman, television personality, police officer, comedian and a driving force in the fitness industry in Virginia Beach. While tough, charismatic and gregarious, he was extremely devoted to his friends and family. Tales of his “crazy” personality are still shared by many of the gym’s long-tenured members. He had such an impact on this city, he was immortalized in bronze and stands watch over the oceanfront at 19th street.


John Wareing getting a lift from his four sons (top left). Bronze statue of John Wareing looking over the oceanfront (top right). An old group photo of staff and members. (bottom)


In 1978, John’s four sons took over operation of the gym and focused on providing a facility for people searching for a healthier life. The Wareing brothers strived to continue the culture of fitness started by their grandfather at a time when bodybuilding and aerobics were undergoing an explosion in popularity: “When our father turned the gym over to us, we maintained the commitment to family traditions and beliefs in exercise. That means dedication and hard work. Show up, again and again.

Throughout the 80’s, 90’s and into the 2000’s, John’s sons expanded not only the size of the gym but also the Wareing’s reputation as the local leader in fitness. They have now passed the torch to the next generation of Wareing’s so that they can tackle the current health epidemics facing this country – childhood obesity, heart disease and the increase of sedentary lifestyles just to name a few.

Over the last three decades, the fitness industry has seen many fads come and go. The reason Wareing’s Gym has persevered through many tumultuous years is that we have always been about working hard, getting results, building relationships and sharing a few good laughs. There is nothing more important to us than family, and as a new member, you are now a part of our family – Welcome Home!