Nearly four years ago, Real Results was tagged for the first time. The urban gym, located on the western edge of the 18b Arts District, was vandalized not long after it opened its doors in April 2012.
Other businesses might have painted the walls back to neutral, installed security cameras. But the Real Results crew—Branden Collinsworth and Paul Rosenberg—had an epiphany.
“Branden and I both like graffiti art,” says Rosenberg. “So, we thought, why not just cover the building? More than likely, it’s not going to get tagged if there’s good quality artwork on there.”
That’s how a gym became a sort of a gallery, too. Today, every inch of Real Results’ outer walls—and, increasingly, its inner walls—are covered with evocative murals by a who’s-who of local street art, including works by Astro, Guma, King Ruckus, Saveme, SOA Crew and Ras One.
Rosenberg says that the mixture of artists and styles was unintentional, at first.
“I don’t know why we used different artists. We could have used the same one, but you know those guys are busy,” says Rosenberg. “But opportunities and relationships develop, and we just took advantage of that. Now, I like that we have different artists, as opposed to using one for the whole building. I like the different styles.”
Curiously, the different styles compliment each other—perhaps because they share a common theme: Every vibrant color and jagged line directly mirrors what’s happening inside Real Results. The murals express optimistic struggle, constant motion and a love of the hip-hop beats that are almost constantly playing at the gym.
In fact, the latest mural the Real Results commissioned even pays direct homage to hip-hop and the passion it inspires. Ras One’s homage to hip-hop royalty, on the gym’s north wall, includes portraits of Rock Steady Crew’s Prince Ken Swift and Floor Rock, graffiti writer Rammellzee and legendary DJ Afrika Bambaata.
And while Ras seems a bit reluctant to talk about the work—“I’m not done yet; I’ve got one other caricature coming,” he says—he proudly points out the reverse acronym he got from “Results”: “Revolution Evolves Starting Under Life’s True Struggles.”
It’s a sentiment that could have been expressed by Muhammad Ali, whose portrait—created by King Ruckus—is just around the corner from Ras One’s mural, on the gym’s western face. It’s one of Real Results’ first murals: Rosenberg and Ruckus, both huge boxing fans, agreed that the gym needed the spirit of The Greatest.
“Before this mural, I had a realism of Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali up there, but it was run-of-the-mill,” says Ruckus. He replaced it with a dynamic portrait of Ali in mid-boast, painted in oranges and reds so hot that they appear to be melting before your eyes. “WE GONE SHAKE UP THE WORLD,” the mural declares.
All told, the walls of Real Results are about action, straight up. They make you want to do something. It’s nearly impossible to look at these murals without at least entertaining the idea of dropping what you’re doing and jumping some rope and lifting some weights. It’s a brilliant commercial strategy, but that’s not why Real Results asked street artists to paint its walls.
“We just like the art,” says Rosenberg, grinning.
PHOTO BY GEOFF CARTER