In Pursuit Of Perfection

Four high school football players are running suicide drills on the floor of the Strength & Conditioning Factory. Owners and
certified personal trainers J.D. Franklin and Joey Grippo are shouting constructive criticism and encouragement as the boys sweat out the arduous workout. Yet in the midst of it all, laughter emerges from the exhausted teenagers. They’re having fun even as they’re shaping muscle, burning fat, and readying their bodies to move to higher levels of athletic achievement.

A sentiment by coaching great Vince Lombardi decorates the wall and defines the company’s philosophy: “Relentlessly pursue perfection, because along the way you will find excellence.”

It’s that pursuit that brought Franklin and Grippo together. The two met while on staff at another local gym, and quickly discovered their mutual interest in opening their own gym and helping others, particularly young athletes, achieve their sports and fitness goals.

What’s your background in the fitness industry?

GRIPPO: I studied sports management and business in college. After graduation, I didn’t really find anything in that field so I went the personal training route. I started as a personal trainer and got more into management of gyms and have been doing that for the past six or seven years until we started this.

FRANKLIN: I’ve been at it a long time. I studied exercise science in college — kinesiology — and got into strength and conditioning about 17 years ago. I played semipro ball, did a lot of coaching, and found this is a way for me to give back. I look at it not just as doing personal training but being a youth strength specialist who helps kids train properly and reduce injuries.

How do you define your niche among the local gyms and fitness centers?

GRIPPO: I’d say the sports performance — working with middle school, high school and college athletes. Along with that, because we have the facility, we do personal training. What we do is try to give better value to our clients and always do group training. We still get the same effectiveness, but if you go to [another gym], it’s $75 an hour. Here we can drop that immensely and then have the camaraderie. They’re motivating each other, keeping each other accountable, pushing each other, and that’s how we like to train athletes as well as our other clients.

On top of that, everybody gets nutritional consulting. We don’t charge extra for that. We feel it’s too important for people to have to decide whether they want it or not based on price.

FRANKLIN: A good reason why individuals look and perform as they do is nutrition. It plays a huge role in their sleeping patterns, their day-to-day functions. It has to be part of it. If not, then the training is useless.

How to do you keep your clients motivated?

FRANKLIN: We challenge everybody. We want to make sure we know where they are when they start so they can visually see their progress. One of the things we’re going to start in 2015 is flexibility measurements. Some people will benefit from better flexibility, better mobility, more agility, obviously the loss of weight and body fat, gaining strength and speed, the ability to move better. We have to be able to show these things.

Do you consider it important to build personal relationships with your clients?

GRIPPO: Extremely important — especially the trust issue with parents. Having the youth here, we have to develop the relationship with the athlete, of course, but also the parents. While we’re helping the kids improve, we’re also keeping them from getting hurt, which is one of our goals as well.

FRANKLIN: That’s huge. For parents to come and drop their kids off and trust in us and believe we can reduce injuries, it’s big. And it feels good. You can’t put a price on that.

You opened your facility last April. What’s next for you?

GRIPPO: We actually need a bigger building. We’d like to be able to service more athletes and more groups. On a Monday night, our busiest night, it gets a little tight in here. Our goal is to help as many people as possible while we’re here. Expanding into a bigger facility and being able to serve more people, we will be able to attain that quicker.