Professional athletes don’t just hit the treadmill for half an hour, knock out some bench presses and crunches, and head home like the average gym-goer. They train intensively, busting through an array of exercises and drills to improve agility, strength, balance and speed. But also unlike the average gym-goer, they have specialized training camps and expert coaches at their disposal. After retiring from an active 12-year NFL career, former Eagle Tra Thomas decided he wanted to bring the professional sports training experience and its health benefits to the everyday fitness enthusiast.
So, three months ago, Thomas opened 7 Deuce Sports in Medford, a 7,000-square-foot facility featuring a sandpit, indoor astroturf practice field, and state-of-the-art Kinesis equipment. Though one of the gym’s selling points is its offering of football position-specific technique training, women actually constitute the majority of clientele, ranging from dedicated athletes to middle-aged moms whose children also partake in Thomas’ sessions. They come for the intense fitness classes: Gridiron Fitness, G.F.X. (Gridiron Fitness Xtreme), and the Kinesis machines—which use resistance bands instead of weight to challenge muscles, and are the only Kinesis machines currently in the region and one of only a handful in the country.
According to Thomas, the Kinesis machines provide a total-body, strength-and-conditioning workout like no other because they allow you to move your muscles in any direction, unlike conventional strength training machines that only permit one path of motion. “Anything that your body can do, it can do on this machine,” says Thomas. “For the workouts, we do some plyometrics and explosive movements. The bands allow you to work up to 15 feet out from the piece of equipment with resistance, so we can do sprint work out from the machine with that extra weight. We can also do simulated golf swings and pitching motions.” The other day, 7DS even saw its first wheelchair-bound client get a Kinesis workout. How’s that for inspiration?
In addition to the Kinesis Class, many women also take on the Gridiron challenges: 60-minute bootcamp-style workouts that utilize every aspect of the facility. Sprints and change-of-direction drills on the sandpit call on the muscles to work overtime, practically guaranteeing toned legs and increased endurance. Sports-style drills on the turf, meanwhile, improve speed and agility.
No matter what class you dare to take, though, be prepared for a tough mentality from instructors shaped by years of experience in professional sports training.
“The way it works here is that if you show up, you either finish the workout or you ring the bell, and if you ring the bell, you have to leave. You can come back, but you have to leave for the day. If you’ve made the conscious decision to quit, we’re not going to beat a dead horse,” says Thomas. “All of our trainers push clients to do the same exercises they do themselves.”
This hard-core attitude seems to work, though. The gym has already gotten rave reviews from its clients of all ages (baby boomers regularly attend class), and it’s certainly not just because of the celebrity status of the coaching staff, which also includes trainer to the pros Chuck Morris.
“We’re there to work,” says Thomas, “and everyone has to pay attention to the program. Hard work and dedication are absolutely most important. We see definitely improvement in the fitness of our clients every week.” — Kathryn Siegel