Nestled in a corner of the Weston Corporate Park, lies a fitness center that is starting to make waves in the sports world. It is named FitSpeed Athletic Performance, and it was founded by Matt Gates and Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall.
FitSpeed isn’t a run-of-the-mill fitness center. You will not see hundreds of people looking to lose some weight or tone up. FitSpeed has athletes that are elite level, and athletes that are looking to become elite.
Gates is the day-to-day owner. He met Marshall at the University of Central Florida, and has been his personal trainer for over ten years. They discussed opening a center designed with the elite athlete in mind. In 2010, they found a physical location, and FitSpeed Athletic Performance was created.
Weston, located in Ft Lauderdale, is an important area to have the center. It is in the center of South Florida, so that athletes could come from Miami in the south, Palm Beach from the north, and all points in-between.
Juan Pierre, who played Major League Baseball from 2000-2013, was also a client. His 2,217 hits rank ahead of some great all-time hitters like Willie McCovey and Joe DiMaggio, and his 614 stolen bases rank 18th all-time. He is a longtime FitSpeed client.
Tennis star Vera Zvonareva is a two-time Grand Slam finalist and Olympic Bronze medalist. At one point she ranked No. 2 in the world (2010). She gives Gates high praise. “I’ve had trainers from Russia and all over Europe, but none of them compared to Matt. I reached No. 2 in the world using his techniques.”
Later Gates decided to open FitSpeed to youth and high school athletes of a wide variety of sports. The center’s programs tailor to youths from seven year olds to the professional athlete.
FitSpeed incorporates many different styles of training. They are up to date with any scientific advancements, and the trainers do their research to be sure that any of the methods they use are proven successful.
FitSpeed started to gain prominence last year when Marshall took rookie Alshon Jeffery under his wings. He brought him to Weston after the season ended and he and Matt worked their magic.
Jeffery flashed some of the potential big-receiver traits the Bears thought he had, but his rookie season was filled with inconsistencies and injuries. He reported to FitSpeed weighing 225 pounds and having an 11-12 body fat percentage. He left there weighing 219 pounds with 8% body fat.
What Jeffery did on the field the next season was extraordinary. He made 89 catches for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns. Many of those catches were in acrobatic fashion and now his star is rising in the NFL.
“I learned a lot [at FitSpeed], and I look forward to going back down there,” he said.
You can see a video of Marshall and Jeffery training at FitSpeed here.
This year, Marshall practically took the entire Bears’ squad to Florida. He was joined by Jay Cutler Martellus Bennett, Matt Forte, Kyle Long, Tim Jennings, Jordan Mills, Jermon Bushrod, Marquess Wilson and Michael Ford. After signing a free agent deal with the Bears, Ryan Mundy also joined his new teammates.
The teams who have players that are FitSpeed clients are ecstatic with Gates’ results.
“They love us,” he says about teams. “When we have one of their guys, they always show up back to camp in better shape than when they left.”
As previously mentioned, Chad Johnson trained at FitSpeed. Even though he hasn’t played football in two seasons, he kept in great shape, and recently signed with the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League. He hopes to play again in the NFL.
Marshall, for his part, is still going strong at age 30, thanks to FitSpeed.
With Gates’ constant change in training methods, an athlete can never outgrow the program. He has had two of his best seasons as a professional since getting traded to the Bears (218 catches, 2,803 yards, 23 touchdowns combined).
When you talk about FitSpeed, you always talk about elite. Steve Olson is one of the trainers there. He joined FitSpeed in October 2013. He has worked with college and professional athletes from around the country, but sees a difference where he is at now.
“The level of athletes we have is far greater than my previous jobs with the amount of pro guys. Even the high school athletes are extremely high level.”
It takes a special type of trainer to be able to handle a professional athlete in the morning, then handle seven year olds later in the same day.
Olson sums it up best.
“Young kids will do anything, but they don’t know how to do anything, so its all about teaching and constantly reinforcing technique. Pros can do anything you ask, but many times they want to know why first, whats the benefit to them for doing it. Takes a different mindset for both.”
Gates and Marshall are looking to expand their operations. In addition to expanding in South Florida, Gates says there has been interest in opening in cities like Chicago and Minneapolis. He insists they will not use a normal gym model, to continue doing what they are doing in Weston. They keep the number of athletes low so the trainers can give more personal training.
If you want your teams to play at an elite level, you might want to ask for a FitSpeed center open up near your team.