Former Louisiana Tech University offensive lineman Preston Washington opened Velocity Sports (4115 S. Carrollton Ave., 861-5000; www.velocitysp.com) in October 2009 as an answer to a lack of resources for local athletes. "New Orleans produces a lot of athletes, and there was no training facility in the city," he says. "We saw a need in the market." Now Washington's coaches train athletes as young as 8 years old and work with Little League, high school and middle school teams and others, as well as individuals who just want to get fit. "We have trained a kid or adult for almost every sport," Washington says. "We even have ice hockey training."
The 17,000-square-foot gym features 25 pieces of cardio equipment such as treadmills and elliptical trainers, as well as circuit equipment and free weights. A separate training area, where adult fitness classes meet for boot-camp style workouts, includes a 60-yard track and 22 yards of indoor turf. Every personal trainer — or coach, in Velocity Sports' parlance — holds a degree in kinesiology or exercise science and is certified by such organizations as the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
"Our trainers are more technical than a personal trainer," Washington says. "Our slogan is 'Train like a pro,' so you are training the same way a pro athlete trains."
Even people whose aspirations are more cosmetic than athletic can benefit from training at Velocity Sports. "Some people just want to be in the best possible shape they can be in," Washington says. "People get bored with treadmills, and they get interested in other kinds of training. I think, as a whole, the fitness world has evolved."
Founded in 1999 by Loren Seagrave, a former head women's track and field coach at LSU, the Velocity Sports franchise is built around the premise that speed can be taught. "For many years, people were under the assumption that you were born with speed. Research shows you can actually create speed with training," Washington says. His own clients have improved their speed drastically, completing a 40-yard dash 5 to 6 percent faster over a 12-week training period, proving that speed and athleticism improves for both athletes and nonathletes who are willing to work hard.
"Some people are born talented, but 80 percent of the population is not (born fast)," Washington says. "But there are opportunities to learn better running mechanics to create a faster individual. Practice makes perfect."