October 4, 2006 - The owner of a future Marana sports training facility promises to make athletes faster, stronger and more explosive.
Velocity Sports Performance will open in March at Thornydale Road and Costco Drive, behind the BRAKEmax. The 26,400-square-foot facility will feature a 60-yard, four-lane Olympic track, a 40-yard gridiron and full-size basketball court.
"How do you teach an athlete to become faster and more powerful? How do you get someone who runs a 40-yard dash in 5.1 seconds down to 4.8? How do you teach a (6-feet, 8-inches tall) kid to leap?" said the branch owner Jeff Laos.
Velocity Sports coaches and trainers will answer all of these questions, said the Tucson-native, who purchased company franchise rights for all of Pima County.
The 52-year-old father of four played on the offensive line and special teams on Tucson High School's 1972 state championship football team. He has coached Ironwood Ridge High School's JV boys basketball team for three years and serves as an assistant coach for the varsity squad. His son Jarred plays basketball and volleyball at Mountain View High School.
"Great athletes aren't born - they're made," states one of Velocity Sports' slogans.
The training franchise has 77 locations across the country, including one in Scottsdale and one in Gilbert, owned by former Chicago Cubs pitcher Rich Baker. Former Denver Broncos wideout Ed McCaffrey, known for his tough, quiet style of play and blazing speed, co-owns a location in Colorado.
Laos hopes the Marana location will attract "development athletes," kids from the age of eight to 18 - some already on middle and high school teams and some looking to make the cut.
The $2.8 million training facility at first will employ only a handful of coaches, all required to have bachelor's degrees related to physical education or sports. Trainers must have national certification. Laos wants to hire former semi-pro or pro athletes to work on his staff.
Trainers will measure progress by testing clients on their jumping ability and performance in three-cone drills and sprints.
Customers cannot just come in for a workout. Training sessions, one-on-one coaching conferences and even dance lessons will come by appointment.
"You can go to Gold's Gym or wherever and lift weights, but there's no one there to show you," said Laos, the brother of former Marana Town Manager and Tucson City Manager Roy Loas. "Here, we will teach you Olympic lifts, like the clean and the snatch."
Well-known hip-hop dancer Anton Smith will teach some dance classes, Laos said.
Velocity Sports will mark the first of its kind in Tucson - a totally sports-performance-based training facility, said Ron Holland, owner of SWAT, a personal training business he started independently in 1991.
SWAT - which stands for Strength Wellness Athletic Training - now has two locations, one on La Cholla Boulevard and one on Speedway Boulevard.
Most of SWAT's clientele have reached their 40s. Women come in for personal training, and men - the majority former athletes - make use of the facilities, too. SWAT trains in small groups with six to eight people at a time.
"That's something no one else has," said Holland, a former military SWAT team member.
Velocity Sports will offer the same type of group sessions, Laos said.
According to several personal trainer quotes, the majority of sessions in Tucson cost between $50 and $100. Laos proposes Velocity Sports training sessions to range between $25 and $30 an hour, with most sessions lasting 90 minutes twice a week.
"We haven't factored in all the prices, but it will be a condensed, quality, affordable experience," said Laos, who retired after 33 years with a national chronic dialysis therapy company.
The owner plans to travel to the region's middle and high schools and promote the training facility before it opens in the spring. Laos also hopes to hit law enforcement agencies and fire departments, which historically provide a large client base for gyms and trainers.
"It's something I might open up to coaches," Marana High School Athletic Director Joe Hajek said. "The kids sometimes meet coaches at the YMCA, but they could go in and do some extra training."
Fitness options continue to grow in the Northwest, with Anytime Fitness planning to open three locations in coming months - one at Tangerine Road and First Avenue in Oro Valley and one on Silverbell Road in Continental Ranch. The chain also plans to open a facility in Pinal County.