Weight rooms and gyms can be found in every corner of Fairfax County, but there’s one workout center where athletes go for more than a quick pump on the bench press.
Armed with cutting edge training equipment and an expansive facility, the nZone houses a fitness training company that is being trusted by more and more local athletes to prepare them for the rigors of their coming seasons.
Opened last November in a location off Lee Road in Chantilly, the nZone boasts three turf fields, two wood-floor basketball/volleyball courts, a fitness center and a multipurpose aerobics room. It’s a performance-training mecca that serves as headquarters for True Athlete Performance, a specialized training company that teaches professional and youth athletes how to maximize their speed, agility, quickness and strength.
Last year’s opening of the nZone has helped TrueAP gain a greater foothold in the Fairfax County area, where many high school coaches across all sports are pointing their athletes to TrueAP in the offseason. Athletes from Westfield, Chantilly, Oakton, Centreville, South County, Herndon, South Lakes and various Loudoun County schools are asking TrueAP to get them into shape so that coaches can focus more on strategy than physical fitness. Those athletes have access to the nZone facility, but many teams take advantage of a travel program that has TrueAP trainers travel to their schools to conduct group training there.
“No matter what kind of athlete it is, we’re trying to prep them for their season,” said Kris Johnson, vice president and co-owner of TrueAP. “We offer skills training, but the way we approach it to a lot of the high schools and youth organizations is that we want to prep them speed-, agility- and conditioning-wise so that they’re ready to go, and the coaches can focus on the skills and schemes and those kind of things, so we take that pressure off of them.”
Though they mainly work with youth athletes, TrueAP trainers also help professional athletes who are looking to make the most of training in the offseason. Washington Redskins running back Evan Royster, a former Westfield High star, frequents the facility in the summer, as does former Stone Bridge star Ed Wang, a current NFL free agent. Scottie Reynolds, a former Herndon High star now playing professional basketball in Italy, also uses the facility and has worked with Johnson since his freshman year of high school.
“We focus a great deal on form and technique, trying to make them more efficient,” said Rob Rose, president of TrueAP, which also has facilities in Loudoun County and Maryland. “[The pros are] already really, really good athletes, and they have a great work ethic. So coming in and working out with us teaches them to actually be able to focus a lot more on the form and technique. Running form, cutting form, jumping and landing form, which of course helps them become a lot more efficient on the field.”
Professional athletes don’t typically flock to companies very often, since most already have a litany of personal trainers at their disposal. Still, some athletes see TrueAP as a good way to gain that extra edge on competition.
Terry Kimener, a professional lacrosse player for the Chesapeake Bayhawks, is one such athlete. He partners up with Steven Brooks — a 2003 Oakton grad currently playing lacrosse for the Denver Outlaws — for strength and agility training with Johnson and Rose three to four times per week.
“Something we’re always looking for is someone to push us to compete at a high level, and that’s something that Rob and Kris both do,” Kimener said. “They definitely push us to improve our athleticism and get at our competitive nature. It’s kind of tough to do this stuff on our own, so to be able to come out here and train with them and push us to our limit, it’s great.”
In addition to the one-on-one guidance they get from TrueAP trainers, athletes take advantage of advanced equipment that you won’t see lying around your neighborhood gym. Their signature piece of equipment is the VertiMax, a machine designed to increase speed, vertical jump ability and overall athleticism. Athletes strapping into the device must overcome the load applied to both arms and legs while jumping straight up, an exercise that builds muscle while also improving jumping form.
“There’s a science behind training athletes,” Johnson said. “How to jump correctly, how to land correctly, how to run correctly and change directions. So a lot of general training companies don’t offer this athlete-specific stuff.”