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Palm Beach Post (Florida)
Tucked into a corner of an industrial warehouse space, Steve Stoliker is perfecting his "gym-in-a-box philosophy" by training athletes and weekend warriors alike on millions of dollars worth of cutting-edge training and fitness equipment.
"Obviously South Florida is a saturated market," said Stoliker, owner of BTB Boxing and Human Performance Academy. "I wanted to find a niche where we could combine the sweet science of old school boxing with a real pro-style coach, and then take a futuristic approach with equipment and science."
The result, he said, is a 5,000 square-foot, protoype "boutique-style gym" that is part high-tech workout space and part boxing gym, with an additional 1,500-sqaure foot loft for more cardio-exercise. The gym caters to high school, college and pro athletes as well as non-athletes looking to rehab, train or just improve their overall wellness. The client roster also includes wounded military veterans and special education students.
That said, Stoliker's Academy looks like a gym. It sounds like a gym. But LA Fitness this is not, and, Stoliker said, that's the point.
"Everything in here is the opposite of a cookie-cutter environment," he said of his Boca Raton gym. "So much of the industry, 99 percent, is saturated by you conforming to a trainer's protocol."
For a serious athlete, Stoliker says his team's regimen prepares a custom-tailored approach. Say it's a baseball player. Stoliker and his coaches say they would mimic every movement needed for that player's position to strengthen, develop and increase not only muscle by fast twitch muscle fibers.
"If a person is in track-and-field, how do we make them more explosive?" he said. "Human performance gyms personally assess and then apply modalities specific to the individual."
And they do so, he added, based on genetic predisposition, blood types, physical limitations and the person's ultimate goals and time deadlines.
For weekend warrior athletes, Stoliker says the goal may be different but the assessment is just as personal.
The goal, he said, is to build on the person's strength, muscular endurance, speed, flexibility, balance, range of motion and recovery. That last one is key, Stoliker emphasized, the ability to wake up after a workout and being able to repeat it because you aren't sore, tight or in excessive pain is critical.
"I get a ton of doctor referrals here, chiropractic referrals," he said. "Because the whole genesis ... is to allow the person to come back every day and stimulate the same muscle group. One of the things I always talk about here is having movement skills that are not destructive, they are constructive."
That speaks to the high-end equipment that Stoliker said he has spent $3 million on. Bikes that gauge every aspect of training, from over compensation to distribution of work on muscles to make sure there is symmetrical workout - for athletes and non-athletes.
"Everything here is data-driven. There is no guesswork here," he said. "So many trainers are just guessing. 'You know what Mary, I think we can do five more' or 'Maybe tomorrow we'll try this.' The data doesn't lie."
His six coaches handle no more than 12 clients per day, Stoliker said. BTB's fee varies but a good estimate is between $85 to $120 based on at least twice a week visits.
He does allow an open-gym basic membership for a flat monthly rate of $200 that provides access to boxing classes and fitness equipment.
One of them is Gil Gastelum, who heads the boxing program. Gastelum is a former boxer who has trained other pros. But he echoed Stoliker's view that his boxing workout can be tailored to an average Joe, too.
"People used to say, 'No, I don't want to get hurt. I don't want to get hit,'" said Gastelum. "But it's about burning off calories, getting rid of stress. And maybe learn some ways to defend yourself."
Stoliker said what they don't want to do is to crowd the gym.
"I am the complete antithesis of traditional big box gyms, where it is all about numbers, and volume and saturating the floor," he said. "We are a private, super high-end boutique feel of having a gym, data-driven with physiologists and pro coaches ... for athletes and the average person on street."
He's been in that role, he said, noting his 23-year career in the fitness business world. He lists some of his previous stints including corporate and executive positions at Gold's Gyms, LA Fitness Ladies of America, where he said he oversaw a massive expansion program. That latter experience, he said, will power his franchising plans. Stoliker envisions adding more locations in Delray, Miami and Miami Beach by 2021. And then expanding nationally via franchises beginning in 2022.
All based, he said, on one basic function.
"My whole focus is human movement," Stoliker adds.
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