The mind-body connection

Lemuel Adams

Photo By Steven Chea

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Lemuel Adams played football on a full athletic scholarship at Washington State University from 1999 to 2000. When it came time to get drafted into the National Football League, however, the San Jose, Calif., native didn’t fare as well, training with the San Francisco 49ers for only a couple weeks. So, Adams turned to arena football—an indoor version of the sport usually played on plastic turf. That’s where he came up with the idea to train other athletes indoors, using a combination of speed and agility exercises to build stamina and skill. Adams started his business in the two-car garage of the house he shares with his wife and five kids two-and-a-half years ago, and earlier this year, he officially launched Game-Fit Fitness Training Depot (1201 Del Paso Boulevard), a sprawling indoor athletic center that’s home to clients of all ages and fitness levels. It’s not just about the body, however: Game-Fit also offers tutoring in college-test prep and math and English for high-school athletes. Adams, who hopes to expand the business into a statewide franchise, talked to SN&R about parental involvement, personal fitness and why athletic excellence is nothing without academic achievement.

How did you come up with the idea for Game-Fit?

I came out in the NFL draft but didn’t get signed. I was trying to get picked up as a free agent and started working out with the 49ers but got released after two weeks and wondered what I was going to do. That’s when I started playing arena football in Mobile, Alabama. I played there from 2001 to 2010, and that’s where I got the idea of [working out on] turf. … I started training [adults], and one of the parents came to me and said, “Hey—can you work with my kid?” I said, “Absolutely,” and laid some turf in my garage. It started growing, and then my garage got too small.

What kind of training do you offer?

We focus on speed and agility and conditioning. We do explosion-type drills. We do very [little] weight training. This is more of an athletic style with parachute training and resistance bands.

Do you work primarily with students?

We do NFL draft prep, too. We have [former Grant Union High School students] C.J. Wallace and [Shaquille] Thompson. A lot of those players will come here during the season and in the off-season to train. I worked with them in the past, even before I had this facility. We also work with athletes of all ages, from ages 7 and up. I work with a young lady who is 8 years old and runs track. I also do personal training—I’m certified in speed and agility. My oldest [client] is 67.

Why did you decide to incorporate tutoring into your training program?

The bulk of my clients are student athletes from [area high schools]. The main thing for us is that we want to develop the kids from an athletic standpoint, but without the academics, it doesn’t work. I didn’t get that until I went to Washington State when they partnered you up with a tutor to make sure you were eligible to play. I thought, “Wouldn’t have this been nice when I was growing up?” I would have had a whole different mindset about academics.

How do you tailor the training?

We talk about past history and what you’re looking to accomplish as a player. Are you doing this to be fit, or are you trying to develop as an athlete? Are you being recruited now? What’s your process? Are your coaches helping you get seen? If not, then let’s … film you on drills … and we’ll critique it.

How do the parents respond to this?

Well, that’s why I brought it to this area. A lot of parents [here] aren’t involved; they don’t know anything from an academic standpoint. I’ll ask a kid, “So tell me what do your parents think about your grades?” and [I’ll learn] that they don’t care. Some of the parents are like, “Absolutely, this is great.” But some parents, they don’t show up; half of them can’t get here.

How do you deal with the challenge of working with a student whose parent is not as involved?

That’s when I’m constantly calling. I don’t care if the student is a high-end athlete or someone who is just struggling academically and trying to play sports. To me, it doesn’t matter. My goal is not for you to make the NFL or make a college team. My goal is for you to graduate from high school and maybe have an opportunity to get a free education.

Is it difficult to get that message across to a teenager?

It is, it is. It’s work, but you stay on it, you stay committed. My parents were superinvolved in my academics … but there were times when I had friends who didn’t have the same structure but they had the work ethic, regardless of whether their parents were involved or not. They saw the big picture.

Are you ever a couch potato?

I’m not. I work out every day. I do yoga. My kids work out, too. Everyone does yoga, everyone has great eating habits, everyone is in shape—they know the importance.

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