Gym Of The Month: Gridiron Training

Even the gym scene can sometimes get tainted by a weakness. Gridiron Training is the cure.

"The Gridiron" is a classic nickname for a football field. The white yardlines of a field resemble a metal grate placed across a hot fire to roast meats. As a game heats up, players feel the heat and the result is a red-hot explosion of athleticism.

Gridiron Training is a Boston area gym intent on training young and old athletes alike. Its crowd consists of high school and college athletes looking to turn up the heat on their training. The coaches are former athletes, pro and amateur, and its facilities mix roughneck weightlifting with spacious design and modern training practices. Wait for the snap, and explode out of your stance. It's game time!

Name of Gym: Gridiron Training LLC.
Name of Owner: Patrick Downey
Name of Person Completing This Form: Pat Downey
Address: 45 Cummings Park,
Woburn, MA 01801
Professional Athletes: 6
Collegiate Athletes: 46
High School: 450+
Youth: 75
Adults: 60
Since our inception in 2010 we have trained more than 1,100 youth, high school, and collegiate athletes.
Square Feet: 7,400
Phone: (781) 281-0002
Facebook: GridironTrainingLLC
Hours of Operation: Monday-Friday: 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday: 8 a.m.-10 a.m.
Number of Trainers on Staff: 6

Can you give us a description on what went into opening your awesome establishment?

Strength and conditioning have always been my true passion in life. When I was about 15 years old, I started going to this old school warehouse gym outside of Boston in Salem, Massachusetts called Iron Works. It was owned by a guy named Steve Pizzo. I loved this place. It, along with playing football, taught me everything I know in life. This place was a blue-collar gym. Every time I would walk in, I would smell the sweat and the chalk, hear the loud banging of weights on the floor. It was an incredible feeling. I taught myself how to work out by watching others and immediately it played a huge role in my life. It was such a self confidence builder for me.

I went from being a 6-foot-0, 195-pound kid my sophomore year in high school without a clue on how to lift a weight to a 6-foot-2, 275-pound freshman in college who broke the squat record on my college football team by squatting 235 pounds 60 times. Later, I bench pressed 540 pounds as a rookie in NFL Training Camp and Squatted 740 pounds for a 1 rep max.

I lived for working out my entire life, and despite having to take a few years in my life to finally find my calling, I know this is what God put me on this earth to do. I absolutely love waking up every day and having the opportunity to make a positive difference in some person's life through Gridiron Training.

Gridiron Training, LLC. started out of my old high school's 800 square foot, old weight room. I began working out a handful of kids and before I knew it, I was training more than 300 high school and collegiate athletes and adults after my first year. My right hand man Dave Bellmont, CSCS, who is our Director of Strength and Conditioning told me we needed to move and get a bigger place, so we rented space in a local CrossFit gym. After our second year in business we grew our client base to 517 and we knew it was time for us to buy our own place. Three years after we started, we now have this incredibly beautiful state-of-the-art Performance Training Center located right outside of Boston in Woburn, Mass.

What makes your gym different?

The difference is a combination of our intense atmosphere and science-based performance training. Most Gyms have one or the other. Some get too focused on the science and research, but cannot put their training methodologies into action to get the best results out of their clients. Because all of our coaches are former professional or high-level collegiate athletes, we pride ourselves on having both knowledge and experience. We are able to apply both sound training methodologies within an intense, motivating, and focused setting. When you walk into Gridiron Training, the energy in this place hits you right in the face: the music blasts, the sounds of weights and chains clang, and the sight of a 15-person adult strength and conditioning class competing in a head-to-head prowler sled competition gives you chills; I wanted to jump out of my skin.

There is a giant 30-yard strip of black turf with huge chrome skull and crossbones in the middle of it. Eight giant 9-foot Power Racks and Olympic platforms line up one-by-one down the side of the turf. Muscle toys everywhere, like giant 500-pound tractor tires, 14-foot log poles, sand bags, climbing ropes hanging from the 22-foot-high rafters and much more ...

On this particular day when we walked in, there were NFL players everywhere like Cincinnati Bengals Special Teams Pro Bowler Jeromy Miles, Philadelphia Eagles Fullback Emil Igwanegu, New York Jets Running Back John Griffin and more Getting After It in preparation for the upcoming NFL season. There were different people and athletes of all walks of life in this place including firefighters, police officers, stay-at-home moms, high school student athletes and more. Despite them all having different backgrounds and skill sets, they all shared one thing in common. They were all at Gridiron Training to Getting After It.

But the thing that stood out the most about this place was not all of the celebrity athletes, the motivating music, or the state-of-the-art equipment. It was the feeling and sense of "family" in this place. Everybody knew and respected one another no matter what occupation, color, creed, or gender. It was one big family of people encouraging and pushing one another beyond their limits to get better each and every day.

What sort of people do you attract into your gym?

In terms of athletes, we only attract people committed to their craft. Many of our athletes may not possess the highest skill level, but they are willing to outwork everyone else to be the best. They are hard-working, seriously committed adults.

In terms of adults, we attract people who strive to push themselves to their limits. They aren't satisfied with going to the gym and sitting on a bike or jogging on a treadmill for an hour. They want to be taken out of their comfort zone, and are not afraid to fail. We have molded our methodologies around variation to elicit growth, both physical strength and toughness, and mental resiliency.

What inspires people to train at your facility?

We are not a cookie cutter program or gym. We will not just post a workout on the wall and leave you to it. We get to know you as a person, who has different needs and wants than everyone else, and so we create workouts that will elicit the changes you are looking for, providing an intrapersonal aspect of training in a group setting, where there is accountability, competitions, encouragement, and other skills which help you develop as a human being. We are not just about the physical component but also the mental aspect.

What is MET-Rx Beast of the East?

It's our version of MET-Rx's World's Strongest Man Competition. It is a competition for high school football teams that we put on each year. It draws teams of 10 athletes from schools all around New England and pits them in head to head challenges with hardcore events like truck pushes, tug of war, Fingal's fingers, heavy prowler sled pushes, bench press, and tire flipping etc.

Can you tell us a little bit about your 2013 Gridiron Games?

It's an event hosted by MET-Rx athlete and two-time IFBB Figure Olympia Champion Nicole Wilkins. This year's event will feature adults from all over New England competing in events against one another. One event includes two rounds of 10 back squats, 10 kettlebell swings, 10 pull-ups, 10 box jumps, and 10 burpees.

Do you have any top trainers and why are they so good?

Yes, our Director of Strength and Conditioning Dave Bellmont CSCS, USAW is a former football all-America out of Merrimack College. He has his degree in sports medicine with a concentration in human performance. He worked at Harvard University prior to working at Gridiron. Dave is the heart and soul of Gridiron training; he is one of the most knowledgeable people I have ever been around in this industry, and he's still only 24 years old. His training methodologies and passion for this field set him apart. He has worked with all of our top level elite athletes. You can always find him on the floor working with athletes or developing new programs.

Dave is my right-hand man at Gridiron Training. He is in charge of designing all of the workout plans and training programs for all of our pro, collegiate, and high school athletes. Dave is one of the most passionate and innovative young people I have ever met and had the fortunate pleasure of working with in this industry. His work ethic and desire to get the most out of our athletes and clients is unparalleled. The research and science behind his training methodologies cater to the specific individual needs of our clients.

What special services do you provide?

We offer boxing classes with Dave the "Irish Hitman" Gleeson. He's a former New England Gold Glove winner who works with athletes and adults on boxing techniques and striking. He also works with up-and-coming boxers and MMA fighters.

Who are your most notable present and past members? On your website there are celebrities/athletes all over the place.

John Cena WWE Heavyweight Champion
Jeromy Miles, Pro Bowl Safety Cincinnati Bengals
Michael Cox, New York Giants RB
Corinne DiPietro, USA National Skeleton Team
Emil Igwenagu, Philadelphia Eagles FB/TE
Ken Thornby, Director of Tennis and Performance Training at New Balance

What was the hardest part about operating your gym?

Nothing. We love what we do and are grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in people's lives!

What makes you competitive over the other gym chains?

Our family/community atmosphere. We know everybody who walks through our doors. Also, structure and motivation: each one of our classes is led by one of our certified coaches, who will motivate you through a structured workout.

How have you been able to remain so successful and how do you hope to remain so?

Gridiron has grown and continues to be successful because we focus on providing our clients and athletes with an A+ service each and every day. We focus on the individual's needs.

Does your gym have any special charities/community outreach organizations you raise money/volunteer for?

Being from the Boston area, it was important to us to help those in need following the Boston Marathon bombings. Stoneham is only one town away and some of our members and coaches were close friends with Marc Furcarile and the Norden Brothers.