Brian Smith has always been a self-described “gym rat.” After attending UNCW and becoming certified as a personal trainer, he worked at FirstHealth for a while before taking a sales position he didn’t exactly love.
“That was when you couldn’t make a lot of money as a trainer, so I had to get what I called a ‘real job,'” Smith said during a recent interview at Sports-Fit, the fitness training center in Tramway he’s owned with his wife Katina for the last several years. “I was doing cold calls, sales, that kind of thing, and it just wasn’t for me. About 2013, I said ‘I’m just gonna start something in my garage and see what happens.'”
Smith and his wife weren’t content to just open a gym and watch people come and go. They have loads of experience training individuals for specific purposes, and decided put it to work with the Sports-Fit concept – they would serve athletes, mainly young ones, but people of all ages, as they sought to improve their performance in a given sport.
“Our business with kids started in the garage, and it was just one or two,” Smith said. “But two turned into four, and then four turned into 10, and then 10 turned into 15.”
“We realized with the market here, there was nothing for kids, for students,” Katina Smith added. “We had to do something.”
That something was Sports-Fit, located at 2493 Jefferson Davis Highway, where the couple train dozens of people, many of them young athletes, each day. It’s far from monolithic – a young baseball player looking to become a better catcher will have a different program, for example, than a soccer player or a gymnast looking to improve their skills.
“There are certain things we do with everyone, like working on core strength, because that’s important in everything,” Brian Smith explained. “But we can also work with someone on replicating the motion they do for a dunk or a jump shot.”
And, undeniably, those athletes are seeing results on the field.
One example is former Southern Lee student Rich McCollum, who made waves in 2017 with his ability to kick seemingly-endless field goals and now is a member of the Western Carolina football squad.
“Rick was one of just two kids out of 50 to pass the strength and conditioning test, and the only kicker,” Brian Smith said. “His dad told me that we had him so ready to play football at the college level that he couldn’t believe it.”
Much of the training is done on Vertimax equipment, which allows for a variety of customizable workouts in varying sports. And Brian has trained athletes of all kinds, from baseball to football, from basketball to hockey.
And while young athletes account for a large part of the couple’s business, programs are available for people of any age, athlete or otherwise. The Smiths split their duties between kids and adults, Brian working with the former and Katina the latter. But regardless of who they’re working with, they hope that they can help give anyone the confidence they need to be successful.
“It’s like with Britton Buchanan, he had to work hard to do what he’s doing now,” Brian Smith said. “We think that we offer people a way to achieve their goals. A lot of it is just the mental confidence we think we can arm you with.”
For more information about Sports-Fit, visit their Facebook page or call (919) 395-1441.