The Athlete Factory, owner Johnny Carlisle insists, is not your average gym
“In a normal gym you just don’t get certain things,” the mesomorphic, chrome-domed Carlisle explained from a strip of Astroturf in the center of his fitness center last week. “You don’t get Astroturf in an LA Fitness. You don’t get kettle bells in LA Fitness. You don’t get tires in an LA Fitness. You don’t get Olympic lifting platforms in an LA Fitness.“
At the Athlete Factory, of course, you do.
Carlisle opened the Schuylkill Road gym in June after spending 15 years directing the Lightening Fast athletic centers with his brother Duane, who eventually moved on to take a position as the strength coach of the San Francisco 49ers. (He’s since taken a similar post with Purdue University.)
Like Lightening Fast, the Athlete Factory is concerned with developing speed, strength, conditioning, explosive power, and sport specific movements in its athletes. Though Carlisle and his training staff of three also accommodate folks just looking to get in a workout—the gym is open 24 hours—the center primarily deals in local high school and college sportsmen.
The Factory contains multitudes though. The gym has a a robust youth athletics program, but is also the offseason workout spot of a few area pros, including St. Louis Cardinals pitching prospect Tim Cooney and New England Patriots fullback James Develin.
“Right now we have to make sure he’s in top shape going into this season,” Carlisle said of Develin. “Coach said he needed to work on explosion, so we’re trying to get his first step faster.”
Whether a client is a pro or an amateur, Carlisle says the program is simple: they find your weaknesses, fix them, and work from there.
“We put everyone through a physical evaluation first to see where you need improvement…we hit the problem areas first, then we hit our explosive movement training,” Carlisle explained.
The members also get the benefit of a specialized dieting advice too. Carlisle furnishes each program member with a 40-page handbook that outlines the fundamentals of a sound athletes diet, then gives specific tips on what to eat before and after games and workouts.
The reading isn't necessarily optional. Carlisle said there are occasional pop-quizzes.
“We’re constantly testing out athletes to see if they’re picking up the things that we’re teaching them,” Carlisle added.
The Athlete Factory isn’t just focused on building muscles either: Carlisle also has designs on expanding the facility itself. The owner says that in the next year or so, he plans to move the gym into the space next door, while leaving the training center in the present site.
Wherever his athletes train though, Carlisle says the goal is the same.
“We want them to walk away from here not just with the results of the training, but with an education."
The Athlete Factory is located on 481 Schuylkill Road and can be reached at 610-933-6929.