Power Partnership: Former pro athletes team up for fitness, training facility
One is a former pitcher in Major League Baseball. The other had a distinguished career as a track-and-field athlete that included a role as an alternate on the United States’ 2004 Olympic team.Together, they are hoping to offer a unique take on the growing market in West Orange for fitness and athletic-performance training.
When the Herrings decided to relocate to New Jersey and put the facility up for sale, both men expressed interest, and Marissa Herring suggested they meet. The two did just that, meeting over lunch, and hit it off.
“It was two country boys meeting each other, and everything was in-sync,” Wiggins said, riffing on his roots growing up in North Carolina and Farnsworth’s native Kansas. “We have the correct synergy, and our vision is the same — we want to see the athletes grow.”
From that lunch, a partnership was born, and the result has been the purchase of the facility that has since been rebranded as Atlas Speed Training and Farnsworth Peak Performance.
The two took over the facility in June and went right to work on making it their own. They have a grand-opening celebration planned for Sep. 15 and are hopeful their unique combination of backgrounds in baseball, track and football — Farnsworth played minor-league football for the Orlando Phantoms following his baseball career — will resonate with athletes young and old in West Orange.
“There are athletes all over the place around here,” said Farnsworth, who has had a home in the Winter Garden area for the last 16 years. “This is something I really enjoy doing — trying to figure out how to put my passion into giving back and helping my community. Things just took off from (that first meeting) — we just put the pieces together.”
For Farnsworth, this new venture is a return to the fitness industry after formerly having been involved with a facility in Atlanta that fell victim to the economic downturn. For Wiggins, having a brick-and-mortar location is the next step in the evolution of Atlas Speed Training, which he had previously operated remotely.
After initially getting into the fitness industry on the advice of a trusted friend, Wiggins saw his clientele blossom and now he has identified West Orange as a place he would like to be.
“It was almost a sign that ‘This is where you’re supposed to be,’” Wiggins said. “I think (this area is) an untapped goldmine. They’re going to see we’re not all about flash — we’re about substance.”
Collectively, the two men already are training aspiring athletes as young as 6 in areas including speed, agility, strength training and more. They also have been working to retain clientele from the space’s former occupants, including Garage Mama — whose clients were more focused on fitness.
The partners have worked put together a class schedule for those clients, whom they also want to serve and grow.
“We also cater to the active adult and to the people who are just trying to get in shape,” Farnsworth said. “It feels like a family in here — everybody knows each other, and we have a good time.”
Given his professional background, Farnsworth also offers baseball-specific training — a nice fit for an area whose youth and prep baseball scene is blossoming. Having been drafted out of high school himself, Farnsworth can relate to up-and-coming ballplayers and said the opportunity for them to train at a facility such as his — where they can also strength train and work on speed — will help set them apart.
“I think (this area is) an untapped goldmine. They’re going to see we’re not all about flash — we’re about substance.”
— Ernest Wiggins II
“I wish I would have had this when I was growing up,” Farnsworth said. “I really didn’t know anything much about weight training (as a youth player) — I don’t think I touched a weight until my freshman year of college. With the way the game is changing — with speed and power — it’s definitely good to start a good foundation young.”
Wiggins, who is also involved with the non-profit Elevate Orlando, said he already has a clientele of youth athletes and that the facility works with a handful of teams, including a couple of girls soccer teams from the popular Florida Rush travel soccer program.
Including Wiggins and Farnsworth, the facility now has a staff of six. All six will be on-hand for the grand opening later this month — where there will be music, food and more — as a way of formally introducing the new combo-fitness facility to the community.
“We’re trying to bring back that hard-work ethic — putting the work ethic first and everything else will follow,” Wiggins said. “We’re excited. At the end of the day, it’s an opportunity for everyone to meet the team.”