Amanda Fevurly could be sitting by the pool on a sunny summer afternoon, but instead, the Lawrence High School junior is staring down a treadmill set at a 35 percent incline and a rumbling speed of 10 miles per hour.
She hops on, and instantly her feet are churning over and her arms are pumping for 8 grueling seconds.
When her time’s finally up, the volleyball player hops off the treadmill, gets a high-five and slumps into a chair next to two similarly wiped-out Southwest Junior High ninth-graders, Kieran Severa and Stan Skwarlo.
Yes, the lazy days of summer are no more — or at least they’re off-limits at The Athletic Republic.
All citizens of the little fitness island in West Lawrence are spending their summer sprinting on a perilously inclined treadmill, strength training and pushing through punishing rounds of plyometrics.
Their goals are different — from student-athletes like Fevurly, Severa and Skwarlo hoping to make varsity, to standouts hoping to win college scholarships, to children and adults hoping to gain the upper hand in their sport of choice. No matter the aim, The Athletic Republic and director James Findley hope to make them leap higher, run faster and grow stronger.
“This is very high-level training,” says Findley, whose program is a national one based out of TherapyWorks, which has a Lawrence location at 1311 Wakarusa Drive. “Typically it’s not something that a lot of people want to get better at unless they’re in a sport or they’re competing in some way.”
Working toward goals
And that means more than just student athletes, though Findley says that’s the bulk of his clientele.
“I get a lot of pre-pubescent athletes, a lot of teenagers, a lot of early 20s, that’s primarily the workload that I see. My youngest is 8 1/2 and my oldest is 51,” he says. “My 51-year-old lady, she’s trying to take time off her 5K, and then my 8 1/2 year old is just trying to gain better body control. He needs to work on his spring mechanics, that type of thing.”
The multi-level program is a systematic prescription for increased endurance, speed, agility and conditioning. That’s exactly what Severa was looking for when he signed up for the 18-session program, that’s ideally done in a six-week, three-days-per-week format.
“To get in better shape, be able to run faster, be explosive, things like that,” Severa says of his goals. “The ultimate goal is a college scholarship. That’s just what I’m shooting for.”
The same can be said for Skwarlo, who, like Severa, plays football and baseball, while also listing track, wrestling and basketball among his athletic interests. Skwarlo started the program last year, and he says he saw an immediate improvement in his plethora of sports.
“It definitely helps your speed, versus going out and running on the road,” he says. “It’s fun, it’s a good way to work on your speed and agility. It really helps.”
Higher, faster, stronger
It also helps knowing that athletes such NFL players Randy Moss and Shaun Alexander, baseball player Jim Thome and Chicago Bulls star and former Kansas University standout Kirk Hinrich have all completed the program. The program has trained more than a million athletes through 150 franchises.
Someone who didn’t go through the program? Findley, who says he would have loved to have access to it as a high school athlete in Ulysses. He lettered in football and went to state in doubles tennis, but he says he believes he could’ve accomplished even more if he’d been able to train like his current crop of high school athletes.
“It definitely would’ve helped me out with my sprinting, I would have been a lot faster,” Findley says. “I think it probably would’ve been a different story for me athletically, had I been able to work on my mechanics like I do with the kids in here.”
From Ulysses, Findley came to Kansas University, where he majored in sports science, graduating in May 2008. He initially thought he’d go to physical therapy school and began working as a physical therapy technician at TherapyWorks in 2005. But that all changed when he got a chance to work with The Athletic Republic clients soon after. He became the director of the program in 2008.
“It’s fun to see people progress through injuries to full functionality,” he says of physical therapy, “but I know I enjoy working with a child that might not have the best athletic gifts coming into the program, but then just progressing them throughout the program to be a real good athlete.”
This workout’s athletes are finally done for the day — perspiration flying as they disagree about Findley’s assertion that this Monday workout was, in fact, more difficult than the previous Friday’s.
“Friday was hard!” Fevurly says, grinning through the sweat dripping down her face.
Severa just shakes his head: “You’re just in better shape since then.”