Hard-Working Student Athletes Get a Jump on New Season

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St. John Bosco freshman Terrell Bynum (leaping) and Lakewood freshman Kaymen Cureton working out at Fitness Impact. Photos and video by Matt Cohn.

“My dad always tells me, ‘Diligent hands bring victory,'” says Lakewood High School freshman football player Kaymen Cureton.

Watching the quick and explosive Cureton blast through a high-intensity cross-training workout at Fitness Impact in Signal Hill, one senses a champion in the making.

Kaymen is among several high school players from many different schools who are partaking in the family atmosphere and elite-level fitness training offered at Fitness Impact, which operated for several years in Long Beach before moving to Signal Hill in 2010.

The gym is run by co-owner Gregg Washington, a Navy SEAL who has also been the strength and conditioning coach of the Poly football team for the last 13 years. “I do bleed green and gold,” says Washington, “but I welcome kids from different schools. I want to help them get scholarships and put them in a position to be successful.”

“I don’t allow just any kid to come in here,” Washington says. “We put them through a testing program to see if they have the heart, the focus and the discipline. Their grades have to be at a certain level as well. We want to make sure we develop the complete athlete. Push them to their limit. When they go back to their respective schools, they train at a level everyone wants to follow.”

Fitness Impact 026“In a sense, Gregg’s our big brother,” says Fitness Impact coach William Alo, an ’05 Poly grad who played linebacker for the Jackrabbits. “He’s a great motivator.”

A visitor, Detroit Lions wide receiver Terrence Austin, agrees. “The mental part is what really helped us,” says Austin, who graduated from Poly in 2006 and played his college ball at UCLA before entering the NFL draft.

“Fitness training has progressed so much,” says coach Knocc Smith, an ’88 Poly grad who went on to play defensive end at the University of Washington. Smith incorporates the steep grades of Signal Hill into his workouts, and also leads “plyo” (Plyometrics focuses on explosive movement) sessions at the beach.

“I would love to be a kid in this day and time,” says Smith. “When I played we did some very rudimentary lifting. Now, we do Olympic-style power lifts, core training, speedwork, handwork, footwork and various power drills like the tire-and-sledgehammer.”

“When the kids are here together, it’s all about getting the work done,” says Kaymen Cureton’s father Clay as he watches his son sweat through a comprehensive training session that includes many 36-inch box jumps scattered through the entire workout (try doing ONE).

The athletes also do rope climbs, “ladder” drills (with amazingly quick footwork), Muay Thai kickboxing, and tons of power lifting. “The Olympic lifts are very demanding,” says Washington. “They attack the whole body, and must be done with perfect form.”

The energy at Fitness Impact is good-humored but intense, and the nearby oil derricks and tanker trucks give it an appropriately gritty setting for not only student athletes, but the general public as well.

“It doesn’t matter where you’re from,” says Coach Knocc. “If you want to come here to work and get better, we’re here to train you.”

High school freshman Jordyn Bragg gets fitness instruction from coach Knocc Smith.

Lower-right photo: Fitness Impact co-owner Gregg Washington (L) with Detroit Lions wide receiver Terrence Austin.

Fitness Impact is located at 1600 E. 29th St. in Signal Hill. To learn more about Fitness Impact and its summer programs for student athletes, visit fitnessimpactonline.com

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