BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — When Dorian Hooker was a teenager running track in the 1990s, few athletes sought personal trainers to boost their endurance and agility. But today, many athletes work with experts to train and prepare before the season even begins. “Conditioning is key. It’s the basis for everything we do in sports,” said Hooker, who recently moved his Pro Day Performance Training from Holland to 9150 Waterville-Swanton Rd., just west of the US 24 bypass. Standing in the 6,000-square-foot former Yard Expressions building, Hook-er pointed out a few specialized pieces of equipment, including a Jacob’s Ladder and a high-speed treadmill with a harness to allow running safely up to 24 mph. Free weights, a large tire and an open workout area fill the remainder of the space. “The essence of athletic training isn’t the equipment, but about the movement and what you do with your body,” said Hooker, who works with children and adults to prepare for sports ranging from soccer, baseball and softball to basketball, football and track. As a teen, Hooker ran track at Scott High School. Despite tearing his right knee at age 14, he continued running and won the national championship in the 100-meter dash at age 16 in the Junior Olympics. “That really gave me the confidence I needed,” he said. Hooker continued his career with The University of Toledo, where he set Mid-American Conference (MAC) records in the indoor 55 meters and outdoor 200 meters. He still holds five school records, and was inducted into the UT Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2010. While at UT, he majored in exercise science, and began a career with nonprofits, including as executive director of the Summit YMCA. When the economy took a tumble and staff members were cut, Hooker decided to earn his personal trainer certification in order to fill in for lost personnel. The Owens Community College classes and hands-on experience helped him prepare, but eight months after he was certified, Hooker also was cut from the staff. “I was sitting home for a few months. I went from active to pretty depressed,” he admitted. “Everything I had done was in the nonprofit sector – mission-driven. I knew I wanted to find something to help people.” So he decided to utilize his skills working with all ages to lead training camps at area schools before opening a training center on Merger Drive in Holland. With the building changing ownership at the end of his lease, he decided to move Pro Day Performance to the Anthony Wayne area, where he can better serve many of his existing clients – although, he laugh-ed, many of those clients like to keep it a secret that their child is getting an edge. “It’s a thing of keeping up with the Joneses. They want their son or daughter to do well, but don’t want to tell others that they’re getting help,” he said. Working with individuals or in small groups – which tends to push performance to a higher level – Hooker focuses on agility, footwork and explosive movement. The facility will soon have indoor and outdoor batting cages with machines, with area coaches utilizing the space for their teams. Pro Day Performance Training has classes and one-on-one training during the daytime for adults and after school and on Saturdays for students. For more information, visit www.prodayperformance.com.
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