By Ameera Steward
The Birmingham Times
Allen Love, a graduate of Huffman High School in Birmingham, Ala., and a freshman defensive tackle at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Ky., has been going to Xtreme Fitness and Performance personal training gym since he was in eighth grade.
“If I want to be the best, I have to train with the best,” Love said. “I wouldn’t be where I’m at if it wasn’t for him.”
“Him” is Kevin Brown, owner of Xtreme Fitness and Performance in downtown Birmingham.
Another long-time Xtreme Fitness client, Tye Pouncey, a senior wide receiver at Pinson Valley High School who has been visiting the facility since seventh grade, echoes Love’s sentiments.
“Kevin, he’s like a big brother to me. … He treats you like family. It’s one of the best places in the city you can come to work out,” Pouncey said. “He’ll give you everything you need. … He’ll get you right for the next level.”
That family atmosphere is something Brown cultivates.
“A lot of these kids … can pick up the phone, call me anytime, and ask me anything. … It’s something I really take to heart. … This business is a personal business,” he said. “You start building relationships with them, so you know when they’re having good days, you know when they’re having bad days. … Everybody that walks in is family. You’re not just another number.”
At the start of the new year, many people are focusing on improving their health and fitness—things Brown emphasizes and focuses on year-round.
“Fitness is important from the standpoint of … having a healthy … lifestyle,” he said. “Fitness, in general, keeps injuries down, gives you energy, prevents a lot of chronic diseases. … It’s something you want to make a part of [your daily routine], like getting up in the morning, brushing your teeth, combing your hair, things of that nature.”
Broad Range Of Programs
Brown said he and his team wanted to offer something different to their clients when it came to equipment and opportunities. The current location allows Brown and his trainers to bring in more clients and provide a broader range of programs.
“We have incorporated our [National Football League (NFL)] Combine prep,” he said. “We weren’t able to do that in [our previous] facility … [because] we just didn’t have the space.”
The facility’s equipment, Brown explained, is designed for professional athletes.
“Our equipment is not traditional gym equipment,” he said. “We have three high-performance treadmills and about 35 yards of artificial field turf. We also have Keiser [fitness equipment], which is not weighted; [it uses] compressed air for resistance. Everything you see [at this facility] was not at our other location. [Though we cater to] the professional athlete, a lot of our general-population clients benefit from [our equipment], as well.
“Even a lot of the kids I work with won’t have access to a lot of this stuff until maybe when they’re in college, and some colleges don’t have it. … [We want to] introduce them to certain things, so they’re pretty familiar with [them] by the time they get to the next level.”
Given what Brown has been through, he knows about toughness. That’s one reason he gets the best out of his athletes. The name of the gym—Xtreme Fitness and Performance—is just that, he said.
“If you’re looking for somebody who’s going to baby you, … I’m not your guy, Brown said. “[Our objective was to create] that intense atmosphere.”
The company’s slogan further describes its mission—“Be the X Factor.” The meaning of the slogan is something Brown and his team take pride in: “It’s being that strong link in whatever you do.”
Brown’s hard work, self-accountability, and diligence are paying off. He was recently contacted about opening a second facility in Atlanta, Ga.
“We’ve been blessed to work with a lot of good people, and a lot of people are noticing what we’re doing,” he said. “When a lot of people reach out to you, it kind of confirms … that you’re on the right track.”
Even with the out-of-state recognition, Brown continues to expand in Birmingham. He would like to custom build his own facility from scratch to make sure it is equipped with everything his clients need and provides as much space as possible to house all the different projects that fall under Xtreme Fitness and Performance, such as Grooming the Ultimate Student Athlete (GUSA), a nonprofit organization that provides ACT and SAT preparation. The program as includes tutors who teach subjects like financial literacy and takes students on college visits.
There are about 15 people on the team Brown has assembled to work with athletes, so a larger facility will enable them to better serve their clients.
“It’s kind of my idea, my vision, to open a facility where I can do a lot of the things we do with our nonprofit, as well,” Brown said. “[I want to be] almost like a one-stop shop. … I want to bring our physical therapist, our chiropractors, and everything in house.”
In addition to expanding to accommodate his nonprofit organization, Brown would like more space to better prepare athletes for the NFL Combine. During this event, the top 300 college juniors and seniors who declare for the draft are invited to Indianapolis, Ind., to be evaluated on their performance in various areas, such as the 40-yard dash, broad jump, vertical jump, bench press.
The current Xtreme Fitness and Performance facility is designed to support and prepare football players who plan to participate in the Combine.
“It’s a very stressful time for these particular prospects,” Brown said. “A lot of times what they do is they come to facilities like mine to prepare for it, so the program is very detailed training-wise. … It [involves] something different than what they had normally been doing with their [schools]. … It’s tailored and customized for these particular events.”
Some of the athletes at Xtreme Fitness and Performance have been sent by agents and some have been working out at the facility for years.
“[They’ve] come through our program through high school [and] college, and now they’re getting the opportunity to go to the next level,” Brown said.
For Brown, the most fulfilling part of what he does is seeing his clients succeed.
“I tell people all the time, ‘If you’re getting into this type of business to get rich, it’s not the business for you,’” he said. “You truly have to have a passion for doing it and helping people. … [For] any and everybody that walks through my door, I try to do whatever I can to put them in a position to be successful.”
Among those clients are several football players who played at the University of Alabama (UA) and went on to play in the NFL, including Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, a Huffman High School graduate; Oakland Raiders wide receiver ArDarius Stewart, a Fultondale High School grad; and two Washington Redskins players: defensive lineman Daron Payne, a Shades Valley High School graduate, and linebacker Ryan Anderson, a graduate of Daphne High School in Daphne, Ala. Another client, basketball player Christian Watford, a Shades Valley High School graduate, went on to play at Indiana University, in Bloomington, Ill., and currently plays for the National Basketball Association (NBA) G League Raptors 905, the affiliate team of the Toronto Raptors.
In addition to working with athletes and helping other clients achieve their health and fitness goals, Brown also serves as a mentor to those who want to get into the fitness industry. A few of the young people he mentors work with him in downtown Birmingham, but many are out of state.
Xtreme Fitness and Performance also maintains a solid social media presence, so Brown gets a lot of inbox requests from people who want to work with him.
“That’s one of the [reasons] I feel like it’s important that you always present a good product and you always are knowledgeable about what you’re doing,” he said. “You just never know who’s watching.”
Brown likes to put himself in a position to help others. For instance, one of his fellow Xtreme Fitness and Performance coaches, Valie Slater, played college football with Brown and wanted to get into training.
Slater, who is from Yazoo, Miss., said, “My love for what we do here is driven by my passion to help others excel not only in physical performance but in life as a whole.”
Brown added, “One of the things … small businesses endure is being able to get good help, being able to have people who will come in and deliver that product the same way you would. … That same [high-quality] product will be delivered whether I’m here or not.”
Partnering With UAB
Xtreme Fitness and Performance has a relationship with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and its kinesiology department; two students serve as interns at the facility.
“That’s the idea: … to hire people that go through our intern program … [become] familiar with the way we want things done,” said Brown, who added that he plans to bring on new trainers.
There have been times when Brown has thought about stopping, but he has gotten to where he is through blood, sweat, and tears—and that’s what will keep him around.
“A lot of people look up to me and what we do here, [and] a lot of people depend on what we do here,” Brown said.
Xtreme Fitness and Performance can be reached at 1509 3rd Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35233, (205) 687-0090.