CHULA VISTA, Calif.—Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was just named a finalist for Major League Baseball's Roberto Clemente award recognizing community service excellence. Gonzalez and his family recently opened a huge facility in his hometown of Chula Vista to help young athletes develop, and there's a lot going on at the Gonzalez Sports Academy.
"They do exactly what I do," Gonzalez said as he gave me a tour around the 28,000 square-foot facility as kids bounced around from batting cages to various workout stations. "These are all baseball players so they do the exact same workouts."
Gonzalez spent the off-season working out in this facility that opened to the public in May. Owned by his father, David, and two older brothers David Jr. and Edgar, the GSA has everything for the aspiring young athlete in every sport.
A regulation pitching mound with an adjustable home plate sits near the front door as you walk into the main workout room. Next to that, four batting cages, speed ladders, heavy bags for boxing, volleyball courts, free weights, and Adrian's personal favorite: the prowlers - sleds that holds weights that athletes push up and down the artificial turf that covers the ground.
"We put a lot of weight on there and you get done with that exercise and you are out of breath and need 2-3 minutes to recover," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez, who grew up in Bonita with a batting cage in his backyard, explained that the motivation for this facility was to have a place where he could work out close to home and not have to travel to Arizona, or someplace else, to train during the off-season. His strength coach, Bob Foley, also a co-owner of the GSA, says they eschew conventional free-weight workouts and focus on a wide range of training styles.
"It is strength, power, speed, agility, stability, balance, flexibility," Foley said. "It's old-school training."
Foley puts together most of the workouts for the kids. The workouts include swinging medicine balls from ropes, dragging weights across the ground and jumping over small hurdles. Foley says kids can start as as early as eight years-old, and many have noticed the results.
"I like it because with my running, I'm not that fast and Bob teaches us how to get our legs stronger so we can run faster," said 14 year-old Arisa Rosado.
"My throwing and pitching has been much better," said 12 year-old Christian Ibarra. "I have been hitting harder with more line drives."
And that's what the Gonzalez family wants to have. A place where everyone can improve.
"We're going to use it for our purposes and our benefit, and at the same time, you can give that same benefit to the kids and the adults that don't have that ability to get somewhere so that they can train," Gonzalez said. "This is the new style of training. It's not just getting on the bench press and seeing how much you can max."
The GSA offers individual personal training sessions, group sessions, and monthly workout-on-our-own programs for kids and adults as well as youth travel baseball teams. For more information, visit http://gonzalezsportsacademy.com/