Lake Norman Magazine

Forward-thinking fitness

Greg O'Connor with Champions Sports Performance trains with a member.
Greg O'Connor with Champions Sports Performance trains with a member.

Greg O’Connor wants to change the way people exercise. The Cornelius resident says many people spend endless hours toiling away on treadmills and weight machines with little to show for it. But at his new gym, Champions Sports Performance, members do dynamic, full-body exercises that engage dozens of muscle groups at the same time. In other words, they train like athletes. And with so many folks living sedentary lives, he said this approach is the best way for folks to get in shape and improve their health.

On the evolution of fitness: O’Connor, 48, said that as a kid growing up outside San Francisco, he was an all-around jock, and played football at California Polytechnic State University. After college he spent the next 24 years trading bonds but always stayed involved with sports, including working as a high school strength coach when he lived in Memphis. It was during this time he began thinking about starting a fitness facility. But instead of a typical gym with rows of weight machines, most of which isolate body parts, O’Connor envisioned a facility that emphasized “functional fitness.” This is a burgeoning movement that focuses on exercises that involve the whole body. “It represents the evolution of working out,” he says.

On setting up shop: After doing some market research, O’Connor decided the booming Lake Norman area would be a great place to open his new training facility. In 2010 he and his wife, Pam, moved from Memphis to Cornelius, and this past May they opened Champions Sports Performance in a former auto body shop on Statesville Road. The 10,000-square-foot building looks far different than a typical gym. It has a long stretch of indoor turf for sprinting drills, and state-of-the-art equipment that many college and pro athletes use to improve strength, agility and speed. This includes the VertiMax, a platform with resistance bands designed to increase overall power and athleticism.

On creating a unique environment: O’Connor says he has six experienced trainers who teach a mix of group classes and sports camps for kids and adults, as well as individual training sessions. Many of the classes are based on the Parisi Speed School, a New Jersey-based fitness organization with nearly 70 franchise locations across the country. And O’Connor says Champions Sports Performance’s group classes help create a fun and supportive environment, which in turn keeps members motivated. “And if you’re having fun, you’re more likely to stick with the program, which is crucial for success no matter who you are.” Memberships range from one to nine months, and start at $99 per month.

Champions Sports Performance18831 Statesville Road,