Since graduating with his degree in athletic training from St. Ambrose in 1997, Adam Gentz has steadily made a name for himself in the strength and conditioning arena: He's a leading Las Vegas fitness trainer and general manager of what is considered the city's premier fitness complex, Strength Center Las Vegas. There, he maintains a personal training clientele that includes casino and hotel executives, and runs speed and agility programs for athletes from age five on up to the professional level who are competing in virtually every sport.
Except ballroom dancing-and last year that's what pop singer and entertainer Donny Osmond wanted to do. Osmond, already Gentz's client, had not just signed up to be a celebrity contestant on the hit ABC show "Dancing with the Stars," he wanted to go the distance. The question was, could Gentz make him a contender?
As Gentz puts it, "My focus is always on what the client wants to be able to do."
In other words, it was game on for this dance-off.
In Osmond's case, he needed not only to handle hoofing it through the entire ten-week competition–in which he would rehearse and perform multiple dance routines per week-but also fulfill his five-shows-a-week commitment with sister Marie at the Flamingo Las Vegas.
Luckily, Osmond gave Gentz full control over the conditioning program, and was "one hundred percent on-board," says Gentz (above left, with Osmond). "Donny didn't buy into the whole ‘hey, I'm 52, go easy on me' attitude. I trained him just like any other athlete."
It helped that Osmond, while north of 50, is "pretty healthy," Gentz says. "He doesn't drink or smoke. Any trainer will tell you this is a huge bonus."
Still, to compete against other DWTS contestants half his age, Osmond was definitely going to need to kick-ball-change it up a notch.
Building flexibility was key. Gentz knew that one severely pulled muscle and Osmond was not only out of the competition, it would impact his Flamingo commitment.
Developing core strength was also a priority. "All movement feeds off of your core," he explains. "Without building his abdominals, obliques and back muscles, Donny wasn't going to have the complete control over his body he needed to execute all the different dance moves."
A big part of Gentz' program is plyometrics-explosive exercises that develop a trained neurological response in muscles, such as jumping onto a box or throwing a medicine ball against the wall. This training suited Osmond's needs perfectly. "The idea is to make movements more dynamic, quicker," Gentz says. "On ‘Dancing,' Donny needed to move his feet quickly and in multiple planes."
When Osmond was declared the "Dancing with the Stars" champion in November, one of the first people he reached out to was Gentz. The aim now is to see how the two of them can bring their fitness philosophy to a wider audience. "Right now Donny's in the best shape of his life, and he's at the top of American pop culture. He can show people how they can train just as hard at 50 as at a younger age."
In fact, Gentz's ultimate goal is to extend his Strength Center brand into a wide array of new areas-high school athletics, Ultimate Fighting Championship competition, professional boxing, the hospitality industry–that would be recognized on a national and even international level.
"Functional training and core performance is at the forefront of training right now," he says, "and I want to bring it to as many new capacities as possible."