FREDERICK – Skyline alumnus Gabe Knapton and Niwot graduate Tyler Strong were a different breed of football player during their prep careers.
Both Knapton and Strong went on to play at the University of Wyoming, where the linemen lived together for several years despite coming from rival high schools. Knapton retired in November from a seven-year career in the Canadian Football League, and the pair reunited in January to further distance themselves from their high school rivalry by becoming business partners.
The result was Different Breed Performance, a training facility in Frederick focused on personalized individual and small-group training for the area’s high school and collegiate athletes. The gym opened its doors this past Saturday morning.
“We originally were going to do just football for college and high school guys in the area,” Knapton said. “But we’ve since decided to do strength, fitness and explosiveness training for anybody in the area, any sport. There’s a lot of people out there who are looking to better prepare their bodies and extend their careers, or do anything they can to get an edge on somebody.
“You’ve got to do that stuff nowadays to be the best and we think we can give them that edge.”
Knapton’s post-football career plans also include getting his EMT certification, which he is currently working on with the intention of becoming a firefighter, and Strong is already a certified personal trainer. Both have followed similar career paths and share the desire to spend the next chapter assisting the athletes who have followed them in their hometown area.
“We’re not here to compete with local coaches or take these kids away from their programs,” Knapton said. “We’re just here for those kids looking for some extra or individualized work to add to what they’re already doing with their teams to make them a better athlete.”
Knapton and Strong believe their gym is well-designed to do just that.
Different Breed Performance is an 800-square-foot facility with a turf area and close to 800 pounds of weights including medicine balls. It also has a treadmill and parachutes for speed work and other agility equipment.
The gym certainly won’t look to have the spacious walk-in options of the typical large-model chain facility. But its co-founders agree that its small size is a good fit for individualized attention, and possibly also for the current COVID-19 pandemic that is limiting public gatherings and has suspended or cancelled high school sports nationwide.
“It obviously isn’t the ideal time to do this,” Strong said. “But I think we’re going to remain small enough and personal enough that we’re not going to have big groups in there. And we’ve come up with a cleaning protocol that should keep the place really clean for every time anyone comes in. It’s obviously not the best time, but we’re going to do what we can to stay open and keep rolling with it.”
Strong said the gym’s initial client base to this point has been limited to a handful of high school athletes he and Knapton were already working with separately. They are also currently the gym’s only two trainers.
Similar services like RedLine Athletics in Longmont and Six Zero Strength in Centennial already exist. But with the relative lack of a similar service in the area, Knapton and Strong think there’s a market for personalized training in the northern area and expect Different Breed Performance to take off once things begin to normalize.
“I’ve kind of bounced around from job to job and this finally seemed like what I should be doing,” Strong said. “I’ve developed a background in the area over my career and it feels right to be in a position to help kids who were in my position years ago. We’re definitely looking forward to helping that high school kid who’s looking to take their game to the next level or go play in college. Or that college kid who comes home and is looking for someone to write a program for them.
“But we’re not limiting it. We’re looking to help everyone.”