Hey! My name is Gary Vesper and this is my personal story of how I went from post-operation with my sixth major knee surgery to creating my dream career and facility.
Sounds kind of fluffy I’m sure, but it’s true and it is exactly why I am so passionate and proud of what Driven is and has become for the local community. If you are reading this and are a local parent with a dreaming athlete, if you are the athlete with big dreams, or if you are that man/women/dad/mom petrified of regaining their health and vibrancy than I think you will really enjoy Driven’s story to be.
In 2012 this was me.
Right before my sixth knee surgery that would require another 6-12 months of physical therapy. Micro-fracture surgery, as I would come to find out, was no joke!
Even though I was used to this awful routine I was far from happy or fulfilled. But before I go into more detail about my journey from hospital bed to the Driven training floor I want you to know three things about me:
- I LOVE my Driven family of athletes and adults who train with us and would do just about anything to help them succeed.
- I wouldn’t change my story at all because it is what makes Driven so special and unlike any ‘gym’ around.
- The Driven Family of youth athletes and adventurous adults gets results.
A Little About Me
Growing up (and still) I LOVED the game of basketball. I was that kid that would just play in my driveway all day and into the evening… I never had video games thank god! I played on teams all year round (which I now know isn’t the smartest move – but I digress) and I was extremely, dare I say, driven to achieve my dreams of playing college basketball. But not after having an incredible high school experience!
That was the plan, yet we all know what they say about plans, and things started to go in a different direction my senior year of high school.
It was November 28th 2005 and we had the evening practice that day. We were doing full-court offense/defense drills and I was matched up against one of the best players on our team. I was sliding right, we made contact, and BOOM, my right knee gave out and I was on the ground.
I remember that moment, that day, like it was yesterday. Up until that point, I had never really been injured other than some very minor ankle sprains. But as I went through the orthopedic process I had come to learn that I had torn my right ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) and that my season would be in jeopardy. Surgery and 6- 12 months of rehabilitation would be required.
I played my senior year, barely, and I went on to become a recruited walk-on at Mercyhurst College in Erie Pennsylvania.
Over the next six years I would tear my ACL three more times, I would have a meniscus repair surgery, and to finish it all off, I had a micro-fracture surgery where they ‘tap’ on the knee joint to ‘break’ it and create new blood flow.
Needless to say, after all of that, my basketball career was over and my life would be forever changed.
The Worst of Times
Those six years were very tough on me. I fought off depression, I had lost my identity, and I spent years on crutches not being able to do normal things. I was always the ‘injured guy,’ and felt like my body had betrayed me. How did this happen to me? Why couldn’t I do the things I was so accustomed to doing?
It was an eye-opening experience. I remember feeling so sorry for myself at a basketball practice (one of the few that I was able to participate in) where the coach called me into the office and frankly said, are you going to play or just sulk the whole time? It was a fair question.
From there I transferred schools, going to CCM for a year and then finishing up at Fairleigh Dickinson. But at each school it was more of the same – I was on crutches and going to physical therapy.
It was depressing, embarrassing and extremely disheartening having to rinse and repeat the same old process. Get injured, be on crutches, have surgery, go to physical therapy, train poorly, get cleared, play for a while, get injured again.
The Tipping Point
I had become an ‘expert’ at the Physical Therapy process and I was sick of it. I knew the drill: heat and stim to start, leg raises with ankle weights, glute bridges, quad squeezes, hamstring and quad stretch with the green strap, ride the bike, leg press, squats, mini-band around ankles, balance drills, then finish up with ultrasound, some manual stretches and ice.
Rinse and repeat.
But the worst part is that therapists would learn my story and be ‘wowed’ like it was a carnival attraction. I had switched therapists around 2011 and right after my meniscus surgery I started going to a new clinic… I would last only two weeks there. I remember like it was yesterday a couple of the therapists talking to/about me, “You’ve had how many surgeries?? Wow, that’s crazy you must be an expert at this!” All the while I’m thinking, “Hey, experts, why don’t you try something a little different this time.”
They put me through literally the exact same paces I had been through thousands of times already. I couldn’t take it anymore. I got up and left and never went back.
I let the meniscus heal on its own and vowed I would never be like that.
The Turning Point
At some point in 2009 I knew that what I was doing wasn’t working. I would spend hours killing myself in the gym training as hard as I could hoping that this round would be the time I stayed healthy. I was so hard-headed that it never crossed my mind before that their may be a smarter way to go about physical preparation, injury prevention, and overall fitness.
I just kept on keeping on.
My major was already in education and it was too late to change but I knew that didn’t have to stop me. One evening I was surfing the Internet for answers, curious to uncover what was ‘wrong with me’ and I came across a resistance band video that opened my eyes to flexibility, mobility and body control. It was at that moment that a light went off and I knew that I had to completely change everything I thought I knew about exercise, training and fitness.
Curious about the video? Check out this throwback!
That’s what I did. I started devouring Internet material from world-renowned performance coaches, physical therapists and fitness trainers. I noticed I had a chip on my shoulder; I could learn this stuff and apply it and maybe figure out why this keeps happening to me.
Unfortunately, I would soon learn that my body and my ability to implement on myself was going to be harder than I had imagined as two more surgeries were on the way. Every time I pushed myself on the basketball court my body would break down. But that didn’t slow my thirst for knowledge and my passion to find answers.
Catch Your Dream Academy
That was the name of my first training business. What do you think of the name?? lol Maybe not the best but it was round one.
Honestly, this business would never have happened if it was not for my physical therapist. For too many years I was so stuck in my routine and never felt like it was meaningful, progressive, hands-on or attentive to what I needed. So in 2011 through some thankful word-of-mouth I found a physical therapist who would become my mentor through this process.
In 2012, three months after my final surgery I told him I wanted to start coaching and training athletes and adults so that they trained smarter and not just harder. Honestly, if he said, “Gary, probably not the best idea,” I may not have started my company. All I can say is thank god he believed in me and gave me that vote of confidence.
It was truly just fueled by passion and a desire to impact others. At this point I was completely immersed in learning everything I could about training. I was reading dozens of books, attending countless digital seminars, I was coaching every single day and I was going to my physical-therapist for live questions, answers and perspective. This initial time period was critical to my development as a coach as I feel like I learned everything at such a rapid pace. The process and principles became so clear to me after everything that I had been through.
After a year and a half ‘freelancing’ I moved into a global-gym for a year. This only reinforced what I wanted out of my career as I was fed up watching athletes and adults just put their bodies through so much poor technique, poor execution, poor coaching and without a goal and a progressive training approach.
I knew we could do better.
After coaching thousands of athletes and countless adults I decided it was time to fulfill my dream. In winter 2015 we found a small space of 1600 square feet and in four weeks of a complete family renovation job we were ready to open!
Driven Fitness and Performance was born.
Over the last two and a half years it has been such a great journey and experience getting to know so many local families. We are know trusted and supported by hundreds of athletes and adults who know that we don’t exist just to get you sore and tired but to completely help you transform and achieve things you never thought possible.
Fast forward to spring 2017 and Driven 2.0 exists. We are now a 3500 square foot facility that has everything a youth athlete and an adventurous adult needs to achieve their goals and their dreams.
Every day I wake up with my beautiful wife, my incredible daughter and one on the way, and feel so thankful for how life’s crazy moments all turned out.
That’s what I want for you
I want you to train in a facility that buzzes with energy, that you know without a shadow of a doubt that the coaches have your back, that you feel like you are the only one in here even when we have a packed house and you trust us because we know what we are doing.
If you (or your son or daughter) want to increase speed, strength, confidence and ability than there is no better place than Driven. But we don’t want you to take our word for it either. Let’s chat on the phone first, schedule a sit-down strategy session so we get to know you guys and you us and then go from there. No pressure, no credit cards, just an introduction.
Or if you are an adult who wants to eliminate confusion, aches and inconsistency but are scared or completely unmotivated to get started we can get you in the best shape of life, help you control your destiny and achieve what you never thought possible. Just fill out the form and we can chat first to learn more about your goals and vision and go from there.
I am very excited to meet you and I hope you find exactly what you are looking for here at Driven.