Vancouver training gym helps high school, college and pro athletes become even better
VANCOUVER — Just off Grand Boulevard in Vancouver, a warehouse turned gymnasium holds the training grounds for high school, college and professional athletes from all over the region.
New Athlete began in 2001, with the humble racquetball courts of Club Green Meadows serving as its first home. Since then, it has trained thousands of athletes in the Clark County area.
For founder Ryan Paul, the dream began as a widely sought after college athlete in New York. Today, he teaches his players the importance of their purpose, vision and sport.
“What really drives me today are those athletes that people don’t consider, don’t give a second thought to, and turning them into something that people covet,” Paul said. “That’s why I think New Athlete exists today … To instill a confidence and a purpose for why these athlete’s exist outside of their sport.”
Paul has been training athletes for more than 18 years, and opened his first facility in 2003. In that time, over 80 National Football League players, 550 Division 1 athletes, 850 collegiate athletes, and more than 5,000 athletes from other sports have trained through his program.
“I think for a lot of athletes, they are desperately seeking for someone to believe in them,” Paul said. “As bad as they are, or as gifted as they are, it doesn’t matter, they all have value.”
When he began his athletic career, Paul turned down over a dozen offers to play football from colleges around the country. He feared leaving home, he said. From there, Paul got married, and was recruited to play basketball at his junior college. He turned them down.
He moved up, playing semi-pro football for several years and making it past first cuts of a pro tryout, before moving to Vancouver, and embarking on his training career through a gig at 24 Hour Fitness.
It wasn’t his crowd. He wanted to train athletes.
When asked why athletes, and what it is about working with them, Paul was succinct and reflective.
“Instilling in them a confidence I never had growing up,” Paul said. “Presenting an opportunity for them to see their purpose and their why. Not just because they’re good at a sport, but something beyond that.”
New Athlete opened its current location in 2016, and now employs two full-time employees, who serve in different areas of expertise in training and rehabilitation.
“People if they have injuries or bodily impairments, I assess that and see what needs to be worked on and treat them,” said Dr. Steven Cabrales, who is the most recent hire, and a licensed physical therapist. “It just great, because I’ve always been one that uses my hands, and I get to use my hands and my brain, working people better everyday.”
Cabrales graduated from WSU Vancouver, before looking for applying for several positions in the area. Paul actually offered him the job before he was completely certified, and held the position for Cabrales until then.
“I’m just stoked to be part of the team, part of the New Athlete family,” Cabrales said.
Tyler Doran leads the pitching program for baseball players; bringing with him years of professional playing experience in Australia and at Sonoma University.
Doran trained in the New Athlete system for eight years, prior to becoming a member of the team and values the implementation training methodologies from all over the world.
“I first chose New Athlete as a serious high school athlete who wanted to play professional basketball one day,” said Ashley Corral, graduate of Prairie High School, University of Southern California and previous member of three teams in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).
“I have known Ryan for over 10 years and I would now consider him a mentor and a friend,’’ Corral said. “He genuinely cares about his athletes inside and outside of the gym.”
Corral now runs AC Performance Training in Vancouver, and maintains a partnership with Paul and New Athlete.
“You can be as skilled as you can be, but if you’re not physically capable of competing, then you’re going to be left behind,” said Brady Whalen, graduate of Union High School, who now plays minor league baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals.
“There’s a reason all the pro guys go here in the area,’’ Whalen said. “This guy [Paul] pushes you to a level you don’t think you can get to.”
“Who you surround yourself with, will help you become successful,” said Cornelius Edison, who plays center for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. “There’s gyms all across the Pacific Northwest, and I’ve been to different gyms, but the community of people here are bigger than sports, it’s bigger than working out. When we come into New Athlete, we’re all one family.”
Paul said the 13,000-square-foot facility that currently houses New Athlete is only the beginning. In the not-so-distant future, Paul said he hopes to have a facility three times as large.
“If you dream something and people laugh at it, that’s the dream to have,” Paul said amidst the sounds of clanging barbells. “Because they can’t see it themselves or they lack vision themselves, should not let that deter you from what you believe in your heart.”