Bishop Chatard Alum, Graham Wilkerson, is Experiencing Fast Growth with New Training Complex
Writer / Jon Shoulders
Photographer / Brian Brosmer
The fitness industry has become rather competitive in recent years with Crossfit, Pilates and 24-hour gym facilities sprouting up like clockwork. Nevertheless, Graham Wilkerson, owner of Genesis Sports Performance on North Tacoma Avenue, took the industry by storm less than three years out of college.
In 2012, after pursuing a history degree at DePauw University where he lettered in football during all four of his undergraduate years, Wilkerson took a job selling medical devices. A long-time athlete and fitness enthusiast, he soon realized that the strength and conditioning world was where he belonged and began exploring the possibilities of opening his very own training center.
“I always wanted to open up my own facility, and in my high school yearbook, under dream job, mine says NFL Strength Coach,” he recalls. “After about a year of that sales job I knew I wanted to take the leap and do my own thing.”
Born and raised in Indianapolis, Wilkerson began sports early, enjoying football, basketball and wrestling while attending Saint Matthew grade school on 56th Street. After graduating from Bishop Chatard High School, where he achieved All-State status as a football player, he went on to graduate Cum Laude from DePauw.
While acquiring the necessary certifications, including Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Certified Physical Preparation Specialist and USA Weightlifting Level 1 Sport Performance Coach, Wilkerson leased a space at an existing gym during his first year as a professional trainer, building up a clientele of local high school and college athletes. After securing a position as Bishop Chatard’s strength coach, he officially opened the doors at Genesis in December of 2015.
Since then, Wilkerson has wasted no time expanding his client base, which currently consists of junior high, high school and college athletes as well as a few National Football League players during their off-season time – including Zack Martin of the Dallas Cowboys, his brother Nick Martin who plays for the Houston Texans and Ted Karras of the New England Patriots. Earlier this year, Genesis expanded to a total of 3,000 square feet of turf flooring, strength-building implements, cardio equipment and not many places to sit and rest.
“I have a lot of Division I college athletes come in here, and also a lot of DePauw boys,” says Wilkerson, who somehow finds time to work out seven days a week himself despite daily training duties at Genesis and Bishop Chatard.
Genesis offers three products including one-on-one, personalized training as well as adult fitness classes, which typically include strength training and metabolic conditioning. The third, Wilkerson’s sports performance group classes, are what he calls the “bread and butter” of Genesis.
“With the sports performance classes we have a whole athletic training program that I’ve put together, and we have seventh graders up to college athletes,” Wilkerson says. “It’s a weekly, monthly and yearly progression that I do.”
According to Wilkerson, it’s his systematic, exhaustive record-keeping approach that sets Genesis apart from other training complexes. Clients are tested monthly in speed, power and strength and can consistently check boards mounted on the wall where the statistical details of their progress and improvements are posted.
“Every athlete that is coming here consistently has improved greatly,” Wilkerson says. “I think when they see these huge improvements and go back to whatever school they’re at, their teammates see it, and that’s how I’ve acquired business. When we first opened there were probably 10 football players that came in, and all of them contributed significantly to varsity football at their schools. Then, this past season it was a flood of players coming in.”
Wilkerson also strives to provide a learning atmosphere, particularly for his younger clients, and instill the value of hard work and accountability.
“I want to have an impact on the kids as they grow, so there’s a character-building component of it,” he says. “We have early-morning workouts on the weekends, and the kids can get focused on a structured activity here that’s beneficial for them versus a lot of other things that they could get into.”
This May, Wilkerson will finish a master’s degree from Ball State in Athletic Coaching Education, and he hopes to further develop his clientele and eventually expand Genesis in the long term.
“I have one other staff member who trains here, and the plan is to continue to grow and hire more trainers,” Wilkerson says. “It’s been a great ride so far, and I think there’s certainly room to grow.”
For additional information on Genesis Sports Performance, visit genesissportsperformance.com.