Terry transforms athletes one step at a time

Tom Batters
Joe Terry

There are no mirrors at the Human Performance Lab.

Those who are looking to admire their physique, or flaunt their abs should find another place to work out.

Joe Terry, a former physical therapist who opened the lab last summer, is not the kind of guy who would be too impressed with people flaunting their abs anyway.

“My main goal is to help people achieve their highest level of fitness and performance,” he said. “It’s not too flashy, but I take a lot of pride in what I do.”

Minor league baseball pitcher Zach McAllister, state champion runner Amanda Duvendack (who has trained with him for five years), professional fighter Dan Hornbuckle, and former NCAA All-American runner Zach Glavash are just a few of the athletes Terry works with year round.

About 80-percent of Terry’s clients are athletes. Others who are competing in “the sport of life,” come to the lab to lose weight or practice a healthier lifestyle.

Before one drop of sweat falls, Terry sits down with each client to devise a detailed plan.

“For an athlete, I’ll evaluate flexibility, muscle imbalances, jumping mechanics, upper body power, lower body power, and several other factors that will be put into the plan,” he said.

During each session, Terry marks the athlete’s progress on a chart.

The programs differ depending on the athlete. The plan for a football player might be totally different than the that of a sprinter.

For Duvendack, the two-time state champion in the 800 meters at Metamora Township High School, the plan includes extensive work on “power stride technique.”

“We work a lot on how her foot hits the ground, and the technique of her stride, so that she is not wasting energy,” he said. “Those are specific things that a runner needs to work on.”

Duvendack will run for the University of Illinois in the fall.

Terry obtained a copy of the Illini track workout program, so he could work with Duvendack on certain exercises that will help prepare her for the U of I track regiment.

He has a thick binder full of college workout programs, so he can help athletes of all sports prepare for college.

Terry earned his bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from Bradley University in 1994. In 1997, he became a certified strength and conditioning specialist. He is also a certified sports performance coach and club coach through USA Weightlifting.

In his spare time, he competes nationally in heavy events at several Scottish-Celtic Highland Games competitions.

After spending years as physical therapist, he opened the Human Performance Lab in June of 2009.

His faithful clients, and many new ones, joined him.

It’s been unbelievable,” he said. “Yesterday, I had 31 clients come through here. That’s the most I’ve ever had on one day.”

Many of Terry’s clients are high school athletes from the Tri-County area.

He said he does not wish to interfere with their high school workout programs.

“I’ll tone it down if they have a heavy workout period at school,” he said. “I just want to enhance their workouts and to give them specific training that they need to perform at their highest level.”

Weights are only a part of the program.

“If a kid is still growing, then I don’t want him or her to lift too heavily,” he said.

Performance enhancing drugs are definitely not part of any program.

“If I hear of somebody who is using performance enhancing drugs, then I will not train with them,” he said. “There are no short cuts.”

Terry said some supplements can be helpful, but he is leery of those, too.

“You have to be careful,” he said. “There are supplements that can benefit an athlete, but I will only recommend that after careful consideration ... Actually, a glass of chocolate milk is one of the best recovery aids out there. It has the right mixture of protein, carbohydrates and sugar that muscles need.”

The lab is located in a nondescript warehouse building off Route 116 (next to Preferred Realty, near Cliff’s Market).

The inside of the building is blue collar in appearance. On the walls, several autographed pictures of clients are displayed.

A signed picture of former Richwoods basketball player Katie Murphy reads: “Thanks, Joe. I am stronger than ever before...”

An enormous monster truck tire sits in the corner. Its inside lining is signed by those who have mustered enough strength to turn it over.

“Not many have been able to do it,” Terry said. “It’s pretty heavy.”

The loft area has a flat-screen television so parents can stick around and watch TV while their son or daughter trains. Wi-fi service is also available for parents.

For a small additional fee, parents can work out alongside their children.

“We’re pretty laid back here,” he said. “The workouts are serious, but it’s a family atmosphere. Parents are always welcome.”

Sessions are available by appointment only. For more information, call Terry at 367-2820.