Two former minor league baseball players turned an abandoned warehouse in downtown Roanoke into a multifaceted athletic facility, complete with batting cages, resistance equipment and stationary bikes.
Matt Overman and Robbie Hebert operate Lab Sports Performance out of the old Fred Whitaker franchising service building on Ninth Street in southeast Roanoke. The company offers physical fitness classes and personal training sessions.
Lab Sports provides a unique combination of technology and training, said Overman. Cycling classes use the Performance IQ program to track the speed, duration and intensity of workouts. The technology sends an email to Lab Sports clients after their cycling session, detailing their physical activity and personal records for the day.
Overman said walk-ins to these spin classes are welcome. Lab Sports is one of the only fitness facilities in the area to offer pay-as-you-go classes, he said. But Lab Sports offers an innovative bike reservation program on its website.
Cycling classes are popular in the area and fill up quickly, said Overman. Lab Sports members can go online and reserve a particular bike in a particular class days in advance.
“You don’t have to worry about showing up and the class is full. You can go online and see the schedule two weeks in advance,” he said. “You just click on a bike, and you have that bike reserved for that class.”
Overman and Hebert bought the building on Ninth Street in September. Overman said the building was in disrepair, so it took time to fix up. But he said he knew it would be a great spot for business.
“The hardest part of getting this going was finding a building and finding a location. This location is right in the middle of everything,” he said. “It had been empty for so long, but we got with R.L. Price Construction. They worked their butts off to get it done by the time we opened it in January.”
Overman and Hebert met while playing college baseball at Nicholls State University in Louisiana. They kept in touch as they were both drafted into the minor leagues after graduation. Overman eventually found himself working at fitness facilities near Fort Collins, Colo. Hebert made his way to Edge Sports Conditioning in Roanoke, which is now Spectrum Sports Academy. He called Overman in 2011 to move to Roanoke and start an independent fitness firm. Soon after, Lab Sports Performance was born.
Overman and Hebert now oversee the sports performance side of their business. The 14,000 square foot building on Ninth Street is divided in half, with a 7,000 square foot baseball and softball center complete with four batting cages.
The other side of the building holds resistance equipment and stationary bikes. Lab Sports runs personal training and fitness sessions for clients as young as 6 years old. They also hold nutrition seminars and offer weight loss meal plans.
“We help anywhere from young athletes to adults to reach their goals. Whether that’s lose weight, become a better athlete, become a top tier athlete. We cover the whole spectrum,” he said. “A lot of people see us as just for athletes. We tell people that everybody’s an athlete in our eyes. Everyone has that competitive nature in them.”
Lab Sports focuses heavily on cycling. The company employs six spin class instructors, one of whom combines elements of cycling and yoga into her sessions.
Overman, Hebert, and their spin team currently work with about 150 clients, but Overman said events like the Lab Sports Performance open house on Wednesday attract more potential customers.
“We constantly run promotions. We have discounts for college students, firefighters, police officers, people active in the military,” he said. “We know it’s hard to commit to something right off the bat. We feel that if we get people here to try it out, they’ll see the quality of what we do.”
An annual membership at Lab Sports runs for about $100. Packages are available in biannual and monthly payments, but Overman said the 12-month membership gives clients the most for their dollar.
“The more months you commit to, the cheaper it is. And we have pay-for-class punch cards. We’re one of the only group fitness places here that has a pay-for-class system.”
Lab Sports Performance is at 1824 Ninth Street in southeast Roanoke. It is currently running a limited-time “Fit for a Fiver” program, in which participants can receive 2 weeks of personal training for $5.
For more information, call Lab Sports Performance at 540.206.3820, or visit http://labsportsperformance.com.