|Peter Castaldo (L) and L. D'Shawn Wright|
Body By D Gym - Fitness With A Message
In just a few short years, Body By D Gym in Yorktown, VA has developed a faithful following on the Peninsula. I had an opportunity recently to meet with L. D'Shawn Wright and Peter Castaldo, the driving forces behind the five principles. Some great work being done here!
Based on simple core principles and word of mouth advertising, the Body By D Gym in Yorktown is quickly becoming the go-to spot for young athletes on the Peninsula. Spurned by the success of several of its younger members, the gym has become a supplemental training facility for high schoolers looking for the extra edge needed to compete at the collegiate level. With a growing number of Division I signees in several sports as members and a newly formed Hall of Fame, the buzz surrounding the gym is hard to ignore.
Tucked into the side of a pale non-descript building off Route 17 and Dare Road, there is nothing special about the locale, aside from the block letters of the “BODY BY D” logo which hover above the entrance to the gym. But once inside, it is strictly business. Athletes of all ages are seen working with a variety of free weights, treadmills, medicine balls and other exercise equipment. However, there is more to Body By D, according to gym president and owner, L. D’Shawn Wright.
“We’re also teaching them life lessons,” says Wright, himself a national champion bodybuilder, youth motivational speaker, radio host (his “Man in the Mirror” radio talk show can be heard on WYRM 1110 AM), and sometimes featured movie extra. “Our program is based on five principles.”
Indeed, the principles are listed on the website (www.bodybydgym.com) as well as on the back of the business cards provided by Wright, vice-president Peter Castaldo, and instructors Brian Hammons and Morgan Cannon. Looking at the testimonials from parents and athletes on the website, these values have been implemented well.
“We want them to understand that it’s not always about making the big play. It’s the play after that matters,” adds Wright. “We want to prepare them for the next level.”
Castaldo reinforces the supplemental aspect of the training program. “We’re not trying to take them away from their coaches,” says the New Jersey native. “We want to provide something extra.”
In the age of specialized training becoming a part of high school sports, sometimes the extra boost is necessary. Ethan Carter was one of their first members. Already a star pitcher as a sophomore at Denbigh HS, Carter could throw a baseball, but lacked other athletic abilities.
“Wow, he could pitch, for sure, but he couldn’t jump rope or do a good push-up,” recalls Wright, half-jokingly. A look at Carter’s testimonial on the website seems to give credence to this reflection as the future University of South Carolina signee writes, “we set and reached many goals including being an Aflac Baseball High School All-American. I could not have done this without training with D’Shawn.”
The list of clients serviced since its 2009 opening reads like a “Who’s Who” of Peninsula athletes. Along with Carter, there are fellow pitchers Cameron Roth (Longwood) and Jared Lyons (Liberty), as well as other local diamond standouts such as Adam McConnell (U. of Richmond – drafted by Dodgers) and Chris McDougal (Liberty). Softball all-stars Jordan Hanna and Maggie Tyler have trained at the gym, alongside soccer prodigals Brittany Hammons and Sydney Omweg. The list of notables is rapidly approaching 30 names and now includes two NASCAR series and one motocross racer. In all, 18 members have earned college athletic scholarships.
Very impressive, considering that the training sessions began with ten kids. The connection with baseball started early.
“This used to be a batting cage and training center,” recalls Wright. “Rusty Ingram (York HS baseball coach) would bring his players here. I used to run the fitness department. Eventually, they closed and the landlord asked me if I was interested in the area.”
At the time, Castaldo was a gym member, but signed on with Wright to “run fitness.” Since the gym appeals to all ages, there is a process that any incoming athlete will go through to determine which trainer is best for his or her needs. “There’s a different type of flavor with each of us,” notes Castaldo. “We have our own style and when it comes to working with athletes, it usually doesn’t take long to make a connection.”
Sporting a 20% growth in revenue over the past year, the future looks bright for “Body By D” gym, a point emphasized by its owner with the following comparison.
“They have always had something like this on the Southside, a place where the young baseball players could go. We (the Peninsula) are like that now. Something’s really happening here.”
Body By D Gym is located in Grafton at 106 North Constitution Drive, at the intersection of Dare Road, one block east of Route 17. The phone number to the gym is 757-369-8479.