The elite athletes of any sport don’t become that way simply by showing up on game night. They have worked countless hours, practiced and prepared days, weeks and months in advance to reach their moment in the spotlight.
But what separates the best of the best from the average athlete is in getting the extra edge. Many get that from working with a personal trainer who offers extra attention to fine tune raw talent into elite status.
Kareem Vance has worked with some of the top athletes in DeSoto County and recently opened a location in Olive Branch for those who want to use his services.
Vance, a former football player who spent time playing in arena football and in the Canadian Football League professionally after a standout career in high school, at Northwest Mississippi Community College and at Delta State University, offers weight training, endurance, performance training and speed and agility training.
Among those who work with Vance are Myah Taylor, the two-time Mississippi Gatorade Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year who is considered a five-star prospect and a top-50 national recruit by ESPN, and D.J. Jeffries, also a five-star recruit and considered one of the top-ten Class of 2019 recruits nationally. Both hail out of Olive Branch High School.
Vance said he started to consider being a personal trainer when his football career was cut short by injuries.
“I always had a love for working out and my brother-in-law recommended I should look at becoming a personal trainer,” Vance said. “I started getting into it and discovered there was a lot more than just going into a gym, picking up weights and working out.”
A professionally licensed Sports Performance Enhancement Trainer, Vance has offered his expertise for the past 15 years and works with people of all ages, youth, adults, seniors and those with special needs.
Success in the athletic world many times comes from attention to detail.
“I saw there was a need a big need for that,” Vance said. “I saw a lot of athletes that had a lot of potential, but they needed that potential to continue to be developed. I knew that if a certain kid got a little more help or worked a little more on a particular area, we could get him or her to where they could be a better athlete and improve their performance just by working and tweaking a few things outside of what they’re doing at school.”
Taylor said her workouts under Vance are unique to her in that they are tailored for her needs.
“He focuses a lot on the smaller muscles that other trainers and other athletes sometimes overlook or believe are unimportant,” Taylor said. “He works literally every muscle you have in your body, but he’s helped me tremendously. He has a specific workout for me that compares to college workouts because he does his research. He puts together a work plan every day and it’s comparable to what girls’ basketball players at the collegiate level do."
Corey Jeffries, D.J.’s father, said his son has seen the most improvement in strengthening his “core” area, that part of the mid-section from the waist to the lower chest area.
“That’s where your power comes from,” Jeffries said. “Some think it comes from your legs and your thighs, but your core plays a major part in that and Kareem taught him that.”
“He’s helped me get stronger and a lot quicker,” added D.J. “When I first get there, we work on our core first, then we work on our curls and bench and a lot of things like that.”
Vance believes one’s good health is a person’s most valuable asset.
“I used to tell the kids in the school system that your health class is your most important class,” Vance said. “You can go to school to be whatever you want and you can be whatever you want. But, if your health fails you, there’s nothing you can do. We have to make sure we are taking care of our health in order for us to continue to do what we want to do and reach our goals.”
Kareem Vance Fitness is located at 7105 Cockrum Road next to Fred’s in Olive Branch. For more information, call 901-270-8224.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.