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New gym facility in Somerset caters to prep athletes

Jason Hankes, owner of the Hank's Gym, stands in his new facility dedicated to 7-12 grade students who are goal-oriented and "really want to step up their game."

Since he was 12 years old, Jason Hankes has always had a place to workout.

"I had my first set of weights when I was 10 years old," he announced proudly. "My uncles were good collegiate athletes and my dad always used to haul me around to gyms with him."

Hankes is the owner of Hank's Gym, 2260 40th St., in Somerset Township. Although his facility features free weights and other machines, he makes the distinction that this is not a typical gym.

"This is for junior high (and) high school kids who are serious about their training - they don't have to be an athlete, just a kid who wants to be in better shape," explained Hankes.

A contractor by profession, Hankes has also worked in the physical training field for 20 years, including a stint as the strength and conditioning coach at the University of Minnesota. He completed his graduate studies there in sports science.

In addition, he was a college-level health and PE instructor, high school coach and co-owner of a strength and conditioning facility when he was in his early 20's.

Putting his contractor skills to use, he built a facility on 14 acres near his home in the Somerset Township. The steel building houses Olympic weight lifting equipment and free weights, with weight mats from the University of Minnesota.

"I got a great deal on these," he enthused. "I had some before that were fine, but these matched."

There is also a small waiting room off to the side with a kitchen, sofas and table and chairs. It overlooks the training area so parents can watch in comfort.

Hank's Gym is not a public gym, per se. He only takes in small groups - up to 12 people per session - so he can work with them in detail.

"When you work out in a small group setting, there is more motivation, camaraderie and more fun," he said.

He suggests two to three workouts a week for athletes training in the off-season. There are four sessions, broken up by seasons so athletes can train when not playing.

"The most important aspect for anyone is the training program design," he said. "Base it on someone's goals, then all they have to understand is how to implement it."

Along those lines, he is constructing a military-style timber obstacle course beside the facility. Several large logs will be strategically placed over the area roughly half the size of a football field. He said that the course will come in useful during core training.

The facility is currently open for appointments, but he plans on holding an open house around Sept. 17. He also plans to have free monthly seminars for the public regarding sports nutrition, weightlifting techniques, etc.

For more information or to make an appointment, contact Hank's Gym at 715-227-2260 or email Hankes at hanks

"If you want to get results, you have to work hard," he said, standing by his Olympic weightlifting equipment. "This is the meat and potatoes right here."