Walking through the entrance of Jackson County Performance, Drew Shoemaker greets you and asks how you are doing.
Then it’s time to get down to business and go through a workout.
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No matter what you are going through in life or how your day has been, Shoemaker’s priority is to help you reach your goal, whether it’s to tone up, lose weight, build muscle or become faster or stronger.
You aren’t going to dread working out or feel judged or uncomfortable. It’s all positive and encouraging and focused on you.
“If they see you and you are all fired up, like ‘Hey, let’s have some fun, let’s do this, it will be a good time,’ that can change their complete attitude for the day,” he said. “It’s going to be fun, but we’re going to get to work, too.”
Shoemaker, 23, found a location for Brownstown’s only gym at 1056 Bloomington Road in September and began looking for equipment. He officially opened in November and now has about a dozen people who come in for personal training sessions.
He graduated from Brownstown Central High School in 2014 and went to Hanover College with plans to major in education and become a teacher. During his freshman year, he spent time in a school classroom and realized it wasn’t for him.
Since he was playing football and always lifted weights, a teacher at Hanover steered him toward majoring in health and movement studies to become a personal trainer.
His first class was kinesiology and integrative physiology.
“I put that on my schedule and I was like, ‘Oh boy, what did I get myself into it,’” Shoemaker said, smiling. “But it was one of the classes that I walked in and I was like, ‘All right, just have an open mind about it. You don’t really know what you want to do yet.’”
He said it was tough starting out learning about energy pathways and how the body breaks down everything. Once it began referring to muscle growth and how to help build muscle, he said it started to click for him.
“When it really started to help was whenever I started doing this stuff myself,” he said. “I was like, ‘All right, they say if you eat this many carbs, it will help you get more energy.’ I was like, ‘I’ll just try it out for a week.’ ‘OK, well, that works. That’s pretty cool.’”
During his second semester, he took a human anatomy class and got to work with cadavers.
“At first, it’s really weird because you’re walking in and you’re like, ‘OK,’” he said. “But then after that, you literally get the full body, you see how muscles attach, you can move the limbs and everything, see what muscles contract and extend for each thing. That was really interesting.”
His final classes were personal training-based, where he learned how to program workouts. For one class as part of his business minor, he had to do an internship and train clients.
He was connected with Jeremy Cook of Cook Performance in Batesville and interned there in the summer of 2017.
“At first, I was like, ‘I’m going to be here 13, 14 hours a day. Is this really going to be what I want to do?’” Shoemaker said. “There was never a moment where I was like, ‘All right, this is definitely not what I want to do.’ It’s ‘This is what I really enjoy doing.’ It just kind of clicked right away.”
After graduating from Hanover in May, Shoemaker said he thought it would take at least a year to build up enough money and find a location in Brownstown to start his own business.
One day, though, he heard about the front part of a building on Bloomington Road being available. He talked to owner Eugene Peters and also sought Cook’s opinion.
“(Cook) was like, ‘If it’s there and it’s what you want to do, just dive on in.’ He was like, ‘That’s all you can really do,’” Shoemaker said.
Once he secured the building, Shoemaker began seeking equipment. A Hanover football coach who runs a gym in Madison sold him some items.
He now has two squat racks, a punching bag, three benches, two treadmills, an elliptical, a push-pull sled, bands and dumbbells ranging from 5 to 115 pounds.
When someone comes in to sign up for personal training sessions, Shoemaker has them fill out a waiver and list any previous injuries or surgeries and their goals so he can create a workout for them.
It’s based on a three- or four-week rotation, depending on how many session they want per week.
“The workout is the same for three weeks, but it’s altered just a little bit, so if they are starting out with a lot of reps, the reps will decrease and then the weight will increase,” he said.
Each workout is individualized and set at a time convenient for the client.
“The one thing people like about personal training is that they can be secluded. There are certain people who don’t want to work out while other people are here, so it’s kind of a privacy thing,” Shoemaker said.
“If they are starting at the bare minimum and they are like, ‘I don’t know how to do this,’ going to a membership gym can sometimes be intimidating,” he said. “Going in there and not knowing what you’re doing, there are people staring at you while you’re trying to do something. But here, you have somebody showing you, telling you, helping you.”
On average, sessions go for 45 minutes. Shoemaker guides clients through a workout, ensuring they use proper form, stay safe and rest in between reps.
He can work with all ages and both men and women.
With children, Shoemaker said it’s important to keep sessions upbeat.
“You want to make it fun and interesting, but you want to keep them moving,” he said. “It’s going to be enjoyable for them, but it’s also going to be helping with whatever their parents want them to do.”
This past fall, Shoemaker helped coach football in Brownstown and was able to work with a couple of the players outside of their weights class and practices.
“Coach (Reed) May, his strength program is tremendous. It’s going to get them ready and everything like that, but here, I can work with them on explosiveness, getting them a quicker first step,” Shoemaker said.
“They do the central lifts. I can do stuff to help build up smaller muscles, help shoulder strength,” he said. “They do a lot of stuff with shoulders, but I can hit the smaller muscles to make it even stronger and stuff like that, make them a step faster and just more explosive getting out of their stance and doing whatever they’ve got to do with a quick first step, just really helping that area.”
Clay Brown and Nigel Myers were a year behind Shoemaker in high school. Since they were in weights class together, they like being able to work with Shoemaker again.
“He doesn’t put the pressure on like a lot of places do. He’s really good at just focusing on you to really get you through what you want to go through and reach your goals,” Myers said. “It has been nice growing up with him, playing sports with him, and having him help us, it just makes it more enjoyable than having a stranger teach us. It feels like a bunch of friends getting together and working out and having a good time.”
Brown said he likes the positive environment and energy.
“I think it’s huge because there are days where I don’t even want to work out. I’m tired from work and that sort of thing, and I just want to go home,” he said. “But I know when I walk in here, we’ll have the music blaring, and Drew is always pretty animated, so he keeps us energized and ready to go. Plus, we have a lot of fun in here, too. We joke around and stuff, but we also get our work done, so it’s a fun environment.”
With adults, Shoemaker said it’s all about doing things to prolong living on their own, including keeping their muscle mobility and strength up.
Amy Hartley and Gina Hackman are among his clients.
Hartley said she always thought a personal trainer might motivate her to focus on her health and fitness, but she never felt like driving to Seymour or Salem after leaving work.
With Shoemaker’s gym now in Brownstown, she said there are no more excuses.
“Drew makes me feel comfortable trying new things,” she said. “I also appreciate that he listened to my goals and put together a routine specifically for me. Yes, I was sore after my first workout, but I look forward to becoming stronger and healthier. This is certainly something Brownstown has needed.”
Hackman said she likes being able to work with Shoemaker in a private setting.
“Other gyms have always been a bit intimidating, but in this setting, I am completely comfortable,” she said. “Drew listened carefully to my goals and put together a workout tailor-made for me. I would highly recommend Jackson County Performance to anyone seeking a personal trainer in a private setting.”
Shoemaker said he’s glad to be doing something he is passionate about. Some people don’t look forward to going to work, but that is not the case with him.
“It’s nice just being able to finally truly figure out what I wanted to do, and it all came together fast, but it came together well,” he said. “I didn’t really have any hiccups along the way, and as of right now, it’s a lot of fun just doing something that keeps me interested. … It keeps me busy, but it has been a lot of fun, and I really enjoy it.”
Jackson County Performance is at 1056 Bloomington Road, Brownstown.