Next Level Sports Training steps up game

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Variety featured at local gym

By Nick B. Reid

Hampton Union, July 12, 2013

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

Interior of Next Level Sports
The adult fitness programs at The Next Level Sports Training
in Hampton are intense workouts that can be modified for any
fitness level.  [Nick B. Reid photo]

 HAMPTON — What's your reason for not going to the gym? Unsure about how to get going? Tired of the same old routine?

Whatever it is, Darren Nicoli, the proprietor of The Next Level Sports Training on Scott Road in Hampton, has seen a core group of adults coming from afar to his ever-changing circuit training setup since he expanded his practice from focusing only on student athletes.

"When I went to the gym, it was just the same thing over and over," said Colleen Salvo, who now travels an hour from Salem to The Next Level. "We never do the same thing; the workout's always different. We've been here a year and a half and we've really never had the same workout," she said of herself and her friend, Paula Schumaker, who travels from Fremont.

Schumaker said it's the camaraderie of the group and the motivation Nicoli adds during the workout, which sends participants between stations customized to work out a particular body area, that sets The Next Level apart from other places she has been.

"He also checks your form," she said. "One day we counted — we did 288 of those (swinging a sledgehammer over your head onto a large tire) — and at about 250, he tells me I'm not swinging it high enough. Are you kidding me?"

Nicoli works personally with each member of the class as they bounce around his gym, which doesn't have any of the machine-type equipment that many places are stocked with, instead focusing on free weights, resistance bands and other, more dynamic exercises such as swinging around large, heavy ropes. Along the walls of the gym are custom-made, life-size wall decal cutouts of the high-school athletes who train at The Next Level.

Nicoli's adult fitness program was borne out of parents of those athletes asking what he had available for them. So he started offering daily classes at 9 a.m. and noon, as well as classes for adults at 6:45 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The group is typically about 10 or 12 people, and he will quickly go over what he wants participants to do at each station he has designed for that day. If there's a newcomer, he will follow closely to ensure he or she is performing the exercises properly.

For access to all the classes, customers pay $59 the first month and $99 each subsequent month; they're also encouraged to try it out for free.

Nicoli said the athletes he trains, who come from Exeter, Portsmouth, Dover, St. Thomas Aquinas, Sanborn, Pinkerton and Salem, generally have an overwhelmingly positive response to the program from the start.

"Once they're here for one day, they stay," Nicoli said.

Because of this, he designed the adult classes to be similar to what has worked for his young athletes in the past. He focuses on setting himself apart from other circuit-type gyms that "only do certain things over and over" or industrial-type gyms where "everyone wears headphones and no one talks to each other." At The Next Level, he has his members working together like a team and he is always there driving them.

In addition to the gym, Nicoli touts the 17-mile rail trail right behind the gym or the nearby hill where he sometimes runs alternative workouts. He is also working on an obstacle-course training ground to help prepare runners of such races as the Tough Mudder, Spartan Race and Warrior Dash.

And there's no risk to joining, he said, because results are guaranteed and he will refund anyone who doesn't feel like they're seeing improvement.

"But no one's ever asked," he said.

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