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Home Grown: Get in shape with Charlie Lepari

Editor's note: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.

What do you do and how long have you been doing it? I do personal training and sports-performance training. We've got a smorgasbord of clients from housewives wanting to lose weight before they go to Hawaii to high school athletes and kids coming in when they are 10 years old training for sports. I've been doing it for 15 years.

How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley? I moved here in 1977 from Los Angeles.

What inspired you to go into this line of work? I've worked out my whole life. I had so many people coming to me to work with their kids to get faster and prepare for sports that I realized I was spending too much time doing this for free. Then I started my own business and it just exploded. I started in my garage; now I'm in a 3,200-square-foot place, and it's just awesome. You come in here and maybe you have a bad knee. You're actually doing rehab on a bad knee next to a football player, next to a gal in her middle ages doing her own workout. Sometimes I will have people doing the same workout, but everyone is getting the personal training. It's like a family in here. I'd say 95 percent of people who go to a gym anywhere aren't really working out. They think they're working out. They'll say, "I've worked out 15 years on my own," and will come in and go like, "Wow." If you're not challenging yourself, you're just wasting your time. When you come in here, we pretty much demand results. I've got 70-year-olds coming in, but they're not going to be doing the same things that a football player is doing here or someone who has been working out three years.

What decision or action would you change if you could do it again? I probably should have gotten bigger 10 years ago, but I was probably just too lazy. It was comfortable doing it the way we were doing it. Now that we've moved, they realize it's still the same, just a lot nicer.

What's the toughest business decision you've made? Moving into a bigger place, you've got lots of stuff to think about — a landlord and things like that. It's more expensive now because I'm in a bigger place. But I'm already picking up people from the downtown area.

Who are your competitors? Your normal personal trainer would be at Superior or Oz. CrossFit gym across town.

What are your goals? I'm in a bigger facility now. We're going to be doing some classes, groups of kids from soccer and basketball teams, strength and foot drills for their sports. I would like to see more teams working out and that kind of thing. I had so many people, I couldn't handle it. I had about 1,100 square feet before and 3,200 now. I have a big cardio area now. I've got cardio memberships now. My daughter, Shai, is 21 and is going through certification right now and will begin helping me.

What training or education did you need? I ran track for Athletes in Action for seven years and won a silver medal in 1998 at the Nike World Masters Games in Eugene. I took certification classes as a personal trainer, and I've been the sprint coach at St. Mary's for 19 years. I worked in the X-ray department at Providence Hospital for 15 yearsbefore I started doing this.

What's your advice for budding entrepreneurs? Get off your butt and get it done. We have a poster here in the gym that says: You've only failedwhen you have failed to try.

To suggest ideas for this column, about businesses that are at least five years old, contact reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or e-mail business@mailtribune.com.

Crater High School senior Tyler Turituri, 18, is trained by Charlie Lepari at Lepari's Sports and Fitness in Medford. - Bob Pennell