To prepare athletes of all ages for the next level in their individual sport, Oklahoma Christian University alumnus Jared Ka’aiohelo opened Athlete Inc., a fitness facility in Oklahoma City, OK, which aims to “raise the standard for facilities, equipment, coaching, programming and community.”
Ka’aiohelo, a 1999 graduate of Oklahoma Christian, attended the University of Arkansas out of high school to play football for the Razorbacks, before finishing his final two years of eligibility at Missouri Southern University. He played professional football beginning in 1995 as a free agent with the Houston Oilers before moving overseas to Scotland for two years to play in NFL Europe with the Scottish Claymores. In 1997, Ka’aiohelo signed another free agent deal with the Indianapolis Colts before returning to Edmond, OK to complete his undergraduate degree at Oklahoma Christian.
“I told my parents I was going to go back and graduate from Oklahoma Christian because that was what my family had always been a part of,” Ka’aiohelo said. “My grandparents, both of my parents, my aunt and uncle, sister-in-law and brother had all attended OC, so it was basically our home place.”
According to Ka’aiohelo, he found his passion for strength and conditioning by working out at the Adams’ Course—one of the first athlete-only performance training centers in the country—in 1988 and with legendary strength coach John Stucky at the University of Arkansas.
“Our strength coach was kind of the founding father of strength and conditioning at the college level, and I just started learning a lot from him and bought into what he was doing,” Ka’aiohelo said. “So, when I saw how it changed my opportunities, I began thinking that I wanted to share some of that stuff when I was done playing ball. I knew that it worked for me—it was not something I read in a book—I actually got to live that experience and it motivated me to get out and learn more.”
Ka’aiohelo helped out in the University of Oklahoma’s weight room before becoming the strength coach at the University of Central Oklahoma, the University of Kansas and Rice University in 2004, 2007 and 2009, respectively. While working with collegiate athletes, Ka’aiohelo noticed the players going to performance facilities during the offseason to train for their professional careers.
“I thought, ‘Hey, that is a pretty cool idea,’ but I did not think much about it until I had my fill of being a college coach and moved back to Oklahoma,” Ka’aiohelo said. “Then, I thought there was no better place than home to start a performance facility like they have in those other places.”
Ka’aiohelo’s dream to create a facility and culture where “clients of all fitness levels are coached properly and effectively to reach new goals,” came to life in the opening of Athlete Inc. with the help of professional athletes he had coached during their college careers.
“They told me they wanted to come train with me, and it was really those guys pushing me to train them in the offseason that made me realize this was something we could do full time,” Ka’aiohelo said. “The trickle-down of that was we started with professional athletes and the word got out, so we began to train high school athletes after school and small, local universities who did not have access to a weight room or a strength coach, like Oklahoma Christian. And now, we also have almost 100 adult members who come through for our performance classes.”
Currently, there are more than 16 players in the NFL who have had the opportunity to train with Ka’aiohelo, including James Winchester of the Kansas City Chiefs, David Moore of the Seattle Seahawks and Chris Boswell and Vance McDonald of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Recently, Ka’aiohelo had the opportunity to further relationships with NFL players, as well as coaches and agents, when he attended the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. Ka’aiohelo said the event provided him with the chance to learn useful information he could then implement at Athlete Inc.
“It was a great experience, as we got to meet a lot of people and I ran into some old teammates,” Ka’aiohelo said. “I wanted to go see the ins and outs of how it was run, as I had never been there on the side of coaching or as a trainer. Now, we can come back and reprogram things we need to offer at Athlete Inc. to compete on a national level, because that is our goal. Our mission is to bring in athletes from across the country and prepare them for the next level.”