NBA player Rudy Gay opening a basketball-focused training gym in Baltimore

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Photo via PickUp USA/Facebook

San Antonio Spurs forward and Baltimore native Rudy Gay will be opening a new gym focused on basketball training in his hometown as part of a partnership with fitness company PickUp USA.

The Pasadena, California-headquartered firm operates franchised gyms in six states where players can use workout equipment and courts to hone their game. Gay signed a deal to open two franchises. The second will be in Florida, where he owns a home.

“It’s a chance for me to have something in my name in the city where I was raised,” Gay said in a statement. He also noted the extracurricular utility of his planned gym: “Basketball keeps kids engaged. It’s a good way to keep them off the street.”

And for what it’s worth, Pickup USA’s founder and president, Jordan Meinster, also has Baltimore roots. He told Baltimore Fishbowl in a phone interview that he was born here and still has family in the area. Baltimore should make a great fit for a PickUp USA location, he said.

“It’s a market we’ve been looking at for a long time,” he added. “Obviously it’s exciting for me as a personal standpoint, but I think the city’s gonna eat this up for sure.”

The company talked with multiple NBA players over the last year about opening a franchise in Baltimore before eventually reaching an agreement with Gay. Meinster praised him as “a hardworking guy, humble guy, a big Baltimore guy.”

PickUp USA’s gyms provide the essentials that come with most any fitness club—weights, cardio equipment—but also have multiple basketball courts, refereed pickup games and group and private training sessions. They also have specialized training equipment, including machines that automatically collect and return balls to players–known as shooting guns–and Vertimax training equipment to work on leg strength and quickness.

A 2017 story in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune about the company’s flagship location in Irwindale, California, said they work with everyone from kids to adults.

As for where it will go, Meinster said they’re starting the site-selection process this week or next. Their hope is that the gym will be “as close to downtown as possible,” though he also said they would explore locations in the city or Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties, depending on where they can draw more members.

The company’s more base-level memberships typically cost around $50 per month, while premium offerings are “in the $100-a-month range,” he said. However, like other gyms, they sell memberships at a discount during pre-sales.

Gay happens to be playing some of the most efficient basketball of his career this season after coming back from a potentially career-ending Achilles injury. He’s also stayed active in working in and donating his time and money to his home city in the last couple years.

In August, his Flight 22 Foundation announced a partnership with D.C.-based EVERFI to offer entrepreneurship courses in city high schools. And for the last several years, his same foundation has helped to build new playgrounds around Baltimore to keep kids active, in addition to hosting a regular basketball showcase for local high school players.

Before his NBA career and college stardom at UConn, Gay was a standout for Archbishop Spalding in Severn and Eastern Technical High School in Essex.

This story has been updated.

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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in CityLab, Slate, Baltimore City Paper, DCist and elsewhere.
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