Oguchi Onyewu made his name as one of the most imposing defenders to ever play for the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team, and now after his retirement in 2014, he’s trying to tackle the Richmond fitness scene.
Onyewu and partner Chris Gorres are launching Onyx Elite, a sports performance training facility that will set up shop in 10,000 square feet within the 150,000-square-foot U-Turn Sports facility on Maywill Street, near Willow Lawn.
“This has been over half a decade in the making,” said Onyewu. “My soccer career has allowed me to train with a lot of trainers and sports specialists. In my years I was very fortunate to have the best services, and I want to be able to relay that to the everyday person.”
Onyewu and Gorres grew up together in the D.C. area, and while Onyewu was playing professionally, Gorres was studying through the National Academy of Sports Medicine to become a performance coach.
Gorres has trained professional athletes in most major leagues, including Ali Krieger and Crystal Dunn of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, Washington Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, and New Orleans Pelicans guard Langston Galloway. But Gorres said he wants Onyx Elite to be for everyone, not just professionals.
“To me, performance is defined as getting better at whatever it is that you do,” Gorres said. “For a lot of people, that could mean they just want to play with their kids or get to the top of the steps and not feel tired. And for some people, performance means winning the World Cup.”
Onyewu and Gorres said Onyx won’t be just another gym.
“We’ll have the basic racks and weights and stuff you’d expect, but there’s also instrumental equipment that I don’t think any other company in the Richmond area has access to,” Onyewu said, adding that Onyx will have advanced analysis equipment and a team of nutritionists, trainers, and coaches.
Renovations to their space in U-Turn will begin soon, with a planned launch in early 2017.
U-Turn is the facility of choice for several youth club sports teams, from soccer to volleyball to AAU basketball, and Onyx Elite will aim to tap into that built-in audience.
Onyx Elite is being privately funded, and Onyewu said it is entertaining offers from other outside investors.
In choosing Richmond as a base for the business, Gorres said they looked around at what was happening around the country, and realized that all the biggest and best training facilities are in cities like Los Angeles, New York and Miami. They wanted to bring something to the Mid-Atlantic, near their hometown.
“I think Richmond is a great area, and it’s an untapped market for what we’re doing. There’s a lot of upside,” Onyewu said.