Steely determination and regular Fitness Center workouts helped 16-year-old Member Luke Downey-Yamada find his football feet.
When I was 6, my dad got me into basketball. He played when he was growing up and it was something he wanted us to do together.
It became my main sport for a long time, and I even played on the Club’s TAC Eagles team for a few years, starting in fourth grade.
My love of basketball led me to the IMG Academy in Florida. It’s a preparatory boarding school dedicated to sports. I’m a sophomore there now playing football, the American kind, but I first went there for basketball.
A big part of my road to IMG started in the Club [Fitness Center], and I really miss it when I’m away. I started my fitness journey there, a bit before the pandemic. I think it was 2019.
I heard about the gym from my mom [Emily Downey] and started trying to go there myself [at 13 years old]. But there’s an age policy. I was determined to get into shape and to get stronger, though, so I went when I could and ordered dumbbells and a barbell bench to use at home when I couldn’t. I trained outside my apartment and got decently big.
Finally, when I turned 15, I was old enough to go to the [Fitness Center] on my own. I could go there consistently, and that’s when I really started making progress.
The gym also helped me in other ways. It helped me socialize, to get to know a lot of people whom I still talk to today, even though I’m now away in Florida most of the time. Some of us are super close, our friendships formed through our sports and fitness activities. It’s a good environment in which to make friends like that because you can have these shared hobbies that you’re really passionate about.
The drive and determination from my time at the Club gym helped me when I got to IMG and started learning football. It was new to me, and the coaches told me that I might not play and to expect that. I accepted it and just tried to do my best. I learn quickly and I worked super hard. I started out at linebacker but later switched to running back. And I did get to play later in the season.
After I finish at IMG, I think I’d like to go to college in America. But whether or not I’ll get recruited for football, I’m not sure.
I do know I’ll always look forward to visiting the Club gym when I’m in Tokyo. There’s something about the atmosphere that makes you feel more locked in, more focused. I’ve been to a lot of gyms, but there’s just a different vibe to the one at the Club. It feels like home.
As told to INTOUCH’s C Bryan Jones.
Top Image: Luke Downey-Yamada