For athletes who are dedicated to improving their performance in a certain sport, results aren’t just dictated by what you do on the court or field — they’re also tied to the efforts you put in outside of practice or games.
DeVentri Jordan, founder and national director of GameFace Training at Life Time, has made it his career to mold athletes. GameFace Training offers programming to meet athletes of all ages wherever they are in their abilities or experience and help guide their training efforts — so they’re able to reach higher levels of performance when they are at practice or it is game time.
We spoke with Jordan to learn more about GameFace Training, the variation options for getting involved, and what athletes can expect when choosing to train with them.
Life Time Editorial | Let’s start by getting to know you. How did you get into athletic training?
DeVentri Jordan | Growing up, I was active in sports: I played football and ran track through college, and I also played some baseball. However, my passion for the industry extends beyond football, track, and baseball — I love virtually all types of sports.
I attended St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minn., and got my undergraduate degree in human development and family studies. I later got my masters in kinesiology from Concordia University in St. Paul, Minn.
I trained athletes for two years with Under Armor® in Baltimore, Md., before moving on to train student athletes with IMG Academy, the world’s largest multi-sport training and educational institution, in Bradenton, Fla., for a few years. I moved back to Minnesota in 2013 and started GameFace Training out of the trunk of my car.
I would drive around to high schools, gyms, and church community centers to work with individuals. It was a challenging time: Think about being in -37-degree F weather and having to transport metal kettlebells — my hands felt like they were going to freeze off the equipment was so cold! I used to arrive at my destination about an hour early so the equipment could warm up enough for people to use it.
I created a training curriculum that I’ve used over a number of years — and it’s still the one we use today at GameFace Training with Life Time. I began by first testing it on athletes, as I wanted to prove it worked well before launching it. I was able to see how the athletes improved based on the training protocol.
I then started telling more people about it, and we’ve grown from there. Although we maintain the same curriculum, it does evolve some depending on the athlete’s needs and any equipment innovations.
I never started out with the intention to train top professional athletes; I have always enjoyed developing younger athletes and helping them see their potential and reach the next level in whatever it was they were aspiring to achieve. However, a number of those young athletes advanced to become some of the top athletes in Minnesota, and many are now playing at a professional level. For instance, I had the opportunity to train Paige Bueckers who plays for the UConn Huskies, Stephon Tuitt who plays for the Pittsburg Steelers, Taylor Lewan who plays for the Tennessee Titans, and Teddy Bridgewater who plays for the Denver Broncos.
LTE | How did the partnership with Life Time come about — and what will it offer to Life Time members?
DJ | All I’ve ever wanted to do is provide a training-service model that would enable me to be able to reach the masses. However, I’ve had limited resources, and that was only amplified when the pandemic hit.
I had been training an aspiring athlete, Phoenix Sproles, since he was a sophomore in high school (he is now a junior in college). His father, Efonda Sproles, is the vice president of scouting at Life Time, and he approached me in June 2020 with a proposal around a partnership with Life Time. Soon after receiving that proposal, I met with Bahram Akradi, Life Time’s founder and CEO. GameFace officially partnered with Life Time shortly after that.
As a result of our partnership, our GameFace Sport program will be offered in the majority of Life Time locations, and our GameFace Pro Series programming will be available in a large number of regional locations. As needed, we can still bring GameFace to other locations.
To this point, GameFace Training has been rooted in Minnesota with our two locations at New Hope and Winter Park in Eden Prairie. Through this partnership, our new vision is to become a national leader in sports-performance training with locations throughout the United States.
LTE | What are various types and levels of programs that GameFace offers?
DJ | Our programming consists of four very different programs, tailored specifically to the needs of the athlete. GameFace Sport is an entry-level sports-training class for kids ages 5 to 8 and 9 to 13 (grouped appropriately by development). It’s available in 130-plus Life Time clubs across the country.
The GameFace Pro Series, which encompasses Varsity, D1, and Elite programming, will be available in 50-plus locations across the country over the next couple of years; it’s starting this year in Boca Raton, Fla.; Houston; and Centennial, Colo.
GameFace Sport are 45-minute classes that teach fundamental skills for young athletes, specifically speed, agility, and strength. Performance coaches teach kids how to control their bodies while moving, and develop proprioception, which is the coordination between their mind, arms, and legs. Kids continue to improve their skills through playing games and exercising.
GameFace Varsity is designed for kids who want to improve in their high-school sport and may go on to play in college, though they may not be sure yet what their future sports endeavors will look like. In this program, athletes will start with a movement series geared specifically toward the sport they’re training for, and then progress into weightlifting regimens.
GameFace D1 is for athletes who have decided they want to play at the next level and are getting scouted by some colleges. These athletes follow the same training system as GameFace Varsity, except it’s further tailored to their specific needs.
GameFace Elite is for collegiate and professional athletes. This is the highest form of training within GameFace Training. Following the same model as our other Pro Series programs, this system is adjusted to be hyper-focused on the athlete’s needs.
As for access, GameFace Sport is included for Life Time members as part of Junior Memberships, while GameFace Pro Series programs are accessible by Life Time club members or Life Time Sport members for an additional fee. Participants will start with a complimentary evaluation to then help determine which training program is best for them.
LTE | How is GameFace Training different from other sports training offerings?
DJ | The thing about GameFace Training is that we’re training you to become a better athlete — we’re not training you specifically for a certain sport. We’ll work on movement skills — including lateral, linear, and multidirectional movement — as well as progressing lifting abilities, improving acceleration and deceleration, and preventing injury.
We meet athletes at their starting point, wherever that is, and offer true performance progressions. We aim to get to know each athlete to understand what motivates them and what their goals and aspirations are. Following an athlete’s initial evaluation, we’ll determine what specific needs they have and how those apply when creating their training program. Nothing we do is cookie cutter.
Our coaches are highly experienced and educated. Many possess exercise physiology degrees, as well as are NASM-certified and/or hold other well-regarded industry certifications.
We offer a holistic approach that hits on every aspect that contributes to making athletes better — beyond just fitness and movement. For instance, we emphasize healthy nutrition habits and nutritionists are available to consult with athletes, nourishing meals are at hand on site, and supportive supplements are included in programming.
Recovery efforts are also prioritized, and state-of-the-art recovery equipment is used in post-workout sessions. Adequate sleep is highly encouraged, too.
Additionally, communities are formed — athletes become like family — and maintaining good mental health is prioritized.
LTE | Let’s say I’m an athlete interested in doing one of the GameFace Pro Series program offerings. What can I expect?
DJ | Every athlete who comes in first goes through an evaluation. We talk with the athlete and their parents to discover what they would like to see for themselves. We then come up with a program. We reassess individuals programs every six weeks to determine if they’re ready to progress or if they need to regress, depending on where they’re at.
On a typical day, an athlete arrives for training and, first thing, consumes a pre-workout shake (if desired — this is included with training). They get settled with their designated coach and begin their workout. Athletes will work through guided movement and lifting sessions, concluding with recovery efforts. They’re then able to leave the facility with a post-workout shake (again, if desired) or use the lounge area to spend time with other athletes.
When an athlete signs up, the initial time commitment is 30 days. We like to keep it honest and go month-to-month so athletes feel good about staying if they like what we’re doing or feel comfortable leaving if they don’t.
Typically, an athlete stays for several months before they going back to play their sport in season; they often come back to us after their season is over. However, if they can swing it, I encourage athletes to train with us during both the on- and off-season. I believe that in-season training is more important because you work so hard to get to a certain point and I don’t want you to lose any of your fitness while in-season.
If an athlete is under a certain regimen for their team, we can communicate with their coaching staff. Our role is to prepare athletes for when they return to their coach. We’re training the athlete to get to that higher level they want them to be at.
Based on the athlete’s evaluation, we’ll determine how many days a week we recommend they train for. We offer two, three, or four days a week, with an additional recovery day. We always want to challenge our athletes, but also make sure the approach is one they’ll be able to be successful with.
We keep our training semi-personal, which means groups of four to five athletes per session. We aim to form groups of like-minded athletes, who can push and motivate each other. The goal is to keep athletes in a consistent group with the same coach so they can build relationships and the coach can maximize the results of the athletes. We believe competition is good and kids can benefit from pushing each other. This creates a fun, relaxed, and challenging environment.
LTE | What is the benefit of athletes doing additional training outside of their regular sports-team practices?
DJ | Playing your sport and going to practice is one thing, but you need to add time to become a better athlete. And you have to find the right training facility that fits your needs.
Sometimes athletes need to be uprooted from their normal environment to get better. The added training is also about more than just sport-specific skills, plays, or efforts: If you can work on becoming a better conditioned athlete, then you’re also working on injury prevention and learning how to prioritize recovery and take care of your body — mentally and physically.
LTE | How can I learn more about or get started with GameFace Training?
DJ | To learn more about or view the schedules for GameFace Sport classes, visit mylifetime.life. To learn more about or get involved with other GameFace Training programming, visit gamefacetraining.com and schedule a complimentary evaluation with one of our certified performance coaches. We look forward to helping your athlete win.