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Akil Bordelon knew he wanted to stay around sports one way or another.
For Bordelon, it was either make it to the NFL, coach athletes or train athletes. Well, after a successful playing career that saw the Berkeley High School graduate spend time in the junior college ranks at Diablo Valley College before embarking on a journey across the country to Concord University, a Division II school in Athens, West Virginia, Bordelon ended up in the latter.
When he was a junior in college, he was taking an internship for his major. Jamal Liggin, a world-renowned trainer whom he works with now in Los Angeles, allowed him to go back out to the west coast and complete a two-week internship.
So, he cleaned the gym, racked weights and was learning all about the business that would eventually become his professional career.
“When I was out here, I was telling him like, ‘Hey, like if I don’t make it to the league I want to actually come help build this with you and do it’ because at the time Jamal was like a year and a half in building JLT in Los Angeles, and he originally started in the Bay Area,” Bordelon said. “He was like about a year and a half into it, about a year actually and then I just told him like, ‘Hey, if this doesn’t work out, I’m going to come help you do this and that.’”
It would start out as helping build the high school profile, while Liggin would handle the pros.
But right away, it was different than Bordelon envisioned. Twelve NFL players were in the gym on that first day.
Two months later, Liggin set him up to work with one of the top players in college football history.
“He’s like, ‘Alright, I’m going to need you to get Reggie Bush.’ I was like, ‘Okay. By myself?’” Bordelon said. “He was like, ‘Yeah.’ I was like, ‘Okay, cool.’ But then after that it just took off. Like now it’s like the rest is history.”
Since those first few days around Bush and NFL guys, Bordelon’s profile on the training scene has only grown.
And it has grown exponentially.
The Jamal Liggin Training client list features any name one can think of. Odell Beckham Jr. is a JLT client. Saquon Barkley. Von Miller. Leonard Fournette. Bobby Wagner. Wilson Chander. Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs. DJ Khaled.
“They need to work out somewhere, so they’ll hit us up,” Bordelon said. “They’ll hit a teammate up and be like, ‘Hey, who’s the best in LA?’ They’ll say, ‘These guys.’ ‘Okay, cool.’ They’ll hit us up, say ‘such and such just told me to hit you guys. I’m trying to do some work. I’m here for a month and a half.’ ‘Cool, come to the gym.’”
“That’s pretty much how we get our clients off of is word of mouth. We post on social media and stuff like that. All of our clients come off of other clients. ‘They’re going to reach out to you guys. They’re going to be in LA.’ ‘These guys are legit.’ That’s how that goes.”
Bordelon, in particular, is training some of those famous athletes and celebrities.
Some of those players include Washington Wizards big man Thomas Bryant, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Rasheem Green, Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl winner Charvarius Ward and Oakland Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby – who was a menace for Bordelon’s childhood team as a rookie as he recorded 10 sacks.
Crosby even mentioned Bordelon on his social media profile last month.
“These last two weeks for training camp prep, he’s a totally different guy,” Bordelon said in early July. “He’s exploding off the ball, exploding through stuff, just doing stuff that I’m like, ‘Dang.’ He literally just flipped on a switch and he knows he has six weeks to get ready for season because all the guys go back third week of July. It was just kind of like, ‘Oh, okay. I see he’s able to flip the switch.’ It’s going to be a great year for him this year. I can’t wait. I definitely can’t wait.”
Training athletes in each of these respective sports comes with its own set of unique workouts.
For football players, they want to focus more on speed, power and agility, and they want to get in a gym session, lift weights, a field session, a hill session, lift weights again and then a beach session with some weights. They want them in the gym four to five days per week to do upper or lower body lifting, but they also like to go to the field across the street a few times per week. Hills are mandatory once a week, and a beach session is also in the schedule once a week.
Once training camp prep revved up, they moved it up to six days out of the week to get their athletes as prepared as possible for when they meet back up with their respective organizations.
The field isn’t necessary for the basketball players, but Bordelon said the training regimen is similar to what they do with other athletes. Except everything is in the gym, where they go 20 minutes in the gym, do lateral movement, along with exact elements one would see in an actual game – like running on the treadmill for 12 seconds, getting up and down the basketball court and then doing three jumps.
“Something to make it be as realistic as possible,” Bordelon said. “With the recovery time, we say, ‘Okay, it’s a 30 second timeout. Alright, it’s a two-minute timeout. Alright, it’s a break.’ The basketball players – they still get a lift in as well, but they just don’t do as heavy as football guys. It’s all kind of tailored the same because movement at the end of the day is all the same. You just got to specialize with certain things for certain athletes and stuff.”
Bordelon’s career has taken off in Southern California, and he is living out his dream as a top-shelf trainer.
“I was like, ‘This is dope,’” Bordelon said. “And then it took like a few months and then just being around Odell with Jamal, that’s like the top of the top. If you can deal with that, you can kind of deal with anybody. After that, I was just like it’s regular now. Now when guys come in, Von Miller comes in, ‘What’s up, Von.’ It’s just regular. It’s good though. I enjoy it.”
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