To his fans, Andre Agassi is one of the greatest tennis players in history, playing until the athlete’s old age of 36.
To Gil Reyes, Agassi’s strength trainer, Agassi will always be a “good boy.”
“I knew I couldn’t hurt Andre when he was training,” Reyes told SNEWS, adding that an injury for the star could have altered his entire career trajectory. “So that inspired me. Pretty soon I realized I loved the kid, he was a good boy, and I had to protect him.”
Protecting that kid who walked into Reyes’ University of Nevada Las Vegas training center at age 18 meant never letting him get hurt. So 20 years ago Reyes developed a few custom strength-training machines to ensure that never happened. And on Wednesday night in Los Angeles, Reyes and Agassi launched their new joint company BILT by Agassi and Reyes, and debuted a few of its first products, including the innovative Change of Direction machine, designed to give users strength and cardio workouts with low to no risk of injury.
Agassi described the product launch as cathartic experience, in an interview with SNEWS.
“We built this together over two decades, so to have an actual tangible symbol of the road you’ve traveled and to share that in people’s lives,” is a wonderful experience he said. Launching the company and its products, he said, is “a coming together of so many parts of me that I can’t quite absorb it.”
For Reyes, a man from East Los Angeles who’s worked hard his whole life, this is a dream come true. So much so that he said he’d been saying silent prayers of thanks the whole night of the launch party.
Agassi said he just wants the products to be in people’s lives, whether it be in a health club or a home gym. He said they provide a good workout for the full spectrum of athletes, from the elite to the person who just started strength training.
“Whatever your goal is you should be able to achieve that goal in an effective manner,” Agassi said. The equipment was particularly effective for his lower body, because that’s what he most focused on during his career: “My lower body was such an important part of my career, so to be able to get that stronger in a safe way allowed me to play until I was 36 years old, especially with the physical issues I have.”
Reyes said his machines are different from others out there, many of which have remained the same since he started lifting weights in the 1960s.
“What was a bench press then is a bench now,” Reyes said. “People have changed the color of the paint and the shape of the tubes, but it’s still a bench press.”
With the regular bench press comes a risk of shoulder injury, Reyes explained, “When you’re bench pressing and you reach back to get the bar off the cups, you are so susceptible to injury. Your shoulders are in a vulnerable position.”
To fix that, Reyes created an bar that automatically moves out of the way when a user is ready to bench.
One of the more exciting products is the Change of Direction machine (photo, left), which helps users do squats and side shuffles properly while bearing weight on the shoulders. This product effectively gives them both a cardio and strength workout. It's one of the 12 machines in the new line.
Former elite decathlete (who is still quite fit) Dan O’Brien has endorsed the product and told SNEWS, “When I first saw this product, all I could think was there is nothing out there like this."
The products from the Las Vegas-based company (Agassi’s hometown) will target schools and clubs to start, but consumer sales could be on the horizon. Agassi doesn’t want people just to read about it, he wants them to get out and try it when it’s available.
“I don’t hang my hat on the story,” Agassi said. “I hang my hat on the product and once people see it for themselves, they’ll realize it fits.”