The brothers of Team GUTS help Metro Detroit children with special needs thrive with a fitness center designed specifically for them.
Two brothers raised on sports and fitness hope to give back a little of their talents to those who face the biggest challenges with balance and exercise — the population with special needs. They call their gym Team GUTS.
“Our gym is no different on the surface than any fitness center, but everything is designed to develop core strength, movement and team games,” says Paul Turner, co-owner of Team GUTS in Ferndale, with his brother, Todd Turner.
After their open house in August and a series of classes, the brothers hope to work with clients individually and in groups from 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. “We’ve had a hundred conversations with parents and organizations,” Paul Turner says. “We need to have a thousand to help reach children in need. The biggest obstacle is letting people know we are here.”
Team GUTS stands for Ground Up Training System, a form of physical fitness based on progressive resistance. The Turner brothers and their team tailor specific exercise regiments to address their clients’ needs, desires and fitness levels. The aim is to get people better at everything they do, from performing on a soccer field to tackling kitchen chores.
With nonprofit status, the founders hope to recruit grants and donations to better serve the challenged population, including those with financial limitations.
Todd Turner’s daughter has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism. He saw that many children with one condition or the other became obese and lethargic, simply because they were neglected when it comes to physical fitness programs.
“We knew we could help people of all ages improve their quality of life through proper exercise,” he said.
Linda Friedman brings her 27-year-old son, Danny, from West Bloomfield to Ferndale for weekly Zumba classes. “The teacher is wonderful. She knows how to work with young people with Down syndrome and other challenges,” Friedman says. “The class is the highlight of his week.”
Todd Turner reaches out and engages Danny in conversation, plays baseball with him and kids him about guy stuff, something that Friedman appreciates because he is often the only guy in dance class.
“Everyone at Team GUTS is receptive and caring,” Friedman says. The staff also works with Danny’s health needs and encourages him to push more to achieve his goals.
Team GUTS offers a fitness studio with simulated wood floors with a rubber underlay, offering some cushion to students participating in Zumba, martial arts and yoga. They can accommodate people with wheelchairs and prosthetics. Another room offers a variety of weights and weighted balls so youth can develop core strength and muscle dexterity. And yet another room in this converted warehouse has synthetic turf and nets for playing volleyball, baseball, soccer and other games.
As the Turner brothers build up clientele, they rent the facility to soccer organizations and conduct fitness coaching with people in the community. Their expertise goes back to lessons with their Uncle Joe Sefa, an All-State athlete who taught the boys the right way to play, instruct and coach, and also inspired a lifelong interest in working with kids.
Both brothers played competitive sports in high school. Todd Turner received a degree in fitness; Paul Turner has a degree in marketing. For the last 15 years, they have coached youth baseball programs, and they currently run a tournament team program, Titans Baseball.
“We’re so grateful for the guidance we got as kids and thrilled we’re able to give back some of that to a new generation,” Paul Turner said.
Their aim is to provide those with special needs the same fitness, athletic and sports options enjoyed by the general population, and they intend to do this on a year-round basis.
Team GUTS Inc.
1008 Orchard St., Ferndale