Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, this past year was challenging for any business. For a team of local athletic trainers, it was the right time to get their idea off the ground.
F1 Performance, a new athletic training and rehabilitation center in Rosedale that opened on Dec. 1, is the brainchild of John Carroll football assistant coaches Nik Farmer and Lawrence “L.J.” Fenlock. The two met when they joined the Patriots staff this past season, hit it off and paired with trainer Antonio Johnson of DB Elite Skills, as well as physical therapist Dr. Andrew Livingston of True Sports Physical Therapy, to flesh out their idea.
“I’ve always known them. We’ve always been able to talk, bounce off ideas of how we train and laugh about how if we were all doing it in the same spot,” Farmer said. “We always joked about it, and then I met L.J. down the road. Me and him talked and he kicked me in the butt to get it going because I didn’t see it for myself before he saw it. I thank him for that.”
The two eventually took out a loan together to rent an office space on the 9330 block of Philadelphia Road in Rosedale, which eventually turned into a turf field, a weightlifting area and physical therapy office. Farmer and Fenlock let their friends know about their training services, and word spread like wildfire. Their goal is to have a “one-stop shop” for skills training, fitness and recovery in the Baltimore area.
Located minutes away from the Inner Harbor, Towson and Harford County, the the operation is accessible to athletes all over the Baltimore area.
“There’s not really a place in the area where you can drop your son or daughter, let them get their treatment, then have them come work out in the weight room or vice versa,” Fenlock said. “[This is] in the weight room, to the turf, to physical therapy. That is a very special thing that we have here and it’s for higher-level athletes too. We’re not just going to take everyone in the building.”
Farmer, 25, grew up in a military household with his father, Col. Nathaniel Farmer, and mother, Nicole Farmer. While his family bounced around, moving eight times while he was in high school, it allowed him to grow by meeting many people. Farmer graduated from Western Kentucky with his kinesiology degree, then served as the junior varsity offensive coordinator at John Carroll for one season before spending the past two years as a varsity assistant.
He describes his training style as “very foundational” in the methods and approach. He uses video to study athletes’ movements, from ice hockey, to gymnastics, lacrosse, etc. Then he applies it to his trainees’ specific motions and either corrects them or accentuates them in the weight room.
“I’ve trained tennis players, gymnasts — I can make you a better athlete,” Farmer said. “If you have a deficiency in your lower body, the assessment will find it and we’ll work on it to get it better. Whether it’s your upper body or vice versa, I’m here to show you that your body works as one and it’s not separated.
“A lot of people have the misconception that movement is segmented and it’s really not. It’s one unit — your body is a machine that you move as one and should act as one.”
Fenlock, 24, is a Patterson Mill graduate and former football player. He cut his teeth with Bel Air’s recreational football team while in college, instructing players for four and a half years, and became the linebackers/running backs coach at Patterson Mill for a season.
He met Farmer during a 7-on-7 event and the two later joined John Carroll’s coaching staff. They have coached together for two years, and more importantly, have built a “healthy friendship” balancing Farmer’s knowledge of kinetics and Fenlock’s business acumen.
“I know that Nik runs the show out here,” Fenlock said. “This is Nik’s dojo. I’m not going to come out here and tell him how to do a weightlifting thing. I doubt that he would go back out there and tell me how to do an administrative type of thing. We could both do either of those jobs if we wanted to, but we have a very healthy boundary. That is where a lot of gyms, performance centers and places like that fail because one person doesn’t have to do everything. We’re completely separating powers.”
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Johnson, 28, began training athletes six years ago after completing his football career at Stevenson. He fell in love with working out, meeting trainer Bill Ackerman when he was 18 years old. The workouts pushed Johnson to being selected to the Football Championship Subdivision National Bowl, a postseason all-star game for players looking to compete professionally.
However, once the Fallston graduate realized that he didn’t like strength and conditioning training, he turned to training defensive backs and linebackers — including NFL defensive back Kayvon Webster, Syracuse linebacker Marlowe Wax, former Kansas defensive back Davon Ferguson, Delaware defensive back D’Juan Moore and a host of current high school and college players. He’s now brought his clientele to F1 Performance.
“When it all came down to everything, as far as training, I felt like the best thing to do for me is to teach kids life skills,” Johnson said. “I do it through training and it translates to the field and translates to life, whether it’s the classroom or little details. I also make sure that we have a lot of transformational relationships. As an athlete, you get a lot of people in your life that are just there because you’re a symbol of status and you have some type of aura about you. I try to remove that off of the field — keep those kids and myself humble.”
Rest and recovery is important to the success of athletes. That’s where Livingston comes in. The 28-year-old physical therapist played Division III football at Lebanon Valley as a linebacker, graduating with his bachelor’s degree in health sciences and eventually a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. While studying, he served as a graduate assistant for his former team and would go on to complete his sports residency at Saint Francis.
Livingston’s duty is to provide preventative maintenance for injuries and return athletes back to their sport as soon as possible with proper training. F1 Performance houses the seventh True Sports Physical Therapy location in the Baltimore area, which includes Bel Air, Columbia, Eldersburg, Fells Point, Timonium and Woodbine.
“We pride ourselves on being Maryland’s No. 1 sports rehab,” Livingston said. “We’re only one-on-one with doctors of physical therapy, we pride ourselves on attention to detail and bridging that gap from rehab to performance. Our goal is to optimize performance and improve movement efficiency. If that’s from a pain standpoint or a movement standpoint, we want bridge that gap. We live in that spectrum.”