Every celebrity was once a student, and Jackson Academy students now share something with a few of Hollywood’s biggest names. Gordon Weir, who has trained the likes of Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey, and Alec Baldwin, is bringing his expertise to Jackson Academy as strength and conditioning coach.
Fueled by a passion for total fitness and competitive sports, Weir will work with the school’s football, basketball, baseball, tennis, soccer, and volleyball teams. It’s a passion that has been refined over Weir’s 44-year career in strength and conditioning.
“Total fitness is what is most important, and that is a goal I make to teach these kids,” says Weir. He’ll start the students slow, building up speed, strength, and power over time to protect from injury and burnout. “Quality over quantity is my motto for strength and conditioning,” he says.
Like the institution Weir now works for, he values progress and innovation.“I was the only person in Mississippi who did any kind of strength and conditioning in the 70s” says Weir. In the 1970s and 80s he owned and directed fitness centers and clubs across Mississippi as a pioneer in the health and fitness industry. The Nautilus Fitness Centers, YMCA, and Courthouse Racquet Clubs benefited from Weir’s experience, as did his star-studded clientele. As a personal trainer, Weir coached Dodgers pitchers Brent Leach and Don Sutton, Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton, Miss America, and George Clooney.
Many of this coach’s mantras are familiar truths: breakfast is important, and don’t go on an empty tank. “Nutrition is 50 percent of this…” says Weir. “I give each coach a list of foods that are important to each based off that sport.” Weir does this because “football players need more calories to get stronger,” but in basketball “they are burning so many calories they need different types of calories than other sports,” says Weir. That is where he steps in with his plan.
While nutrition is 50 percent of the game plan for Weir, training core strength, flexibility, speed, and agility complete the play. In training for football, Weir says, “Start off slow in June, build up in July, back off for two-a-days, and then back off for the season. If you start too early you will break kids down.” His holistic approach to physical fitness integrates the individualized approach that Jackson Academy takes with each student, paying attention to specific needs, wants, and abilities.
“Fitness is a lifestyle, not a trend,” says Weir. Competition in athletics is important, but for many high schoolers, the long-term benefit of involvement in sports outweighs the short-term thrill of a win. Weir aims to educate students to maintain a healthy lifestyle well beyond their time on a JA Raiders team.
Weir’s methods pay off. He has coached more than 400 students who went on to earn athletic scholarships. His experience, expertise, and philosophy make him a welcome addition to the Raiders coaching program at Jackson Academy.