Tulsa, Oklahoma? I can't really say I've been there, but I've driven through the city a few times on my way to Texas. There's two things I remember about Oklahoma: construction, and highway signs that read "WARNING! HITCHHIKERS MAY BE ESCAPED CONVICTS." Good lord, how many times does someone have to get murdered before you put up a sign like that?

I'm usually driving through "T-Town" during construction season, so I don't even think about getting off the interstate. Just keep going, the orange signs and 25 mile per hour speed limits have to end sometime. How would I spend my time in Tulsa anyways? I guess I could eat barbecue or chase tornadoes. What else is there to do in Tulsa?

Now I've got a very good reason to leave the highway behind and venture into the city, thanks to a couple of enterprising young coaches. Dynamic Sports Development opened its doors recently, and the athletic landscape of Tulsa will never be the same.

Dynamic Sports Development, or "The DSD" as it's known, opened this year in an industrial park in eastern Tulsa. Their extremely well-equipped facility and excellent staff make the gym one of the premier gyms in the country, let alone the Tulsa area. But more on that later; first you need to meet the guys behind the operation.

The founder of The DSD, Jonathan Conneely (Coach JC) got his start in the strength and conditioning world as an intern at Oral Roberts University in 1999. He had always been an athlete, but when the opportunity to continue competing passed he immediately got into coaching. He worked his way up at ORU and in 2003 became the Director of Strength and Conditioning. JC has an Exercise Science degree from Oral Roberts, as well as CSCCa and USAW certifications.

Nate Araskog, Director of Operations, was a track and field athlete at ORU when he approached Coach JC about a strength and conditioning internship. He eventually worked his way up to Assistant Director of Strength and Conditioning and became Coach JC's right hand man. Nate is CSCS-certified through the NSCA and he recently attended our November UGSS.

JC always wanted to be a Division 1 strength coach. His dream was realized at ORU and he loved it. However, being a collegiate strength coach can be a grind. Most of the people in the industry love their job, but it takes its toll and many coaches leave the profession because the money isn't there. As a young coach, JC watched his mentor walk away from coaching for that very reason. JC wasn't about to quit training athletes because of money issues. He was going to find a way to keep doing what he loved at ORU and become financially successful as well.

The opportunity presented itself in several forms. One of them was Bootcamp Tulsa, an outdoor fitness program that became a huge success with the people of Tulsa. The other was Dynamic Sports Development, which was started in 2005 as a training consulting company that catered mostly to high school athletes and coaches. Poor programming and poor training are two of the biggest things that stop high school athletes from reaching their potential. As a collegiate strength coach JC saw thousands of kids at the collegiate level who were completely unprepared as athletes because they had done so many things wrong at the high school level, not that they knew any better at the time. As the company grew, it was decided that it was necessary to open a facility to train these athletes. The DSD was born.

The majority of people who train there are high school and collegiate athletes. According to JC and Nate, "These are the kids looking to make the next jump, to take the next step. The sophomore who wants to make the varsity squad, the minor league player with something to prove." Football is a popular sport to train for, something you'd expect from the state of Oklahoma. The gym is also open on a membership basis to a select few, mostly strongmen and powerlifters. "When the kids can watch the big guys go to work on some heavy weights, it really pumps them up," says Nate. Whether you're a high school athlete, a weekend warrior, or a pro strongman, the DSD strives to provide a serious training environment for serious trainees, complete with the best equipment.

The specific methodology and philosophy of the DSD are their own, but JC was quick to say that they didn't reinvent the wheel by any means. They've hybridized several programs to create what they feel is a complete program. Being a Jersey boy, JC had a chance to learn from Martin Rooney and Joe DeFranco. Nate mentioned that the DSD program also takes cues from Jim Wendler's 5/3/1, emphasizing sub-maximal loads and slow, steady progression. Before the athletes are even allowed to start the DSD program, most of them are subjected to a four-week GPP phase that helps correct any imbalances they have and prepare them for the training to come. It's so tough that some kids think the warmup is the workout. After all that, some athletes must go through another four-week phase of training before they're ready to start the DSD program. The amount of preparation needed depends on the individual athletes' experience and conditioning. The DSD program is a system which Nate and JC proudly say works from warmup to cool-down, in-season and off-season.

They bought almost all of their equipment from EliteFTS. Their favorite is probably the Prowler, says JC. According to Nate, "The kids know they're gonna push the Prowler. They know it means business." They also make excellent use of the Collegiate power racks and love the neutral grip pullup bar. As you can see, the gym is an expertly-outfitted warehouse. When stocking the gym with equipment, everything was either bought from EFS or home made. As far as equipment goes, if they don't have it, you probably don't need it.

There are four main tenants of The DSD:

1. Results. "We produce results and we guarantee results," says JC. The guys at DSD are sick and tired of talking to coaches, athletes, and parents who have spent a lot of time and money in gyms and gotten no return on their investment. The DSD crew makes guarantees of improvement in speed, strength, explosiveness, and mental toughness.

2. Strength. A lot of folks are into functional training and sport-specific training these days and sometimes they overlook the importance of strength. "Strength is the base," affirms JC, "You want to get faster? Get stronger. You want to get bigger? Get stronger. You want to get tougher? Strength training will do the trick." The DSD produces strength; they sure as hell won't have you squatting on a physioball.

3. A serious training environment. Athletes at the DSD are surrounded by people who are serious about training. This includes the coaches and the other athletes. The clientele of the gym is exclusive; not everyone makes the cut. When necessary, if the coaches or the trainees don't feel that someone is a good fit, JC and Nate will have a sit-down with someone and remove them from the gym. The truth is that sometimes the coaches at Dynamic Sports Development want their athletes to be successful moreso than the athletes themselves. "Our hardcore training environment trumps the dollar signs," JC tells me. "Those who are detrimental to our training environment are not allowed." If you aren't ready to give it your all, the DSD is not the place for you.

4. Coaching. "We want to establish ourselves as the premier gym in the country," says JC. "Our programming is not watered down by bringing in every coach who sends us a resume. We have some of the best coaches in the nation here. As an athlete at the DSD, you will be trained by an expert, someone who knows what it takes to increase your performance in the gym and apply that new ability to your sport." An example of their commitment to quality coaching: they brought former two-time Olympian Shane Hamman onto their coaching staff. (Note: at around 350 pounds, Shane had a 36" vertical jump and could do a standing backflip. He also squatted 1008 pounds in the IPF and has snatched 435 pounds and clean and jerked 523, which are still current American records.)

Without a doubt, the DSD has an extremely bright future in Tulsa. They've got a top-notch facility complete with top-notch equipment (see the tour video above) and there's a huge amount of collegiate and high school athletes in the area who are ready to make the commitment to athletic improvement. We're extremely proud to have helped outfit their gym and we wish them the best. If you're a high school or collegiate athlete, powerlifter, strongman, olympic lifter, or just someone who wants to get stronger and you live in the Tulsa area, train at the Dynamic Sports Development!

Read more about the DSD on their website, www.thedsd.com.