CONYERS -- Seven years later, Ivory Dennard has an extra 10,000 square feet to play with.
With an interest in personal training, Dennard and his wife Thea began training adults in their 2,000 square foot basement not knowing what it would soon turn into less than a decade later.
Dennard, an industrial engineer by trade, still remembers the exact day back in 2012 when the first thoughts of his side hustle turning into a potential full-time job popped into his head.
“When I was working at Anderson Merchandisers, I was on a shift from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m.,” Dennard said. “My first clients that I trained were at 7 a.m., so I would always get home around 5 a.m. and sleep for about two hours. I remember one particular day, I was sleeping and I just heard horns blowing. My wife was outside directing traffic. When I went down to the basement, Thea had eight people that she was training.”
She said, ‘Ivory, we have too many people.’ She was getting phone calls every day and told me that I needed to get certified. It was right then and there that I knew that it had the potential to be a full-time job.”
After only eight months of training adults in their basement, the Dennard’s had their first Team 3 Sports location in Conyers. Two years after that, they moved into their current residence, a 12,000 square foot building that they have called home for the past four years.
Growing up in Savannah, Georgia, Dennard later went on to star as a football player at Spartanburg High School in Spartanburg, South Carolina. With a chance to continue his playing career at the collegiate level, Dennard chose academics and attended Clemson, where he majored in Industrial Engineering.
With no experience in personal training up until that point, Dennard got his first taste of strength and conditioning after helping form the first intramural tackle football team at Clemson.
“I had no idea that I was going to deal with sports on this level until me and a couple of buddies started the first intramural tackle football team at Clemson,” Dennard said. “I was the strength coach for the whole team.”
After graduating, Dennard spent the first seven years of his adult life working various jobs as an industrial engineer. His last position held was at Anderson Merchandisers in Winder, Georgia prior to diving into the personal training field on a full-time basis with his wife.
“I’m a blue collar guy,” Dennard said. “Even with going to Clemson, I was a blue collar worker and liked to get my hands dirty. I’ve always told myself that I’m going to work until the day that I die. Being a business owner, that was something my wife always wanted to do. Luckily both of us had the same state of mind and we both had ambitions and worked hard.”
In the early stages of Team 3 Sports, the Dennards placed the majority of their focus on training adults. While Thea stuck to group training, Dennard dove into 1-on-1 training, starting with sixth grader Kurt Taylor.
Taylor, who is currently one of the nation’s top junior college running backs, was Dennard’s first experience training a young up-and-coming athlete.
“(Kurt) was the first kid that I actually trained,” Dennard said. “Figuring out how to train him, what works, what doesn’t work. How to get his 40-yard dash up, how to figure out how he should look when we go to schools. He was the first kid that I ever took through the process of training to getting offers.”
With the focus of the business geared towards adults through their first move into a building, their focus soon changed to athletes after moving into their current residence.
“Back then, we had a few kids,” Dennard said. “We had Kurt, we had Jaquan (Henderson) and J.J. (Holloman). I trained them 1-on-1. Since We’ve been here, we train whole teams. Right now, the Rockdale and Arabia Mountain basketball teams train out of here. With Doug (Butler) being one of our trainers, we’ve been working more with the Heritage teams.”
Having the opportunity to train young athletes around the Conyers and Covington area runs much deeper than that of the physical training for Dennard.
“Through the process of training athletes, you also get to know their family,” Dennard said. “I always know mom and dad and what they have going on. It almost feels like a family. Kurt will tell you that I’m his uncle. It’s always a great feeling to know that you were there the whole time and you helped guide them.”
Aside from training athletes, Dennard also funds college visits throughout the year. Dennard and his Team 3 Sports company are on the road 12-13 weeks in the fall and are back bussing kids out in the spring and summer months.
“Our goal as a training facility is to always be able to hang a college banner up,” Dennard said. “Every banner here is related to a kid. The first time we did a college trip four years ago, we took like 30 kids to Johnson C. Smith, Clemson and UNC-Charlotte.”
We go from big-time D-1 schools to D-II and D-III schools. We make sure that we visit as many schools as possible. We’ve been just about everywhere.”
After seven years of training and watching his business grow to heights he never could have imagined, Dennard finds time to soak it all in every chance that he gets.
“Every morning when I get here at about 3:45 a.m., I cut the lights on and just look,” Dennard said. “But just as quick as I do that, I know that it’s a new day and there is something new to do. What’s next on the agenda? That’s why it is always a joy.”
Crossfit and ISSA certified, Dennard is currently working on his NSCA certification that will allow him to become a collegiate strength and conditioning coach one day if he so chooses.
“I’ve been studying and I’m looking to take the test next September,” Dennard said. “That will get me into any college in America.”
With Team 3 Sports already housing eight trainers and two managers, Dennard hopes to retire in a college town down the road and work as a strength and conditioning coach, preferably at his son’s future college.
“That is the big goal right now for our family,” Dennard said. “When he goes to college, I will look to get a job at that same college. Team 3 Sports will be here, but I probably won’t be. I’ve been doing this for seven years, so the experience will be there when it’s time for me to go somewhere.”