HISTORIC TRIANGLE — Most gyms have team jerseys or fitness equipment mounted up on the walls.
Kenny Holloway has dozens of photos on his walls.
In a deceptive little storefront within the Williamsburg Marketcenter along Mooretown Rd, 757NextLevel Athletes prepares athletes of all ages for the performance of their life. Offering tips on form improvement, boxing classes, or even just a space to workout with other like-minded people, Holloway cultivates a positive environment by reminding his athletes to be kind to themselves.
“If you want to be a good athlete, you got to learn to be a good person,” Holloway tells the kids who come to his gym after school.
Kids from as far as Richmond come to train with Holloway, or “Coach Kenny” as he’s locally known.
But it wasn’t without his own set of troubles. In 1993, when Holloway was 20 years old, he was incarcerated for malicious wounding and possession of a firearm. He spent years in and out of the prison system, and didn’t officially come home until 2004.
“I don’t know why I turned down that path. I had a mom and dad. I had everything you’d need,” he said. He added the time in prison left him mentally scarred. “It’s nothing like it is in the movies. Yeah, people got into fights, but it was mostly just playing defense the whole time.”
Holloway then worked several jobs here and there. It was about four years ago when, after getting roped into fitness by a friend, he landed a job at American Family Fitness, wiping down machines and answering questions from guests.
Eventually, he earned his certification in fitness, working his way up to trainer, then supervisor, then assistant fitness director, all the way to fitness director.
He said what helped him stay focused throughout his training process was keeping positive people around. He credits his mother and Uncle Ronnie, who many might remember if they frequent Paul’s Deli & Neighborhood Restaurant.
Now Holloway is in his forth space for his gym, 757NextLevel Athletes. From providing afterschool fitness groups to offering personal training services, Holloway helps people get in shape both physically and mentally.
“I ask these kids, who’s your favorite athlete? How many points did they score last season? Then I’ll ask them, name three things you like about yourself. Why do you like this one sport?” Holloway said, pointing out how people often obsess over other people instead of figuring out who they are first. “That shows you got to take time to sit down and practice some self love.”
Often on weekends, when Holloway isn’t hanging out in the gym, he’s attending school sporting events to cheer on his younger athletes. On his gym walls are photos of high school graduations of former athletes he’s attended as well. Last year during the pandemic, when he was unable to attend graduations in person, Holloway sent out 757NextLevel bracelets to all his graduating athletes.
When school isn’t in session, 757NextLevel continues to offer a space for kids to better their game and polish their skills.
For the summer, 757NextLevel Athletes becomes 757NextLevel Sports, a series of independent sport leagues for kids who simply want to get together and play a game. In collaboration with Marc Rabinowitz, aka “Coach Rabbi,” 757NextLevel Sports organizes teams of 12 players to play two games a week against other 757NextLevel teams.
Starting June 2 and going through July 25, the 757NextLevel Sports will play at Hornsby Middle School, 850 Jolly Pond Rd. in Williamsburg, on Thursdays and Sundays. Registration is open until Monday, June 21 at 7 p.m. and costs $110, with a team shirt included.
“I want to give these kids something I never acknowledged when I was growing up,” Holloway said. “Confidence can really change so much for a person.”
757NextLevel Athletes is located at 6610-S Mooretown Rd. For more information on classes and services offered, visit its website or contact Kenny Holloway at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 757-509-1730.
For more information on 757NextLevel Sports, contact Coach Kenny at email@example.com or Coach Rabbi at firstname.lastname@example.org.