Off Topic

DeFranco’s Gym: 10 Years STRONG!


I had some time this Thanksgiving to really reflect on all the things I’m thankful for: family, health, friends, and of course I’m thankful for my gym/business. I am truly blessed to be able to provide for my family by doing something I love. But, although I love what I do, it sure as hell aint always easy!! I have had my fair share of sleepless nights, panic attacks, trouble paying the bills and plenty of doubt along the way. But, as Rocky Balboa once said, “It’s not how hard you hit, but how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” I’m proud of the fact that whenever my business has been “hit hard”, I have always kept moving forward and persevered.

As I approach the 10 Year Anniversary of my business (est. February, 2003), I wanted to share 21 “game-changing” events and actions that were critical to its success. I feel these things have shaped the landscape of DeFranco’s Gym. For them, I am truly grateful.

I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane as much as I enjoyed writing it.

DeFranco’s Gym Timeline…


February 2003:

Joe DeFranco establishes DeFranco’s Training Systems, LLC with no business background, no money in the bank and no clue what he was getting into. DeFranco’s “gym” consisted of a 500 square foot storage closet located downstairs at a local health club. 



July 18, 2003: was created and the first-ever “ASK JOE” was posted. The website received 51 hits that first month and 17 people subscribed to the website’s e-newsletter. 

Today, the website averages over 8 million hits per month with over 40,000 e-newsletter subscribers. There has been 250 (plus) blog posts and close to 1000 “ASK JOE” questions answered since that first blog post. 


November 2003:

Joe DeFranco releases the first-ever VHS tape describing how to “beat” the football Combine tests. Mastering the Football Combine Tests shocks the football community and forever changes the way athletes prepare for football Combines.



January 22, 2004:

After hearing about the controversy behind Joe DeFranco’s “Combine tape”, the most popular training website on the internet – – requests to do an interview with Joe. The Pro-Maker: An interview with Joe DeFranco is posted online and Joe’s website and online presence sky-rockets. 



February, 2004:

Bergen Catholic’s Brian Cushing becomes the first DeFranco-trained high school All-American. High school football players from all over New Jersey start calling DeFranco’s Gym and inquiring about training because they “wanna be like Cush”.



February 29, 2004:

Joe reveals the training program that he designed for Brian Cushing – as well as many other successful high school athletes – in an article entitled,  Westside for Skinny Bastards: A modified lifting program for hardgainers. The article/program becomes one of the most popular training programs ever written. 


September, 2005:

DeFranco’s Gym out-grows the storage closet and moves into it’s very own location – a 2000 square foot warehouse in an industrial park in Wyckoff, NJ. 



February, 2006: 

Joe DeFranco prepares an “unknown” small-school prospect named Miles Austin for the NFL Combine. Miles ends up “coming out of nowhere” and creates a huge buzz at the Combine with his jaw-dropping physique, speed, strength and jumping ability. After an amazing Combine performance, the Dallas Cowboys “take a chance” on Miles. After two years of “proving” himself, Miles Austin turns himself into an All-Pro wide receiver and the Cowboys sign him to a 6-year, $54 million contract.



December, 2006:

Joe DeFranco releases his second product: Super Strength DVD. The first batch of these DVD’s are ordered from people in all 50 states and 9 different countries, establishing an international following for DeFranco’s Gym.



January, 2007:

Joe DeFranco creates a youtube channel for DeFranco’s Gym. The first video posted, Guadango 54 inch Box Jump, turns Mike Guadango into a youtube sensation…and DeFranco’s youtube channel becomes an instant success. 


Today, the channel boasts over 21,000 subscribers and over 16 million video views! 

Mike Guadango went on to become a 2X All-American college baseball player and was featured in the documentary, STRONG. He is now a Physical Preparation coach at DeFranco’s Gym, where he developed a baseball training program that attracts high school, college and professional players from across the country. 


February, 2008: 

NY Giants offensive lineman Dave Diehlone of the “original disciples” from the storage closet gym – becomes the first DeFranco-trained athlete to win a Superbowl



May, 2008: 

STRONG: The Movie (a documentary about DeFranco’s Gym) is finally released. The movie develops somewhat of a “cult” following worldwide and increases the amount of international athletes that travel to New Jersey to experience DeFranco’s Gym. 



April, 2009:

DeFranco’s Gym is featured on NFL Network’s, Training for the Future – a show featuring Brian Cushing’s preparation for the NFL Combine. Cush ends up being selected as the 15th overall pick in the 1st Round of the 2009 NFL Draft.



February, 2010:

Three DeFranco-trained athletes (Miles Austin, Brian Cushing, Dave Diehl) are selected to the NFL Pro Bowl. This solidifies DeFranco’s as a national power with regards to football preparation by earning the respect of the bigger, more “popular” multi-million dollar facilities.



July, 2010:

DeFranco’s Gym moves into a new, 5000 square foot facility



August, 2010:

Men’s Health Magazine names DeFranco’s Gym one of the Top 10 Gyms in America, increasing DeFranco’s “mainstream” recognition. 



September, 2010: 

Joe DeFranco collaborates with Jim Smith of to create their first product: Amped Warm-up DVD. The incredible success of this DVD leads to an entire production of international best-selling DVD’s and manuals



December, 2010: 

Tim Ferriss features Joe DeFranco’s unique training techniques in two chapters of his NY Times best-selling book, The 4-Hour Body. This further introduces DeFranco’s to the “mainstream” fitness world. 



September, 2011:

Paul Levesque (aka, WWE Superstar “Triple H”) and Stephanie McMahon Levesque hire Joe DeFranco to revamp their entire training program. Joe is later featured on preparing Triple H for his Wrestlemania 28 match against the Undertaker. During the match, WWE commentator Michael Cole gives DeFranco’s Gym a shout-out to a pay-per-view audience that was watched in over 1.3 million homes.



March, 2012: 

Joe DeFranco is selected by Nike to be one of the elite trainers in their newly-formed SPARQ Performance Network



September, 2012:

Joe DeFranco and Jim Smith partner to form the CPPS certification course in an attempt to “change the game” in the strength & conditioning industry. The first three courses SELL OUT and 7 new dates for 2013 are already being planned. 



I would like to conclude this blog post by saying “THANK YOU” to every single person who reads this website, trains at DeFranco’s Gym, invests in our products, wears our t-shirts, or just generally supports what we do. Without YOUR support, the first 10 years wouldn’t have been possible. For that, I am grateful. 

Stay tuned to see what the next 10 years will bring Wink

-Joe D. 


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