By Steven Penn
Panko Strength and Speed (PSS) in Plainfield isn’t a conventional workout facility, which is evident by the approach and the results.
Owner Adrian Panko has dubbed his style of sports performance and training as being part of the “Carnivore Culture.”
“Our culture makes us different,” Panko said. “The way that we approach training and our execution is certainly unique. However, just the culture is what sets us apart. I call it the Carnivore Culture. We’re kind of at a point right now, where success and prosperity have become offensive. Being the best, or being exceptional, or being at the top has become unfair to those that are unwilling or unable to be the best, or to be exceptional, or be at the top.”
Panko and PSS coach Dustin Burford — who’s worked with Panko since the inception of PSS — utilize many styles of workouts and exercises to help athletes achieve their goals, but one of the most important factors is the mindset.
“(We teach) the mindset of no matter what the circumstance, we’re going to always take steps to be better (and) we’re always going to come out on top,” Panko said. “No matter what the circumstance, we’re always going to put both feet on the ground and have an action plan for making progress and for making gains. We’re going to find a way to do it. It’s a refusal to quit. I don’t have any idea what other facilities do, but I know what we do, and we do it damn well. That’s what has allowed this to become the success that it’s becoming. We are passionate about what we do, and there’s a great deal of conviction in what we do. This is not a sports performance training program. This is a success program.”
Panko said as a coach, he’s been blessed with hard-working athletes, which has helped make the program successful.
“We’re so successful because the athletes have exceptional work ethics, exceptional passion for their sports, and they refuse to quit,” he said. “That’s what makes them champions.” Panko, a 2001 Avon High School graduate and an athlete in his own right, said he’s been involved with training before he started PSS in late 2009.
“I worked for 4 1/2 years in Kokomo at a gym (prior to starting PSS), and about 2 1/2 years in, the guy I worked for bought a sports performance training franchise,” he said. “So that was nice, because up until that point, I had only been training adults, and (at that point) I finally got to start training athletes.”
Panko said after working at someone else’s gym, he realized he wanted to do things his way, which spurred him to start his own training facility. But success didn’t come overnight.
“Starting this place was actually the worst six months of my life,” he said. “I took about a 60 percent pay cut from my job in Kokomo. I was working mornings there, and training athletes for free down here to develop some credibility and exposure, and I was working nights at Fed Ex.”
He started training athletes out of his garage, until he found his first location: A 1,200 square foot office space.
“One day after five months (of searching), I found a spot in Plainfield,” he said. “ I signed a lease without any money and a couple of weeks later, things started coming together for us and our business was born.”
He said he kept building PSS’s reputation and adding more equipment piece by piece, which when he started, was only three heavy tires, a weight rack, weight plates, and a small piece of turf.
In April 2011, Panko said he moved PSS to its current home at 910 Andico Road, Suite 140, Plainfield. The facility is 4,000 square feet and the equipment collection has grown substantially. PSS now offers a variety of dumbbells and kettle bells, multiple weight racks for exercises like squat and bench, equipment for strongman and power lifting, various heavy tires, climbing ropes, and more. PSS has also expanded to include locations on the north and south sides.
As for who he trains at PSS, Panko said he has people of all ages, from many different sports and all walks of life.
“We have adults that train and we have a lot of different sports,” he said. “We have (athletes from) football, wrestling, soccer, baseball, basketball, tennis, and swimming. We have a ton of military people.
We have three or four people that are deployed right now, and we have an Army Ranger that just got back from deployment. We have five or six guys that are in the Naval Special Warfare pipeline, which means they’re either SEALs right now, or they will get their Trident. They’re as young as 10, and we regularly have middle school and high school athletes in the summer. We have college athletes ... we had around 20 college athletes train last summer.”
Panko said he periodically puts photos of athletes’ accomplishments up on the wall of his gym.
“I put up 40 posters in the last 21 months,” he said. “Those are for kids that are all-American, all-state, state champion, state runners-up, or people that are getting college scholarships.
Everybody (on the wall) there is football, wrestling, volleyball, and soccer.”
One of his most recent championships is the 2012 Avon volleyball team that won state.
“We were very fortunate to serve (Avon’s state champion volleyball team),” Panko said. “They’re the hardest working volleyball team in the state. The hardest working volleyball team in the Midwest — how about that? They train their tails off.”
Panko said he currently has about 160 athletes training at his facility.
“Right now we’re working with the Yorktown wrestling team,” he said. “They just won the class 2A IHSWCA (Indiana High School Wrestling Coaching Connection) State Championship.”
Panko said the idea behind his program is to get athletes in the best shape — physically and mentally — and to teach them how to visualize success.
“We make people more successful, and we teach them how to be more successful — that’s crucial,” he said. “It sounds a little bit crazy, but you can achieve every single goal. You can achieve every single goal you have for yourself. (It’s about) how bad you want it and what you’re willing to do to get there.”
For membership details, more information, or to schedule a free trial session, call PSS at 837-3778 or visit the website at pankostrengthandspeed.com. Also, look for PSS on Facebook at
Facebook.com/pankostrength, on Twitter @pankostrength, or search Youtube for Panko Strength and Speed.