Professional athletes know Danny Arnold’s name. His name and Houston-area training facilities, Plex, are synonymous with success in the elite athletic circles. Clients include Julius Peppers, Charles Woodson, and Lance Berkman are just three of the many elite athletes who have trained with Danny. Unlike many training-only facilities, Danny’s facilities and programming is a combination sports medicine and performance-based facility. He didn’t want to be just another “strength & conditioning guy” so he built something better.
Danny took some time recently to sit down with Compete Every Day to share how he built Plex, his approach to training, and what he competes for.
Danny, before we dive into the philosophy behind Plex, tell us a little about your background.
I loved sports growing up. I played college football and track. Speed was my asset and of the utmost importance for my success. I had three reconstructive surgeries while in college and really spent time diving into my major of sports medicine while rehabbing. This was eighteen years ago, so I was practically doing my own rehab. I developed a passion for sports medicine and what I was doing to return to form.
How did you get started with Plex?
In Houston, all the athletes knew where each other went. At the time, I was running workouts by myself. I’ve always been super organized so I took it upon myself to build a good, organized program. Guys started contacting me about working out together and the small word-of-mouth group grew. Some big names like Darrell Green were coming to work out with me. That was a ton of pressure, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t have butterflies because these big names were depending on me to create a good program. After college ended, I spent a year in Canada playing football before getting hurt again. I came back to coach for one year but immediately realized it was not something I wanted to do. I had a few clients on the side for training so it gave me the balls to jump ship and start my own business. Orlando Pace, Ty Law, those were some of the guys the first few years. I stood out because it wasn’t just “another gym” and I wasn’t just “another strength and conditioning guy.”
Plex seems to be all over Houston, how many facilities do you have and do you focus solely on elite athletes?
I’ve been operating Plex for fifteen years total. It wasn’t until seven years ago that I started working with guys in other sports at the professional level. Then five years ago we expanded to the high school, youth, and college markets. This past year, we opened some programs up for the executive and every day individual wanting to improve their health and life. One of the more amazing new programs we have is exclusively for people who are extremely overweight. The results have been simply incredible in these people lives. Overall, we have four facilities throughout Houston and hope to have two more by the summer.
How is your approach different training the professional athletes compared to the every day individual?
Our approach is always the same. I don’t believe in giving in to “what’s out there.” We’re not a “our way or the highway” gym, I’m open to new approaches. But we do feel that the core of our programming is what everyone needs. Agility, power, speed, bodyweight, and explosive movements define what we do. We only have one bench press total in all of our facilities – and it’s only to prep our NFL guys for the NFL Draft Combine. That’s it. We do tons of bodyweight movements and focus on range of motion. I believe the top priority in success is getting individuals to 100%, even if they are “healthy.” Increased range of motion and explosive power is crucial. Our performance programs have changed slightly the last 2-3 years, but flexibility and balance will always be at the forefront of what we do. The only thing that may change is our language.
When working with everyday individuals simply wanting to improve their lives, we using keep the training and philosophy the same, but shift the language to something that’s applicable to their lifestyle. It’s not about just hopping on a treadmill, we want everything to be practical to every day life. Suddenly daily activities like mowing the yard or cleaning the garage are not as hard and the individual sees rewards in their training. It builds their confidence and they can come back more often.
One of the best stories was just last week, when one of our members was being interviewed about how he had lost 100 lbs. He spent more time talking about how his pickup basketball game with friends had improved that his weight loss. He was more excited about how now he can do more every day things than all the compliments he was getting. That’s what excites us.
Plex recently had some pretty big announcements and help from NASA, care to elaborate?
Absolutely. We’ve partnered the last few years with NASA and the University of Houston. Our goal was to validate everything we’ve preached for years. It’s great having the scientific evidence to back up and show proof that our programming is truth – it does work and there are truly better ways to improve elite performance.
Danny, what would you say drives you in this business? What do you compete for that keeps you coming back day after day?
Honestly, I’m just so passionate about improving people’s lives. Nothing negative happened to me. And there are things that I know my business partner questions because it doesn’t make us as much money, but I want people to get results and I’m in it to help them get there. In both sports performance at the elite and every day level, we’re still far off from “getting it.” We’re behind the times, but we’re moving in the right direction. I’m just trying to convince people there are some of the same core principles to develop elite athletes and every day health. I want to see people live happier, healthier, lasting lives.