A Peabody resident who operates Repertoire Fitness out of the Boston North Fitness Center in Danvers, Reppas gets the same degree of satisfaction helping a pro athlete get a multimillion dollar contract or a 68-year-old woman get in shape. It’s all about helping people realize their personal goals.
Over the years he has worked with many famous athletes including NFL star Julius Peppers, who is a key member of the Chicago Bears defense that will host the Green Bay Packers for the NFC Championship this Sunday.
“I really enjoy what I do,” said Reppas. “For me any stress comes not from what I’m doing, but the volume. I might be training my little nephew one hour, a professional athlete the next and then a soccer mom; when people want to be there and work hard, that’s all the satisfaction I need.”
Reppas says he works straight from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. with no time outs and also works on Saturday. And if someone needs him on a Sunday, he said he’ll go in and meet with them to make sure they stay on pace.
Reppas, who grew up in Orange, was a school administrator and basketball coach at St. Thomas More School in Connecticut for several years after graduating from Ithaca (N.Y.) College. One of his prep school players, Ed Cota, went on to have a great career as a point guard for the University of North Carolina. ‘Rep’ had made a promise to help him get in shape for the NBA when his college career ended — even though he wasn’t a personal trainer at the time.
He went to North Carolina to help Cota (who went on to play professionally in Europe), and what was supposed to be nine days turned into nine months. In the course of his intense training routine with Cota, Reppas met other UNC alums including Vince Carter (now of the Phoenix Suns), Peppers and Joe Forte (drafted by the Boston Celtics).
“I wasn’t a trainer, but a basketball coach who was into fitness,” Reppas said. “Cota’s body changed and he began to lose the extra weight while he trained with me. That’s when I decided to become a certified trainer, because I realized I really had something. I’m now a certified personal trainer and a certified nutritionist.”
Heavy on the Peppers
Reppas concentrates on goal setting, daily strategy, proper nutrition, cardiovascular training, flexibility and plyometrics. Sports agent Steve Freyer of Danvers has trained under Reppas for three years and swears by the methods he uses; his wife Susan also works with him, and Freyer also referred former Major League pitcher John Tudor to Reppas.
“I represented John his whole career and he felt he needed some outside help to get back in shape,” said Freyer. “I persuaded him to give Pete a try because he’s a great motivater who keeps it interesting.
“I’ve been with him for a while — and he continues to give me an hour of misery each week,” Freyer said with a laugh. He came up with something new that is absolute torture; my wife and I call the exercise “Reptiles.”
“The best part is we can take the fundamentals Pete gave us and when we’re on the road we don’t need to find a gym; a couple of hand weights are all we need to keep doing the workouts. But on my own I never get the intensity he give me; he makes me force myself to go harder. That kind of discipline is what makes him special.”
One of the biggest challenges Reppas undertook was agreeing to live with Peppers at his North Carolina home for a month in 2009. At the time, the defensive end was in his last year with the Carolina Panthers and looking for a big contract. He wound up a free agent and signed a contract with the Chicago Bears for $91 million ($42 million guaranteed).
The outstanding play of Peppers, who leads his team in sacks, is one of the prime reasons the Bears are the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs and hosting Green Bay for the right to advance to Super Bowl XLV on Sunday.
“It was just the two of us 24/7 in North Carolina, and what shocked me was his nutrition. Julius is 6-foot-8 and 280 pounds, but was eating the same amount of calories I was,” Reppas said. “I went to his chef and asked him to write down what Julius ate; I couldn’t believe how little he valued nutrition or the importance of stretching. He’s one of the best players in the NFL, but at the time was only playing at 50 percent using his God-given talent to get him through. I thought, ‘What if we can increase that to 70 percent; how good would he be then?’ And we started working on it.
“The thing with Julius is he’s a great guy; very humble, but a little like a recluse. His agent (Carl Carey) said that I was in his inner circle, and believe me, it’s a very small group. I was amazed at how focused he was. During all the plyometrics and lifting he took every set with the same determination he shows when the ball is snapped. Most of the things we were doing were brand new to him. We worked out every morning, ate lunch, then came back and worked out again. His agent called one night at 11 p.m. and we were still working cardio on the bike. Peppers told me he didn’t think many of the Panthers could do our routine.”
Reppas also said one of the hardest workers he ever dealt with was former Patriot Randy Moss. He worked with Moss when he was a rookie with Minnesota in 1998.
Getting youngsters to work out right
For a number of years Reppas traveled around to work with athletes at different colleges. He was at Indiana, Georgetown, Syracuse and North Carolina before he decided to stay in one place and let athletes of all ages come to him.
“I lived with Luol Deng of the Chicago Bulls for a while last fall,” said Reppas. “He was coming off an injury and had a $77 million contract. We concentrated on health and nutrition, lifestyle and fitness.
“When I traveled around the United States I saw so many 7- and 8-year-olds working out, but when I came to Peabody I only had two kids under the age of 15. Now I have 15-to-20 that age train with me over a year. Youngsters was to get quicker, stronger and faster to get an edge; they have to start the right way at a young age. It’s all about muscle endurance.”
So, will Reppas watch the NFL playoff games?
“I’ll watch football if the Bears are playing and basketball when the Bulls are in action. Other than that, I’ll focus on my craft,” he said.