Alumnus Jeremy Martin (’03) Exercises His Passions for Faith, Fitness
By Matthew Tessnear
Jeremy Martin’s success as a college and professional football player led him to discover a passion for training other athletes for elite performance in competition. His physical work as a sports trainer has allowed him to also be a spiritual coach who leads others to strengthen their relationship with Christ.
Martin owns Ultimate Athlete, in Charlotte, N.C., a fitness facility that works with more than 100 clients. “Athletes come to us to help them excel in their sport,” he explains, “but if we can teach them how their faith in Jesus will carry them more than physical training, we’re doing something important for them.”
As a student-athlete at Gardner-Webb, Martin set football program records and was inducted into the University’s Athletics Hall of Fame. After graduating with his bachelor’s degree in sport management, he played professional arena and indoor football. During that time he realized how much he enjoyed encouraging fellow athletes to reach for ultimate sports and life success, and he decided to earn a master’s degree in exercise science and kinesiology.
In the 10 years since completing his graduate education, Martin has worked with several athletic training facilities where he has had opportunities to coach competitors in the National Football League and elite intercollegiate athletics. In 2015, he combined knowledge from his Gardner-Webb business degree with his education in exercise science to open Ultimate Athlete in Charlotte.
“Gardner-Webb gave me such a well-rounded education to apply to a variety of things in my life,” he relates. “My minor in business administration and everything I learned in sport management really taught me how to form long-lasting relationships that can build my young business.”
One of his most significant connections has been with the women’s U.S.A. Olympic Swim Team, which invited him to help train some its athletes several years ago. That’s when he met and started to coach North Carolinian Kathleen Baker, first preparing her for high school competition and then for collegiate swimming at the University of California at Berkley and the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
“When we started working together, we formed a great coach-athlete bond,” Martin shares. “I think she appreciated from the start how I tried to individualize a program just to fit her. Eventually through that program, she really found how much more power she had in the water and took off from there.”
Martin and his Ultimate Athlete (UA) organization watched with pride as their friend Baker earned a gold medal in the 4×100-meter medley relay and an individual silver medal in the 100-meter backstroke in Rio de Janeiro. “No question UA’s proudest moment in its young history,” Martin posted on his facility’s Instagram page after Baker’s individual medal-winning swim.
For all of the successful steps leading to that moment, Martin gives complete credit to God. A Christian focus guides his approach to providing performance training for Baker and others, including Gardner-Webb student-athletes for whom he provides consulting.
“We can use faith in our workouts. There are a lot of similarities in the consistency required for both faith and sports training. You have to do the little things every day, prayer and practice, that will eventually make a big difference for you,” Martin relates. “There’s no question I couldn’t have done everything I’ve done in my life without my faith. Gardner-Webb has been a cornerstone for putting Jesus at the center of all I do. The University really built a platform for life for me.”