ROCKFORD (WREX) — Tyrone Thomas hit the ground running after joining the Army.
At just 18 years old, he was deployed to Afghanistan straight out of basic training.
His military training combined with his time as a college athlete created a strong sense of discipline in Thomas which he brings to his gym. TTT Impact Training everyday.
The business is running seven years strong after Thomas decided he needed to make a change in his life after returning overseas.
"I hated my job and for the first time in my life, I started to get a little overweight doing my job. I needed to do something different," Thomas said.
"I had a guy one time ask me in the airport what would I do for free and I told him I'd coach and train and that's what I did."
What started in local parks and parking lots eventually grew into renting a small gym and finally to the his current spot on 11th street.
Student athletes from across the stateline come to "Coach T" to help them reach the college level.
Some of which have found their way to the higher ranks, including Noah Knight who just finished his freshman season as a safety for Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont.
"He helped me through the mental parts of it mostly because you go so intense so fast. You just learn to push through it even though your body is numb. You just keep going," Knight said.
Another product of Coach T's training is James Hart, a freshman at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois.
The left guard is living it up after the Cardinals came away with the first NCAA Division III football championship in the school's history.
Hart credits the hardwork he put in with Coach T for helping him get to where he is today.
"He's definitely been a positive role model in my life. He's shown me how to work hard and be mentally tough. I don't think I'd be who I was today without him," Hart said.
Seeing these types of success stories is all Thomas needs.
Through all of the dedication he puts in to keep the business going, in his own words, "it's all for the kids."
"They put in the work. I'm just the director they put in the work and getting to see the fruits of their labor pay off is exciting to see," Thomas said.
While most of his clients are high school athletes, they aren't exclusive to Coach T's impact.
Niquanna Barnett drives all the way from Janesville to come train with Coach T.
Barnett has lost 100 pounds with Thomas' help and she says it's the connection he builds with his clients that makes him standout.
"It truly is like a family here and I just really like the way he does not let you give up on yourself," Barnett said.
"There's actually a gym right next door to where I live but I still get up and make the 45 minute to an hour drive out here four times a week."
Barnett isn't alone in feeling the family atmosphere.
For many of Coach T's clients, he is much more than just a trainer.
"I consider him a family friend. He'll come to our games and we'll go watch his son play and stuff like that. I love him, that's my guy," Harlem High School junior quarterback James Cooper said.
The connection even spreads to the parents of the kids being trained.
Michelle Lara's sons have worked with Coach T for the last four years and is impressed with the personalized attention he gives to her kids.
"He really relates with them well. He makes working out fun. He always does his training in such a respectful way so they respect him," Lara said.
It's a respect that comes natural for Coach T dating back to his military days.
He is able to build those bonds while focusing on the task at hand.
"You have to gain report with guys when you're yelling at them and telling them what to do," Thomas said.
I want everybody to be themselves and come in with their macho attitude and get to work. That's what we're all about.
TTT Impact Training is located at 6935 11th Street in Rockford.
If you want to learn more about TTT Impact Training and how you can get involved, click here.