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South Park personal trainer promotes a healthy lifestyle

| Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
randy jarosz | for Trib Total Media
Ed Wietholder, at left, owner of Strength, Fitness and Speed, straps his son Josh Wietholder, 17, both of South Park, in a vertimax training device.

If you're serious about athletic training, Ed Wietholder is the man to see.

Wietholder, 48, is a certified sport strength and conditioning specialist, and has dedicated his life to promoting physical fitness and athletic training.

Wietholder attended the University of Pittsburgh from 1984-88 as a pre-medical school candidate. He graduated cum laude, then was accepted at the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“I spent one year doing research for the University of Pittsburgh Medical School and subsequently decided to learn how to be a perfusionist,” he said.

In April of 1999, Wietholder began his Strength, Fitness and Speed business. He worked at Children's Hospital by day and as a personal trainer by night. He also was on-call for emergencies and transplants 24 hours per day.

“I have been involved in the enhancement of athletic strength, conditioning and other attributes for over 35 years. One might say it is a passion of mine,” said Wietholder on his detailed Strength, Fitness and Speed website. “I have perused literally thousands of journals and books for new information that may be applied to enhance my client's results.

“Routines that I design are the end product of this knowledge combined with common-sense application.”

Training in the early stages of the business was performed in an addition Wietholder built at his South Park house, while off-site work took place in various parking lots and basketball courts in South Park.

“As the business grew, I was running out of time and energy,” he said.

Wietholder, who with his wife Julie has two sons, Jake and Josh, is founder and president of Strength, Fitness and Speed, which has operated in Pleasant Hills for 13 years and has expanded to four sites.

“As demand grew, I began to assemble a staff that was chosen primarly for passion and character, as well as certification and education,” he said. “We were also proud to be part of WPIAL and state championship runs with TJ and South Park football and soccer. We also trained half of Bethel Park football's offense during their WPIAL run.

“With many athletes traveling from as far away as the Greensburg and Mars school districts, I decided to expand to North Irwin in 2005.”

Additional training facilities are located at SFS East (formerly in North Irwin), at the Monroeville Sports Center facility; SFS Southeast, at Court Time Sports in Elizabeth; and SFS Latrobe, in conjunction with Varsity Strength.

Each of the facilities are 3,000 to 5,000 square feet in size, with sprint tracks, agility areas, and strength training and core training areas.

“We are doubling our space at Pleasant Hills and Monroeville,” said Wietholder, whose son Jake is a SFS coach who is entering his senior year at Pitt and is an exercise-science physical therapy school candidate.

At SFS, Wietholder develops specifically tailored hour-long workouts for individual clients, and catalogs their progress, from the initial assessment to their very last workout, on his computer.

At the Pleasant Hills site, athletes from West Jefferson Hills, Baldwin-Whitehall, South Park, Brentwood, Seton-La Salle, Bethel Park, Mt. Lebanon and Keystone Oaks, among others, work one-on-one or in small groups with Wietholder and his staff.

They run sprints with tension cords, jump on a platform with cords yanking them to the ground, and toss medicine balls across the room.

“We offer strength, speed, agility, coordination and balance training to our local athletes,” Wietholder said. “For those that attend combines or showcases, we offer specific prep for those events as well.

“Our basic philosophy is we build athleticism on a strong, stable base. We aim to provide a ‘smart sweat' — tough work tempered by science. In addition, we train moms and dads in fun ways that their sons or daughters may be experiencing as well.”

The Pleasant Hills location is not a glamorous facility, tucked away in an industrial park at 347A Old Curry Hollow Road. But it has gained the attention of area athletes over the years.

Among the list of SFS clients are former Thomas Jefferson gridders Dom DeCicco (Pitt, NFL), Zach DeCicco (Washington & Jefferson), Brock DeCicco (Wisconsin), Rob McCall (Mercyhurst) and T.J. Matrascia (Robert Morris); as well as former soccer standouts Rich Costanzo (Maryland, Pittsburgh Riverhounds), Christian Angotti (Dayton), Adam Cline (Penn State Behrend), Dan Robb (West Virginia) and A.J. Ross (St. Vincent).

Other Thomas Jefferson graduates who have enhanced their athletic careers through SFS training include Renee Tomko (Louisville volleyball), Jake Mihalov (Denison baseball) and Tim Chapon (Pitt-Titusville basketball).

The Pleasant Hills facility is located near both Thomas Jefferson and Baldwin high schools.

Among the former Baldwin athletes who have trained successfully under Wietholder's guidance are Ryan Einway (Carnegie Mellon basketball), Phil Einwag (Carnegie Mellon basketball), Ian Wild (Mercyhurst, CFL), Ron Harris (Slippery Rock), Quinn Hood (Wooster), Garrett Wild (Mercyhurst), Randy Bush (Bethany), Ben Iannachione (Boise State), A.J. Little (CMU) and Brian Urban (Indiana).

Norwin graduates who have trained at the North Irwin facility include Tom Shirley (Xavier), Jon Stewart (Penn State), Brad Rodgers (RMU), Tyler Urban (West Virginia), Mike Salopek (Virginia), Don Rhodes (Georgetown), Lauren Dittman (Colgate), Tim Petro (Gannon), Jim Dittman (Penn State Behrend), Megan Duncan (Penn State), Noelle Lyons (St. Francis) and Kristen Penska (Juniata).

“I have been truly blessed to follow my passion. The source of my passion was born out of a means of keeping myself on a good path, out of trouble and even as a therapy,” Wietholder said. “I've always thought of my physical self merely as an extension of a well-developed, well-exercised brain. Reading, writing and continuous learning are all part of how I go about my daily life.

“I grew up in a lower middle class family at times in great financial duress. I had a father who for long periods of time had serious health and personal issues, and an overachieving, amazing mom who held things together. Things were always a bit chaotic with our family being on and off assistance.

“When I was young, physical training was always a means of escape and positive reinforcement. One thing you could always count on was the feeling of the barbell weight in your hands. I started in the fifth grade. Fifty pounds was always 50 pounds, every time you picked it up. I always enjoyed preparing myself physically for sports seasons even more than the season itself.”

Strength, Fitness and Speed summer sessions have been in full bore, and particularly now as area student-athletes make last-minute preparations for a new school year.

“There is nothing more rewarding than watching the development of a student-athlete as they progress through junior and senior high school, college and out into their path of life,” Wietholder said.

“Strength, Fitness and Speed treats all athletes as individuals. The ‘cookie cutter' standardized approach will never be adopted at this company.”

Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or

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