While sitting through his daughter's two-hour gymnastics competition one day five years ago, Jeff Herdman was struck with an idea.
Rather than forcing parents to sit idle on uncomfortable folding chairs, he thought it would be great if they could get in some workout time while their kids were doing athletic activities.
"A light bulb went on in my head," he said.
Little did he know at the time that that notion would spawn an entire business.
Herdman, 40, recently opened the doors to Hangar Athletic Xchange, or HAX, a 70,000-square-foot hybrid gym and basketball training complex. The facility features weight-training and cardio equipment, plus rooms for activities such as yoga and Pilates, all overlooking the centerpiece of the facility: six full-size side-by-side basketball courts.
"Obviously it's nice watching your kids, but there's no time for the parents to also work out," said Herdman, a former college basketball player and the chief executive of HAX. "Here, they can be upstairs and run on a treadmill while also watching their kids work out."
The athletic center, housed inside an old airplane hangar at tiny Hawthorne Municipal Airport, has seen its membership ranks swell to more than 400 in its first six months. The company expects to double that number by the end of the year. An additional 225 kids are enrolled in its basketball and volleyball camps, and HAX runs a variety of tournaments, leagues and other programs nearly every day of the week.
"It's been great," Herdman said. "I had a mom come in yesterday who said she heard about us through kids at her kids' school and she came down and signed her kids up for a camp. It's really growing that way."
But HAX is proving to be more than just a family gym. The center has caught on with a number of National Basketball Association all-stars, who use the facility for practice and personal training. It's not uncommon these days to see players such as Elton Brand or Paul Pierce heading for the nondescript building adjacent to the general aviation airport. Along one wall hang the jerseys of a number of pro basketball players who have visited HAX or sponsored camps at the facility.
What's more, HAX has been the site of the predraft tryouts for the NBA's D-League, a developmental league. James Harden, an Arizona State University player who was recently drafted third overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder, trained at HAX while preparing for the draft.
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