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By Jane Bongo
Published: July 3, 2013

CLEARWATER BEACH – After wrestling his way around the world, Brian Wickens, known internationally as one-half of one of the wackiest teams in the World Wrestling Entertainment history, has wrestled his way to the prominent resort island.

Wickens hails from the land down under, New Zealand, where his career began in 1964. Branded Luke Williams in the ring, he is a hall-of-fame wrestler and a true legend in the world of wrestling. His career has taken him to 44 countries, landed a 30-year television career in the ring and appearances on a number of shows including Warner Brothers, “Family Matters.” He once wrestled before a crowd of 90,000 at Wembley Stadium in London, England and had a number of rumblings and feuds in an era known for the wrestling types like Roddy Pipper, The Fabulous Ones, Dick Murdock, the Fantastics and the Rock and Roll Express.

Once considered the most hardcore and brutal tag team wrestlers in North America, tables, chairs, and ladders were common apparatus in his wrestling parody. The title-winning wrestler later changed his image from a violent combatant to a comedic rebel, emphasizing his native roots by taking on the name, Bushwhacker, an eccentric farm boy from down under.

After retiring from active competition in 2002, Wickens began working with the International Wrestling Association of Puerto Rico, covering its fast growing production in the Latin countries including South America. Today he is not only recognized as a wrestling champ, but a champion for charities including “Make a Wish” Foundation, America Cancer Society, Special Olympics and other programs for under privileged children.

Late last year, Wickens came to visit the area and was encouraged by good friend, Terry Bolea, also known as Hulk Hogan, to consider life on the Gulf of Mexico. He began looking for a gym to work out when he ceased the opportunity to buy the local beach gym.

After a nearly 50-year-career, the 66-year-old admits he’s mellowing; however, it’s hardly evident. The somewhat-tamed wrestler has become the owner of Clearwater Beach Fitness, formerly Muscle Beach Fitness, located at the Pelican Walk on Mandalay Avenue. While the gym has been through the hands of several owners and was slowly gaining a ‘scruffy’ image, Wickens has transformed the gym as if it’s his first time in the ring – converting it to a showcase to inspire great workouts.

In his short time as owner, the gym has undergone a major make-over including a new lay-out for the work stations and weight systems. Equipment benches and grips and cardio machines have been refurbished. He also dedicated an area for warm-up and stretching that can also substitute for group exercise sessions. He renovated locker rooms, gave the gym a deep, deep cleaning and added a fresh coat of paint from ceiling to floor.

In addition, the new gym is introducing a new fitness program, “Ultimate Fitness,” a cross-fit style class, invented by a former Navy Seal, that utilizes TRX suspension straps and your bodyweight to develop strength, balance, flexibility and core stability, led by a specialized suspension trainer.

Meanwhile, you don’t have to train like a wrestling professional. The gym offers top-notch integrated performance training and physical therapy along with nutrition planning and massages therapy. Moreover, Wickens’ team of personal trainers offer impeccable techniques associated with sports-specific training, weight loss, combat, and conditioning programs. If you want to lift with the “big boys,” trainers are available the gym, which is equipped with both machine weights, free weights, advance weight training machines, and a few machines that once belonged to Hulk Hogan.

Wickens’ team includes:

Ashleigh Gass – Ashleigh has an extensive list of credentials including a master’s degree in Human Nutrition through The University of Bridgeport, certifications as a Sports Performance Nutrition Advisor, Certified Sports Nutritionist through The International Society of Sports Nutrition (CISSN), and as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). She is a Medical Exercise Specialist (MES), and a Certified Level One Cross Fit Coach.  A graduate from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, she earned a BSC, studying kinesiology, exercise physiology, and psychology.  She is also a graduate of the National Coaching Institute, having completed extensive sports science modules in the long-term physical preparation of the elite athlete. Ashleigh brings her wealth of education and experience to Brilliant Fitness and Nutrition (BFN), formerly Brilliant Athlete, and uses it to create a culture that is focused on success, measurable results, hard work, fun, and ownership of outcomes. She brings cutting-edge training and nutrition solutions to her clients to help them achieve their wellness and performance goals.  She is well known in the Tampa Bay area for her results-based coaching style.

Michelle Lindsey – Michelle has 27 years’ experience in health and fitness industry. She hails from California where she was part of a family owned business – California Aerobics for 18 years. She has logged over 6,500 hours of documented personal training experience, specializing in post injury recovery, strength training, flexibility, body fat reduction and various demographic groups including the 60 group. Certifications include National Academy of Sports Medicine Corrective Exercise Specialist, National Academy of Sports Medicine Senior Fitness Specialist, National Academy of Sports Medicine, Certified Personal Trainer, International Sports Science Association and Aerobics and Fitness Association of America.

Marcus Boehmer – Marcus is a premier PTS functional training, National Academy of Sports Medicine certified trainer with a MBA/MPM and BSBA. He offers more than 20 years experience in the health and fitness industry, and 10 years in bodybuilding at the state and national competition levels. As a former collegiate football and lacrosse athlete, he is personal training manager with more than 10 years experience.

Dorothy Hendrickson – Dorothy, who oversees the day-to-day operations at the gym, is a former Northport, NY native. She previously owned and operated a very successful restaurant, Chef’s II, in Melville, NY, with her husband, David, of 28 years. Along with her husband and three children, she enjoys living on Clearwater Beach and likes to garden, rescue animals and exercise in or outside the gym.

Marsha Rantala – Marsha is a graduate of the Edmund Morgan School of Massage and Neuromuscular Therapy in Cornelius, NC. She also holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Florida and received instruction in Myoskeletal Alignment for Neck, Rotator Cuff, Low Back and Leg Pain from Erik Dalton, Ph.D., Freedom from Pain Institute. She is also an AFAA Certified Personal Trainer.

To inquire about the “Ultimate Fitness” program or any other program the gym has to offer call (727) 286-8918, email [email protected]. Visit www.ClearwaterBeachFitness.org.

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