Bonsu Elite Athletics celebrated its 10th anniversary on April 13.
The 9,000-square-foot sports performance training facility is located at 3427 Railroad Avenue in Ceres.
“I love what I do,” said Les Bonsu, owner and trainer. “It doesn’t feel like a job.”
Bonsu Elite Athletics (BEA) specializes in speed, agility and strength training.
“We have kids come in because they want to get better for their sport and prepare for the transition to college,” he said.
The majority of Bonsu’s clients are in high school.
He also offers sessions for college, middle school and youth athletes.
BEA trains about 60 people a day.
Sessions are offered Monday through Saturday.
“Every hour and a half, there’s a change of group of athletes that come in,” Bonsu said. “We train athletes from every sport. I haven’t expanded to the general population yet. In the future, that’s something I might do.”
Bonsu has been the go-to trainer for many of the top athletes in the area, including Kendall Wesenberg, Johnny Mundt, Ja’Quan Gardner, Cade Cowell, Nicole Bates and Madilyn Nickles.
Wesenberg finished 17th overall while representing Team USA in the women’s skeleton competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
“I first started training with him (Bonsu) in 2013 at his facility on Bangs in Modesto,” said Wesenberg, a 2008 Central Catholic High School grad who completed her college education at the University of Colorado. “I wasn’t great at Olympic lifting and he coached me. He also helped me with my sprint forms and mechanics. That helped me move more efficiently.”
"The environment he creates is so positive. He’s really constructive. He knows what he’s talking about and gives good feedback.”Kendall Wesenberg
“Les is awesome,” she added. “The environment he creates is so positive. He’s really constructive. He knows what he’s talking about and gives good feedback.”
Mundt, a 2013 Central Catholic grad who played tight end for the University Oregon, suited up for the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII in February. He made one tackle on special teams.
Gardner trained six times a week at BEA leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft.
The 2014 Central Valley High School grad/former Humboldt State star running back signed a contract as a rookie free agent with the San Francisco 49ers in August. He starred at running back with the San Diego Fleet in the Alliance of American Football league.
“I appreciate everything he’s done for me,” said Gardner, who started training with Bonsu during his sophomore year of high school. “There was never a time he wasn’t willing to work with me. He helped prepare me for the next level. He’s more than a coach. He’s a leader and role model for the community.”
Cowell, 15, signed five-year contract with the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer in January. He recently logged playing time in two preseason matches.
“Bonsu had a huge impact on me,” said Cowell, who started training at BEA when he was in the seventh grade at Cesar Chavez Jr. High. “He helped me become a great explosive athlete and be able to hang with the big boys strength-wise. Bonsu is the most positive trainer I’ve ever been around. He is always super easy to talk to and is very funny. He has a great relationship with any athlete that goes in there, no matter who they are. He also knows his stuff, is always really good with any workout, and if you need extra help with anything, he knows exactly what to do. I couldn’t thank Bonsu enough for what he did for me.”
Bates (Ceres High) and Nickles (Merced) are standout softball players at Washington and UCLA, respectively. They played for the USA Softball Women’s National Team during the summertime.
BEA has had more than 150 athletes earn scholarships to college.
“It’s very satisfying having kids come in as eighth graders, progress and move on to the next level,” Bonsu said. “I love those stories.”
“When a kid gets a scholarship, all of the other kids are excited,” he added. “They started that culture.”
Coleby Garrett started training with Bonsu when he was in the fifth grade at Whitmore Charter School in Ceres.
The 2018 Central Catholic High School grad played fullback and special teams for the Cal Lutheran football team as a true freshman this past fall.
“Bonsu’s a great guy,” Garrett said. “He’s always been there for me. He went to my youth and high school games. He made me a better all-round athlete. He’s made me quicker and stronger. He improved my speed and strength.”
“Coleby’s dad was one of my groomsmen in my wedding,” Bonsu said. “I met him through training his son.”
In January, Bonsu attended a workshop at Notre Dame that focused on the latest stretching and recovery techniques.
“I still go to seminars every year,” he said. “I don’t know it all. I want to constantly learn.”
BEA operated out of a 900-square-foot studio at 3025 McHenry Avenue in Modesto during its first two years of existence.
Business has been booming since Bonsu moved BEA from a 2,500-square-foot center at 401 Bangs Avenue in Modesto to Ceres six years ago.
“This is something I’ve always envisioned,” Bonsu said. “I didn’t think I’d grow as fast as I did. It’s based on results. I don’t really advertise. It’s by word of mouth. Parents talk to each other.”
“The growth is incredible,” Wesenberg said. “It all goes back to him. Les is a great person. He creates an environment that’s very positive. That’s a major draw.”
“When he started, it was me and 10 other people,” Garrett said. “I’m not surprised by the growth that he’s had. He’s really knowledgeable about what he does. He’s been doing it for a lot of years. He encourages you. He doesn’t yell at you. He’s really respectful. He wants the best for you. Every time I go in there, I’m seeing new faces. Everyone wants to be trained by the top guy.”
“He’s super humble,” Gardner said. “He knows how to get the best out of his athletes. He has relationships with each and every one of his athletes. That’s important.”
“I’d still have the same passion if I had five kids,” Bonsu said. “I love every day I’m there. I enjoy seeing kids getting better at their craft. It’s very rewarding.”
The facility is open Monday through Friday from 2-9 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more info about BEA, call 247-2695.