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Eric Freeman

The NBA's hottest trainer wants you to fall in love

Eric Freeman
Ball Don't Lie

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NBA players need to be in the best shape possible to reach the highest levels of the game, and often they can't do so just with the help of team-employed trainers. So they hire personal trainers to get the job done, almost always at their own expense.

This is not a particularly recent phenomenon. For years, Michael Jordan (and subsequently many others) worked with Tim Grover of ATTACK Athletics in Chicago. Now, the new hot trainer in the NBA is Idan Ravin, a former lawyer from New York.

Hannah Karp of the Wall Street Journal profiled Ravin in some detail. Surprisingly, being an in-demand trainer isn't quite as lucrative as you'd think:

Mr. Ravin, doesn't own a gym. He doesn't have employees and advertises his services on a modest Web site. He doesn't offer weights or strength exercises and focuses only on a client's weaknesses. He works on a sliding scale, asking his clients to pay what they think is fair. Some players say they might pay $1,000 to $2,000 to keep him on retainer for a week, though Mr. Ravin says occasionally he gets paid in meals or shoes.

Lance Young, Mr. [Chris] Paul's agent at Octagon, now foots the bill for most of his young clients to train with Mr. Ravin before the draft. The agency pays Mr. Ravin roughly $5,000 per player.

To make ends meet, Mr. Ravin operates a group of ethnic dating sites from his laptop -- including Ethiopian Personals and Eligible Greeks.

There you have it: Idan Ravin, trainer to the stars, is often paid in meals and shoes. At this point, he has probably had everything on the menu at The Cheesecake Factory, which I thought was physically impossible.

However, I'm more interested in the ethnic dating empire that Ravin is creating right now, because it's a stroke of genius. Ravin may be on the top of the training world now, but at 38 he likely has only a few more years in that spot. No professional athlete wants to train from a middle-aged man, even if that guy has a pretty rad Israeli name and shaved head.

So Ravin has entered the world of Internet dating, an established industry with room for growth. As the massively successful Jewish site JDate.com and the Ayn Rand portal The Atlasphere have already proven, there's a market for ethnicity and interest-specific dating sites. This plan fits in with the larger online trend of seeking niche audiences, and Ravin is setting himself up for success in the future.

If you only knew that Ravin doesn't make much money from his training, you might think that he was a poor businessman. But in reality, he's taking the long view of things. By working with pro athletes, he's making valuable contacts (i.e. potential investors) and making a name for himself. If or when his training business peters out, he'll still have a viable career as an alternative.

(Via Holly MacKenzie)

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