Enjoying conversation… Patrick Harbin, Trey Garner and Dez Thomas share stories and time after small group.
Enjoying conversation… Patrick Harbin, Trey Garner and Dez Thomas share stories and time after small group.
Madeline Piazza

No Off Season means more than just a gym to its community

by Madeline Piazza, reporter

Located at 25620 Friendship Road and established in 2013 by owners [brothers] Brannon, Gavin and Nolan Willisson – No Off Season is more than just a gym; it’s a place where kids can delve deeper into their spiritual journey and learn more about God.

This gym offers a range of services to meet the needs of every fitness enthusiast. From athlete performance training to group sessions for adults and personalized training regimes, No Off Season ensures everyone has a chance to achieve their fitness goals.

Rooted at the heart of Baldwin County, Alabama, the concept of No Off Season was born from the shared experiences of the sports-loving brothers. As they matured, they realized the key to success in sports was year-round practice and preparation, yet they found this principle extended beyond the field, playing a pivotal role in their personal relationships with Christ.

Coming together… Students enjoy the fellowship and community No Off Season provides. (Madeline Piazza)

Their commitment to daily spiritual growth led to their belief that success, in both sports and faith, requires daily dedication. Hence, the name: No Off Season.

“There was a guy named J.D. McDuffy who used to pick my brother and me up from school to workout at a local gym. Not only did he teach us the importance of physical fitness, but he showed us what a real relationship with Christ looked like,” Brannon said. “That was what started the mutual dream for Gavin and me to open a gym together.”

In the face of adversity, No Off Season stepped up to the plate. When COVID-19 forced churches to close their doors, the gym transformed into a beacon of faith and fellowship. Bible studies and small groups for both kids and adults were initiated, ensuring that nourishment of the community continued. 

Recognizing the importance of unity in challenging times, No Off Season became more than just a gym; it became a sanctuary where believers could gather, fostering a sense of community and resilience amidst the pandemic.

“NOS Students officially started three years ago. The vision I feel that God laid on our hearts was to disciple and equip students to lead other students and reach their peers,” Gavin said.

Guided by a profound sense of purpose, the brothers set out to empower students with the tools to lead and make disciples of Christ. Their vision was not just about imparting knowledge, but also fostering a space for mutual learning and growth. 

No Off Season became a unified platform where students could explore their faith, engage in meaningful dialogue, and deepen their understanding of Christ’s teachings. 

“As followers of Christ we are called to make disciples. We wanted to see students make disciples, baptizing other students and leading them spiritually,” Gavin said.

No Off Season has become a transformative space where students not only make friends and go deeper with their faith, but it’s also a safe haven to share personal experiences without fear of judgement. 

The impact has been profound, with students experiencing meaningful changes in their lives, as they navigate their spiritual journey in this nurturing environment.

Standing Strong… The site of No Off Season located on Friendship Road. Purchased in 2013, it is home to many fitness enthusiasts. (Madeline Piazza)

“I’ve been coming here since 2021, and I have gotten to love the community. Gavin and Brannon really showed me the way to Christ and that changed my whole life from who I was before to who I am now,” said Qualin McCants, student athlete.

In a powerful display of transformative influence, No Off Season continues to leave a lasting impact on the lives of both children and adults. Equally compelling is the journey of self-discovery embarked upon by the leaders themselves. 

“It is really exciting to lead a group here and see people from the beginning. I watch them in their walk and how they grow with God,” said Halle Shilston, student athlete. “The best thing is that they can also hold me accountable and help me learn even though I am their leader.”

Like Halle, individuals involved in the program get to learn more about themselves and reach others through their faith. Their influence echoes through the community, crafting a narrative of unexpected heroes. 

“When I was asked to baptize a student, I was surprised. I’d only started leading Bible studies here six months prior. When Fish asked me to baptize him, I was honored. He told me my leadership had brought him closer to Jesus. It was a proud moment, baptizing a brother in Christ, knowing it was God’s work through me,” said Andrew Taylor, student athlete.

Adult leaders, too, are not left untouched by this journey. Their experience within the program is proving to be just as impactful, by reshaping their perspective and enriching their lives. 

They get to share their knowledge with the kids and also grow a relationship built off of guidance with them. The kids can come to them for advice and mentorship.

“Developing relationships with the girls… It’s so special when someone runs up to me and wants to share their life with me- whether it is celebrating an accomplishment or seeking advice during a difficult season,” said Ginger Turner, adult leader.

This gym is not just about the present, it’s a vision for the future. With ambitious plans in the pipeline, the program is poised to excel. They want to take their plans farther away for more people to be able to access it.

“We hope to one day plant gyms all over the world, wanting to have impact in local communities for the Kingdom of God,” Gavin said.

No Off Season is a transformative force in the lives of its people. It’s not just about fitness, but also fostering a deeper connection with faith. Those who join find themselves growing, not just physically, but spiritually, developing a closer relationship with God. 

Rooted with their favorite verse, 2 Timothy 4:2, This program is a testament to the power of faith-based community support in shaping lives.

“Preach the word of God. Be prepared, in season and out of season; Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with great patience and good teaching.” – 2 Timothy 4:2, NIV.

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