January 27, 2022
DEFINITION: filling someone with the urge or ability to do something
Dwayne Blakely just has a way.
A way with football. With fitness. And with inspiration.
Blakely, former NFL tight end, began his professional career in 2003. He played for the Atlanta Falcons and the Kansas City Chiefs. At the collegiate level, Blakely played for the University of Missouri. Growing up in St. Joseph, Blakely graduated from Central High School and dug his cleats in to the football field in front of the hometown crowd many a Friday night. He is also a semi-pro basketball player and an ACE Certified Personal Trainer.
But if you ask him, he would probably say his greatest accomplishment is still unfolding.
Blakely returned to St. Joseph following his NFL retirement. He started his own personal fitness business, Blaketivity Sports Fitness and Training, working with children and adults. He offers team training sessions, personal sessions and is part of the Book Ball youth basketball program.
“I loved my professional football career, but you realize you miss out on a lot of things, like holidays, and time with friends and family when you’re always playing and practicing,” says Blakely. “I just needed to be home.”
And for Blakely, “home” means so many things. It means the feeling of doing work you truly love – athletic training work, as Blakely says – that he would do even if he wasn’t getting paid. He encourages his athletes to do the same. “Find something that you love to do. It’s that motivation that will carry you through.”
Growing up on St. Joseph, he says he looked up to many area athletes and family members. He spent hours playing basketball at the former downtown St. Joseph YMCA. But his greatest inspiration may have been observing his mother, Freda, who coached at Robidoux Middle School. “I was always around people working hard, working out, enjoying sports,” says Blakely. “And I met so many people and felt like such a part of the community. This is something special about St. Joseph that I missed. We are grassroots around here, and we know each other, and that’s really important.”
Many St. Joseph natives will remember playing basketball, football, baseball, fast pitch softball or some kind of sport with one of his 15 uncles. Others will remember his aunt, Ernestine Blakely, a long-time and well-loved pastor.
“There are so many relationships here and that is the basis of who this community is. Doing what I do for people feels like service, and I love to see people just walk out the door with a smile,” he adds.
Along his athletic journey, Blakely says he learned that life is what you make of it, and opportunities are everywhere to make something of yourself. “As the business continues to grow, I want to keep it going for St. Joseph. They’ve been so supportive. The main thing I want to do is keep it rolling forward,” he says. (And roll forward it has. Blaketivity is hosting a busy week every week of personal and team training sessions).
A lot of things excite Blakely about personal training and fitness, but he says his goal isn’t to reinvent the wheel. Blakely says it’s to help his clients get a workout, boost their confidence and inspire them to go out and do something else as part of their life’s purpose once they leave the gym.
For Blakely, that purpose includes an uncommon devotion to his hometown and the people who make it great.
Or, as he puts it: “Every day is a chance to get motivated toward something that matters. I’m thankful for that.”
St. Joseph is a city of stories. Like historic towns across the country, there are blocks of amazing homes, business buildings and neighborhoods. Founded in 1843, St. Joseph’s location along the Missouri River and national mid-point created an economic and residential boom fueled by Westward expansion, transportation and communication industries.
Kristen’s Coin and Jewelry is not just a store. It’s an experience. Think part Fifth Avenue, part antique store, part jewelry design gallery and part coin museum.
You’re going to hear a lot of “I love downtown” from St. Joseph residents and guests. Downtown is coming alive block by block, with awesome surprises at every turn.
Forget anything stuffy you might think about symphony or orchestra performances, and consider a symphony experience St. Joseph-style.
Walking into Café Belle Epoque takes you back in time. The copper tin ceiling, marble table tops, hardwood floors, wood-burning stove and jazz music seem to transport you to a period of economic glamour in historic St. Joseph.