Titus Human Performance Trains Athletes to Go Pro in Wilmington

Photos by Kevin Rentz

Looking for the next athlete from Delaware to turn pro? Many of them are working toward that goal at Titus Human Performance in Wilmington.

The sound of Shawn Hoffman’s footsteps echoes inside the empty gym at 76ers/Chase Fieldhouse near downtown Wilmington where Philly stars Joel Embiid and James Harden pounded the hardwood for a preseason scrimmage hours earlier.

Through another doorway, Hoffman strides past the Wilmington University softball team engaged in a variety of resistance movements and weightlifts on the dozens of machines. Above them hang signed and framed jerseys of young NFL stars: L.A. Chargers linebacker Troy Reeder, safety Darnell Savage Jr., a recent first-round pick of the Green Bay Packers, and Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Brian O’Neill, who made the Pro Bowl in 2022. The otherwise unassuming appendage to the fieldhouse is Hoffman’s 18-year-old business, Titus Human Performance.

This hive of activity has quietly become an elite athlete factory, training hopefuls as young as 8 and—along with coaches and family—molding them into collegiate or professional-level players. The Fieldhouse, where the G League Delaware Blue Coats play during the winter, houses acres of state-of-the-art training facilities, widely considered among the best in the region, if not the country.

- Advertisement -

The heart of Titus’ approach is youth sports development, something not typically seen in our region—working with athletes of all ages and skill levels, raising their fitness levels so they become more mobile, stronger, faster and better conditioned than their competition.

Reeder started training with Titus when he was 9 years old.

Titus owner Shawn Hoffman has created an environment where young athletes can take advantage of state-of-the-art equipment and high-caliber strength and conditioning personal training to take their games to the next level.

“Titus has always been a second home to me,” says Reeder, who won a Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams in 2021. “Every step of the way they’ve helped me develop the tools I needed to compete among the best and be the best I could be. I was always told that success is when preparation meets opportunity.”

“The Titus approach is about preparing athletes for their big opportunity whenever that moment comes, regardless of level. Titus has helped me develop as an athlete and take advantage of those big opportunities that I have gotten throughout my career, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”

Reeder isn’t alone among the pros and soon-to-be-pros who hone their chops in northern Delaware with Hoffman and his team: Defensive lineman Doug Costin has bounced around NFL rosters like the Jacksonville Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers. MLB or minor league baseball luminaries include the Houston Astros’ Chas McCormick, Jason Adam of the Tampa Bay Rays, Billy Sullivan in the Phillies farm system, Brandon Walter (Boston Red Sox), Colin Peluse (Oakland A’s) and Jason Bilou (Chicago White Sox). The NBA G League’s Jonathan Kasibabu and Silas Stewart of the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders also call Titus home base.

“Titus has always been a second home to me,”
—L.A. Chargers linebacker Troy Reeder

- Partner Content -

Hoffman has been around athletes his entire adult life. At Millersville University, he played baseball and helped lead his team to the 1998 NCAA Division II College World Series.

After trying his hand at coaching, he shifted gears and earned a strength and conditioning specialist certification—as well as a conditioning coach job with the Wilmington Blue Rocks and eventually the Chicago White Sox’s farm system.

Hoffman founded Titus with a handful of partners in 2001 from a modest facility in Tallahassee, Florida. Thanks to their big-league connections, it began attracting a few of the area’s pro football players and baseball players.

“Our programming model…is the exact same thing that the youth athlete needs. They’re just in a different stage in their career,” he says.

Hoffman returned to Delaware in 2004 and opened a gym in Newark. In the early days, he and a small group of trainers and coaches managed a handful of athletes. Two of the first were brothers Troy and Colby Reeder. The brothers, who played lacrosse and basketball in addition to football—latched on to a Titus speed clinic and kept coming back.

- Advertisement -

“When you start to put kids out on the field or on the court and those parents on the team notice a difference when they show up the next season that a kid’s much faster, much stronger or their athletic performance is much better, they kind of go, ‘Hey, what the heck’s going on here?’”

Word of mouth quickly grew.

By 2018, the city of Wilmington was collaborating with developers The Buccini/Pollin Group and the 76ers to launch the Chase Fieldhouse—an innovative sports and events hub that could house the Sixers’ farm team while attracting youth sports to its fields, plus music, events and more.

Today it resembles heaven to any aspiring athlete. A Nemours sports medicine facility wedged in between the basketball, soccer and weight rooms feels like a natural fit.

The Wilmington University softball team is just one of the many collegiate and high school-level clubs that train with Titus.

Hoffman’s training program was adapted from the principles of Angel Spassov, a Bulgarian strength coach. Titus preaches “developing a balanced athlete,” he says. That means focusing holistically on mobility, flexibility, strength and agility. For up-and-coming athletes, it’s the kind of training that can take their skills and passion to the next level of their careers.

Jezelle “GG” Banks, a star eighth-grader on Ursuline Academy’s basketball team, is already a believer. Banks, who started playing basketball at the William “Hicks” Anderson Community Center when she was 4, conditions with veteran Titus coach Sam Scott twice a week on everything from weighted squats to jump rope to pushing a sled.

“I’ve seen a lot of improvement,” says Banks, who aspires to play Division I NCAA basketball and eventually head to the WNBA. “Mostly, I’ve improved my strength. Now I go to the basket and I’m not scared to take the contact. My vertical jumping got better. I get more rebounds and I’m pushing the ball more.”

Her routine with Coach Sam is tough but fun, she says. “And if you’re cheating, he’ll see.”

Scott is just one of about 30 highly certified and decorated strength and conditioning coaches on staff with experience training adult and kid athletes. Hoffman keeps an army of sport-specific instructors on retainer to work on skills and mechanics, from lacrosse to soccer and everything in between.

Local secondary schools like Archmere Academy, Padua Academy, Caravel Academy, Charter School of Wilmington, Newark Charter School and Pennsylvania’s Bishop Shanahan High School dispatch entire teams to Titus training.

By starting to train athletes even younger, savvy coaches can build the foundations for coordination and proprioception—also referred to as kinesthesia, or the brain’s sixth sense—into developing bodies. Those building blocks will come in handy as they age; as their sports competition gets faster and stronger, athletes need to be able to make quick movements, run properly, and land and change direction more efficiently.

“If we can accomplish that at the youth level, we’ve completely set them up for their future performance,” Hoffman says. “Often, once they hit 14, 15, 16, that window for development starts to close.”

Titus human performance sports academy
Up-and-coming young athletes focus on building mobility, strength and flexibility.

To be sure, not every kid or person who sets foot inside Titus will go on to win a Super Bowl. The odds of a high school–age athlete turning pro is still dismal (less than 1% by most studies), and Hoffman understands not everyone has those aspirations anyway.

To that end, Titus offers adult fitness programs designed to have the weekend warriors, soccer parents and more into the best shape of their lives. Small group classes (with those same high-end Titus coaches) start as early as 5:15 a.m. and feature circuit training.

And Hoffman points to the many everyday triumphs that were reached thanks to Titus—the JV athletes who made the jump to varsity, or local firefighting companies who train their bodies to put on the line saving lives.

Or even the nonathletic 10-year-old who began working out at Titus one summer but mainly kept to himself. Later that fall, the boy’s mother wrote to Hoffman, saying that the confidence her introverted son built at Titus motivated him to try out for his middle school basketball team. “Those little success stories,” Hoffman says, “really stick with you.”

troy reeder titus human performance wilmington delaware
Delaware native Troy Reeder plays linebacker for the Los Angeles Chargers. In 2021, he won a Super Bowl as a member of the Los Angeles Rams. Reeder was 9 years old when he began training with Titus Human Performance.

For kid athletes of all levels, Titus is the ultimate training playground; a place that offers a live and in-person glimpse of their potential futures: Imagine your mini-linebacker in training shredding and sweating next to the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Reeder.

It also shows them how hard—and how consistently—they must work to reach the highest peaks of sports. The Titus approach, over time, also builds everyday champions. “And that carries over to other aspects of your life,” Hoffman says. “When you get out of school and you go into the workforce, [you] understand that if I work hard at something, there’s a really good chance I’m going to be successful.”

Says GG Banks, simply: “It’s that place. It’s not just all about work. You’re also having fun, too. You’re experiencing new things that you’ve never experienced before. You can ask questions if you need help. It’s meeting new people, building connections, bonds and learning to be persistent. Because when you get into Titus, they’ll work you. And teach you to never give up.”

Related: 15 Unique Gyms to Switch up Your Fitness Routine in Delaware

Our Best of Delaware Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!

Holiday flash sale ... subscribe and save 50%

Limited time offer. New subscribers only.