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Generation Next already giving back

By Mike DiMauro

Publication: The Day

Published November 11. 2013 4:00AM


They decided to call it "G's," which only adds to the irony. Anyone with even limited knowledge of this corner of the world knows "G's" to mean pizza, grinders, laughs and stories, not goblet squats and kettle bell swings. Burps? Sure. Burpees? Not so much.

And yet it turns out that the Gianakos twins, Chris and Peter, have a business in Waterford not all that unlike the popular eatery their dad and uncle run in New London: a community hangout, except that it's dedicated to shedding the pounds Mr. G's Restaurant help us gain.

This is G's Fitness and Nutrition in Waterford, now up the road a bit in Utopia Plaza, bigger digs for their growing business. It's a story of family, community and self-sufficiency. Exactly how we should all want our kids to grow up, mindful of helping others, beyond their own self-interests.

Peter and Chris Gianakos, once basketball players at East Lyme High School, always understood the concepts of community and relationships, perhaps belying their ages. They grew up around the restaurant, now nearing its 50th birthday, a New London institution. They gleaned quite a bit from the eclectic clientele - coaches, politicians, teachers, lawyers, laborers, writers, accountants, Pfizer folks, craps dealers - and have applied much of what they've learned, minus the carbs.

"We got into it when my dad had heart issues while we were in college. We have a family history of heart disease," Peter Gianakos said. "It's rewarding. It's obviously rewarding to see someone lose weight, but also when you see a kid come in here with no confidence and leave stronger and more sure of himself or herself."

And now as Mr. G's begot G's Fitness and Nutrition, G's Fitness and Nutrition has its own spinoff. Matt Walker, close friend of the twins and fellow Viking alum, had added to his duties as a personal trainer at G's to open a baseball facility at Jordan Brook Commons, site of G's old training place.

Walker, who played four years of baseball at the University of Hartford, offers cage rentals, private hitting instruction, group lessons and clinics. Pretty good when they grow up and want to be in the people business.

"Peter and Chris have always been close friends, like surrogate older brothers growing up," Walker said. "I was at Pfizer sitting at a desk and realized I wasn't cut out for that. I started training here with them and found myself here more and more. I love it."

Walker, in spite of playing defensive end on East Lyme's 2003 state championship football team, is a baseball guy. A baseball guy with a plan.

"This is such a hotbed for baseball and softball. I feel like I have the knowledge to help out," he said. "Playing four years in college, one thing I learned is that coaches and instructors tend to make the game a lot more complicated than it is. It's become so revolutionized, everything is a science now. At the end of the day, it's about having a little confidence in the box, seeing the ball and hitting the ball. I want to bring back that simplicity."

Walker is a member of the first family of sports in the region. His dad, Matt, not to mention Uncle Andy, Uncle Pete, Uncle Mike and Aunt Liz all have their stories to tell. Matt Walker, apparently, is pretty good at that, too.

"Matt will go out to a bar and pick up three clients. He says, 'we're going out to recruit tonight,'" Peter Gianakos said. "It proves that the No. 1 thing is relationships. We become therapists in a way for our clients. People share their life."

Just like at the restaurant.

"The greatest part is that we've actually had people show up to G's restaurant who want training," Walker said. "Very ironic. You're talking about a carb haven. But I will say that in all the years I've known Pete and Chris, I don't think I've ever seen them eat a carbohydrate. Clean eaters. I've never seen them eat pizza or dessert. If they do it's behind closed doors."

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.

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