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Former Twins shortstop Jason Bartlett not your typical Naples retiree

By J. Scott Butherus of the Naples Daily News

During his decade in the Major Leagues, Jason Bartlett was never the most athletically gifted player on the field.

Instead, he achieved the sort of career most young players could only dream about through hard work and squeezing every ounce of effort his body could muster.

“Having to plan my workouts was something I always had to do growing up,” the 6-foot, 190-pound Bartlett said. “In high school I didn’t even start my junior year. In college I was only OK. I always had to consistently work. I had to go in the weight room more, hit in the cage more, watch more video. I needed to go over and beyond what the superstars would do just to be there. I had to have that work ethic or else I wouldn’t be there.”

In his 10 big-league seasons, the former All-Star shortstop batted .270 with 849 hits and 123 stolen bases as a member of the Minnesota Twins, Tampa Bay Rays and San Diego Padres. He was the starting shortstop during the Rays’ 2008 American League Championship and World Series appearances and was named the team’s Most Valuable Player by Tampa media that season.

Now the 36-year-old recent Naples transplant is ready to help ordinary folks get the most out of their own bodies with an upcoming workout facility, the Six4Three Hiit Room — an homage to his years spent as the keystone in the double-play combination. The gym — which is a joint effort between Jason and his wife, former St. Bonaventure University lacrosse player, Kelly — will have its grand opening on May 21 at its flagship location in the Mission Square Center off Pine Ridge Road in Naples.

A 13th -round draft pick by the Padres out of the University of Oklahoma in the 2001 draft, Bartlett was traded to the Twins organization midway through the 2002 season. He was assigned to the Fort Myers Miracle that season, where he batted .262 with a pair of home runs and 11 stolen bases in 168 plate appearances. That began a recurring love affair with Southwest Florida.

In 2008, while living in a condominium in Fort Myers during the offseason, Jason and Kelly were married at the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club. The next year, Jason had one of his best statistical seasons of his career, batting .320 with 14 home runs and 30 stolen bases. Injuries to his back and knees took their toll and eventually cost him the entire 2013 season.

Bartlett made a brief return with the Twins after making the team as a nonroster invitee out of spring training in 2014, but played just three regular-season games before injuries — this time to his ankle — forced him back to the team’s player development complex in Fort Myers on a rehab assignment. His return to Southwest Florida was his sign that he was back home, so he decided to call it a career to spend more time with his sons Jayden, 7, and Jagger, 4.

Bartlett immediately packed up and moved his family from San Diego to a house in Naples.

“Fort Myers is great, but I wanted my kids to grow up in Naples,” he said. “This is where we think we’ll be for a while. This is a good spot for us.”

After “playing a lot of golf,” Bartlett tried his hand at selling life insurance. He quickly realized that wasn’t for him. Jason, who had a reputation as a gym rat during his playing days, and Kelly, a former personal trainer, had been training friends and family on the side, so they decided to take it one step forward.

“We wanted something that we could do together,” Jason said. “We wanted something that wouldn’t take away from our boys because that was one of the reasons I stopped playing baseball.”

Joel Flynn, an old high school friend of Jason, and Carl Hultgren turned the Bartletts on to their Pure Form Fitness program, a high-intensity workout regimen that combines cardio and strength conditioning.

“It was an interval training program that everyone across the board could do from beginner to elite athlete,” Kelly said.

“We have clients from the teens to their 70s,” Jason said. “And if you really want to push yourself, we have modifications that will allow you to do that.”

The Bartletts admit they aren’t looking to start the next national fitness craze. They just want to create a fun atmosphere — complete with loud music — where they could share their interest in personal fitness with others.

“It wasn’t something we needed. It was something we wanted,” Kelly said. “I think that is really the fire behind the passion and what we wanted to create for ourselves.”

About J. Scott Butherus

Multimedia journalist J. Scott Butherus is an award-winning sports writer and videographer and slightly above-mediocre photographer who covers spring training for the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox, the Fort Myers Miracle, outdoors and fishing, PrepZone, and Florida Gulf Coast University. In his spare time, he wrestles sharks and is a career .827 hitter for the company softball team.

Written By

Avi Adkins is a seasoned journalist with a passion for storytelling and a keen eye for detail. With years of experience in the field, Adkins has established himself as a respected figure in journalism.

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