Former football player, yoga guru Dray Gardner teams up with Xycle in Boca Park

Dray Gardner has chosen connection over collision.

The man who launched XenXen fitness sanctuary at Boca Park in a partnership with the established Xcycle fitness boutique has a body that once suffered years of abuse.

“I discovered yoga 10 years ago after years of abuse in contact sports, through football, boxing, snowboarding,” says Gardner, who also was injured in car and motorcycle accidents. “My back just gave out, and I made a pact that I would work to get back on my feet.”

Gardner gave yoga an exhaustive tryout, 60 sessions in 60 days. It saved him from having to undergo surgeries to repair damaged vertebra in his lower spine. It also inspired him to blend some of the principles practiced in yoga and Pilates for a new form of exercise dubbed Silent Savasana, where those who are exercising listen to Dray’s commands over a set of headphones in an otherwise silent environment.

In these mass gatherings, Gardner teaches balance, flexibility, discipline, focus and strength of mind. The LED headsets transmit Gardner’s directives and his music playlists, which are designed for a totally personal exercise experience.

Gardner had been leading recurring Silent Savasana events at Red Rock Resort in 2016 when he caught the attention of Jen Barnet, who had just opened Xcycle indoor cycling studio at Boca Park. Barnet is always seeking innovative training techniques.

“I had heard about this guy who was not traditional, and I’m not traditional, either,” Barnet says.

The power and popularity of Gardner’s events sparked a business idea. Barnet brought her now-husband, Larry Rudolph, who manages Britney Spears and Steven Tyler, among other top musical artists, to a Dray event.

“We go out there one night, and there are 550 people out by the pool at Red Rock wearing these headphones with blue, glowing lights, and Dray talking into a microphone,” Rudolph recalls. “I went, ‘What is this? It’s the craziest thing I have ever seen in my life.’ “

Gardner subsequently scoped out Xcycle, and the respective forces began to mobilize. He and his team of four instructors lead 60- and 75-minute sessions throughout each day beginning at 6:30 a.m.

The two exercise  empires are now linked — in business and in spirit.

“After watching Jen do her thing, it was only right that we connected,” Gardner said. “We joined forces, like the Wonder Twins.”

That’s a reference to a pair of cartoon superheroes, whose catchphrase, “Activate!” is Dray Gardner’s time-tested doctrine.