The latest fitness regimen adopted by the Red Deer Rebels isn’t necessarily a new concept; it’s a simple case of keeping up with the times.
“Athletes now are training differently than they did in the past, and this is all part of it,” said Rebels GM/owner/head coach Brent Sutter, in regards to the implementation of pilates and spin classes into the team’s training program.
“You look at professional athletes and these are the kind of things they are doing now. Nowadays, it’s a lot about quickness, speed and agility, it’s not just about weight training and putting on straight muscle.”
With pilates and spin classes . . .
“You’re gaining flexibility, range and durability,” said Sutter, who decided to incorporate additional fitness methods after being approached by Studio Pilates owner/instructor Colleen Manning last spring.
Manning was responding to a feature story regarding Sutter’s concerns about the number of long-term injuries suffered by his players.
“With the amount of injuries we’ve had over the years, including last year, I had to revisit all of this,” he said.
As a result, the players started visiting Studio Pilates late in the season and also became part of the spin class clientele at RYDE RD, a downtown Red Deer cycling studio.
“We started doing both just before playoffs last spring and the kids really enjoyed it,” said Sutter. “They’ve been to a couple of spin classes this fall and to pilates a couple to three times.
“This is going to be our norm through the year, we’ll manage it between games and figure out the days we should do it. When I went through it and had discussions with our staff, they all agreed that this is the way the game is going.
“The kids are loving it and enjoying it and it gives them something else to do. It’s all good.”
The Rebels, of course, haven’t abandoned weight training, which is overseen by long-time strength and conditioning coach Al Parada.
But the addition of spin classes and pilates sessions brings new advantages.
“For the most part, spin is nice because it’s not really high impact for players with knee problems and it’s a good thing cardio-wise,” said Brooke Sutter, an instructor at RYDE RD. “I think it’s just a fun workout for (the players). They’re always used to the same thing and this gives them a little bit of a different dynamic in regards to working out.
“They come here and have so much fun. That’s kind of what we’re going for and it’s a team-building thing as well.”
Spin is about more than just cardio training, she added.
“There’s cardio, but with the moves we do in there . . . there’s some core and some weights as well. There are bits of everything, mostly cardio for sure, but leg strength as well.”
As for the weights involved in the classes . . .
“Those sit on the bikes and for one of our tracks we pull them out and it’s like four minutes of just straight weights,” she said. “That’s what they find the hardest.
“But just being in a weight room and lifting weights is not all that much fun. To come here and get something different, I think it’s awesome for them.”
Pilates helped former Rebel return to action in short order
Adam Musil is positive proof that pilates can work wonders.
Last season’s Rebels captain suffered a severe off-ice ankle injury in early March that threatened to end his season.
But regular visits to Studio Pilates worked wonders and he returned to the Red Deer lineup during the club’s first-round playoff series.
“It was probably the main reason he was back as soon as he was,” said Brent Sutter. “He was amazed himself.
“We thought he was going to be out for a long period. We didn’t know if he was going to be with us through any point of the playoffs. But he worked with Colleen and was back for Game 3.”
Manning, who emailed Sutter last spring to outline how pilates could help with decreasing and minimizing injuries while improving performance, explained what the physical fitness system can offer not only athletes, but people from all walks of life.
“With injury, many different types of therapy are necessary, including manual where a therapist is working on a body,” she said.
“But with pilates, it’s called active therapy, and what that means is that the athletes, or the clients, whoever they are, are retraining their bodies with neuro muscular patterns.
“All of the therapy is necessary, but the active therapy is where Adam was doing the work. We had a plan to strengthen his ankle and maintain the mobility of it.”
Stretching, explained Manning, is just one small piece of pilates.
“We do plenty of core work, dynamic flexibility, proprioception and trigger
point therapy, and educate the athletes on biomechanics and muscle firing,” she said.
“Injury prevention in sport is often referred to as pre-hab, and that’s the
goal with the Rebels — to work with each player’s individual postural and
strength needs and condition their body to reduce the chance of injury.
“By building their core, achieving healthy joint range of motion and a
healthy length-strength relationship in the muscles, the athletes will
naturally improve stability, balance, coordination, muscle function and
output, and therefore improve performance.”
Manning praised Sutter for venturing into pilates to make his players better athletes.
“I feel that Brent and the Rebels organization is providing a platform for
these hockey players to reach their potential,” she said. “He’s growing his athletes in every aspect and he is so committed to their individual success and the success of the team.”
Newly-minuted Rebels captain Grayson Pawlenchuk, himself the victim of a long-term injury last season, is clearly on board with the new additions to the team’s fitness program.
“My first spin class was Tuesday and I definitely enjoyed it,” he said. “It’s hard but it’s also fun in there having music going with the entire team.
“It’s fun, but at the same time you’re working hard. It’s a little different than skating every day and doing the same thing over and over. We get to go to spin classes and have fun, but we’re still doing the cardio that’s needed.
“And with pilates, we get the stretching we need or the workout we need. Both are kind of different and both help us out as players.”
Studio Pilates offers a variety of fitness classes, including spin, TRX and Booty Barre, along with the traditional pilates sessions.