By Matt Espeut – Providence, RI
My goal is to help everyone be better, stronger, faster. I train everyone from age 14-90, and over the years my client base has shifted, oddly enough by age group. In my personal training business, there was a time that I had a lot of forty something women clients, then it transitioned to 30 year old men as my majority, then it shifted to 60 year old women and men, and so on, probably because working with a personal trainer happens mostly by referral, and clients come from satisfied customers telling their friends how successful they are with my programs.
Over the last two years, I’ve volunteered to help a local high school football team with their conditioning, and the other coaches and players were happy with the results it produced. One year went into two, and this year I proudly watched the Shea High School’s football team, The Raiders, of Pawtucket, ranked #4 in the state, play in the state’s Superbowl for Division II. They came in #s in the state – and I’m not sure who was more proud – me, as the trainer, or the team members and their families.
My training focuses on injury prevention, maintenance of high levels of energy and flexibility, as well as core strengthening, and agility.
From going to their workouts, to now – with my new gym – having them work out on the equipment in a structured fitness center routine – I’ve had the privilege of getting to know these wonderful group of kids.
For those who are parents of young athletic students in middle or senior high school, who may be thinking about athletic scholarships for college, or just being the best they can be at their sport, and for their own physical fitness, here are some thoughts:
Different types of teens
I have had experience with different types of teens – some athletes, some not, mostly girls, and it’s been a great personal reward to help them with physical and mental well-being. As of late, and increasing my work with teens, my awareness of how important it is for them to train and eat properly has also increased.
Athlete or not, it all starts with basics.
My observations are that teens in general, are awkward. They have weak cores, poor balance and stability, and lack coordination. This goes for athletes with the exception of those who are gymnastic athletes. Part of this is due to poor programming and improper training. I find that they go to YouTube or muscle magazines for their workout direction, where there is a generalized lack of attention to core and proper movement patterns. Even on an athletic level, most coaches at high school levels, know the game and strategy of the game, but lack resources and time to provide proper strength and conditioning training. At the pro level, do you think professional coaches focus on how to get someone in top conditioning shape? Or are they more focused on the particulars of plays and strategy? And how many high schools have a coach that specializes in strength and conditioning? With all of that being said, think of an athlete trying to perform at a high level without the proper training and conditioning. It is backwards, and dangerous.
Injury prone without property conditioning.
Teens playing contact sports without the proper conditioning are at higher risk of injury. It’s like your spine in an accident without a seatbelt. Another reason for their awkwardness is that they are not fully developed at this age. They are still growing and sometimes not uniformly. Their bones grow faster than their muscles in some cases, causing long lanky limbs, with loose, unstable joints. Doing the proper types of exercise is extremely important at this age because their bodies are still developing and high-risk exercises that load the spine should be avoided until an individual is strong and stable enough to support such activities. Attention must be paid to movements and addressed accordingly. When trained and fed properly, this age group responds quickly to exercise and conditioning. Whether your child is an athlete or not, it is a good idea to give them incentive to, and educate them about, exercise. It will pay off in the long run.
I always start by developing a mutual respect between us, and explain what and why we are doing something. Girls need to be handled carefully when it comes to eating. I helped a friend’s teenage daughter lose 65 pounds by educating her on food quality, then she took over and did it on her own in a healthy way. Exercise is important at any age, but safe exercise is essential at this age.
I’ve recently started a fitness program just for teen athletes – whether it’s being more fit, healthier, or having a mindset to win in life – or get that scholarship – if I can help, I want to. And, while we didn’t win the overall championship this year, all ‘my boys’ – The Raiders – are winners – winners in life!
Owner, Providence Fit Body Boot Camp