The Fitness Institute, A Look At Gary Roberts High Performance Training

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There has been a signifigant amount of conversation over the past two seasons about the improvement of Tampa sniper Steven Stamkos.  The majority of the conversation has centered around the fact that ever since Gary Roberts was acquired by the Tampa Bay Lightning, Stamkos has done nothing but improve.  Since retiring, Roberts has endeavored to provide high performance training regiments to profesional athletes that includes diet, strength, and cardiovascular maintenance.  In an effort to better educate the viewers of the site, I set out to get more information from The Fitness Institute and more specifically the high performance training.

Mr. Naresh Persaud, the General Manger of the facility was very helpful in answering questions regarding the purpose and goals of the institute.  The following is an email answering some basic questions about the facility;

The Institute and Gary Roberts training program gained a lot of notoriety with Steven Stamkos rapid progression, how long has it actually been around?

The Fitness Institute was established in 1963.  The Fitness Institute offers comprehensive fitness facilities, group exercise program, tennis courts & programming, restaurant, sports medicine clinic, executive locker rooms  with complete amenities, hot tubs, steam rooms, saunas, pool, esthetician, personal training and 1-on-1 pilates instruction.

For the NHL players, is the program only in the offseason, or do the players remain working with you over the entire year?

The Elite Off-Season Program which caters to NHL Players runs from June – August.  This is a phased program designed to achieve major gains in strength, power, speed, endurance and agility in preparation for the upcoming season.  Currently there aren’t any NHL Players working out during the season (typically teams workout together at their practice facility).

over the course of the season, does the program remains in correspondence with the players to track progression and look to further develop different areas of fitness that would benefit them, or do you do the fitness assessment at the beginning of each summer training session and start from scratch? 

As Gary told me when I asked the same question of him, he doesn’t follow any specific teams anymore rather he follows “his” players.  He’s in touch with all of his players throughout the season and offers feedback on what he sees on the ice as well as being a sounding board for them.  As Gary has great respect for the Strength & Conditioning Coaches employed by teams around the league, his involvement with the players training during the in-season is typically very limited.  Also, as the in-season is a time where players work towards maintaining what they’ve achieved in the off-season (rather than gaining), Gary feels that aggressive training at this time will actually work to the negative with players. 

With Gary’s background he’s able to note player’s subtle changes from game to game and where he gets more involved is with nutrition, recovery and lifestyle.  He feels that a lot of what a player accomplishes on the ice over a long season is related to these areas and these are typically areas where the players will solicit his opinion or be open to his feedback.  In regards to in-season fitness assessments, etc., Gary does not get involved with that.

Is the program a sort of one-size-fits-all, or is the training personalized depending on the athlete?

The Elite Off-Season Program is customized to the athletes.  There is an initial fitness assessment to determine the starting point for the athlete and to determine if there are any postural or corrective issues that need to be addressed and re-assessments are done at the beginning of each new phase to aid in program development.

The NHL players get the most attention, but what levels of hockey does the program appeal to?  (Youth/High School/Junior/College/Amateur)

There are a number of different programs offered in the Gary Roberts High Performance Centre (Elite Off-Season, Junior Off-Season, In-Season and Off-Season 1-on-1 & Small Group Training, Team Training and the Executive Program).  The centre caters to players aged 12 and up from all different competitive backgrounds including CHL (Jr. A), NCAA Division I, ECHL, AHL and NHL.  The Centre also hosts camps to prepare players for OHL and NHL Combines.

Does to institute contract with entire teams or only individual players?

The Centre caters to individual players, but also offers Team Training.

Could you maybe describe the program in terms of the overall fitness approach

The slogan of Gary Roberts High Performance Training is TrainRefuelRecover  …Compete.  Through his professional career and most notably during his recovery from his neck injury, Gary’s experiences have taught him that a multi-disciplinary approach is the best methodology to help an athlete achieve their maximum potential and longevity in their sport.  Gary’s approach incorporates advanced training techniques, proper sports nutrition and recovery strategies

Mr. Persaud was very proud when talking of the athletes that are participants in the program, which beyond Stamkos include James Neal, Steven Weiss, Kris Draper, and for parts of the summer the Staal brothers.  He and the institute should be proud, the caliber of player that is found working with this program is pretty impressive.  If only the exit interviews of the Toronto Maple Leafs encouraged this kind of training in the off-season, perhaps the accomplishments might follow.  It should be noted that at different times over the past four years the coaching staff and management of the Leafs has been critical of this program.

When you listen to stories of NHL days of old when training camp included rounds of golf and a minimum requirement for push-ups and sit-ups, programs like this show just how far evolved the sport and those that play it are.  The multi faceted approach dealing with both fitness level and proper diet to maintain physical form and energy levels.  Gary also has been running a eat-to-compete challenge which gives encourages healthy eating habits for a chance to spend a day with the former Stanley Cup Champion.

I would like to thank Mr. Persaud for the opportunity to present a view of the facility in North York, as well as the program that has gained so much attention.  With the success levels of the athletes that are participating, it’s not hard to imagine this type of training will further grow, and for that the sport of hockey will be all the better.

I would also like to invite readers to check out more of the  videos that have been shown above, which are all available on the institutes website.

To visit the website for High Performance Training and The Fitness Institute, click here