"This is not your father's gym."
I said those words during my interview with Mark Verstegen, the physical fitness guru behind Athletes' Performance. His dream of combining technology and training is alive and well, not just in his Phoenix workout facility, but also on NFL, Major League Baseball and Olympic playing fields all over the world. The athletes he trains are the best of the best, and their performance gains highlight the power of modern technology.
The trainers at AP will readily admit that there's no substitute for hard work. But what they're preaching is that the best hard work is also the most efficient work. And that's where modern science and technology can make the biggest difference. By combining today's knowledge of biology, physics, nutrition and computer programming, AP is helping make modern athletes stronger, faster and healthier than ever.
The gym at AP is almost like a factory. Every inch of space seems dedicated to some specific function, whether that's speed work, strength training, rehab, cardio, nutrition, etc. Trainers there keep detailed notes on what each athlete is doing and how well they're performing. Those notes become part of a database they use to track exercises, chart efficiency and create new workouts tailored to each specific athlete's needs. By using that information, they're able to get the most out of every workout and achieve maximum performance gains, with less wasted time and effort.
These technology-fueled advances in fitness and training have tremendous implications for professional athletes — and the rest of us. AP is starting to bring their methods to the masses through a regimen they call Core Performance. The same technology that helps win Gold medals and Golden Gloves for the pros can also help the average Joe or Jane get more out of his or her workout at the local gym. In an integrated program at Intel's on-campus corporate gyms, employees have access to the workout-tracking, fitness-plan-creating software AP has helped pioneer. They also get to use the C-Pro training machines that combine a software interface with more efficient workout methods. The result is an all-in-one gym experience that is designed to deliver more efficient results with less wasted sweat. You can see more of how these workouts are becoming available to everyday users at CorePerformance.com.
[Want more? Check out AP founder Mark Verstegen's 'Greatest Stretch in the World' in our TFIN bonus content below!]
One of the greatest benefits from all of the training methods and technology AP has perfected is increased durability and longevity. Jerry Hairston, Jr. is a perfect example. At 35, he's no longer a youngster playing a young man's game. When we spoke, Jerry was quick to acknowledge that in recent years, he's had to work harder to achieve the same results that came naturally to him as a ballplayer in his 20s. But Jerry raved about the differences he's noticed as a result of training with AP. He credits their regimen with helping him stay quick, remain strong and recuperate faster from the rigors of a 162-game Major League season.
As a fellow 35-year old, I can sympathize. As much as I still secretly harbor dreams of one-day making the Texas Rangers roster, the reality is that I now have a better chance of winning the lottery than seeing a big-league batter's box. I simply can't keep up with the 20-year-old version of myself that was once athletically invincible.
But that doesn't mean my days of staying in shape are over. As a guy who enjoys competition and breaking a good sweat, and loves technology, spending a day at AP left me excited. I can't wait to find new ways to use their technology to track and plan my workouts. If it happens to help me keep those dreams of hearing my name called at The Ballpark in Arlington alive, so be it. The natural effect of aging is a powerful force, but so is technology. It's a tool that guys like Jerry — and guys like me — now have at our disposal. If only our fathers were so lucky.
Video produced by Will Lerner and Jennie Josephson. Production by Beau Beyerle and MediaHouse HD. Editor: Nolan Cooper. Sound editor: John Adams. Graphics by Mathew McDonald, Todd Tanner and Howard Kim for Yahoo! Studios.
WATCH OUR TFIN BONUS CONTENT: Mark Verstegen leads host Marc Istook through four simple stretches you can do at home, and Marc interviews Jerry Hairston, Jr.