A Road Map to Elite-Level Athletic Performance

By Leo Shveyd, Co-Owner of Advanced Wellness

In 2016, Advanced Wellness had the pleasure of working with Vincent “Tutu” Golson, a local college basketball player. When I met Tutu in the summer of 2016, he had been sidelined for 16 days with an MCL sprain, the second such injury he had sustained in less than 9 months. After training at Advanced Wellness for a little less than two weeks, Tutu was back on the basketball court. Shortly thereafter, I got a call from a local basketball coach, Carl Jacobs, wondering what it was that we did so that Tutu was able to return to the court so quickly? I realized when I tried to explain to him what we do for “ALL” our athletes, that many of the same principles that we apply to every client at Advanced Wellness, everyday, are just as critically important for professional and amateur athletes just like Tutu.

In order to better explain to Coach Carl, and others who are not familiar with our training methodology at Advanced Wellness, I put together a diagram below, so we could better educate folks on what we do at Advanced Wellness and how they can be BETTER and “own their potential”.

The foundation of “owning your potential”, our mantra at Advanced Wellness, is built around, well, wellness! Breathing, lifestyle (sleep, sun exposure/outdoors, hydration, nutrition), movement, and stress dosage are key elements to expressing any objective. Each one of these concepts is worthy of an article itself (if not a book) and at some point in the near future, I will be writing, at greater length, about each and every one of their sub-elements.

Breathing is the first thing you do when you come into this world, the last thing you do before you leave, and the most important, yet under-trained, skill that we see in the western world.   More specifically, we notice it as we screen breathing with new clients at the gym and we recognize that breathing can be optimized. Simple lifestyle measures, such as sleep quality and quantity, early day sun exposure/outdoors, as well as hydration and nutrition are incredibly important to the category of wellness. Movement (that is pain-free, as well as mentally and physically engaging) is the fifth component of wellness. In fact, movement (and exercise) is a “keystone” habit; a catalyst for many other healthy lifestyle choices.  Finally, your stress dosage (environment, community, relationships, belief, hope, mindfulness) is critical to achieving a foundation of Well-being. The environment at AW is something that we are most proud of; we work diligently to curate this element, as it is essential to wellness.

Layered on top of the foundation of wellness are a variety of performance strategies. Training human beings can be broken up into four main categories: spirit, body, mind and craft (the ultimate objective that you are trying to improve upon; depicted as the top of the pyramid). While all these categories are interlinked, I will try to discuss them independently. Moreover, it should be noted, that many of the recovery strategies have already been discussed in the Wellness section and may seem duplicative. Although there is carry-over in techniques, different strategies can be employed to facilitate varying results based on the end goal. For example, we acknowledge that breathing strategies may differ from an every-day-living, health perspective, to pre-competition, in-game/high level performance outputs and post-competition recovery.  Mindfulness and stress management are important components of both wellness & performance, especially as they relate to the spirit.

Recovery strategies (as they relate to breathing techniques [post training/competition], sleep, sun exposure/outdoor, hydration, nutrition, proper warm-up and cool-down, etc.) help the body withstand the stress of training and prepare it to train again more quickly.  Performance based breathing strategies are another element of performance. The ability to truly harness ones nervous system is an incredibly powerful tool in this respect. With respect to training the body, conditioning (both cardiovascular and muscular), strength training, power and speed development, agility and quickness training are also crucial elements of the performance section. The byproduct of all the aforementioned is a body composition that lends itself to the ultimate objective of the individual. Finally, true elite performance must include mental training, such as cognitive processing speed.

Realizing one’s ultimate objective, whether it be playing professional basketball or lifting your kids on the weekends, is certainly made easier with a foundation of wellness that is layered with impactful performance training techniques. At AW, we approach every client’s programming with individuality in mind. Every new client is asked to fill out a client intake form (which includes health history information), they partake in the functional movement screen (FMS) which provides feedback on their ability to move and control their body in space, and finally, they participate in a one-on-one training session. This process helps us gather the appropriate information that forms the basis of their programming. From here, we typically start with movement; that means a new client begins participating in semi-private (small group) personal training sessions.

When a new client begins their journey at Advanced Wellness, there is a guiding approach that we use to produce unique results for our community. Typically, we start with movement. The reason for this is, as mentioned earlier in this article, movement (and exercise) is a “keystone” habit and a catalyst for many other healthy lifestyle choices. We have witnessed this for many years with out clients and Charles Duhigg discusses this concept in his book the Power of Habit. However, there are times when certain movements and particular exercises are inappropriate for an individual. In those instances, we develop alternatives that allow the new client to work towards their goals. In general, it makes sense to approach your training from the bottom up, meaning that you prioritize wellness before performance, and performance before the ultimate objective. Finally, over the past 20 years of Advanced Wellness’ existence, we have found that working on an individual’s limiting factors, with sound strategies, yields the greatest returns. That being said, there are some clients for whom this strategy is not ideal. While any methodology must have a structure (just like the pyramid and our approach to fitness), each must also be flexible enough to be applied on a client-by-client basis. That is exactly how we have evolved our program to best serve our clients and athletes just like Tutu.

Here’s to you and being BETTER!