When I was asked to be one of the trainers/coaches for Nike #TrainChicago, I got excited. A few summers ago, I did two different projects at the Nike FuelHouse to promote their FuelBand and it was an awesome time. So, I was ready for an awesome time again.
Nike boasted that participants would train with Chicago’s best trainers, and it was a talented crew. The core group, led by Jason Raynor and Emily Hutchins, featured me, David Carson, Lindsay Aceto, Bryan Jackson, Nate Forse, James Peska, Natalia Kley-Wisniewska, Chris Wendt, Bret Gornik, Liu Gross, Jason Loebig, Ross Bradley, Vince Zager, Freddie Ellis, Quinn Shortal, and a few others. It was clear that although we all had different athletic backgrounds, we were equally passionate about great workouts.
The main tagline — You Are an Athlete Train Like One — spoke to me because I am a believer in all versions of athletic training. This was an opportunity to work with programs specific to NFL, NHL, MLB, MLS, and NBA players. Clearly, a baseball player and a football player have different physical needs, but a goal for both bodies is to move and perform better.
Nike built out a West Side warehouse, in the shadows of the United Center. Driving past the Madhouse on Madison, the banners and video boards constantly broadcast the greatness inside the UC: six Bulls NBA championships; six Blackhawks Stanley Cups. Talk about West Side motivation! I could feel the energy before even stepping into the gym.
The facility itself was half turf, half functional space. The Olympic platforms, kettle bells, dumbbells, TRXs, Prowlers, and plyometric boxes reminded me of Nike’s version of Husker Power. It was clear the training would be intense. DJ Arkitek made sure the music matched the intensity. It was a first class space, which is probably what everyone should expect from Nike.
Each week’s workout was focused on a different sport: football, hockey, baseball, soccer, and basketball. While many athletic movements are universal, each sport had their own flavor to make it unique. Some examples were the timed workload required for a hockey line shift; the basketball plyo jump focusing on exploding around an opponent; the dynamic soccer speed drills with a partner trying to push the runner off line, to simulate battling for the ball. Sport-specific training at its finest? Yes!
Because it’s Nike, they brought in big league athletes to make guest appearances and speak to the participants. Sherrick McManis. Sean Johnson. Anthony Rizzo (thankfully no White Sox fans in the group “booed” him). Stanley Cup winner Trevor Van Riemsdyk. Scottie freaking Pippen. And one of my all-time favorite players…Bo Jackson! These athletes were gracious enough to give us their time as well as some insight to what makes them great. From Sean Johnson’s sacrifices to Bo Jackson’s on-field mentality, we all benefited from listening to these elite performers.
Of course, Nike put together an excellent program. We were all sad when it ended, but anxious to see the evolution of Nike training. We all look forward to JUST DOing IT again!