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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

When East Niagara Post decided to allow George and I to be the beat reporters for the Lockport Express, I’m pretty sure that they had no idea that we would fully immerse ourselves in the job. I’ve gone on a road trip, and skated on a Friday morning with skills coach, Dave Kasperek. This past weekend at the Express camp, I attempted a workout with the junior team hopefuls.

Jared Byer, director of Skate Ahead, who was running the off-ice training was gracious in allowing me to join in on the fun. Skate Ahead of WNY is an off-ice hockey training system. Programs are designed for Youth to Pro athletes in search of enhanced athletic performance. Training is focused on Fitness, Nutrition, and Skills based around games and practices in-season and off.

First off, let me say that those kids are 22-25 years younger than I am. Maybe I let my ego get in the way, but I thought I would be able to hold my own with the workout after watching the previous day’s segment. I exercise regularly, so I came prepared with workout clothes.

Byer and his staff put 21 of us through a pretty intense, 45-minute program. The warmup was on par with some of the toughest workouts I do regularly. I was feeling pretty good about myself until we got to the arm circles. At that point, my shoulders were ready to give up the ghost. Then we moved on, in groups of three, to seven different stations. Each of the stations lasted one minute.

The first station for me was on an exercise ball doing core work. The next was more core work on the bands, followed by pushups on a balance board. Lateral runs and ladder runs came after that, with box jumps and skaters to round out the stations. I made it through the first round without too much of an issue. Of course, I went at a different pace than the kids.

I started by sitting out the second round, but jumped in for the lateral run and a partial ladder run. Frank Vecchio II guilted me into doing the skaters to finish off the program. All important stretching and a cool-down finished off the session.

By the end I was dripping with sweat and trying to catch my breath. Even though I exercise regularly, I was unprepared for the intensity of the workout designed by Jared and his staff. As I write this, it’s been two days since the training. My abs and shoulders are still sore. It’s not a bad sore, but I definitely notice those groups of muscles when I move.

I would like to thank Jared Byer and his staff at Skate Ahead for allowing me to join in and see what I could do. They moved around the room, giving pointers to all of us and making sure we were moving correctly so that we didn’t injure ourselves. Without a doubt, these skaters will be getting some of the best off-ice training available.

+Craig Bacon is an East Niagara Post columnist and avid hockey fan. Follow him on Twitter @hippieboy73.

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