Monday, July 7, 2014

Cressey Performance: Performance Enhancement Done Right

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to stop off in Hudson, Massachusetts, for an afternoon on my way to Boston. What’s in Hudson, you ask? Not a whole heck of a lot — besides, of course, the Mecca of sports performance facilities: Cressey Performance. Being in such close proximity, I just had to complete the pilgrimage to see what CP was all about.

Tucked away in the back of an industrial park about three miles from the town center, Cressey Performance is the strength and conditioning home to some of baseball’s top pros and prospects. While this reputation may sound intimidating, in fact CP provides a uniquely friendly training environment, seamlessly integrating athletes and general population clients alike. CP offers an extremely thorough evaluation, highly individualized programming, and world-class coaching no matter the client’s age, athletic prowess, and training goals.

All the pictures and YouTube videos in the world couldn’t do the 15,000+ square-foot facility justice. From the huge warm-up area, to the sprawling turf, custom-masoned walls (for medicine ball throws), free weight area, and plethora of training tables, Cressey Performance is the trainee and coach’s dream. Sessions flow ultra-efficiently from one specifically designated area of the gym to the next, beginning with foam rolling and dynamic warm-up, transitioning to rotational power and loaded carries, and winding up at the free weights, with plenty of shoulder pre-hab and rhythmic stabilization mixed in along the way.

Besides the sweet setup, what inspired me most about CP was the gym culture, specifically the buy-in and ownership the athletes themselves take of their training programs. In my experience, convincing a bunch of high school and college-aged athletes — who just want to get in and head straight to the squat rack — of the importance of foam rolling and dynamic warm-up is no small feat. Yet, without having to be told, as soon as they walked in every athlete grabbed his program and hunkered down for an extensive warm-up.

Exercise selection and execution were also unparalleled. Any good strength coach knows the importance of exercises like chops and lifts, but only the best go through the trouble of programming them in the semi-private or group setting due to the inherent learning curves. In one afternoon at CP, I saw more hip thrusts, chops, lifts, and Turkish get-ups than I’ve seen over the last year. Despite the nuances of the lifts, the athletes performed them with uniformly solid technique. If they were ever unsure, rather than risk sloppy movement, they simply asked a nearby coach, of which there was always one available, for help.

None of the above would be possible, of course, were it not for the incredible coaching staff. From the founders to the interns, these folks are without a doubt the cream of the crop. I was especially impressed to see how the full-time coaches mentored the interns, enabling every staff member to coach the heck out of every exercise  all in a highly standardized fashion. In addition to being great coaches, everyone was genuinely nice. Each staff member took the time to introduce themselves to me, get to know me, and answer my endless battery of questions. 

At the end of the day, once all the athletes were gone and gym cleanup was complete, the staff got together to lift. To my delight, they even graciously allowed me to join them as they practiced what they preach. Although I got to spend only a few hours at the well-oiled machine that is Cressey Performance, I couldn't have come away more thrilled with my experience and all that I learned.

Cressey Performance: a great place to train for young athletes, pro ball players, and average Joe's alike.

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