Let’s be honest, ditching the crowded gym or living room carpet for the great outdoors always makes for a better workout. But it also requires preparation and proper training to help prevent injuries and improve overall performance. This is where the William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center comes into play.
Built out of a unique partnership between the University of Colorado Colorado Springs and nonprofit healthcare leader Centura Health, the Hybl Center brings together sports performance programming, a state-of-the-art sports medicine clinic and research-driven academics, and all in one building.
Since opening last month, the Hybl Center’s Sports Performance department — led by Sports Performance Specialist Lead Alison Regal — has already helped more than 400 athletes improve their outdoor athletic abilities, including several youth soccer teams and many adult athletes, from elite competitors to weekend warriors.
“This is such a unique place because we have the resources available for the outdoor sports individual,” Regal says.
These resources include unparalleled tools and programming, as well as a team of certified Centura Health Athletic Trainers, Wellness Coaches, and Physical Therapists who bring their expertise to all aspects of athletic advancement, especially when it comes to outdoor sports performance.
“When we talk about sports performance, there’s a lot of things that fall under that to really define the entire athlete,” Regal says. “You think about sports nutrition, sports psychology, physical therapy, all of these things … to prevent injury and enhance performance.”
Regal’s passion for sports performance and outdoor play started when she was 10 years old, organizing pick-up football games with her neighborhood friends. Now she is a National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) certified specialist in Strength and Conditioning, which is one of most important components of performance training.
At the Hybl Center, such qualifications really matter.
“When you’re with these qualified coaches who have these nationally recognized credentials, you’re working with somebody who understands how to train your body so what you’re doing is actually transferring to your sport,” Regal explains.
As a longtime soccer player, Alison knows that injuries are common when it comes to all sports, but especially outdoor activities that involve repetitive motions and high resistance.
From hiking, to running, to cycling, athletes without the proper training in movement are more prone to making mistakes that can result in lower back pain, knee pain, foot pain, and even sprains or torn ligaments.
For Regal, preventing these common injuries comes down to quality coaching, but also self-evaluation and knowledge.
“The biggest thing that happens is athletes don’t take care of themselves,” Regal says. “They’re just not educated enough to know and don’t understand the value of sports performance training in general. So we do our best to educate them.”
This learning happens through the Hybl Center’s unique programming created for athletes of all different abilities.
For adult recreational athletes who want to kickstart a new workout routine and learn better form, the center offers a Strength & Conditioning program, a TRX program, a HIIT program, and even Yoga & Pilates for Athletes.
There’s even a “Master Strength Training for Sports” program for adults 55 years or older who want to embrace their inner competitor again, as well as tactical training programs for military, fire, and police personnel.
The program Regal is most excited about, however, is the groundbreaking “Return to Performance” series, which was developed by Centura Health Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Athletic Trainer, Adrianne Bishop.
Through “Return to Performance,” Bishop teaches athletes how to recover properly and avoid pain by incorporating the Hybl Center’s Sports Medicine clinic and certified Physical Therapists into training.
“Her background is in acute injuries and chronic injuries,” Regal says. “So she takes the Physical Therapist advice on an athlete and also brings in sports performance, like strength and agility.”
Within all of this helpful programming, Regal and her team are also turning to the Hybl Center’s academic research tools to provide outdoor athletes with in-depth assessments that pinpoint where they might be making mistakes that hinder performance.
These tools include a recovery room, an altitude chamber and a load-reducing, anti-gravity treadmill that helps ease strain on joints and muscles while providing detailed activity readouts that Regal and her team use to get better results.
“Let’s say we have a runner,” Regal says, “If they have pain, they have access to a Running Assessment. We can put them on our treadmill, show them their mechanics, and give them feedback on what they can change to make them more efficient.”
Assessments are also key to preventing overtraining. As Regal notes, many competitive and recreational athletes think that doing more in a workout yields better results, but it can be more detrimental.
“A lot of people have the mindset that we need to push ourselves as hard as we can every time we work out.” Regal says. “But that’s when there’s breakdowns in the system. That’s when your body starts to hurt.”
When athletes pair these in-depth assessments with Hybl Center Sports Performance coaches, they are able to learn how to prevent injuries and perform better through improved movement.
“If they’re working with us, our goal is to retrain the motor program and get them to do things the right way,” Regal says.
Still, improved performance doesn’t all come down to movement. It’s also mental.
As Regal points out, an athlete needs to be in the right headspace in order to perform properly and the Hybl Center’s game-changing features help provide this mental boost.
“When you walk into this facility, no matter what level athlete you are, you feel like you’re important because you have everything you need,” Regal says. “There are a ton of psychological benefits for that.”
Soon, Regal hopes to start seeing more athletes, especially outdoor competitors, come to the Hybl Center to get the training they deserve to excel. After all, being outside should make a positive difference in performance, not a negative one.
“We are very excited that we’ve been able to build our vision,” Regal concludes. “I’ve had a lot of people already say that this is going to ‘serve me better for what I want to do.’”
For more information on Hybl Center outdoor training programs, please visit www.hyblcenter.org