Q: Rich, how did you get into fitness and make that leap into coaching?
A: I knew that I wanted to be involved in fitness at a young age…I was 13 years old and I was known not only as the class clown, but also as the fat kid. I was called “Fat Taco” and “Pillsbury Doughboy”. Instead of fighting back with my fist, I always fought back with my words. Always turning the tables on the person and very quickly finding a way to take the target off of me. Now, I am not saying that what I did was correct, but I am saying that what I did helped me deal with how unhappy I felt about how I looked.
So, one day I decided to ask a friend how he lost weight for wrestling. He told me that he would wrap himself in garbage bags, do a ton of running, and than had to go in the sauna. I thought, “I have garbage bags, I can run on the track, I may not have a sauna, but I do have the humidity of New York…I can do this”. So I headed down to the kitchen, took some garbage bags, walked to the track where I proceeded to run until water dripped down my legs like a waterfall. It was hard, I pushed myself every day, I pushed myself so hard that I passed out at the track. Luckily I was ok, but I knew that I needed help so I decided to asked my mother for some solutions. When I approached my mom, she looked at me and said, “I have no clue how to help you.” When she said that, my head went down and the feeling of disappointment flooded my body. My mom saw how disappointed that I was so she suggested joining the gym down the road. My head went up and that is when I joined my first gym…Worlds Gym. I would go to the gym and do however many machines that I could do before my mom said she was going to pick me up. I was there so much that many of the employees began to give me advice. I heard it all, from eating these NASTY bars to some Bulgarian Mass Program. It was great and I loved it! That was when I knew I wanted to be involved with fitness
My leap into coaching is a lot easier to explain… 10 years ago I was asked by one of my athlete’s parents to train their son as he prepared to hopefully get drafted to Major League Baseball out of high school. I instinctually said, “HELL YES!!!” and immediately asked when the draft was. Their answer…in two week! Two weeks??? Just as I was thinking, “what the hell am I going to do for this kid in two weeks?” I couldn’t help but to reply, “No problem!” I trained him, he got drafted, and for some reason I got so much undeserved attention for those two short weeks. I would first tell people that I didn’t deserve the credit for him, but what I soon started to believe was that I deserved the opportunity. Since that day, I have worked so hard to provide my athletes with the best coaching and programming available in the world and I must say that my results speak best for themselves…over 10 athletes drafted in the MLB Draft, over 200 athletes that have played at the college level, and, of course, my favorite…countless number of athletes that I helped to provide an opportunity to excel at their top level…whether it was by playing high school or college sports or even just working with them physically and mentally, allowing them not to have the self esteem problems that I had when I was younger.
Q: You seem to really love team training and working with young athletes, what is about this area of performance training that draws you to it and do you think there is a difference in training young versus older athletes?
A: To say that I love team training and working with athletes is an understatement. I wake up every day looking to become better so that I can provide them with the training that they want and deserve. I work to better their experience at the club because I want this to be the best hour of their day. I make sure my facility feels like home for both my athletes and myself. I love the energy that they bring, their competitive nature, their drive to push themselves to the limit so that they can not only excel for themselves, their team, but also to proudly represent our facility.
Although I equally enjoy both young and more experienced athletes, their differences simply lie within the exercise selection, the choice of music, and our conversations. However, the one thing that remains consistent is their drive to become better while having fun.
It seems that there is a lot of debate on what is appropriate for younger athletes to participate in strength training. What are some considerations you have to make and how do you think DVRT can help in their development?
Let’s be honest, with the way that people move today…there is a lot of debate on whether young athletes or adults should participate in strength training. We look at all our younger athletes in the same light that we look at our general population. First, we must perform an FMS (Functional Movement Screen)…this has allowed us to look at the athlete and get a better picture of what we are truly working with…than once we take into account medical history, goal, and training experience, we provide them with a personally designed route that will not only have them perform better on the field, but also move better, feel better, and look to prevent or decrease the chance of injury. The DVRT Training System has provided us a way to progress and regress every one of our movements so that we can cater to any athlete no matter what the current state is.
All of our athletes MUST start at our Level I exercise and MUST earn the right to move onto the next level, or progression. Earning the right does not mean do it right once or twice. It means not are they required to perform the movement correctly, but they also have to be able to coach another athlete through the exercise. I am a firm believer that if you can explain it, then you really understand it and are ready to move on. This is a DVRT coaching principle that I brought to all of my athletes.
Q: Do you think the DVRT system addresses specific needs for a lot of different athletes and how much sport-specific training do you see your athletes require?
A: DVRT System has helped me address all of my athletes’ needs. It has also allowed me to go from 1-on-1 training to large group personal training session with up to 20 per group. Using this system has afforded me the opportunity to have all my athletes do one movement and progress them all as needed. The DVRT system has allowed for greater success in the gym, on the field, and also for the reputation of my facility. No other program has done more for me.
Rich Mejias is a DVRT Master Instructor and Owner of Next Generation Fitness Pro in Wycoff, NJ. You can contact him by visiting http://www.nextgenerationtrainingcenter.com