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Training for Competition


Athletes dedicate their life to fitness. Every day they work to reach their optimal performance, therefore they need a gym that caters to their specific needs. Training athletes and other serious fitness competitors requires a unique approach.

Operating a successful sport-specific program demands balancing a variety of variables, but three stand out as most crucial: testing, nutrition education and staffing.


Powerhouse Gym Downtown Tampa re-vamped its training systems to ensure every athlete received optimal results. It partnered with Dr. Jacob Wilson and Ryan Lowery at the Human Performance Lab at the University of Tampa in order to enhance the training experience, resulting in the Powerhouse FX Lab program.

Upon joining Powerhouse Gym Downtown Tampa, each new member is put through a 12-point biomechanical assessment to make sure trainers and nutritionists develop the most effective plan.

“It doesn’t matter if they are a regular individual who is training for overall body composition or an athlete working towards a sport-specific performance goal, everyone gets a complimentary package,” said Polina Petrusevich, the nutrition and training director at Powerhouse Gym Downtown Tampa. “Until we run them through the package, it wouldn’t be professional of us to decide what we should do with each individual.”

Elements of the assessment include evaluating physical fitness, functional movement, nutrition and various scientific tests at the Human Performance Lab. Conducting these tests helps to remove the guesswork from program development.

Tests done at the Human Performance Lab include a DXA Scan, which evaluates the whole body in order to look closely at bone density, fat mass index, the distribution of fat and other measurements. The scan is used to track progress in specific areas of the body, such as gained muscle or fat loss.

Once the necessary tests are conducted, the information is given back to Powerhouse trainers, who use the feedback to modify diet and training programs. With more scientific data, proper adjustments can be made to each individual’s protocol to maximize results.

“Most athletes are used to training, sleeping and eating. They go through the same monotone routine every day,” explained Petrusevich. “Here we can really figure out what exactly they should eat, how much they should sleep and exactly how they should train according to what we see through the testing.”

Nutrition Education 

Creating the perfect sport-specific training program is a complex puzzle, of which the second crucial component is nutrition. Powerhouse Gym Downtown Tampa integrated its nutrition and training departments to ensure they worked hand in hand.

“The trainers work with the nutritionists and vice versa, then together all of us come up with a game plan as a team,” said Petrusevich. “We rotate all of the clients through all the departments so we can provide the full experience. From there, as a team, we can put our brains together to recognize and identify what is going to be the best protocol for that client.”

Within the nutrition department members have access to over 4,000 products, all of which are pharmaceutical grade, organic, raw, unfiltered or unprocessed. “We do not push one product because everyone has different body types and some of them may not go well with certain products,” said Matthew Midyett, the owner of Powerhouse Gym Downtown Tampa. “We make sure everyone gets everything they need.”

Members at Powerhouse Gym receive counseling and recommendations from the nutrition department, but they can also take learning into their own hands. Each month Dr. Wilson and Ryan Lowery conduct seminars on various health and nutrition topics.

“Dr. Wilson and I will give a presentation on a particular topic and members can ask any questions that they want,” explained Lowery. “That is a really unique feature and you don’t really see that often. It gives members a more hands-on experience, they get to learn and increase their knowledge.”


Finally, any outstanding sport-specific training program requires exceptionally qualified staff. As Chris Salisbury, the founder of Hive Lifespan Center explained, anyone can perform a test, but once you have the test you must be qualified to interpret the results. “You need to know what the data means for each specific athlete,” he said. “People go to college specifically for that, so we outsource for the testing.”

Once testing is completed, excellent trainers are required to create and implement each program. “We have staff that is qualified to work with athletes specifically,” explained Salisbury. “It is one thing to have all the equipment, but the question is: Who is doing the programming? The tools are one thing, but the true tool is the trainer who can implement the program from start to finish so the athlete can benefit.”

As far as certifications, Salisbury suggested trainers have a minimum of the following: NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES), NSCA Certified Special Population Specialist (CSPS) or Certified Strength Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He stressed that a degree in a related field is also essential.

By working with Dr. Wilson and others at the Human Performance Lab, Powerhouse Gym Downtown Tampa ensures members get the highest-quality service. According to Midyett, as a bare minimum, trainers at Powerhouse Gym are required to have a five-year degree in exercise science, exercise physiology or athletic training.

“Most of our trainers come directly from Dr. Wilson, who has a very strong program at the University of Tampa,” said Petrusevich. “Our trainers are also always reading the latest science and participating in conferences. We want someone who is willing to progress and learn everyday.”


Emily Harbourne

Emily Harbourne is the assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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