By Nunzio Signore (BA, CPT, NASM, PES, FMS)
Last week, while training a group of our elite hockey players, I got a call that gave me goosebumps. RPP Athlete and former Suffern High School all-star pitcher Robbie Aviles was calling me from the airport. After pitching a year in high A ball in the Cleveland Indians organization and six games into the 2016 season, he was being called up to play AA ball for the Indians affiliate Akron Rubber Ducks. After three hard months of working with him in the off-season this was my reaction:
While everyone around here at RPP already knows what a great and hardworking kid Robbie is, with this promotion he’s going to expose his awesomeness to a whole new group of people and team mates.
Up until last fall my only communication with Robbie was through his father, pitching Coach Brian Aviles and a few of my coaches here at RPP who attended high school with him. Every once in a while one of them would say “hey I saw Aviles yesterday, he said he wants you to train him”. After hearing this several times my reply was “If he really wants to train he’ll call me”.
So early this December I’m driving home and my phone rings. Long story short, two days later in walks Robbie, 6’4 and 187 lbs. and soaking wet. He said he wanted to be more athletic and needed to be around 205 lbs. before he got to spring training March 1st. He said he had been training for the past three years at various other facilities in the area and felt like he was just spinning his wheels.
First on the agenda was an assessment. Robbie sat heavily into extension in his lower back, had a weak posterior chain (no butt) and needed a stronger core. He also lacked scapular upward rotation. We worked on his soft tissue and gave him mobility drills specific to the issues we found in his assessment. The photo on the left is Robbie’s squat during his assessment. The one on the right is his squat 40 minutes later after some much needed mobility work and med ball throws to warm him up. This was a great start. I ask you, which athlete would you rather have on the mound?
It was no surprise how quick and athletic Robbie was, considering the fact that he is one of the most natural athletes that’s ever walked into my gym. What was surprising was how weak his lower half was, as well as how gassed he got after running him through some explosive plyometrics. The great thing was no matter how much we dragged his ass through the mud he never complained. He showed up every day with a protein shake in his hand and a smile.
Over the next three months Robbie came in 5 days/week. The focus for him was upper body strength/mobility, posterior chain power, core strength and explosive (alactic) endurance. Oh yeah, and eating anything that wasn’t nailed down. Here he is late February working on core stability at release point…and up 16 lbs. at approx. 203 lbs.
Fast forward five months later. Robbie’s gains in both lean body mass and athleticism this off-season have had a direct carry over to his performance on the field. When he showed up at spring training his coaches told him that he was in the best shape they had ever seen him. His velocity is sitting 2-3 mph higher from 92-94 to 94-96. As for the rest of his stats, I’ll let the chart below do the talking.
Congrats Robbie. I speak for everyone here at RPP when I say it couldn’t happen to more deserving guy!! See you in the off-season.