Courtsey of the Ford County Press/Will Brumleve
When Gibson Area Hospital & Health Services’ Elite Performance program expands yet again in upcoming months with the opening of two much larger facilities in both Paxton and Gibson City, it will come with the addition of new equipment that not only the public can use but also possibly the athletic teams at local schools.
“PBL (High School), their track-and-field program would really like to expand and kind of use that (new facility in Paxton) as a place for kids to go indoors,” said Tyler Brucker, director of Elite Performance.
The new facilities will feature track equipment, baseball batting cages, a partial basketball court, wrestling matts and possibly even soccer goals, Brucker said. And with 25-foot-tall ceilings in each facility, “we can throw stuff as high as we want to,” Brucker said.
The Elite Performance facility in Paxton will be moving into the old Sorensen factory on U.S. 45 on the city’s north side. The 13,000-square-foot facility — 170 feet long by 75 feet wide — is currently being renovated and is expected to open by January, replacing the much smaller Elite Performance facility on North Taft Street.
“It gives us a lot more space,” Brucker said.
The new Paxton facility will include a 55-yard-long and 30-foot-wide section of rubber turf, Brucker said. Nearby, there will be the traditional weight-lifting equipment. On the opposite side of the gym, there will be cardio machines, treadmills, ellipticals, skiers and rollers.
“And then there’s also a small studio room that will be there, as well, where we’ll have private classes,” Brucker said. “At this point, I don’t know exactly what they’ll be, whether it’s kickboxing or Zumba or whatever it is. But it will give us a lot more space there.”
Gibson City’s Elite Performance facility, meanwhile, will be moving into the long-shuttered Alco store at 619 E. First St. on Gibson City’s east side. For the past three years, Elite Performance of Gibson City has been operated out of a 7,000-square-foot space next to County Market. Prior to that, the fitness and wellness program was operated out of the basement of the GAHHS orthopedic clinic at 10 Doctors Park.
The plan is for the new Gibson City facility to be open by next May.
“The Alco building is about four to five times as big as what we’re in now,” Brucker said. “Currently, I think we’re at 6,000 square feet, and this is just under 20,000 square feet.”
Similar to the Paxton facility, the new Gibson City site will have “lots and lots” of cardio equipment and “a ton” of weight equipment, Brucker said.
“We’ll have 10 mega racks, pieces of machinery that are coming in,” Brucker said. “And we’ll still have a lot of block walls to throw things at.
“In both locations, we’ll also have batting cages. They’ll also have a half of a basketball court, basically the whole three-point line and in. This one (in Gibson City) will also have a spot where we can throw a wrestling matt down.”
Brucker said that with the additional space at each location, it will allow for sport-specific training to occur without shutting down the entire gym.
“The facilities are getting big enough — and we want them to be big enough — to where we can have people come in and do sport-specific (activities) or kind of do something they want on their own without shutting the whole gym down. And at the same time, we’ll still have our training going on,” Brucker said.
Currently, when someone uses the batting cages at the Gibson City site, for example, it must be done after hours “because it takes up half the gym,” said Elite Performance athletic trainer Tim Leonard.
That will no longer be the case.
“We’ll be able to do it any time during the day with the new location,” Leonard said.
At the Gibson City site, there will be “three or four full-size studio rooms that will be about 20 foot by 40 foot, so we’re going to have a lot of private classes,” Brucker said.
“Again, I don’t know exactly what those classes be.”
Both locations will feature locker rooms and showers — “things that our current facilities do not have,” Brucker added.
The Elite Performance program has locations in Gibson City, Paxton, Cissna Park and Fairbury. It started out with one location — in a small room in the GAHHS orthopedic clinic — and initially had just 400 “visits” in its first year, 2009, Brucker said. When the Gibson City location moved to its current location in 2013, the number of visits increased to 1,100. The next year, the visits rose to 3,500.
“Since then, we’ve added four locations, and then this last year we saw over 55,000 visits and over 2,300 programs,” Brucker said. “And 35,000 of those were here at the Gibson location.”
Elite Performance specializes in strength and conditioning programs that are specifically designed to address a person’s individual goals. Strength and conditioning experts perform an initial physical assessment on each participant to identify any weaknesses or areas that need improvement. An individualized plan is developed based on the participant’s initial interview, goals and physical assessment. After completing all Elite Performance sessions, each participant is reassessed and receives pre- and post-test results. The program also provides access to sports medicine resources, such as physical therapy, orthopedic care and athletic training.
Brucker said the Elite Performance program is used by people of all ages — “as low as 5 years old up through late 70s and 80s” — and by people of all physical abilities.
“Basically, the way it works is anybody who has any health goals can come in and discuss with us what they want to do,” Brucker said. “The majority of the time, it’s ‘I want to get faster’ or ‘I want to lose some weight’ and so forth. Then we put you through a little mini evaluation; we’ll do a body comp, girth measurements, weight, your functional skills — if you can squat past 90 (pounds), so on and so forth. ... And then, depending on what your goals are, we’ll set up a program for you.
“All the programs are different. They’re all based specifically on what you want to do. Everybody has their own trainer, but some people get a private trainer so it’s just you and that trainer the whole time. A majority of people just want a semi-private trainer so that trainer could be working with multiple people at once. But the thing that sets us apart from a lot of other facilities is that your workouts are going to be dependant on what you can physically do and what you want to do — especially for some people who have to work, and who don’t want to be sore and exhausted going to work.”
Elite Performance employs 25 personal trainers and 15 athletic trainers who “bounce around between the four different locations,” Brucker said.
“What we try to do is keep you moving the whole time,” Brucker said. “You’re not going to do an exercise and then stand there and run for five minutes, and then do that same exercise again, and then stand there again for five minutes. We usually try to keep you moving from one thing to another for at least usually 10 to 15 minutes at a time, and then maybe you get a break, and then we keep going. So maybe we’ll work on the lower body, then move to the upper body and then change to a push or pull exercise or something like that.”
Not just college or high school athletes use Elite Performance.
“We get a lot of weekend warriors — those who maybe play softball in the summer or they have a basketball league and don’t want to tear a hamstring the first week, so they want to workout beforehand,” Brucker said. “We get a lot of industrial workers; we get farmers, too — those who maybe do heavy lifting in the summer and they’ve had a few months off and as they get back into their jobs they want to make sure they’re ready for it. They don’t want to go right into the harvest and then injure themselves or can’t perform their jobs.”
There are also those people who just want to lose weight or get more fit.
“We also get a lot of people who have cardiac issues,” Brucker said. “We are not physical therapy, by any means, or cardiac rehab, but for those who have risk factors because they’re obese or have cardiac issues, (they can benefit from) just getting in and moving. It could be just simply walking laps or picking things up off the floor or putting them somewhere else, things of that nature.”
People recovering from injury also use Elite Performance. Disabled people do, too.
“It’s for everybody,” Leonard said. “We work with darn near everything. Motion is lotion for the spine, the body, for everything. If you’re moving, you’re doing well, and I think everybody should have that goal. Whether it’s just doing simple step-ups or doing power cleans, we should all have a goal of moving every day for at least 30 minutes.”
Elite Performance is open from 4:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday.
A variety of membership packages are available. A one-hour session costs $7. Unlimited visits for a month costs $65. Three months of unlimited visits costs $180. There are also six-month and one-year packages available.