The Athlete Mindset

Think you're not an athlete? Think again.

By: Jeremiah Rowe, CSCS, CPPS

The fitness industry is inundated with poor advice for lifters of all demographics. You see it when you go to your big box gym; that guy with 5 plates on each side of the bar, quarter-squatting his way to imminent lumbar disk herniations. You see it with the Instagram “influencers” spouting off their supplement recommendations and their promotion for fit teas and Botox. You see it in high school (and COLLEGE) athletics programs where the football coach hands his entire team the same workout plan to be followed, with next to zero oversight, for the next 3 months. The workout will have 12 exercises, each for 3 sets of 8-10 reps, except for bench press, of course. They’ll be maxing out on that every Monday. Perfect.

To paraphrase the great Michael Jordan, “”I take that personally.” That is why, when I was offered the position as head strength coach of Case Specific Wellness Center, I started visualizing what my future days would look like at this dream facility. I could hear the metal weights on the bench press clanging like church bells, calling everyone in earshot to give their attention to this sacred altar. 

I saw the hard-nosed, blue collar, western Pennsylvania football stars pushing a few hundred pounds of steel across the turf, their legs feeling like they’re disintegrating from their bodies, but still somehow finding that inner drive to push their knee to their chest and take another step, one after another. Over here an unassuming freshman girls’ soccer player is about to hit 135 lbs on her trap bar deadlift for the first time, and the rag-tag group of kids from various other teams and sports are encircling her, yelling and clapping as she grinds through her set and lifts two 45lb plates off the floor for the first time.

Yes. These athletes are working hard, but they’re working SMART, too. This idea is what turned my vision from Case Specific Wellness into Case Specific Athletics. I want to provide intelligent strength and conditioning coaching to athletes and general populations who want to work hard, but in a way that is going to train them for performance in life as well as on the field/court/rink/track, you name it. 

I’ve spent years working closely with general populations and their healthcare professionals trying to coach them intelligently in a way that allows them to feel better as much as look better. I love having people come to me with knee pain, unsure that they will even be able to train at all, only to realize 4 months later that they’ve got 100lbs on their back and they are squatting with no pain at all!

Now, the injury and movement impairment rehabilitative side of what I do is one thing, and I feel I’ve proven myself to (most of) my clients to be more than just a meathead gym bro. The issue, though, became this: Would the name Case Specific ATHLETICS turn away those populations who I am able to help move and feel better than ever?

I had one client who, when we were ordering new Case Specific Athletics hoodies with the new logo (see below), was hesitant to buy one because “There’s a weightlifter on it and I’d be embarrassed to wear it because I’m not fit.” This was the same client who, when she first came to our facility, was unsure if she should even bother with a nutrition appointment because “This is a place for elite athletes.” The same client who, a year later, is one of our hardest workers. She is in our gym 2-3 times per week in our B.A.S.I.C. (Building A System of Integral Components) Training classes, kicking the crap out of herself to get into the best shape she can, and pushing the pace of the whole class as she does it.

As adults, many of us lose touch with that youthful athletic drive that we possess through high school and maybe college. Our bodies age, we gain a bit of weight, we start to feel a bit more sluggish in our day-to-day grind. Sure, these are factors of life that everyone has to deal with at some point. I would argue, however, against the easily adopted mindset of “I’m not an athlete.” Do you think a non-athlete could go out and ride a bike through the whole neighborhood with his eight year old after a 10 hour workday? Do you think a non-athlete could be 70 years (young!) and accidentally trip over a crack in the sidewalk and manage to bring a foot through to catch his or herself before hitting the ground and possibly risking serious injury? Do you think a non-athlete could chase a wild toddler around the house all day, making sure the kid doesn’t jump off the couch or try to eat the Yankee Candle off the dining room table. I have a 19 month-old niece and, let me tell you, that girl needs a whole freaking team of people watching her to keep her from mischief.

What else I saw in those visions from earlier were the adults who have found their place among the young warriors. They’ve been intoxicated by this environment of sweat, loud music, and hard work, and they are out there on the floor, working just as hard as the kids. They’re grinding; not for sport, though. They’re fighting and battling this iron enemy for something greater; for life. It’s a life in which they feel comfortable that they can go out and play baseball with the neighborhood kids, keeping up and even “showing them how it’s done.” It’s a life that a dad working at the office isn’t coming home crippled up and sore from a long day of sitting. This is a life where a mom who hasn’t played a sport since high school is able to keep up and not become overwhelmed with the hustle-and-bustle of her three kids playing three different sports that she has to drive them to in between PTA meetings and making dinner. It’s a life where a husband can look at his wife of 15 years and two kids as she gets ready to shower and say “DAMN. I get to spend the rest of my life with THAT?!”

So maybe you don’t play a sport. Maybe you used to in high school and then college and life came at you quick and you lost touch of that athleticism that you used to have. Maybe you never played a sport because you didn’t have the confidence or just plain weren’t interested. That’s fine, but DON’T tell me you aren’t an athlete. You are as much an athlete as any one of those people you watch throw a ball around on TV. That vision that I had for Case Specific Athletics did include YOU. And if you are ready to find your inner athletic potential, reach out to us today and find out how you can get started with a FREE physical assessment or athlete movement screen! I hope that you’ll let me help you change your life forever.

Call 412-593-2048 (option 5)

or email info@casespecificathletics.com