Core Performance is a gym for athlete nerds. The facility includes a nutrition bar, physical therapy suite, and at its heart a series of 20 individual stations featuring a ten foot tall computer controlled machine that automatically adjusts itself for countless exercises. The remarkable machine’s weight system is pneumatic, controlled by a computer system that also records the user’s wattage generation. Each session’s data is sent to Core Performance’s database which then informs the next workout plan. Workout plans are designed for each client’s goals. The gym also includes two dozen treadmills and magnetic resistance stationary bikes for cardio. In short, Core Performance is Curves for jocks.
Curves, for those that have not peeked inside the opaque walls, is a simple circuit of exercises marketed to women that are intimidated by gyms and could benefit from 30 minutes of guided exercise. Men are allowed, but discouraged from joining, in that Curves tries to cultivate a welcome environment counter to the rampant uber macho gym mentality. Its success lies in getting women to work out regularly. It’s not the fancy contraptions or specialized whirlygigs, it’s consistent movement and sensible eating.
Core Performance is the brainchild of Mark Verstegen, a coach of professional world class athletes. Verstegen is the guy sports agents send their clients to move up in the draft rankings. Through his Athlete’s Performance business he has published numerous books and clearly established himself as a leader in sports training methodology. After years of coaching, training, and testing methods he put together a team of people to design and create Core Performance. The machine is definitely the highlight of the place. It is basically a Bowflex Transformer mounted on a vibrating “power plate”. The plate vibrates to remind the user not to check out the supporting muscles not pulling or pushing with the machine. Every stroke and movement connected to the machine is measured, so the system can adjust dynamically based on performance. Without a doubt this contraption is rad, and it even has a big red button to smash after completing each set. They have set a goal of a 3:1 trainer to client ratio on the floor, and at the initial intake they determine how much, if any, personalized attention each client needs.
I was invited to the grand opening party by Coach Brian, who had already been to Core Performance and experienced the full workout. He was sore in new places, and Brian’s a pretty fit guy. But because triathletes move in a single plane we don’t do a lot of twisting, abduction, or adduction. (Or, well, any.) This is why a gym workout is critical – without exercising complimentary muscle groups the risk of injury increases tremendously. I’ve known I needed to begin and incorporate a gym workout for a long time, but learning how to workout has been a challenge. I’m intrigued by Core Performance, which is why I attended the opening. I wanted to see for myself what they were up to.
Everyone I met was friendly, welcoming, and interested in asking about my pursuits. It was no Bally’s hard-sell experience. They were proud of their creation and really wanted others to experience the hard work they’d put into the place. All the trainers were friendly, eager to demonstrate the machines, and enthusiastic in their employer. I spent some time with the Chief Marketing Officer, who was very helpful in walking me, Brian, and Brian’s boxer friend around the place. I got to try bench presses on the machine and spin the magnetic stationary bike, both of which were smooth and fun to do. At one point I asked the CMO what was the charitable aspect of Core Performance. I said that I was curious how Core Performance gives back and in what way. He gave a nonspecific answer that their coaches and staff give their time in helping others get fit but Core Performance didn’t formally donate any money to charities. When he asked why I was interested I told him frankly that I felt all businesses ought to have a charitable giving angle. Later, when Mark Verstegen stood on one of his machines and gave an oddly obtuse speech thanking people for coming and checking out the facility, he made the vocal point that Core Performance was about helping people achieve their goals. For as much as he talked about their purpose of helping people, it’s interesting that there wouldn’t be a solid charitable aspect to their business model. At the very least, contributing a portion of their net profit towards local athletic programs or programs for disadvantaged kids with professional sports potential who can’t afford whatever they’re going to charge for their sessions.
They’ve got their corporate relationships in place. At the end of each workout section you’re reminded to rehydrate with a giant Gatorade logo on the screen. Their nutrition counter sells EAS Myoplex products while they council people on proper eating habits. Personally, Gatorade has so much High Fructose Corn Syrup and EAS Myoplex has so much extra garbage in it, most people would be better off skipping those products and just using the Core Performance food guides for proper eating. But corporate relationships are how companies make money, and the real proof will be how their nutritionists guide client’s ingestion of these products. I just spent a thousand dollars to learn how to eat properly and 99% of it is available in the produce section of my grocery store. (My whey protein is about as processed a food as I eat, and I have to hunt for a brand that doesn’t contain a slew of unnecessary ingredients.)
Core Performance presents itself as a complete sports package: food, guided exercise, and physical therapy. I’m signed up for a complimentary 90 minute session, which will include 30 minutes on the machine, 30 minutes of cardio, and, I am sure, 30 minutes of sales. The staff are gregarious, ethusiastic, and eager to show off their cool facility and I look forward to having my butt kicked by their device straight out of the Six Fingered Man’s torture chamber.