|Part I – Part II will come out in another three or four months. After some more training.
|I was scanning the NorCal board on MTBR late one night and found a thread that caught my eye. Some crazy guy wanted to give a month long FREE strength training class so he could test out some biking specific exercises he is developing. Well, three words caught my attention quickly; exercise, bike, and FREE. So I shot off an email and a week later I was meeting up with some folks in Los Altos ready to take on my first ever timed hill climb test.
| I guess roadies and xc types do this sort of thing all the time for fun and then brag about their wattage output. We dh’ers on the other hand, don’t. But I wanted to get in better shape so I figured I’d give it a go. Actually the only thing I was worried about was the group’s attitude, because I knew I would kill that hill climb! What worried me was that there would be negative or hostile “gym” mentality from the organizer, an attitude and outlook on life I just can’t deal with, but my fears were quickly brushed aside after talking with Al for a couple minutes. Even though he was about to cause me great pain and suffering, and was on a road bike, in spandex, I felt at home on the trails while talking with him. (Left Image: Quinnhill Rd and Patrick)(Right Image: Richard Jancito climb results. Click to enlarge)
|Well…to make a hill climbing story short (yes, you can thank me now), I got my arse, my lungs, and legs handed back to me, swollen, busted and drained of all energy. Although I was dead tired, I was happy. I knew I was about to enter into a program that will whip me into shape with a good attitude and a smile. Oh yes, my time up the hill was 1:53. Quite frankly, not a good time.
|So, is this a review about IPF (Integrate Performance Fitness), or some god awful hill climb? Yes, yes, let me get on with it! The hill climb was for bench marks, which meant (much to my delight) I was going to have to do it again in four weeks.
|About Integrate Performance Fitness and the Training Program:
|IPF was started by Al Painter with the goal and philosophy of helping athletes, both professional and weekenders, “get… away from the leg press, ham curl, smith machine and knee extensions,” with the specific intention to “help people ride better than they ever have.” – Al Painter
|Jamii North just recently came on board with IPF as a second instructor to offer more time slots for the growing class sizes.
|IPF’s activities focus on core strengthening with exercises done in short 30 seconds to 1 minute sprints with very short brakes in between while rotating to a new exercise after every set. For example, the first 40 seconds you might be doing push-ups on a large inflatable exercise ball, the next 40 seconds you’ll be doing squats with a 30 lbs weight while balanced on some funny looking piece of equipment. After that, 40 seconds of lifting a weight in one hand and pulling a weight in the other while balancing on one foot and rotating the torso. Not to mention the hellishly large and hair pulling black bands that work the butt so hard it might hurt to sit the next day. The whole time Al or Jamii will be there, joking, leading, and helping the group stay focused but light-hearted. (Left image: group balance resting at studio. Click to enlarge)
|Our specific biking-focused exercises were a bit of a modification of the above exercises. We spent more time balancing and having our feet placed as if on our bikes. One foot a bit in front of the other. We also did a lot of one footed exercises. My favorite being a one leg squat while balancing on a big blue rubber air filled bladder while stretching out an arm to touch a cone. For 40 seconds, start now. Ouch! This four week class was mainly focused on mountain biking, the cross country side of the sport. I spoke with Al about making a downhill focused class and he had a lot of ideas for it if there was demand.
|I did most of my training for those four weeks with Jamii North. I have to say Jamii is just as easy to work with as Al. Though she isn’t a mountain bike fanatic, the whole “down a gnarly trail at high speeds” isn’t her cup of tea, she was able to help me in tailoring our work out toward specific requests I had. Like, how to maintain energy and stamina while constantly lowering and raising my center of gravity for berms. Jamii’s style of instruction is best described by her own words: “I like to be there emotionally for my clients as fitness can only go so far but if they aren’t happy the training is nearly worthless.” – Jamii North
|IPF is top notch in my book. The facilities are clean and well kept, the bathroom feels like you’re at home, so much so I have found that many of the guys leaving the communal part of the mens room tend to leave the door open, as if at home. Sometimes I’ve had to jump to shut it, but really the point is that I, and others, just feel very comfortable at IPF. The women’s room is very nice as well. Al seems particularly proud of it and had me take a look while it was empty. The coaching is very good, though in groups, especially when leg switching is involved, the coach would sometimes get confused as to which leg we were on, which was solved with some cones now marked L and R for left and right. Overall, Al and Jamii know what they are doing, and they have the credentials and skills to prove it. (Right image: studio. Click to enlarge)
|So, I spent a month driving to Los Altos (from Berkeley) to get my body hurt and what do I have to show for it? Well, my hill climb improved by 30 seconds, but more important then the timing, my mental condition has changed. On our final test, when I felt like quiting, taking a break, or pulling over on the climb for a short break, I just got back up out of the saddle and kept pushing harder. Mentally I made a small step beyond the limits of my pain by pushing and pushing that limit further out there. My body is quickly following my mind, and I am finding myself pushing my pain limits out on the trail more often.
|So does this help my downhill at all? Or can I pedal my 42 pound dh beast up a hill faster? The answer is, yes! I found over the last month my cornering improved greatly. I am able to quickly lower my center of gravity, shift my hips and weight. Don’t get me wrong, I am not Steve Peat or Sam Hill, but I am better than I was a month ago. Also my stamina has increased. Ten runs for my first day at Northstar this year while last year I was topping out at about seven or eight runs in a day. I also found whatever muscles it is that makes me whip. I now can pull those like never before. So yes, it has helped significantly with my dh riding.
|If you are in the Bay Area and are looking for training, you should seriously consider IPF as a place to spend your hard earned time, sweat and money. It is well worth it. And if you think I’m wrong, well, I’ll be there so you can just tell me.
I give it 5 stars for value. Sure the non-free classes are, well, not free, and they do cost more than just pocket change, but they are worth every penny. Besides the money the classes are what you put into them. If you go to train, focus and improve, Al and Jamii will work it. If you are just paying to play, well….
4.5 stars for overall, because Al and Jamii are very nice and know what they are doing. The gym environment is friendly and clean. And the work out works. It would be great if could give more specific help towards DH racing. I did talk to Al about this and like I said above, he has some great ideas for dh racing training, but he doesn’t have the demand at this point. So, (hint hint) who else rides dh and wants to train? So, 4.5 stars because it is dang near perfect, but not quite at this time.
>>> Look for my follow up review in three or four months.
|A word from Integrate Performance Fitness: www.integratefitness.com
Al Painter, BA, NASM-CPT
Founder & President
2005 CitySports Magazine Best Bay Area Personal Trainer Al Painter, BA, NASM-CPT is the founder and President of Integrate Performance Fitness, the Bay Area’s premiere performance improvement facility. He is also a Graduate of Santa Clara University as well as a member of the National Academy of Sports Medicine.
Al’s experience also includes his work as:
- Exclusive Functional Strength Coach for SportVelo Premiere Coaching
- Core Strength Coach for the Silicon Valley Team In Training Cycling Team
- University of Santa Clara Cycling Team Coach
- Strength Consultant and Skills Instructor for the Northern California High School Mountain Bike League
- Mountain View/Los Altos Soccer League Conditioning Consultant
- Former Strength Coach for the Santa Clara University Women’s Crew Team
- Former Director of Strength & Conditioning for two Bay Area Baseball Academies
Al’s client list includes a wide range of athletes from former World Cup Mountain Biker racers, Pro/1/2 Road Cyclists, NCAA Division I competitors, as well as “everyday” athletes in need of more strength to pick up their kids, work in the yard or have more energy throughout the day.
When Al isn’t introducing his clients to new ways of making exercise “fun”, he enjoys suffering up Old La Honda Rd on his road bike and riding up the switchbacks at Saratoga Gap on his mountain bike. He also participates in both mountain and road bike racing.
He also likes playing Ultimate Frisbee, geeking out online, eating, reading, video games, trying to make the perfect cup of coffee, cooking, riding bikes, going on bookstore dates with his wife Jill and trying to get cat hair off his clothes.
Al is also on the eternal search for the perfect post ride burrito! * – http://www.integratefitness.com/staff-al.html
Jamii North, BS
Personal and Group Trainer
“I got into Personal Training at the same time as my Sports medicine studies since they seemed to go hand-in-hand. As a trainer I feel that if I should be the best role model I can for my clients. I want them to feel like I not only know what I’m tlaking about but I too do what I say. I also like to be there emotionally for my clients as fitness can only go so far but if they arent happy the training is nearly worthless.”
Jamii’s experience also includes his work as:
- B.S. in Sports Medicine from SUNY Brockport, in Brockport, NY
- MA in Kinesiology from SJSU in May 2009
- Trainer in High School sports teams in New York
- Rochester Brigade, Arena Football Team Summer 2001
- Worked with UCSC (Lacrosse, Ultimate Frisbee, Rugby, Cross Country, Golf), and Stanford (Baseball, Field Hockey, Women’s Basketball)
- Empire State Games (semi-pro) in Field Hockey
- Black Belt in Isshyn Ryu Karate, and taught it for 10 years in NY. He holds 2 dozen trophies from half as many karate Tournaments
- Currently competing in Road Races and Hill Climbs