Some people geek out over going to a concert or seeing the latest fashion trends on a runway. Me? I love visiting other fitness facilities – especially ones so highly recommended by my athlete friends. Enter Pursuit Athletic Performance in Chester, Connecticut.

FitnessFieldTrip

I first heard about Pursuit from an athlete friend of mine. She’s an ultra runner, trail runner, runner runner and mom of two. I had seen a few posts on her FB feed about the place and it piqued my interest. Then, she teased me after a spin class with musings about a motor less treadmill. That’s right – you’re the motor! This particular one is called TrueForm and looks like this:

 

TrueFormTreadmill

 

…and it basically forces you into proper running form. If you lean too far forward, the belt speeds up and you feel like one of those cartoon characters when their legs are a blur, because they’re moving so quickly. If you lean too far back? It slows to a molasses-like pace. In a word? Torture. We did a 45 minute class and I went about 3.5 miles. Now, we were walking for some of it because we were doing intervals, but still. I felt like I did at least six miles and then I took this afterward:

The thing about this performance lab is that a doctor and a scientist run it. You know what happens when you get that combo together? A hell of a lot of breakdown on form and function. You may have guessed that I don’t do well in a “take it slow and analyze the hell out of it” environment. But, it’s really what every runner needs. In fact, I wish I had this available to me when I first started running so that I learned to train my whole running body. It would have saved me a lot of injury, and rehabilitation from those injuries, over the years.

Take, for example, the kettle bell class we signed up for that day. I was thinking I was in for a sweat fest. I’ve never taken a kettle bell class and, I have to admit, those things kind of intimidate me. Well, there was no reason to fear because I hardly picked one up.

The best way I can explain the class is in a Karate Kid format. Remember when dorky little Daniel shows up at Mr. Miyagi’s sprawling home, and has a task each day that seemingly has nothing to do with karate, but then he can hit and block as if he were training with the Cobra Khan when Mr. Miyagi asks him to “sand the floor?”
SandthefloorIt was like that.

We didn’t touch the kettle bell until our bodies learned how to properly pick it up. We spent about 15-20 minutes practicing the engagement of our core and squatting by sitting back and not leaning forward, and feeling our hamstrings engage. It had been a long time since I had done that, and it was pretty cool. You become very tuned into your body and how to fire each muscle properly. After all that, picking up the actual kettle bell lost all it’s intimidation. I totally made it my bitch.

We also learned some amazing swim techniques without getting wet. There were these hand dandy things (scientific name) called Vasa Trainers and can help you with that:

vasatrainer

I’m not quite sure why she’s wearing a bathing suit. We definitely did not.

Deb also showed me how to work your stroke with bands. You know, for those of us without a Vasa Trainer:

Deb, ultra champion of the universe, working on her swim stroke. Yes, that's what she's doing.

The place itself is filled with inspiring messages, quotes and people. Deb even has her own Fathead!

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From the people to the equipment and knowledge, PAP is a Shangri-La for any athlete. And remember, when I say “athlete” I mean anyone who is out there trying to be better at their sport or in their training regimen.

They also offer an in-depth gait analysis. I peeked into the room and there was a lot of fancy equipment. It looked very serious and I may have to do that next time I’m there. Of course, that would then mean I would have to work on my running form!

For anyone in the area, I highly recommend Pursuit Athletic Performance and no they didn’t pay me to write this. Although the owner gave me a very cool technical t-shirt and, as you know, runner’s will do almost anything for a t-shirt!

For those of you outside of Connecticut, I recommend you seek out a place like this, no matter what stage of training you’re in. We can all benefit from having a Mr. Miyagi in our lives.

Would you go to a place like Pursuit Athletic Performance?

What do you geek out to?

If you could ‘fix’ one thing about your fitness, what would it be?