Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Trainer keeps athletes fit

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BEFORE anything else, Richard Burr stresses that he does a full assessment of his client.

"Their weaknesses are noted, like strength or flexibility or agility and speed," says Burr, an athletic therapist and strength and conditioning specialist, who works out of the Wellness Institute at Seven Oaks Hospital, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' training facility at Canad Inns Stadium, and his own Main Street clinic. "From that assessment, a program is designed to address those weaknesses."

Burr works with amateur and professional athletes, including the Bombers and other CFL, NFL and NHL teams.

"He gets the job done. I'd recommend him to others," says Tyler Arnason, 24, a centre with the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks, who spends the off season in Winnipeg.

He began training with Burr last summer after the trainer for the Blackhawks set it up. Arnason says Burr's conditioning program has helped him take his game to the next level.

"He's showed me what my body is capable of doing," says Arnason.

Burr points out that when hockey players conclude their season, they usually require a couple of weeks of "down time" to settle into a regular routine before they begin a conditioning program.

"We start off with a phase that emphasizes aerobic conditioning combined with a generalized weightlifting circuit," explains the 29-year-old native of Winnipeg, who has a degree in athletic therapy from the University of Manitoba and is certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association in the U.S.

To minimize the risk of overuse injuries, Burr employs a wide variety of exercises including pedalling on a stationary bike or mountain biking, running up stadium stairs, plus jogging.

"After every three or four weeks the program changes to maintain maximum effectiveness for the athlete," says Burr. "In phase one, proper exercise execution is heavily emphasized. It usually takes a couple of weeks to get a solid base. Then we focus on increasing muscle size, where repetitions are higher and moderate weights are used. Then we go into a strength phase to increase muscle strength. This uses heavier weights and lower reps. We also work on power and speed with lighter weights, so the athletes can move them more quickly."

Burr has his charges do sprint work and plyometrics, which is a form of exercise that includes box jumps, hopping and/or jumping on one foot, as well as stability work with large exercise balls.

"I also hook my clients up for parachute runs," remarks Burr, adding that the specialized parachute provides resistance to help increase strength.

He underscores the point that someone without good "core stability" (torso, abdominal muscles and back) is susceptible to injury and won't reach their potential as far as speed and strength are concerned.

"When most people talk about the core, they only see the abs and lower back. But what I teach my athletes is that there are five cores: each shoulder, the midsection and each hip. We try and develop them in balance with each other," says Burr.

"Athletes have to be in top physical shape before training camp. You can't work yourself into shape at camp anymore. Those days are gone forever. The level of competitiveness is very high because everybody is fighting for a spot on the team. I help give my clients that extra edge."

For further information, contact Burr at 782-3639 or 667-6795.

PHOTO MIKE DEAL/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 11, 2003 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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