It wasn’t too long ago I stumbled upon a Montrealer’s dream, conveniently found in the West Island (even the best things require a bit of travel). Sportplexe Quatres-Glaces in Pierrefonds is the ultimate hockey facility for any young aspiring player, but also for just about anyone who loves hockey; 4 rinks (1 international-size), and an awesome upstairs lounge to watch hockey and knock back a few brews after a good game with the fellas. Canadiens fans know it because their team opens training camp at Sportplexe every season.
It had been a while since I had been to Pierrefonds for a good skate, but in my recent trip, I walked upstairs and discovered something all Montrealers should know about.
Athletic Republic has taken root in several US cities, but is a completely unique training facility to Montreal. As you walk in you’re greeted by former St Michael’s (University in Vermont) hockey stars, Jared and Jon Silver; brothers who felt it was imperative to introduce Montrealers to what they believe is the greatest skating innovation ever: The inclined skating treadmill.
“’Jon had seen the technology in the States, and we immediately started wondering whether anyone was using it in Montreal. It turned out no one was, and the opportunity became obvious, especially given Montreal’s over-the-top hockey culture,” says Jared as he contemplates how surprised he was to know they’d have something exclusive. “The next step was to find somewhere to put it, and obviously this place was a no-brainer.”
The inclined skating treadmill runs at various speeds, but the faster it goes the less resistance there is. The concept is to lengthen your stride, while Jared or Jon (who train all of their clients) help you perfect your skating, as you also get an incredible workout.
“The goal is to have our clients introduce power to their stride. The chance for them to skate on an incline naturally builds strength in the areas you need strength in order to get the most out of your stride, but our expertise helps our clients skate the extra mile towards efficiency,” added Jared about their scientific approach to turning even the best skaters into better ones.
Typically a skating-training session will run for about an hour to 90 minutes, depending of course on where the client ranks in terms of ability and conditioning. The program the Silver brothers run is hockey-specific but transferable to other sports as well, with all the plyometric drills you would expect to see in their special gym above Sportplexe’s four ice surfaces. They will run you through several dry-land drills specific to working on flexibility, agility, endurance, and of course tone and shape, and then cap it off with a skating session.
A skating session could be up to 40 minutes, but you won’t be on the inclined treadmill for longer than 40 seconds at a time. “What we usually do is have our client skate a 45-second warmup with little or no incline, just so we can assess his or her ability. Then the client will do anywhere from 5-30-second sprints at different speeds, and different inclines. The approach is very scientific.”
And when it comes to analyzing their clients: “We have a camera suspended above, and a screen for our clients to watch themselves skating; it enables us to breakdown the things we may be missing live, and continue to work on them as we move through the program (which has various levels).”
Each program for the various levels runs for a period of 6 weeks, at the end of which you start anew at the next level. “The six-week program has really helped me prepare for my upcoming season. Just by watching the videos (of myself) on the treadmill I can see a vast improvement from week one to week six” claims 2007, 3rd round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Alex Killorn, now a freshman for Harvard University. Killorn adds “The Silvers do a great job, and bring enthusiasm to the gym every day.”
If you’re wondering about the safety issues, each skater is harnessed in so if they were to slip on the treadmill while it’s going, they wouldn’t fall on it; they would be suspended.
“Having worked out throughout our hockey careers, we know how boring it can be to go to the gym. But with the skating treadmill we’re able to offer a workout that not only gets you in shape, but makes you better at the sport you love most, and enables you to do something you enjoy.”
The Silvers have attracted over 140 clients since opening up at the beginning of the summer. They have kids, women, and even men in their 60s coming in for training sessions. “The results don’t lie; they translate directly to the ice,” says Jonathon Sheeri, a 25 year-old player from Cote-St-Luc, who despite the long drive swears by the program that saw him lose nearly 20 pounds in one 6-week session. Sheeri claims his energy level on the ice has been very positively affected by a more efficient and longer stride. “My starts are far more explosive now as well.”
Sportplexe 4-Glaces is located at 14700 Pierrefonds Boulevard, left off of St. Jean’s. For more information on Athletic Republic, call Jared or Jon Silver at 514-305-1236.