Health and Well-being Training
Discovering your inner athlete
On the first floor of the Norville Center, where the barbells clank and the speakers thump, Dave Vitel feels right at home. As Loyola University Chicago’s assistant athletics director for sports performance, it’s his responsibility to prepare the Ramblers for the physical demands of NCAA competition. Energetic and impressively bearded, Vitel takes a professional and holistic approach to collegiate training, having honed his craft during a five-year stint in the NBA, working as the strength and conditioning coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“It’s not just about lifting anymore,” he said. “It’s the nutrition, it’s the recovery, it’s doing the right conditioning work for your sport.”
According to Vitel, there’s no one-size-fits-all rubric for successful exercising. Watching a stray YouTube video or chatting with a friend can only get you so far. Each athlete needs his or her own “exercise prescription”—“Just because LeBron does it,” Vitel cautioned, “doesn’t mean that we should.”
Below, he offered up some useful tips for both the weekend warrior and the novice who just bought track pants:
Establish a baseline
With any new athlete at Loyola, Vitel’s first step is measuring performance numbers: running, jumping, lifting. Then he’ll look under the metaphorical hood. “We’re going to delve in-depth into the body—looking at the ankles, knees, hips, core, shoulders, back. We’ll look for deficiencies that we can correct. We start at Ground Zero.” A personal trainer, even in one appointment, can do a similar analysis and offer detailed observations from which to work.
Working out consistently requires commitment. Be clear with yourself about your motivations. Vitel’s advice: “Think to yourself: What do I want to get out of this? Having it laid out, having a plan, will definitely keep you more accountable.”
Keep it simple, stupid
Vitel doesn’t see any reason to complicate matters, especially early on. “A lot of times, coaches get too complex. We want athletes to do the basics correctly, and then we build off that. There’s a progression.”