As your student athlete grows into his body and abilities, you might be faced with the very important question of where to have him/her train. Aren’t gyms alike? Gyms have proliferated over New Jersey in recent years. Many are quite affordable, open long hours, and they frequently offer the services of personal trainers and training classes. Don’t be fooled by this, says Joe McAuliffe, a strength and conditioning coach and owner of jmpowerU in. Despite many seemingly positive attributes, gyms remain inferior to schools of strength and conditioning, like his, and there are a few concrete reasons why this is so.
The first reason is personnel. McAuliffe is the only practitioner in the USA to hold a Master’s Degree in Exercise Science. He has been a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist since 1990, and he spends countless hours and money to keep his certification current. “People with my credentials usually work in the NFL or Division 1 football,” McAuliffe says. “Most personal trainers at gyms do not have such qualifications.” On top of this, McAuliffe is a professional athlete. He holds the world record in the bench press, and has captured 4 world titles and 9 national titles in weightlifting. After a break due to injuries, McAuliffe plans to return to competition next year, when he will turn 50, and he fully expects to pursue a new world record and national title. He does all this utilizing the techniques he teaches, and that includes never using performance enhancing drugs. McAuliffe has been at the forefront of “clean training” for two decades, long before such issues hit the headlines.
In addition to running JMPOWER U, McAuliffe also coaches football at Red Bank Catholic, his alma mater. Since he has joined the staff, the Caseys have become one of the most dominant teams in the Shore Conference. Many credit at least part of the team’s success to his training techniques. He calls himself “a perfect storm: a combination of professional coach, teacher, and athlete”. Most gyms simply cannot provide that kind of experience and pedigree.
The second reason JMPOWER U is superior to a gym, McAuliffe claims, is because of the program. He teaches students to live the lifestyle of a champion through proper Exercise, Attitude, Recovery and Nutrition (EARN). This approach leads to optimal performance and durability, and he notes that it also has proven to dramatically reduce the risk of injury, something parents are very concerned about. “Durability,” he claims, “is synonymous with injury risk reduction.” He maintains class sizes much smaller than that of gyms, and he focuses on the individual needs of the student athlete, making a point to work with each one individually. His classroom/exercise lab is capable of complete quiet, he says, which allows for optimal focus, concentration and privacy. Anyone who has been to a gym knows how noisy they can be, he points out.
The third reason JMPOWER U trumps a gym is McAuliffe’s focus on lifestyle and habits outside of exercise and athletic performance. “My program empowers my students for life,” he says. “My stretch and psyche class will teach breathing, focus, visualization, stretching, and relaxing. We will also have frequent nutrition classes” In addition, he stresses the importance of sleep and a positive attitude. Having students learn life lessons from sports, especially when they lose, is a key part of his philosophy, as is his focus on the importance of school work. A proper balance between athletics and academics is crucial to success, McAuliffe insists. “Good habits as a student athlete lead to high school success,” he says, “and high school success leads to entrance into the college of your choice. It’s not all about big time Division I.” He wants students to be humble winners and gracious losers. We all remember the sensei from The Karate Kid movies who taught his kids the “no mercy” credo. “That attitude has no place at my school,” McAuliffe says. “Good habits and a solid, healthy lifestyle make champions.
Finally, McAuliffe points to the results his program has yielded as being far superior to those of your average gym. “We have helped students achieve millions of dollars in scholarships,” he says. A quick look at his website, jmpoweru.com, shows an impressive list of Division I athletes that he has coached. “In addition,” he adds, “we keep our students out of hospitals, doctor’s offices and therapy clinics.” The lower incidence of injury appeals to parents looking for a trainer for their children. They also love his focus on achieving athletic excellence without the use of performance enhancing drugs. McAuliffe has been steroid-free his entire career, and has been on the forefront of clean training for decades.
McAuliffe has nothing against gyms and training centers. He got his start in gyms around Monmouth County, but he stresses that often they do not require education and respectable certification in their instructors. “Their programs are mostly cookie cutter, glorified group exercise,” he says. “They are huge, beautiful, and crowded, but don't be fooled by charlatan trainers who aren't coaches and teachers.” The message is clear in his mind: a professional and certified strength and conditioning coach is undoubtedly the best choice for your child. The evidence seems to support his argument.
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