POTTSTOWN - The official start of the scholastic wrestling season is less than a month away so area team members are finding time to start conditioning as a means of preparing for the long winter season ahead on the mats.
As part of that process, some members of the Pottstown and Phoenixville wrestling teams took part in a workout at CrossFit Pottstown on North Hanover Street on Tuesday night, Oct. 23. Three members of the Pottstown squad and nine from Phoenixville participated in the rigorous one-hour routine at the local gym run by Rob Matthews.
Some other wrestlers expected for the team this year are still involved with football and some of the other fall sports.
The first official date for PIAA practices in winter sports is Friday, Nov. 16, but some of the athletes not involved in fall sports are already tuning themselves up to get ready for the wrestling grind.
The idea of the inter-squad workout originated from former Pottstown head coach Jamie Gill, Phoenixville head coach Joe Youngblood, Pottstown assistant wrestling coach John Armato who is now involved with Pottstown community relations and Matthews. Gill has since resigned his position so new head coach Brad Bechtel was on hand with the Trojans.
CrossFit is a different type of workout that involves local muscular fatigue as well as systematic bodily response through cardiovascular and nervous system adjustment. Sports physiologist John Breen, a Pottstown resident, was on hand to explain benefits of the method to the athletes and coaches who were not already aware of the concepts.
Time spent rotating at five different stations for three rounds accounted for the 17-minute workout. The workout consisted of Wall Balls, Sumo dead lifts with high poles, box jumps, thrusters and rower machine exercises.
“This was a great experience for our guys,” said Youngblood. “I have been doing CrossFit since March here at the gym. The benefits are just great so I love it. There is something to be gained for all sports, not just wrestling.”
The plan is to repeat the workout between the Trojans and Phantoms on a regular basis to benefit the physical fitness of athletes from both schools as well as to continue to help foster a solid camaraderie between the two small schools in the Pioneer Athletic Conference Frontier Division.
“We want to build camaraderie and a friendly rivalry,” said Youngblood. “The schools are similar in size. The benefits to the kids are phenomenal. It is great of Rob to have us in here for free.”
“Joe asked us to come do this,” said Bechtel. “I was glad to find out about it. I have only been on the job for a week.”
Matthews, who formerly had a karate school on Bridge Street in Phoenixville, is well-acquainted with both communities. He has been in Pottstown since 1997 and at the current store location since 2006.
“We get anybody from 6-8 years old up to 60 years old,” said Matthews. “We have a wide variety of participants. As you can see, it is quite effective. Most of the athletes here are really serious about their health and lifestyle and are part of other fitness clubs. A lot of police officers train here.”
Matthews said Breen donates his time to CrossFit and is a “big part of who we are.”
“I just want to see kids progress and move forward,” said Matthews.
Breen has been a sports physiologist for 18 years. He is also an Elite rowing coach for athletes training for the United States Team and international competition who are beyond college age. He previously coached at the high school and college levels, including a stint as rowing coach at Radnor High School on the Main Line.
“I am here specifically for CrossFit,” said Breen, who also spends a lot of time at the Bridgeport Boat House, the closest venue for rowing.
CrossFit is part of the “Fight Gone Bad” routine to maximize hormone production without the use of supplements and other performance-enhancing drugs.
“It is complex training with two systems working simultaneously,” Breen told the athletes. “You condition yourself to recover faster. You develop greater and more explosive power, and without supplements, we stimulate bodies to have the ability to grow in the sport.”
Some of the athletes are already working out during the morning hours before school sessions begin to help condition themselves as part of their daily routines.