Science and Attitude: My Trip To Cressey Performance

19 Aug

Recently I had the opportunity to visit Cressey Performance (CP) in Hudson, MA. This was my second trip in a quest to visit nearby gyms in order to give my readers a look into the importance of training environment by highlighting the best facilities, with the most knowledgeable staff.

CP is the home to two of the nation’s premier strength coaches in Eric Cressey and Tony Gentilcore. Both of these coaches are regular contributors to major fitness publications. Furthermore, CP has served as the training hub for many top professional and amateur athletes over its three years in business.

I’ll  be frank. As a trainer myself, the idea of meeting Eric Cressey is intimidating. I do everything I can to educate myself. However, if you know a thing or two about this industry, you know Eric Cressey, and you know he knows his stuff. He’s the guy who pulls 600+ lbs and can also locate the reason you have anterior knee pain, while you’re still 50 yds away, walking up to introduce yourself. Basically he is the strongest nerd you will ever meet and I mean that in the best way possible.

To add to the nervous anticipation of meeting Eric, you realize you will also be meeting Tony Gentilcore. In my eyes Tony is one of today’s BEST coaches. Why? If you read his stuff you’ll find that he can probably make my mother’s 7 year old Pug “Buddy” understand some pretty advanced training theories. He has the unique ability to translate the science of strength training to anyone and everyone – and that is truly invaluable.

Needless to say both of these guys are really freakin’ smart, and both of these guys are really freakin’ strong. The idea of having them both under the same roof speaks volumes on how beneficial training at CP can be. As an aspiring strength coach you can also see the root of my intimidation in meeting both of them.

It’s the Friday before my Monday date at CP and I get an e-mail from Eric – “Monday we do staff in-service meetings, feel free to come in early and sit in before we train as a staff. Tony will be presenting this Monday.” Awesome! I get to hear Tony talk training, workout with the staff, and meet everyone. I respond back enthusiastically, and wait anxiously for the weekend to pass.

Monday Morning 9:45 AM

I knock on the glass door labeled Cressey Performance. I am greeted by a friendly guy that I instantly recognize as Tony Gentilcore. He introduces himself with a smile, as I hear a “What’s Up Greg!” from the staff office right behind the front desk; Eric heard us chatting. Memorabilia from professional athletes who have graciously donated to the ambiance of CP’s entrance grace the walls and the small bookshelf to the right of the desk.  A few framed articles from the likes of Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness hang neatly behind me.

Tony heads back into the office and I place my gym bag in a cubbie. I take a step through the doorway onto the gym floor. In the same manner that one might do when stepping onto a professional playing field you can’t help but think about some of the names who have stepped through that very doorway. The place smells of athleticism. End to end the walls are covered with T-Shirts from various organizations and schools of CP athletes: Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, Clemson University, the list goes on. Power Racks line the right side of the gym and a long turf strip fills the left side of the gym. Anything you might want to use to make someone stronger lays before you: a GHR, Prowler, Trap Bars, tires and chains galore. In the distance there is a giant concrete wall. Atop it demolished medicine balls of the past rest in peace. Que some music from Gladiator…I’m ready to do something epic.

As I wait for the In-Service to commence the summer’s interns trickle in, excited to be there and be a part of CP.

10:00 AM – The In-Service Begins:

Today’s topic: Program design for clients with lower back pain. Talk about informative. Tony actively uses the interns and myself to generate ideas and directed discussion on how to establish a program for a client with lower back pain. From exercise selection to establishing the cause of said back pain, the in-service was more informative than anything I had ever experienced in the past two years of working under managers at a commercial gym. In thirty minutes I had become more knowledgeable on a subject that warrants immediate application to 80% of the clientele I work with.

What an appropriate first impression.

“The perfect Combination of Science and Attitude”

This is how Eric describes Cressey Performance in a nutshell. There’s fast music playing through the speakers as clients begin to arrive at noon. The staff and I are freshly thrashed from a tough morning session. We ended with Prowler relays. My legs are JELL-O, don’t tell anyone but I almost took a nose dive opening the bathroom door to change out of my sweat soaked shirt. It’s not tough to spot the importance placed on proper warm – ups. Some clients have been here a good 20 minutes and they’re still running through mobility drills, soft-tissue work and activation exercises.

I listen in to some of the conversations between the clients and the staff. The word “why” keeps popping up. People want to know why they are doing what they’re doing, and the staff at CP is ready to answer.

Training at CP is more than sweat and hard-work. There is a perfect combination of applied theory and applied effort, and that’s just the way they want it.

“No Froo Froo BS, there isn’t any John Mayer, and there aren’t any Pink Dumbells”

In true Tony Gentilcore fashion he explains the scene at CP. There might not be any pink dumbells but don’t think for a second the clientele is strictly testosterone filled males. Women of varying ages from 16 to 50 make their way to CP. They’re side by side with kids, athletes and professionals,  and they’re all getting brutally strong.

“It’s everything”

Both Tony and Eric recognize training environment as a missing link and essential to progress.

“You have to surround yourself with like minded people…They will push you and the progress can be surprising” says Tony.

As I walk around and observe, the camaraderie is hard to miss. Some of the athletes have known eachother for years and have been working with Eric and Tony since the start of Cressey Performance in 2007.  The friendships formed are not limited to athlete to athlete. Mothers, there to get in shape, make friends with minor league prospects.

CP is as much a community as it is a breeding ground for talented athletes.

The aura of Cressey Performance is a direct reflection of the two Coaches behind the madness. Tony and Eric are two of the nicest people you will ever meet. They know what they’re doing, and they know how to facilitate their approach to a variety of clientele.

Whether you’re on a scholarship to a Division I school, a phone call away from your big league debut, a weekend warrior or a mother of three, when you step through that glass door you are a Cressey Performance athlete.  With that you can expect all the fixings that accompany such a title: well thought out programming, that is safe and effective and produces outstanding results.


6 Responses to “Science and Attitude: My Trip To Cressey Performance”

  1. Brad August 24, 2010 at 1:36 pm #

    I might have to check this place out. Sounds like a great place

  2. Peter August 26, 2010 at 8:23 am #

    Great article! Ever since we’ve met, I’ve done nothing but read articles–especially Eric and Tony. Let’s get back in touch!

    • gregtrainer August 26, 2010 at 1:46 pm #

      Hi Peter!

      Aren’t they awesome! We should get a workout in together – I’ll be in touch!


  3. Jon Stewart August 27, 2010 at 6:02 am #

    Great review, I always knew I’d have to make a visit to CP if I was in the area. this really helped echo exactly why.


  1. Random Friday Thoughts: 8/27/10 | - August 27, 2010

    […] 6. Greg Robins recently came down to spend some time observing the madness at Cressey Performance, and wrote up a detailed review of his experience; check it out: Science and Attitude: My Trip to Cressey Performance. […]

  2. Random Friday Thoughts: 8/27/10 - August 28, 2010

    […] 6. Greg Robins recently came down to spend some time observing the madness at Cressey Performance, and wrote up a detailed review of his experience; check it out: Science and Attitude: My Trip to Cressey Performance. […]

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