Reaching their apex

For student athletes looking to improve or enhance their game, there’s a new program available for just that, one that’s tailor-made to each athlete designed for optimal performance. When it comes to improving sports performance, one size does not tend to fit all.

The new program, called Athletic Performance Extreme, or APEX, is designed to help student athletes ages 12 and over raise their sport performance level by using an individualized approach to sports training. It will be launched today by Trinity Health Exercise Physiology.

According to Russell Gust, exercise physiology coordinator at Trinity Health, the APEX program brings student athletes to the top through the appropriate steps and offers individualized training in a group setting. A program similar to this had been done in the past and worked for awhile, he said, but it was a cookie-cutter approach where everybody did the same thing.

“But every athlete is different. We try to target the athlete’s weakness and keep them injury-free for the season,” Gust said.

The APEX program integrates functional movement, flexibility and core strength training into the program along with strength, speed and power. This is so that every athlete is starting from a solid foundation. At the beginning, each participant is individually assessed to identify their performance strengths and weaknesses, examine their potential and establish a baseline from which to grow. Gust said every athlete will be evaluated on their weaknesses on a functional movement screen to see what their capabilities are and what they need for correcting muscular imbalances, instability or inflexibility.

The concept with the APEX program, Gust said, is if the athlete is injured then he or she won’t be able to contribute to the team. When an athlete participates in APEX, he or she goes through the proper progression because in the past the tendency was to go too fast, he continued. There will still be strength training, overload training, speed and agility training, Gust added, but individualization will be added to each athlete to make sure he or she won’t get injured.

Gust said there’s a tendency for athletes to see how others train and copy them.

“They see a successful athlete and assume that if they do what that person does, they can win, too,” he said. “That idea needs to disappear. If an athlete truly wants to be successful, he or she has to do what will benefit them, not what will benefit someone else.”

In addition to Gust, exercise physiologists Leo Krajewski and Kyra Brookins will be working with the athletes. Both Krajewski and Brookins are functional movement specialists, educated in the science of movement.

There are many student athletes out there who could benefit from a program like this, Gust said, and that was one of the motivating factors for starting the APEX program. One of the benefits, he added, is that the athletes have direct access to sports medicine and orthopedic physiologists who offer knowledge and expertise not offered anywhere else.

“We’ve been seeing over the past few years that injuries don’t have to occur, and we wanted to offer a program strengthens athletes appropriately,” Gust said. “We hope to help athletes become better and educate them on how to improve themselves physically and mentally. We’ll give them the mental tools needed to succeed. We want to encourage individual success and foster strong character and decision-making skills.”

The APEX program lasts for eight weeks, with the athletes attending twice a week for 60 minutes at the Minot Family YMCA. They will also be given a home exercise program to do. The home program will include exercises that can be done anywhere and will focus on improving muscle imbalances to reduce the risk of injury, Gust noted. Also, athletes can take a week off and then join the next eight-week session if they want. It’s recommended that an athlete join the session before the season of their sport begins so they’re already conditioned and can work on skills, Gust added. Athletes can participate in the APEX program while in their sport season, too, but it’s difficult to do because the athlete is already so involved in the sport in terms of time, he continued.

Cost for participating in the APEX program is $399 for Y members. For non-members, participants would have to purchase a two-month student membership in addition to the program fee. There are still openings for the upcoming session. People interested in participating in the APEX program can call Gust at 857-5626, the Minot Family YMCA at 852-0141 and ask for Kyra Brookins, or visit the website at (