At Michael Johnson Performance (named after the renowned Olympic sprinter), we were assessed like top-tier athletes. Our body fat percentages were measured, foot striking patterns analyzed, and mobility and flexibility tested via exercises like an overhead squat and Y-balance test. Plyometric jumps indicated any risk for injury, power capacity, and reaction time; an actual physical therapist poked, prodded, and moved our bodies to screen for any lurking injuries; sprints determined acceleration, speed and imbalances; a treadmill test discovered how much ground we could cover in 45 seconds; and a hellish 3-minute spin session on a stationary bike determined our endurance capacities and ability to recover. Oh, and we wore a heart rate monitor called the Bodyguard to see just how well we recover from intense exercise as we sleep.
Fit Tip: Ask if your gym has a trainer who can put you through a similar assessment to test weaknesses and areas you can improve on. And if they don’t have the capability, ask if they can recommend a facility that can.
I’ll spare you the specifics, but I was working at a fairly optimal fitness level (10, which is comparable to an athlete). I had 19 percent body fat. My mobility and flexibility were pretty even in both legs, but my right was showing some weakness (knee injury making itself known), and I exhibited glute weakness and hip tightness. But my recovery was a real disaster. During a night of sleep after no exercise, my recovery was 86 percent; but after the first day of testing, my recovery was only 10 percent; my central nervous system readiness was 1 out of 7.
So, with our numbers in tow, we flew back to New York and began our respective programs with a team of elite Nike master trainers. I worked with Traci Copeland on strength training, while Julia Lucas served as my running coach. They worked with me one-on-one once a week, each, and cultivated a training program that filled the rest of my week with strength workouts from the Nike+ app, fartlek runs, mobility work, yoga, sprints, tempo runs, long runs, and more. Together, they cultivated a regimen to not only get me in shape, comparable to how personalized a professional athlete or Olympic runner’s plan might be, but they helped me train toward my individual goal, which was to complete my first Olympic-distance triathlon in Chicago at the end of August.