Photos courtesy of Variant Training Lab
By Lauren Bray
Just like everyone else in 2020, I’m vowing to become more healthy and up my fitness game. I decided to get the ball rolling before the holiday with the hope of jumpstarting the new year fads. My first stop was Variant Training Lab on lower State Street, next to REI.
I tore my ACL a few years ago doing something really cool and athletic, at least that’s how it plays out in my head, so my fitness needs can be a little different than most. Recovery has been hard and tenuous, but I’m finally starting to feel like my old self again. My physical therapist recommended giving this place a try because of their tailored methods.
Variant Training Lab is the brainchild of Dr. Maury Hayashida. He opened the business in 2018 with the goal of providing an integrative team of medical clinicians, movement scientists, and performance personnel to provide clients with their healthiest life.
“The healthcare and fitness industries typically have trouble integrating their knowledge and services for the benefit of patients seeking their highest level of return to function, sport or activity. Additionally, today’s technological world offers some very good tools to treat and train smarter,” said Hayashida. “So, we figured, why not create a community of professionals of varied specialties working with a community of people seeking to perform at their best in life. We wanted to treat problems before they turned into injuries and to achieve higher levels of recovery than typical rehab settings can provide for people of any performance level or stage of life.”
Walking into their building I felt transported to a specialized training facility for professional athletes. There are high-tech gadgets and machines, physical training tables, a floor section of field turf, and a bevy of free weights in an open concept space that would make any Laker or Dodger feel at home. But as a co-ed softballer and extremely amateur ping pong player, I was excited to get to play with the same toys.
This isn’t a regular gym, mostly because there isn’t a cluster of buff men grunting and staring at themselves in the mirror. It’s a mix of different ages, shapes, and sizes making it a comfortable place to focus on myself. With a methodology of “Test. Treat. Train.” they aim to evaluate personal goals and helps you achieve them step by step.
I was set up with Jacob Trapp, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, for an initial assessment where we discussed my goals while running through a series of tests. Some seemed silly but he described in detail how measuring a certain way of kneeling can determine a specific strength and flexbility of muscle groups. I ran on a treadmill where a computer tracked the placement of my feet and where the most pressure was being applied and I stood on a fancy machine that accurately measured my body mass index (BMI). This was not my favorite part as the machine spit out percentages of fat, muscle, and even water in every section of my body, but in order to compare progress I understood its use.
“I think of health as a balance, not in the sense of being a point that I will arrive to one day, but as an action I am constantly in. What works for me doesn’t necessarily work for everyone because everyone is unique. We should approach fitness in a similar way – with uniqueness,” said Jacob.
Following my assessment, Jacob put together a specialized workout program with specific exercises aimed at helping me achieve my goals, one of which is to stop slouching at my computer. Variant offers a wide variety of classes to help introduce new techniques or focus on the ones created for you. My favorite has been the ACL rehab group as it centers on strengthening the leg post surgery, but there’s a variety of yoga classes, high-intensity workouts, strength training, and even a class for new moms to help restore core and pelvic floor strength and function.
Membership also includes benefits to choose between a monthly physical therapy session or personal training session with the option to include nutritional consultation. I chose the nutrition option since my diet usually consists of whatever I can easily scrounge together to eat in front of my computer. I met with Lucas Miller, who reviewed my current eating habits and offered specific tips for starting small. We decided I definitely needed to drink more water and he suggested I drink as many ounces of water as my body weight, slow down my eating by adding 10-15 minutes and actually enjoy my meal. He then sent over recipe ideas that use leaner proteins, whole grains, and leafy greens to keep my body full so I lay off the mini chocolate bars and sugary carbs throughout the day that end up making me feel gross. They even partnered with a local meal prep service, Quokka, to easily provide healthy meals approved by a registered dietitian.
“Action without strategy can lead to wasted energy. That’s why having a training plan can make all the difference in the world, especially when you can track its effects with measurable outcomes. This can be the difference maker in reaching your goals,” said Lucas.
At the end of two months, I dropped body fat, gained muscle, and most importantly, I feel better. While the numbers aren’t that important to me, it’s showed me the progress I have made and how starting with small changes can yield big results over time.
The team at Variant is dedicated and motivated to see you succeed and they’re always available to chat about what is working and what isn’t to make adjustments as needed. They make this whole working out thing not so bad, regardless of your goals. Whether it’s to qualify for the Tour de France, bounce back after surgery, cure your back pain, or simply feel better about yourself.
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