Cal McGibbon has an obvious passion for personal training, and all that goes with it.
The energetic Sudbury native oozes excitement as he confers with his clients. Perhaps, more importantly, he views each and every day as a new learning experience, garnering as much knowledge as possible in his pursuit to understand how best to develop young elite athletes.
Such is the backdrop through which REPerformance was created.
"Five years ago, I was involved with something called the "White Paper", which was an NOHA (Northern Ontario Hockey Association) initiative," said McGibbon. "They were trying to ensure that they were providing for their athletes as best they could."
"Those conversations got my mind thinking about how we could fix some of the barriers, the geographic challenges for more rural communities trying to raise kids in sports, versus families in larger centres."
"How do we give these small communities, these local volunteers, the information to help their kids pursue a path of excellence in sports, if that's what they wish." This endeavour would require McGibbon to not only tap into the experience that he has garnered in working in this field for more than a decade, but also into the very specific skill-set of acquaintances who could help fill in the gaps in areas to which he admits no particularly mastery of the subject.
"We started looking at technology, and how could technology play a role in what we were trying to do," said McGibbon. "That's really the driving energy behind what we are doing, trying to create something that everyone could have access to, helping their shot at pursuing their dreams."
"It (REPerformance software) allows you to compare with your age group, whether it be regionally, provincially or nationally, and even across multiple sports, or just the one that you are training for."
While the product might owe its genesis to hockey, it is a long-way from being pidgeon-holed into single sport usage. "We are strong believers in Long Term Athlete Development and staying on that framework," noted Matt Rupoli, Manager of Client Success with the group and a graduate of the Sports Administration program at Laurentian University.
"If you stay on that LTAD framework, the early years are not about athlete specialization. This is about giving the coaches a tool for that journey along the LTAD framework." The beauty, in the eyes of both McGibbon and Rupoli, lies in both the applicability of the software, and the price, just $65/team - annually, or less than $3/player for a typical hockey team.
And before folks go wild over concerns that this only serves to reinforce the perceived gaps between teammates in terms of their natural athleticism, McGibbon is quick to point out that the focus was on creating a tighter bond, within the team, and not a chasm.
"The way we have been using the product and where we got the most success, and the way we designed the product, is to allow only certain viewpoints for certain access points," he said. "A coach can see all of those scores individually and how they compare to the team average, but you cannot compare two athletes, head to head."
"As an athlete, your measuring stick is simply yourself against your team average. What we have noticed in using the software is that it eliminates the competitiveness amongst the athletes on the same team, but that they become competitive, as a team."
"Athletes still want to be better, and there are still going to be athletes who want to be the best on their team," acknowledged McGibbon. "But, at the end of the day, when they look at this, they can see if their team is getting better or not. It's focusing on the whole, not the individual."
"For an individual sport like boxing, you would group all of your 12-13 years olds, for instance, into one roster."
When it comes right down to it, McGibbon is very simply of the belief that more information for athletes, coaches and trainers is better than less information. "There is enough information out there today to pretty much develop any athlete," he said.
"But the difference between doing it efficiently and properly, with respect to LTAD, focusing on what a child should be working on versus just throwing a workout at them, is completely different."
"The thing that differentiates those two approaches, more than anything else, is understanding where they are at, as an athlete, right now. Unless you have that snapshot, you can't actually train anyone for any sport."
"You cannot find that out without testing them and comparing them to larger data sets," he continued. "Now you're talking about really understanding how to develop athletes on the LTAD curve appropriately to what they need."
And, to his credit, McGibbon is the first to admit that excessive personal training sessions might not be the key for every youngster that walks through his door. "Obviously, there is sport tactical training as well," he said.
"I don't go into teaching kids how to come off a screen and shoot a three, but I can find out that the kid might need to work on something like that once he is tested against a larger data set. There's an aspect of (personal) training that is important, for sure, but identifying where to allocate your resources, as parents, is key."
For more information on REperformance, visit the group's website at https://rep-team.com, or contact Cal McGibbon at Healthy Living - Health Education and Professional Coaching at (705) 665-5130 (or Matt Rupoli at (705) 988-2391).