As part of our Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground Insider series, we’re taking a look behind the scenes at the place that keeps our teams ready for matchday. This week’s focus is on the gym, where the players put in some of their hardest hours. The club is taking all the steps necessary to make sure the players are getting the world-class facilities they need to perform at their peak.
The first thing you’ll notice when entering the gym is the view, with the machines pointed toward the training pitch outside. Just like the locker room, dining hall and training rooms, surrounding it, the gym faces the pitch to emphasize the central focus of the club. Whether a player is getting treatment in the trainers room or doing rehab work in the gym, club leaders wanted to make sure they could watch training and feel connected to the team. That interconnectedness is only enhanced when they open the 30-foot glass door that opens up to the first-team training pitch. They can do cardio right next to their teammates training outside, with the added bonus of getting fully acclimated to the current climate.
When it comes to the equipment itself, it’s all about efficiency and giving the players everything they need to get a full workout. There are two rows of bikes lined up alongside squat racks, rowing machines and adjustable free weights. Ab mats, resistance bands, fitness balls and boxes line the walls, leaving an open space in the middle to remove clutter from the training area.
The next thing you’ll notice is the music, and whether it’s reggaeton, hip hop, rock or anything in between, the players are always using music to keep themselves motivated and center the focus. Players can plug straight into surround-sound speakers lining the gym, and connect to one of the training ground’s 35 wireless access points for whatever streaming service they use.
When a player isn’t 100% or perhaps returning from a more long-term injury, there’s a special tool Atlanta United’s medical staff use to get them back to full fitness. The Alter-G treadmill closes the bottom half of an athlete’s body off from the outside and can reduce the amount of gravitational force on a player’s body. Lowering gravity reduces the impacts on a player’s joints as they look to stay in shape, progress in their rehabilitation and rebuild the muscle around their injury.
Recovery can be just as important to a player’s long-term health as the workout itself, so players have every tool available to them to keep their minds and bodies fresh. First, they replenish internally at the recovery and nutrition bar, with a variety of protein and other shakes at their disposal. Then they can step into one of two in-ground hydrotherapy pools, with hot and cold water options to aid in muscle regeneration. Then it's off to the trainer for a massage and stretching work with the team medical staff, or even to the gym’s outdoor extension for stretching on the team’s FieldTurf surface.
Every piece of the $60 million training ground facility has been carefully planned to put every team through the club – from the U-12’s to the senior team – in the best position to succeed. The gym is an important piece to keep all the player’s performing at their best.