MOREAU | TJ Harrington isn’t a big fan of fitness machines.
“Go back to your parents’ gym class, and imagine what that might have been like,” said Harrington, who is the strength and conditioning coach for the Los Angeles Angels baseball team. “Climbing a rope, monkey bars – that’s all they had back in that time. But now, what if anybody – a softball pitcher, a baseball guy or a football quarterback – could swing from the monkey bars? I guarantee there’s not one varsity athlete here that could go from one end to the other. Nobody could climb a rope, guaranteed.”
Though the business doesn’t officially open until Nov. 2, Harrington has already been working to improve the performance of local high school and college athletes.
Adam Gray and Ci’an Kenny, of Queensbury, are among them. The Queensbury High School baseball players were at Elite Athlete Wednesday, setting goals for the off season.
“I want to improve my leg strength,” Kenny said, adding doing so will give his pitching some extra push.
Gray, who plays multiple positions, including outfield, was hoping to build some upper body strength, in order to add power to his throws, he said.
Harrington, a native of Glens Falls, has been the strength and conditioning coach for the Angels since 2008, he said. He landed that job after graduating from University of South Carolina-Aiken with a degree in exercise science and sports fitness management and after stints with college teams – Siena and Niagara University — and as the Angels’ minor league strength and conditioning coordinator, he said.
His goal with his new business is to help local athletes improve their game.
“I didn’t have strength coaches in college, and I was in major baseball programs,” Harrington said.
Much of the work being done at Elite Athlete is inspired by the back-to-basics exercises popularized by CrossFit, but with a focus on movements and training programs geared toward sports – and tailored in each individual’s case to the sport of his or her focus.
“If you’re a better athlete, you’re going to be better at every sport,” Harrington said. “And with that, if you’re in an overhead throwing sport, you have to do more upper-body shoulder protection. For your lower body jumping sports, you have to do more hip and knee mobility, things like that, to get it sport-specific.
“But overall, when training athletes, it’s getting people moving.”
Emma Guilfoil, of Queensbury, visited Elite Athlete Wednesday with her parents, also with a goal of keeping her softball skills sharp through the winter months.
Her parents, Sue and Kevin Guilfoil, said they’re planning to sign Emma up for two to three sessions per week, in hopes of helping her learn more about strength and conditioning.
“It’s something they can carry with them into the future,” Sue Guilfoil said.
Harrington plans to offer training sessions at $20 a pop – about an hour per session, though that depends on how quickly an athlete progresses through the various exercises, Harrington said.
But he’s also planning to offer a special for college students who are home on breaks: $50 for a week of sessions, he said.
He’s planning to offer “camps” specific to certain athletes or sports, as well, he said. And he’s reached out to local high school coaches in an effort to promote training sessions for whole teams, at a cost of $100 per session, he said.
“I tell the coaches … give me their conditioning,” he said. “I’ll do everything here, and now, instead of your practice being two hours, make it an hour. Do your fundamentals and get out of there, so now kids don’t get burnt out.”
More information about the business – and special programs, as they’re developed – is available online at tjeliteathlete.com.
Harrington will host an open house from 1 to 5 p.m. on Nov. 1, before opening officially the following day.