North Xtra: Cranberry facility puts rehab, training together
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After nine years of working as the strength and conditioning coach of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Frank Velasquez sought out for a new venture with a new mission.
"To provide a big-league quality of care to the regular people," he said.
Velasquez and former World Wrestling Entertainment rehab specialist Aimee Slattery are co-owners of REV Sports Rehab and Athletic Development, which opened last month in Cranberry.
Velasquez said his 3,600 square-foot facility is, "The first of its kind.
"A very progressive model combining physical therapy, strength and conditioning and wellness."
With Velasquez dubbing it a "one-stop shop in care," REV features a 2,200 square foot indoor artificial-turf gym surface, physical therapy and rehabilitation services and massage rooms.
Velasquez touts REV as having everything from the most cutting-edge sophisticated training equipment to space for the more simple tire-flipping and sledge-hammering to target athletes' specific training and rehabilitation needs.
"It's not just physical therapy, not just strength and conditioning, not just massage -- it's everything in one," Velasquez said. "People like that. We think of it as made-to-order rehabilitation."
Velasquez's ties to the Pirates -- in addition to Slattery's resume -- give the facility instant credibility. At REV's grand opening last month, manager Clint Hurdle, general manager Neal Huntington and pitchers Joel Hanrahan and Charlie Morton were among Pirates representatives on hand.
The facility also runs the gamut from young to old. REV has "introduction to movement" instruction clinics designed for 7 to 10 year olds in addition to the ability to treat senior citizens in rehabilitation from injury. Velasquez said REV is developing a "Female Athlete" program "for strength, conditioning (and) wellness developed for the female athlete ... to help reduce the risk of some of the soft-tissue injuries that female athletes are predisposed to more than male athletes."
Velasquez said the athletic training field has changed markedly since Velasquez, a Michigan native, graduated from the University of Michigan in 1993. (Before joining the Pirates under the Dave Littlefield regime, he also spent seven years working in the Texas Rangers organization).
High school-aged athletes are training in a specialized manner more than ever. Interestingly, Velasquez maintains they are, in fact, sometimes more immersed into their given sports than their professional counterparts are anymore.
"Between spring baseball summer baseball, fall ball and all the indoor facilities where you can train and throw and hit year-round, there's no break, and that kind of makes what we do more important," Velasquez said. "These kids are often just not strong enough to withstand the volume they're doing nowadays.
"Back when I was young, football was the winter sport, and in the spring you'd start training your arm up again. There was a built-in offseason for your arm. That's not the case anymore."
Velasquez noted now he's encountered major league players who never truly learned proper training methods for strength or flexibility or optimum performance. Sometimes, they had an elite specialized enough skill set that they never had to lift weights, for example.
REV isn't an acronym -- "For us, we like it because it's a word that brings "energy" ... it's short, it's quick, it's catchy ... taking your performance to the next level ... REV it up."
Velasquez's wife, Carrie, is a licensed massage therapist who handles those services at REV. The former Carrie Zarse, she was one of the nation's top divers in college and after in the mid-1990s, competing with USA national teams at world championship and Pan-Am Games competitions.
Carrie Velasquez lends more high-level athletic experience to REV.
"I spent the last 16 years in a very high-end setting," Frank Velasquez said, "and what we wanted to do was to bring what we call major-league type quality of people to the amateur athlete."
"We feel like people deserve that type of care. Something for everyone; that's our mindset. We don't want to limit them from competing in their sport and will use creative methods to correct their balance or whatever the underlying issue.
"Active people don't like to be shut down -- sometimes that's what they get when they go to other places. We try to keep them going and help ... enhance their performance."
First Published June 14, 2012 12:00 am