If you've ever had to bounce back from an injury, you know just how hard it is to stay on track once your insurance-covered PT sessions end. With this precise struggle in mind, NY SportsMed will attempt to bridge the gap, in an affordable way, between the healing process and returning to fitness at its newly opened 5,500-square-foot flagship Athletic Performance Center in Columbus Circle in New York City.
“We're going beyond just rehabilitation. Once the patient has been cleared to do activities, we will continue to provide them with a safe environment and personalized training so that they can get back to their sport or achieve a specific fitness goal, like run a marathon,” says Leandro Justen, director of marketing and communications at NY SportsMed.
NY SportsMed has two other Manhattan locations, but its newest facility is expanding its services to the public in a way that's often reserved for elite pro athletes and Olympians. The access to its medical staff—which includes two doctors and a team of more than 20 physical therapists, assistants, trainers and employees across the three clinics—reminds us of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association's Center of Excellence in Park City, UT, another world-class center that blends training and rehabilitation.
One way to help patients get better, faster and back to performing at their best is to put them on the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill (pictured). With a price tag of $45,000, you won't see this kind of high-end equipment in most other gyms. The futuristic device attaches and seals in air (imagine wearing a kayaking skirt zippered to a below-the-belt bubble), which then helps provide weight-bearing support by reducing your load to as little as 20 percent of your body weight. To put this in perspective: When Neil Armstrong bounced his way across the moon, his body weight was at 16 percent. Running on the treadmill at this reduced cosmic weight lessens the stress and impact on your lower extremities, which helps you build strength back up so you can get back to your normal (or improved) gait.
You're never on your own when you're using this special machine. For $30, a physical therapist will supervise your 30-minute workout, offering you advice along the way. If you plan to use the treadmill a few times a week, the center provides anti-g packages ranging from a single half-hour session to a five-pack for $125 to 10-pack for $250. Once you're ready to move from the anti-g to the real deal (Central Park is across the street!), you'll have access a certified personal trainer and sports performance coach, like Shaun Chambers, to see you through the tough transition.
“What tends to happen when people leave physical therapy is that they go back to their old routine before they were injured or do nothing at all. In either case, it's really easy for the person to re-injure themselves. We're trying to prevent that by setting up a seamless integration between rehabilitation and training. We're opening the lines of communication between the patient, PT, and personal trainer,” says Chambers.
From there, you can even go as far as to test whether you might get hurt again in the long-run with the facility's newest program, RunLab. Using another super-expensive, hard-to-come-by machine (Nike may be the only other place in the country that has this special treadmill), a PT uses clinical data and video analysis to evaluate cadence, stride length, and power in an hour. By the end of the session, they suggest ways for you to optimize performance, make gear recommendations, and maybe even warn about where you're likely to be injured in the future. Unlike the anti-g treadmill, this one's a bit pricier at $375, but it's meant to be a one-time experience.
The coolest part of this facility may be the fact that places are starting to open to help you be a better, healthier athlete for longer, regardless if you've got any races on your calendar or sponsors breathing down your neck. Staying fit and injury-free isn't just for the elite anymore. Let's hope the rest of the country starts to catch on and make it an official trend!