The largest ice arena in the southeastern United States has installed some new features to further enhance its sports performance and training offerings.
The 150,000-square-foot AdventHealth Center Ice in Wesley Chapel is best known for having four full-sized ice rinks and a mini-rink housed under one roof.
Recently, the facility added Octane Sports Performance, which aims to take hockey players, figure skaters and other athletes to greater heights.
The 4,500-square-foot space encompasses a five-lane, 90-yard sprinting turf field, full-service weight room and full-service recovery room. Octane is designed for athletes of all ages to improve mobility, speed and agility, power and functional strength.
Octane is operated under the direction of Mark Gochenour, a former professional sprinter and exercise physiologist. He has an expertise in speed development, strength training, orthopedics and metabolics; Octane also has a full-time athletic trainer on staff.
Gochenour brings a pedigreed background in the fitness landscape.
Besides opening several gyms throughout the Tampa Bay area, Gochenour is credited with having built the first and largest sports performance training facility in the Middle East, located in Kuwait City. He’s also previously contracted and consulted with military and law enforcement agencies, as well college and professional athletes in major sports leagues.
Under his guidance, Octane’s sports performance training programs are described as “using the latest advancements in sports science and kinesiology to develop a sport-specific strength and conditioning program that improves the athlete’s overall athleticism.”
Group and private training packages are available. Individualized training is based on each athlete’s personal goals and sport-specific demands.
It’s also a tool that youth and adult hockey teams can take advantage of in between practices and games at Center Ice.
Gochenour explained how an Octane fitness program would work for young and older athletes using both the sprint turf field —equipped with hurdles and push/pull sleds — and weight room, which features an assortment of dumbbells, barbells, plates, racks, medicine balls, boxes and manual treadmills.
“The most important thing is we start very slow and make sure the athletes understand the movements patterns, they’re doing the movement patterns directly and then we can actually progress the athlete,” said Gochenour.
“I get parents asking me questions all the time, ‘Should my 10-year-old be weightlifting?’ and the answer is, ‘Yes.’ Now, am I going to put 200 pounds on your kid and have them do a squat? No, but I can teach them the proper squat mechanics, maybe while they’re holding a 6-pound med ball, and then we can progress to 8 pounds and can then progress to 15 or 16 pounds, and eventually to where they may be moving dumbbells.”
Gochenour added the “key to success” in training “is understanding our process, understanding developing movement patterns and really, just buying into the new culture that we’re developing here at Octane.
“There’s nothing fancy about dumbbells and plates and racks, it’s really more about processes and putting things together,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gochenour is most proud of Octane’s new recovery room, within the performance center.
Formerly a little-used ballet space for figure skaters, Gochenour and Center Ice officials had grander visions for the enclosed space.
The room has been transformed to include various state-of-the-art recovery tools and equipment once only accessible to Olympic and professional or elite athletes, including:
- NormaTec compression leg boots
- Aquilo ice leg boots
- Game Ready Med4Elite recovery system
- NeuFit Neubie electrical stimulation device
“We started looking at products to see what we could bring into the area and what we could into the building and what we really came up with were four different products,” Gochenour said.
Gochenour went into further detail how each device can be applied by athletes.
The NormaTec boots, for instance, use air pressure massage and compression to relieve leg muscle aches, and temporarily increase circulation.
They’re best used for when athletes immediately get off the ice or field when legs are fatigued, Gochenour said.
“What it really does is, it refreshes their legs so they can get out and play at a higher level, quicker. So, if you do those types of things, when you’re looking at your training processes, if I can get more quality out of you over time, your athletic performance should go up,” he explained.
The Aquilo boots look similar to the NormaTec compression pants, but instead circulates ice water around all lower body muscles to help promote recovery and healing to muscles and joints.
They mirror and serve the purpose of an ice bath without all the hassle, especially in an altered COVID-19 world.
Said Gochenour: “It’s like being in a cold bath. I can get the pants down to about 38 degrees (Fahrenheit), and you never have to get in water, and it refreshes the athletes completely. It’s really an amazing product.”
The GameReady Med4Elite multi-modality therapy unit enables simultaneous treatment of one or two patients with multiple injuries.
The system integrates cryotherapy, thermotherapy, rapid contrast therapy and intermittent pneumatic compression therapy in one device.
In simpler terms, the contraption can produce hot and cold compression to any part of the body, whether it’s a shoulder, elbow, wrist, knee and so on.
“I can work all those different areas of your body, so I can spot-check everything basically from your neck to your toes, so if you have a specific injury, I can work with it hot or cold,” Gochenour explained.
Meantime, the NeuFit Neubie device could be the most significant game changer for athletes. It uses electrocurrent stimulation to “trick your brain” into more quickly recovering from pain, injury or surgery.
Octane is one of about just 50 providers of the technology nationwide, Gochenour said. In fact, the exercise guru flew out to Austin, Texas, to learn how to apply the product under direction of an orthopedic surgeon.
With the Neubie, pulsed direct currents on electrode sticky pads are attached to different areas of the body to promote healing through the body’s tissue and the nervous system; the treatment ultimately increases blood flow and teaches troubled muscles to work at a higher level.
Gochenour underscored the technology’s healing properties.
A high ankle sprain can be resolved with the treatment in about two weeks to three weeks, compared to the normal six weeks to eight weeks.
He also noted it’s proven effective in treating other ailments, whether it’s back issues or tennis and golfer’s elbow — pain on the inner side of the elbow.
“Sometimes I can treat them one time, and it’s gone,” Gochenour said. “Some people think it’s like witchcraft, but it’s really not. Sometimes I can’t define why it works or exactly how it works; I know from a scientific perspective why it works.”
The recovery room also has an assortment of training tables and lounge chairs, and also is used for taping, stretching and massages, and other sports medicine purposes to leverage what has become a growing fitness trend in the United States — more emphasis on post-workout recovery methods.
Gochenour joined Center Ice in July. He first spent several months getting Octane primed and ready for an early November ribbon-cutting.
He noted the coronavirus pandemic delayed some of the equipment shipment timelines, particularly when it came to outfitting the recovery and rehabilitation space.
“Some of the machines took a while to get. Gosh, the hardest thing to get were the (lounge) chairs,” he quipped.
Published February 03, 2021