This month we had a great time talking with Eric with Frey Training Systems in New Jersey! Eric went to school and majored in Exercise Science. He also has training experience from Parisi Speed School and Somerset Fitness. And the thing we thought was the most interesting - he works with equestrian athletes!
How did you get started as a trainer?
I started getting into personal training right after graduation and worked primarily with youth athletes. I was in and out of different gyms for five years or so, and after the last gym closed, I decided it was time to go out on my own. My wife had an equestrian business, and I had recently been working with a few of her riders, and my business just took off from there.
Since I was working with equestrians, I started by working on the farm where my wife worked. I was just in a storage barn and turned it into a “training facility.” I was in the storage barn for two years before I had enough business to open up my studio. The studio I’m in now is attached to a horse barn and is more formal, but it still goes back to my roots and how I started.
Why did you purchase XPO Trainer(s) for your gym?
When I was starting, the storage barn I was working in had a stone floor, and I didn’t want to scratch it up. You guys came out with the awesome XPO Trainer with wheels, and I thought, “This is perfect!” It’s versatile and works whether you’re using it on a floor or outside or wherever. It can be pushed anywhere without damaging anything. I love the minimal footprint of it and that it is easy to use.
What benefits do you see when you or clients add sled training to a workout routine?
The benefits I see primarily of sled training (or really any pushing or pulling movement) is that it’s very primal. A lot of my training is based on pushing, pulling, carrying, etc. I consider it functional training, but these movements are also helpful for cardiovascular and muscle endurance and even coordination.
Equestrian riding is such a specialized sport. Many of the athletes I work with have never been introduced to any other sport. So I tell them, “Let’s go push a sled!” and they have no idea what I mean. Many of my athletes give the XPO Trainer a weird look when they get started – it’s definitely something out of the ordinary for them. The first time they push it, they don’t recognize how difficult it really is. And then they realize how much force you can put into pushing it and how much force it pushes back. They learn how much it can help you once you go all out.
What makes the XPO Trainer different from other sleds you've used?
So with a regular sled, you load it up with weights and it builds momentum as you push it. What separates the XPO from the others is that the resistance remains constant. There’s no momentum – the more you push, the more it pushes back. It’s constantly hard!
I also appreciate that I don’t have to worry about changing weights. If I’m training a really strong 16-year-old and a 12-year-old that’s working on getting stronger, I don’t have to take weights off and on. The accommodating resistance is always there to meet the athlete where they are.
It also feels extremely safe. I don’t have to worry about youth athletes loading it up too heavy and getting injured. The XPO Trainer is safe for rehab and physical therapy, and I’m able to be completely comfortable using it with any of my equestrian athletes.
I’ve primarily worked with youth athletes, but have gained a ton of adult clients in the last few months. Adults look at weights at the gym differently as they get older. They’ll look at a 50lb weight and say, “I can’t.” It’s not until they are able to perform the activity that there’s a mindset change. With the XPO they don’t realize it’s similar to a weighted sled. It’s so much easier for them to conceptualize that they can push it because it isn’t piled high with a bunch of weights. There isn’t the “I can’t” mindset. Once they start pushing it, they get surprised, and that’s the best part! After 25 feet they look at me and say, “Yup, my legs hurt now!”
What is one of your most memorable WODs using the XPO Trainer?
One of my favorites was one you posted on social media. I loved it so much that I posted it on mine! It was absolutely brutal for me as well as my clients. I love that you post workouts – they’re always a challenge but you know everyone else is trying it, and that helps get everyone excited. I always tell myself and my clients, “Yes, it’s a lot; and yes, it’s a hard workout, but let’s see if we can do it!”
One of my funniest memories with the XPO was with two guys in their 20’s. We were working out on a gravel hill outside. They were taking turns pushing it up the hill, and instead of gingerly walking it back down the hill, they came up with the idea to sit on it and ride it down. I loved that they added an extra element of fun to the workout!
We absolutely loved hearing about the XPO Trainer being used to train equestrian athletes! Frey Training Systems is a great one to follow on social media!