"I met my wife working for the team; she was working as their massage therapist," Testa said. "I guess you could say working for that team changed my life a little bit."
Testa grew up playing soccer and thought he would become a soccer-team doctor, but once he was awarded a grant from the Italian health system to study the health profile of professional cyclists, he became very "attracted" to the sport, he said.
Working for the 1985 American cycling team introduced him not only to his wife, Julie, but to his good friend, Eric Heiden five-time speed skating Olympic gold-medalist turned professional cyclist - who is now an orthopedic surgeon in town. Testa was Heiden's team doctor in 1985, and they worked together at the University of California-Davis creating the sports performance center. Testa said in 2006, they decided together to move somewhere in the mountains, and they were recruited by Intermountain Healthcare.
Now Testa is not only a coach for the professional BMC cycling team, he has opened the Max Testa Training Center, where cyclists can train during the winter using scientific training practices he learned in medical school as well as through coaching cycling teams and the studies he performed at UC-Davis.
"Everybody is tested and profiled the first day they come in so they all work at their own level," he said. "There are people my age that ride to stay in shape, juniors who are racing, some triathletes and beginners that just want to get into shape."
Testa said he does not believe in the "no pain, no gain" mantra, because if athletes over train, they will either end up getting injured or no longer seeing results. He said he wants clients to leave feeling they got a good workout that was not painful but enjoyable.
The classes are an hour long and begin in October, when the weather no longer allows cyclists to ride outside. The program continues through May and is broken down into six-week training blocks. The next block begins in early January, and Testa said training in a group is also beneficial from a social standpoint.
"If you have to ride and be your own trainer watching television at home, you will find a reason not to do it," he said. "If you commit and join a class, you will not only go but make friends. Some of the people in my classes go riding on their bikes outside together when the weather is better."
The goal of the program, Testa said, is to help cycling athletes, as well as beginners interested in the sport, get into shape or maintain a decent level of fitness during the winter. When the weather warms up and the roads are no longer wet and icy, he wants the cyclists training at his center to feel like they are ahead of their curve, in good shape and able to enjoy riding more.
"It is not a cookie-cutter system where everybody does the same thing; it's pretty scientific," Testa said. "The goal is for people who come in to get the maximum benefit by applying the best science and training and optimizing their time."
Max Testa Training Center