Marketplace: Trainer helps strengthen Park City’s older generation
Ben Van Treese finds a lot of similarities between an NFL player and a 70-year-old who is an avid mountain biker and skier.
They both have a high likelihood of getting injured but want to do everything possible to avoid it. The stakes are high, which is why Van Treese loves training with them.
Van Treese moved from Ohio to the Salt Lake Valley and started doing classes for Park City’s elderly population in January under his business Van Treese Training. In his main class, Legends of Park City, he works with individuals who are 60 or older and want to maintain an active lifestyle without being in pain.
Van Treese says that he got into physical therapy out of necessity. His long competitive career in water skiing throughout his youth ultimately caused him injuries that amounted to 11 surgeries.
“I was totally broken by the time I was 23,” he said.
He took time off to recover while studying kinesiology in college. His goal was to be a strength and conditioning coach for athletes so they would not end up like him. While learning how to “fix himself,” he learned how to work with others. He tested different methods, but stuck with Functional Range Conditioning, a training system that focuses on strengthening joints.
That is the methodology that he continues to use today.
He started using his methods as a trainer for faculty, staff and students at Ohio State University while he was still in school. He then volunteered at the Officer Candidate School for the U.S. Marine Corps for five years, preparing the officer candidates for their personal fitness tests.
“That was really fun because it really mattered to them,” he said. “I really enjoy working with people where the stakes are high.”
He came to realize that even more when he worked with NBA, NFL and collegiate football and basketball players during their offseasons. He focused on the players’ joints, such as strengthening the ankles of basketball players so they would be less likely to roll them when they landed on another player.
Around that time, he met a 73-year-old woman whose family was preparing to move her to a senior center because of her poor mobility. Van Treese told the family to bring her in and see what he could do.
After six months, he watched her go from only being able to stand on one leg for five seconds to being able to last for 30 seconds, he said. And, she could get herself off the ground without help.
“That was probably one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done,” he said.
Van Treese had discovered a new population to work with.
He realized that, just like with professional and collegiate athletes, there was a lot of risk involved with the elderly.
“If you lose the ability to move well, that is where you lose independence,” he said.
Around that time, he and his wife decided to leave Ohio and move to Utah to be close to mountains for rock climbing — Van Treese’s other passion — and other outdoor activities.
Van Treese started browsing around at different gyms in Park City and came across CrossFit MinersTown. He met with the owners in October to show them the work that he does, and they agreed to welcome Van Treese into their gym. Van Treese uses the space to host his classes.
He is currently running his group class “Legends of Park City,” one-on-one training and 12-week programs, during which he assesses people’s joint functions and works with them to expand the range of motion of their joints.
He said that his clients are noticeably stronger than when they started earlier this year. Those improvements are what drive him.
For example, one of his clients is a 70-year-old with scoliosis. Nine weeks ago, she was not able to golf at all without being in pain, but Van Treese said that he called her the other day to tell him that she had finished 18 holes and felt great.
Van Treese plans to launch specific seminars for downhill skiers and snowboarders in September, which will focus on injury mitigation using stretches and workouts. He plans to do the same for mountain bikers in the spring.
Van Treese Training
1776 Park Ave, Suite 20
David Bieber has been a business consultant and entrepreneur for most of his adult life. Now, he is leading the entrepreneur nonprofit PandoLabs.