I was suspended

by barbaragarn

So there I was, hanging from the overhead bar, the skating treadmill whizzing by under my feet, grabbing the support in front of me and trying to bend, bend, bend my knees–and staring at my reflection in the mirror in front of me as I huffed and puffed in agony.

It was GREAT.

Eric Scott, owner and operator of e-Train at Bloomington Ice Gardens, gave several of us a trial session. I learned a lot, and the skating treadmill is a fantastic learning device.

The fact that the surface is moving and not the skater seems to “amplify” certain elements of the stride–I think Eric told us that any mistakes we made would become obvious though exaggeration. And watching myself in the mirror helped me correct things I knew were wrong… but thought I wasn’t doing. Er, how humbling. But so very useful!

Eric runs an eight-week program that has three sessions a week. He stressed that this amount of time is what it takes to not just learn new things but make them part of our skating habits. Excellent point.

I was impressed by what Eric’s very “coachy” vibe–some people are just born to coach, and he is one of them. He noticed little things about each person and once he pointed them out, they seemed so obvious. It was incredibly valuable and I’m sure my skating will be much better after the e-Train program.

The cost for 24 sessions (three a week for eight weeks) is $500. This includes twice-weekly treadmill drills and then one hour of off-ice training with sticks or dryland stuff. He’s very flexible and people can schedule their three weekly hours just about any time. Eric trains groups of five or six at a time, so if you don’t have a group, you’ll be placed with one.

I think this is a great program. Though the five of us were on the beginner end of the spectrum, I have no qualms about recommending this program for more advanced skaters. I learned from watching myself on the treadmill (wow! longest 15 seconds of my life!) that there will ALWAYS be something to work on.

Comments from others:

Jenna Sawicki, Little Chicks with Sticks (WHAM C3), JMS Level 1&2
I have nothing bad to say about last night. I had a great time and felt like I learned something.
I would recommend that training for all levels of skill. Although, I would say that it would be beneficial for the groups to be similar level of play.
The training pushed me mentally and physically. It made me think about my actions as I was doing them. I hate looking at myself in a mirror, but it was helpful to see my form and posture while skating. Having a video tape would be even better. [BG: he does use videotape in the 8-week program]
I thought the trainer was very professional. He didn’t say the same thing to all of us. He tailored the training to our specific needs, even though we were in a group.

Lee Kimsey, Diablos/Nighthawks (AHA beginner school/D2), JMS Level 1&2
The good:
The treadmill was a great way to examine my stride. It’s really hard to see yourself in a game and understand where you are losing energy. I felt that Eric was very knowledgeable about skating and what it takes to improve your motion.
It was a good workout.
I could easily see how a person could improve their overall hockey/skating abilities with such a program.
Small groups make for personal attention. Probably more so than Rob Little or Tony Pena.
Seemed to be very safe.
The bad:
The cost is pretty steep. For a guy like me, hockey is already pretty expensive and I have to spend my hockey money with care. $499 is an entire AHA winter season with money left over to go out for a bite afterwards. I believe that an older player will reach a certain point in ability and that’s where they are, they can go no further no matter what kind of training they do. I definitely fall into that group. I can’t see spending this kind of money on a “hobby” sport.
The surface does not accurately reproduce the physics of being on the ice. The stick handling portion would have been better if we had used weighted balls rather than hockey pucks. I do not believe that the assertion that I should think of it as “resistance training” holds up. Too much of puck control is muscle memory and you need to approximate the movement of a puck on ice, even on dry land.
The surfaces are very hard on skates. My edges were completely gone by the end of the session. The guy who sharpens them even commented on how “dull” they were.
It wasn’t fun. I play hockey for several reasons. Sure, a good workout is among them. But long before I get to that reason comes fun, recreation, social interaction, stress relief and mental diversion. It was a lot like working out at the gym. Boring . . . I didn’t “lose” myself in it the way I do a hockey game. I’d rather buy 32 JMS sessions.
In short, I welcomed the input into my skating but would never sign up for the long haul. My motivation does not go down that road. If I was a young person myself wanting a hockey career, or had a child interested in a hockey career I’d definitely consider it.

Jon Nygren, current AHA beginner school, JMS Level 1
I think that going through Eric’s program could be a great way for beginning players to learn how to skate correctly and efficiently early on, which would be beneficial for the rest of the time that beginner plays hockey. Working on skating by itself while on the treadmill forces you to think about your stride without worrying about all of the other aspects of playing hockey.
The technology used is great, but Eric’s knowledge is what makes the program interesting for me. He was very patient, and was able to provide helpful instructions for a beginner about how to improve. The stickhandling session was also quite helpful.

Mike Schroeder, Ice Sages (last AHA beginner school), JMS Level 2
I thought the e-Training trial was a great experience. Eric’s enthusiasm and knowledge really impressed me. I liked the way he broke down the hockey strides into discrete parts and built each one up into a whole. He also adjusted his comments and critiques to each individual and skill level in a positive and constructive way.
I have no negative comments, other than he needs to sweep the plastic ice we were stick handling on. My hope is that there would be a couple of on-ice sessions as part of the program to transfer the off-ice “skills” to the real ice under his watchful eye.
I’m probably going to do the 8 week program this fall.

Eric trains by the group, so find others at your level on the JMS forums. Organize your e-Train group and start improving your skills–

E-Train at Bloomington Ice Gardens: Eric Scott, owner/operator; etrain0012 a T aol.com or via cell at 612 207 3742