New Program `Accelerates' Athletes' Training

By Jason M. Stallman Of The Post-Dispatch | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), July 4, 1996 | Go to article overview

New Program `Accelerates' Athletes' Training


Jason M. Stallman Of The Post-Dispatch, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


A unique athletic training program born from dragging 6-year-olds behind cars has evolved into a sophisticated regimen that is expected to lure St. Louis' top athletes.

Acceleration St. Louis, a franchise of Frappier Acceleration, opened in November at the St. John's Mercy physical therapy center in Creve Coeur. It boasts patented equipment and training routines that are making believers of area athletes.

"I made it to the state track meet three years but never had the ability to make it to finals," said Nikki Britts, a Ladue High track runner who will compete this fall as a freshman at the University of Missouri. "At least not until completing Acceleration St. Louis."

John Frappier, an exercise physiologist from McHenry, N.D., made a trip to the Soviet Union in 1986 as a medical advisor for the U.S.A. Independent Gymnastics Club. For the first time, the Soviets were revealing their training methods for Olympic athletes.

"I was there to find out what they were doing that made their athletes so successful, especially in gymnastics," said Frappier, whose company has expanded to 37 franchises throughout the United States and Canada.

"One of the things they were doing was `towing,' which meant tying the athlete to the bumper and pulling him or her. So I thought, `How could I do this and do it safe?' "

Ten years later, Acceleration has established hundreds of protocols for athletes of any age and any sport. Mark Pardee, a certified athletic trainer and clinical coordinator at St. John's, said the program's emphasis on plyometrics (jumping or bounding activity to increase speed, strength or agility) and the patented equipment allow the staff to customize the routines to fit each athlete's needs.

"Baseball players need different training than soccer players, and figure skaters need different training than hockey players," Pardee said. "Our protocols make it possible to train sport-specific, and in many cases, position-specific."

The facility that makes this possible hardly resembles the traditional avenue to fitness - the weight room. The staff is comprised of physicians, surgeons and certified athletic trainers, many of whom are employees of the hospital.

A database of performance records of over 10,000 athletes throughout North America is accessible. This allows participants to compare their performance with those of other athletes in their sport and allows the staff to chart results.

"For example," Frappier said, "we know by checking the database that participants have reduced their sprint times by 0. …

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