Did you happen to notice that an Erie native was quoted in the January issue of Runner’s World magazine (above)?
Tyler Travis is the executive director of the LECOM Wellness Center and he was quoted on “The Body Shop” page, in which he teaches us a whole new way to use every runner’s best friend — the foam roller.
Known to most runners to be a useful post-run stretching and massaging tool, the foam roller can also be used to build strength, as Tyler showed us in the magazine.
I talked to Tyler to find out more about his career path, his fitness philosophy, and how he ended up in the pages of Runner’s World magazine.
How did you end up the executive director of the LECOM Wellness center?
I was the past Fitness Manager of the Wellness Center. I was bestowed the task of hiring the Center’s fitness specialist and served on our facility management team. I worked with our fitness team to manage and implemented the launch of a New Medical Fitness & Wellness Center. I facilitated and assessed over 700 medical students in the first three months of operations. I helped develop the assessment and training system for incoming member population and was responsible for the development of the center’s safety policy and procedures.
I served in the Fitness Manager role for 2 years. The experience, teamwork and staff support was instrumental in my opportunity to interview for the Director position when it became available.
What does your job entail?
I provide leadership to center team through direct accountability of the development, programming marketing and operations of the Wellness Center. I provide direction and support to the management team concerning center policies and procedures and plan and conduct regularly scheduled management team meetings. I assist managers and the administrative/accounting coordinator in determining HR needs and job responsibilities. I am responsible for managing center operations and goals within the approved operating budget. I present a section on cardiac rehab and exercise physiology to 2nd year medical students annually.
I also facilitate annual preseason movement screenings and communication with coaching staff of NBA-D League Team, the Erie Bayhawks. A large portion of my role is to also help facilitate health fairs and promote community involvement. I also continue to serve with performing member assessments, personal training, and program design.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I really enjoy the interactions and relationships of the people I serve. It is truly humbling to be a part of a team that is driven to empower others to improve health and wellness each day. I still really enjoy applying my education and teaching others how to improve their health and athletic performance through strength and conditioning.
What is your educational background? And, how does it help you in your current position?
I have an undergraduate degree in psychology from Penn State Behrend, 2001, and a master’s degree in exercise physiology from Minnesota State University, Mankato, 2003.
The fundamental requirements for anyone who wants to enter the health and fitness industry is education. The unique aspect of a medical fitness and wellness center is that we are balancing science with customer service. Our employees must have a passion for people. The health and fitness of one of our members can only be improved when the fitness professional/exercise physiologist knows how to treat the customer well.
My graduate degree in Exercise Physiology has provided me with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to evaluate and develop exercise programming for special population ranging from those with cardiovascular disease to the professional athlete. My psychology degree from Behrend served as the foundation that I needed to understand how to help new exercisers adhere to an exercise program and how our nervous system is crucial in understanding the way we think and move.
Are you a runner?
I run for leisure, but do not compete like when I ran cross country and track in college. I have a lot of fun participating in a variety of conditioning. I play ice hockey throughout the year and strength train on most days of the week. I also enjoy playing in a basketball league from time to time.
Any PR you want to share (any distance)?
My PR’s in college were 16:04 for the 5k and 4:12 for the 1500meter.
How did you end up with a feature in the January issue of Runner’s World magazine?
Nicole Falcone, a writer for Runner’s World, asked me to create a series of exercises using foam rollers. Nicole is a member of our Wellness Center and she approached me last fall and asked if I would like to be a resource for a future article. Nicole happens to be in Erie because her boyfriend is a LECOM Medical Student.
Is that you in the photos?
No. They took photos of me at the Wellness Center performing the exercises. The photos were then sent and duplicated by a model for the magazine.
Most runners are familiar with the foam roller as a way to stretch/massage sort muscles, but you say
it’s also good for building muscles?
Yes, and the foam rolling strength routine is a great way to get runners to do strength training. Most runners own a foam roller. The exercises that I suggest can be done anywhere from the beginning of the runner’s warm-up or at the end of the run. It can be done in the office or simply at the track. The foam roller is very portable.
And why should runners do strength training? Isn’t running enough?
It is well known in the world of strength & conditioning that runners are very asymmetrical. Many runners tend to be desk jockeys (let’s face it, our society as whole is moving less and sitting more.) The typical running pattern is what we call very sagital plane dominant. This plane is the same pattern we are in when we sit – hip flexed, knee flexed, ankle dorsiflexed.
Distance runners especially have weaker core muscles, glutes, tight hamstrings and hips flexors. Many runners unfortunately do not take time to balance their running with strength training.
A strength-training program can help improve areas of weakness commonly found in runners. The hips are the power source for runners. Hips should be strong and mobile. Any compromise in the hips can lead to low back or knee issues.
The next area that should be considered is the core, which supports the spine, and hips. Many runners have tight anterior deltoids/shoulders that need stretched and posterior deltoids/shoulders that need strengthened.
What one thing can a runner do to improve their performance?
Runners should make sure they are moving correctly. Moving repetitively, as a runner does mile after mile, can put their body in a compromised risk for future injuries if the movement is not correct. My recommendation is to be evaluated by having a Functional Movement Screen. The screen identifies the risk factor level for non-impact injuries. Corrective exercises can then be developed to improve movement and asymmetries.
What is your personal workout routine?
It’s much like what I suggested above. I am still guilty of having some of same asymmetries above. I like to strength train on most days of the week. I like to break up my cardiovascular workouts with circuits that utilize the ultra slide board, jumping rope, and kettlebell.
The slide board is a great tool that all runners should use from time to time. It helps open the hips and improve mobility and strength of the adductors and abductors (inside and outside of the legs.) I picked up ice hockey for that reason as well. It is a great high intensity workout that increases hip and glute strength.
What is your diet like (i.e. do you do the “paleo” thing or anything like that)?
I do not adhere to any specific diet and encourage balance. My family and I eat very clean. We focus mostly on plant-based food. The benefits of phytochemicals are tremendous. They help with combating oxidative stress that can be detrimental to the cells of our body. We balance the fruits and vegetables with lean meats such as turkey, chicken and fish. We avoid red meat except with the occasional buffalo burger. We really try to eat as little processed food as possible. Our favorite bread is Ezekiel bread.
Family (wife, kids?): My wife, Beth, is a 3rd grade teacher, and we have a son Matthew Dennis Travis, 8 months. We also have a yellow lab named Sidney who is typically by my side when I take runs or even when I’m simply working in the yard.