Training for success

Posted: July 1st, 2016 | Feature, Featured, Mission Hills | No Comments

Mission Hills pitcher drafted by Minnesota Twins credits gym for focus on strengthening his arm

By Dave Schwab

Major League Baseball prospect Alex Schick, 21, of Mission Hills tips his hat to Gill’s Fitness, where he participated in strength and flexibility training as a student athlete.

A 6-foot-7-inch, 215-pound pitcher who played for the University of California Bears, Schick said he is convinced that the Mission Valley fitness facility has made a real difference in his sports training, his baseball career and his life.

“They [the trainers] work with me on the whole range of the muscles in my arm and elbow,” said Schick, who recently was drafted by the Minnesota Twins.

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Trainer Robert Fine working with pitcher Alex Schick to strengthen his arm (Courtesy of Gill’s Fitness)

Noting, as a pitcher, that you “have to give maximum effort on every pitch,” Schick said training at Gill’s has helped him maintain “the velocity” of his arm speed.

Schick said training with his mom Patty, dad Malcolm and his siblings at Gill’s has been a “family-friendly environment” where he has felt “at home.”

“I credit their one-a-kind training for a lot of my success,” he said.

Gill’s Fitness has developed a one-on-one method of strength and flexibility training to aid student athletes and others prevent injury.

“Our gym specializes in hands-on strength training, which allows us to do different demographics, not just kids or people in or out of shape, but also student athletes, like Patty Schick’s son, Alex,” said Robert Fine, one of seven physical trainers at Gill’s.

Gill’s, located at 2667 Camino Del Rio South, is a spacious private gym that, for more than 24 years, has been providing one-on-one personal training with professional trainers by appointment. The gym’s clientele includes everyone from student athletes to 30-year-old nurses, baby boomers, golfers, young professionals, retirees and 90-year-old seniors.

Dedicated personal training staff apply hands-on pressure to provide the resistance for clients doing weight-bearing exercises, ensuring exercises are as safe, effective and time efficient as possible.

One of the keys for Gill’s in helping athletes like Alex to prevent sports-related injuries was to become “specialists” rather than “generalists” in their physical-training program.

Noting the goal for clients of the gym is to “replicate what they do” on the field, Fine said “we use weights and machines to complement what we do.”

“It all comes down to injury prevention when it comes to athletes,” said Fine, who has trained Alex for seven years. “We can work on injuries — or preventing them.”

“I still haven’t had an arm injury, and I credit that to them,” Alex said, adding that Gill’s “helped me strengthen and stabilize my rotator cuff to help me control the (pitching) whip action.”

Alex came in originally after experiencing pain in his shoulder and elbow, typical of a pitcher, but also had tightness in his back and legs. Receiving hands-on training at Gill’s Fitness three hours per week before or after school at Cathedral Catholic High has allowed Alex since to avoid injuring his throwing arm, and also strengthened every muscle of his body. He received a full scholarship to pitch for Cal, and continued to train with Gill’s Fitness in between semesters. Now, he will display his pitching talents as a minor leaguer.

 Schick working out with his mom, Patty, in 2013. (Courtesy of Gill’s Fitness)

Schick working out with his mom, Patty, in 2013. (Courtesy of Gill’s Fitness)

Alex’s mom, Patty, said there’s a real danger with sports coaches trying to use a “one-method-fits-all” approach to physically training young athletes that is not sport-specific.

“I started coming in here for physical therapy after I had an injury falling down the stairs,” Patty said, noting that Alex then came in after experiencing shoulder strain when he was in the Presidio Little League.

Patty likes Gill’s hands-on approach, noting the gym “has an incredible ability to judge what your whole body needs and work with, or around, an injury. It’s really invaluable what he (Alex) has learned here — the training, the healing, the prevention. Now he knows what he should — and should not — be doing (training-wise), because that (exercise) could be causing more harm than good. I wish more student athletes knew about this gym, this method of strength training and prevention, because I think it’s been a big benefit for Alex.”

Owner/founder Jonathan Gill said his gym’s emphasis since the 1990s on hands-on strength training “is what allows us to work with everyone from 16-year-old athletes to 90-year-olds.”

“What we do is provide (muscle) resistance by hand, even in cases where we supplement with weight- and machine-resistance,” Gill said. “That allows us to exercise muscles within the full range of motion. Adjusting the pressure by hand, we’re able to make sure there’s optimum (muscle) resistance.”

Gill noted his gym’s method helps all his clients to “exercise without injury” in a personalized, customized fashion.

“It’s a much safer approach in a more controlled environment,” Gill said.

For more information, call 619-299-1988.

— Dave Schwab can be reached at

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