TJ Reid’s attitude to gyms has certainly changed. While the 2015 Hurler of the Year has always valued strength and conditioning, he used to take a more old school approach!
— TJ Reid (@_tjreid) June 8, 2015
However, 2017 has seen the Ballyhale Shamrocks star take in a new venture, as he has opened TJ Reid Health and Fitness in the heart of Kilkenny city, and speaking to Pundit Arena, he said he feels it has aided his own preparations for the Championship.
The new state of the art facility is a far cry from silage pits, but helps prep hurlers and indeed any athletes for competition.
The importance of strength and conditioning is growing for top level hurling, and it was a brainchild of Reid, aided by his business partner Richard Connolly and PR and Marketing manager Niamh de Brún.
“One day I was in the strength and conditioning gym in Nowlan Park. I was looking around, and thought, what if Kilkenny had a gym four times the size of this? How would it work? I just took it from there. A lot of marketing research went in, and this is the finished product.”
The facility caters for all level of fitness, from casual exercisers to the throngs of top level hurlers who frequent the gym.
“Nowadays, strength and conditioning is becoming more important at intercounty hurling. Every player is trying to get that bit extra out of their game.
“If that’s out pucking around, or that’s in the gym trying to get a bit more explosive, in your runs, or a bit stronger.
“Top hurlers these days don’t just throw away their gear bag after training and not touch it for three days, they’re getting into the gym the next day.
“They either come back in for a recovery session, or for a proper gym session.”
With the Cats just weeks away from their Championship opener against the winner of Laois vs Wexford, physical training has changed as players tighten the screws to peak for the summer months.
While there is variety certainly, there are a few key exercises to help with your hurling.
“At the start of the year, it’s about losing body fat and building lean muscle. Then coming into Championship, it’s more strength and power work.
“You have to balance your workout. It might sound obvious, but if you have a game, there is no point in coming into the gym and doing legs two days beforehand.
“You’re probably running 9/10k in a match these days. To that end, you need strong legs and a strong core.
“Squatting does everything for you. Core with medicine balls too. For upper body, bench press and functional movements are key.”
Diet is also a key part of the game, as Kilkenny’s freetaker attests to.
“It’s 80% nutrition, 20% exercise. Whatever you put into the body, is what you’ll get out of it.
“There is no point in going to the gym then spending two hours out on the hurling field if you’re not going to eat properly.
“Cheat days are important, but you need to then get back on the horse again.
“Once you have a chicken burger, you’ll want a chicken burger the day afterwards as well.”
As the gym continues to grow, Reid is eager to cultivate a positive environment.
“Exercise and fitness are about enjoying life, not having the biggest muscles or the best six pack.
“It’s about getting in for 30-45 minutes of feel-good activity. Mental health is a big issue, and exercise clearly helps that.”