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Skateboarders and BMX riders: My trip to Camp Woodward, PA to talk performance nutrition

It’s good to be reminded about the wide variety of sports and athletes in the world. Last week I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of semi-pro/pro skateboarders and BMX riders at Camp Woodward, PA. If you’ve never taken the time to check out some of the impressive feats these folks do, it would be worth it to explore a few videos online. Some of the skaters and riders on-site with me were Spencer Bass, Tyler Thomas, Vinny Mannino, Miles Wood, Fletcher Renegar, and Zane Bradley. Visiting the camp and joining us for the talk was 10-year old Asher Bradshaw, a skating phenom from Los Angeles.

Outdoor park at Camp Woodward

Due to my previous experience with Gatorade (during my time at the University of Michigan), I was asked to join Brett LaCour (a Fuse representative) and speak to these Gatorade ambassadors about nutrition for performance. An important part about identifying appropriate nutrition recommendations for any activity is understanding the fuel systems required to perform the activity. For example, is it focused on speed or endurance? Is power important? Does it require a lot of skill work?

There isn’t a lot of research on skaters and freestyle BMX riders – there is some research on BMX racers (a sport which is now included in the summer Olympics.) Overall I learned these folks spend long hours doing repetitive activities which require bursts of speed and an incredible amount of focus and skill. Quite often they are outside in hot temperatures and end up eating whatever they have easy access to – fast food, convenience food, or anything that will fit in a backpack for the day. Injury is a big concern making recovery even more important.

Additionally, travel can be extensive in order to participate in shows and contests, or they may spend hours shooting for videos. All of which highlight an additional component of providing nutrition recommendations: understanding the lifestyle, “training” schedules, food preferences and any other environmental factors. It’s not enough to identify nutrition needs – they have to be designed to be practical and accessible. Fortunately for me this group of gents was great at educating me on their typical routines and biggest nutrition concerns.

Back row, left to right: Zane Bradley (BMX), Fletcher Renegar (skateboard), Tyler Thomas (skateboard), Spencer Bass (BMX), Vinny Mannino (BMX), Miles Wood (skateboard), Brett LaCour (Fuse), Lauren Trocchio (author). Front row: Asher Bradshaw (skateboard)

Here are some of the highlights from my discussion with this impressive group of individuals:

1) Hydration and electrolytes – Adequate amounts of both can help prevent fatigue and aid focus. Staying hydrated helps all the nutrients (as components in the bloodstream) appropriately transit throughout the body as well.

2) Quality carbohydrates – Having enough in the system supports those bursts of speed required and also helps maintain focus. Maintain focus and you may reduce the risk of injury, and it also enhances the ability to stay out longer and perfect a long sought-after trick.

3) Recovery – Adequate fluids, protein, and carbohydrates after a long day of riding (in particular when traveling or doing back-to-back contests) can alleviate some of the muscle soreness commonly experienced and prepare for the next day.

One of the major points that every athlete should remember is it’s not just about fueling appropriately on race/contest/show day – it’s about following a balanced, healthy plan on a routine basis. This is what ultimately sets you up for success and good health.

This talented group of skaters and riders is a reminder that athleticism comes in all varieties, and I will certainly continue to watch their skills in awe

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