2020 njt manning bikes

Hockey, heart, lungs and legs

With Canada’s World Juniors hopefuls in quarantine, a Red Deer business owner stepped up to get them the equipment they needed to stay active

Madison Koekkoek
November 29, 2020

A spin bike is a familiar piece of training equipment for hockey players. A few bikes usually sit outside the dressing room, players using them to warm up, cool down or rehab injuries.

It turns out, a spin bike (69 of them, to be exact) can now add quarantine saviour to its list of hockey uses, many thanks to Colleen Manning, a Red Deer hockey mom and local studio owner.

The Red Deer Rebels fitness consultant reached out to Scott Salmond, senior vice-president of national teams with Hockey Canada, to introduce herself and offer spin and Joga (yoga for athletes) prior to Canada’s National Junior Team Sport Chek Selection Camp. When a 14-day quarantine went into effect on Nov. 23, keeping active in a 350 sq. ft. hotel room with no equipment would be a challenge. Salmond knew who to call.

Manning has owned and operated Studio Pilates Fitness & Wellness for 19 years, earning a kinesiology degree from the University of Alberta and teaching pilates and fitness for 25 years. Her father, Dave – an Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame member – served as president of the Red Deer Athletic Association and was a member of the IIHF World Junior Championship host committee the last time the event was in town in 1995.

So Manning knows first-hand the significance of the World Juniors for her community. When she found out the team needed bikes, she sprang into action. “I knew there were so many bikes in the city that aren’t being used [since] we’re all shut down right now.”

National teams coordinator Brennan Baxandall received a number of contacts from both Manning and Merrick Sutter, the Rebels’ senior vice-president of hockey operations.

“Colleen really led the charge, mobilizing the community to ensure all players and staff had bikes in their rooms within 36 hours of being quarantined,” Baxandall says. “We can’t thank her enough for her help and quick response and are looking forward to her instruction.”

While Baxandall took the lead on procuring the equipment, sport performance manager Adam Douglas began planning for the 14 days ahead as soon as quarantine was confirmed.

“While somewhat generalized in lacking equipment with just body weight and towels, we needed to have a plan to help continue to build some training effects for these players because when we come out of quarantine, we need to be ready for international competition,” says Douglas.

Spin bikes were the missing piece of the equation, so Manning reached out to the fitness community and the city. Bikes were collected from Studio Pilates Fitness & Wellness, the Rebels, Notre Dame High School, the City of Red Deer and a few from the Hockey Canada gym in Calgary. Blair Smook, another Hockey Canada staffer, made the rounds in the team equipment van and dropped them all off at the Cambridge Hotel.

“A bike is a piece of equipment that a hockey player is comfortable with,” Douglas says. “They would have used it in their summer conditioning, they would have used it in their in-season conditioning … that’s big for comfort level, big for the athlete knowing they’re doing whatever they can to make the team and succeed for Team Canada.”

Comfort level is of utmost importance to Manning as well. The proud hockey mom to daughter Taylor (U18) and son Carson (U13) finds comfort in the game, and believes hockey is important due to the sense of belonging, the life lessons, work ethic, contribution to a team, and positive adult influences

“There’s something really special about hockey rinks and the community and tradition in those buildings,” she says. “Relationships … it always comes down to relationships.”

The team will follow a three-day training plan. Every morning, players will log on to a different training session over Zoom. There will be leg circuits, full-body circuits and strength circuits. Those sessions will be followed by a conditioning session every afternoon, where the spin bikes will come into play.

“We had to get creative,” Douglas says. “Since rotational power training is a key component for hockey players, I reached out to a colleague of mine who works for an MLB team. Drawing from some hitting drills he does using various forms of equipment to add load, I came up with the concept of using a towel to create drag and rotational force. You can feel the force through the hotel halls as towels slam onto the bed or as players land jump squats.”

Douglas adds that he was excited to add Colleen’s expertise to the conditioning portion of the training plan: “To do a longer session like a spin class, we can hit some power, power endurance and some aerobic endurance. The goal coming out of this is we don’t lose a step in our strength, our power, our conditioning.”

And as few broken lamps as possible.

For Manning, the goal is “to keep the mental health of the players and the staff in check. Everybody needs those endorphins on a regular day, let alone now [in quarantine].”

It’s all in place – a fitness plan, 69 spin bikes on loan, one very generous local woman and a true team effort on the road to the World Juniors.

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

[email protected] 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

[email protected]

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

[email protected]

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