SLR Pilates helps take Brandywine basketball team to next level

Published 10:09 am Friday, February 5, 2016

Leader photo/AMBROSIA NELDON The Brandywine boys basketball team takes a pilates class at SLR Studio in downtown Niles.

The Brandywine boys basketball team takes a pilates class at SLR Studio in downtown Niles.

In a pilates studio at the corner of Second and Main, sounds of soothing music reverberate through the recently renovated brick building as Stephanie Reno calls out instructions.

“This is working your entire body,” the owner of SLR Pilates tells her class. “If it hurts, that’s your body’s way of telling you that you need this. Push through it.”

Reno’s Sunday morning class, a competitive bunch, works to do just that, quietly breathing through stretches intended to work muscles not exercised in typical workouts.

But when Reno amps up the workout with a plank regimen and warns the class if one person falls, the whole class will have to start over, the soothing atmosphere becomes a bit less serene.

“I can’t feel my arms!” one Brandywine varsity basketball player shouts about five seconds after Reno starts timing.

“You’d better not fall!” another player shouts back. “You can do this!”

And while the grumbles and screeches go on for another 10 seconds or so, so do the encouragements from one team member to another.

This team-player mentality, combined with the dedication of the whole team, are two of the reasons why senior Austin Knapp believes this basketball season has been so successful for the Bobcats.

“I think it’s the little things we’ve been doing that have been helping out a lot,” Knapp said Sunday after a two-hour workout. “We know how to work harder and be the stronger team out on the court, and then we come out with the big things when we need to.”

Although pilates and yoga are often viewed as female workouts, Reno said most professional athletes regularly practice both.

“Pilates is something every athlete should build into their regimen because it helps to reduce injury, offers amazing coordination and balance and really creates a power house in your body,” she said.

Knapp joked that the team is doing pilates because his dad, Coach Nathan Knapp, is making them, but admitted the exercise has really paid off and made a difference after just a couple of sessions.

“There’s been a lot of energy in the weight room and I thought this would help them to really improve their strength. And after pilates they do yoga so they get to relax a bit,” the coach said. “But really, more than anything it’s a team-building thing.”

Nathan said bonding as a team off the court has visibly positive effects on the court, so he has continued to facilitate ways for the team to work together in the community.

Earlier in the season, the basketball team volunteered for the second year at Granger Community Church’s food drive, and all season long the team members help out with Brandywine Midget League, the school’s feeder program at the elementary school.

“It’s important that they’re learning to be role models for the younger kids,” Nathan said. “I just try to teach them the morals of life.”

Last year, Brandywine’s basketball team had a better season than several of the years preceding it, finishing with a 13-8 record. This year, the team is on track to have an even more successful season, boasting an 11-2 record thus far.

Like his son, Nathan Knapp believes the “little” things have pushed the Bobcats over the top and the extra time is time well-spent.

“If you give 110 percent, you’ll be happy with the results,” he said.