SAN RAMON -- On a recent morning, a group of healthy teenage boys jumped, sprinted and did push-ups to a classic rock soundtrack.
Trainers encouraged them and in some cases were noting the performance of each of the East Bay student athletes as they used various gym equipment.
But these boys weren't exercising at local gym. They were in a hospital.
San Ramon Regional Medical Center recently opened its Sports Performance Institute, which aims to use scientifically and medically sound ways to not only train athletes to perform better, but also help prevent them from becoming injured.
The program is different from other youth training facilities in the East Bay because of where it is located and who oversees it. The hospital's director of therapy services administers the program, and participants have direct access to medical professionals if they become injured.
Since the institute started taking clients in March, the program has trained about 200 youths, mostly 12 and older, said program consultant Neil Sol. Most of the clients heard about the program through word of mouth. The institute's grand opening is scheduled for Wednesday.
"There's a community demand for this in the East Bay because these athletes are getting injured," Sol said.
The Sports Performance Institute was the idea of Dr. Charles Preston, the program's medical director. He said the underutilized rehabilitation space in the hospital's South Building
was the perfect location for such a facility. The sports medicine doctor approached the hospital in late 2008 about starting the program.
"Locally it is somewhat unique," Preston said, adding that there is a similar program in Houston. "They are popping up around the country."
After getting staff on board, San Ramon Regional spent about $40,000 purchasing the gym equipment, said hospital spokeswoman Sandra Ryan. The cost varies to participate in the program, which runs for 12 weeks and is not covered by insurance, Ryan said.
The program is open to anyone, and focuses on individual athlete performance. Preston wants to expand the program to include adults, especially avid bikers and golfers, but for the time being, it is aimed mostly at teens.
Preston said injuries to young athletes can be prevented and minimized through proper conditioning using different types of exercises. About two to three times a month, he sees a young athlete with anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, injuries. Another issue facing young athletes is concussions. He also treats baseball players for elbow and shoulder injuries relating to overuse and a lack of conditioning.
Michael Casper, a Monte Vista High School baseball player, said that since he's enrolled in the program, his upper body strength has improved.
"I feel more in my body," the 17-year-old Alamo resident said.
And it's fun, he added.
"It actually makes me want to go work out."