Work it Out

IX Innovations sets new standard for training and recovery

IX Innovations allows members to receive professional training and receive therapy all under one roof. Photo by Joshua Jordan

The landscape of neighborhood gyms has been changing over the last several years. CrossFit has increased the traffic in workout facilities and many workout warriors are looking for a place that provides the full experience, not just some dumbbells and a treadmill in the corner. Serious athletes are also looking for a place to get their work in without any distractions, and have the convenience of being able to marry treatment for injuries with professional training. Pro athletes, especially, are finding specialized treatments and training that are outside of, or work in conjunction with, what their team’s training staffs design for them.  

Tom Brady, for example, has his TB12 brand that helps educate people about training, recovery, and diet. Brady is just days away from attempting to win his sixth Super Bowl and I think I have heard more about his documentary, Tom vs Time, than anything else. People clearly have an interest in holding off "Father Time" for as long as they possibly can. Obviously, not everyone has the same opportunities and resources as Tom Brady, but that doesn’t mean you can’t receive some of the best workouts and treatments that modern science has to offer.

Many professional Houston athletes already know that IX Innovations is where they can find some of the best treatment and personalized workouts that the city has to offer. If that name sounds familiar, there’s a good reason for that. It was featured on HBO’s documentary Hard Knocks in 2016. That season featured the Houston Texans and RB Arian Foster was shown working out with his trainer, Abdul Foster, who is Arian’s brother.  Abdul opened the gym in 2014 and had success almost immediately. When I spoke with Abdul he joked that “we had close to 80% of the Texans’ payroll. It wasn’t hard to get the word out. “

When you walk in the complex, you see some of the same equipment that you would find at most gyms, but the philosophy at IX Innovations is clearly different from the others.  In fact, high-end corporate gyms are starting to fall out of favor with members that are looking for more. The facilities’ chiropractor, Dr. Tony Tran, told me that IX Innovations members “don’t feel beat up after their workouts.” Which seems like it would be an obvious selling point, especially if you are trying to rehab an injury. In fact, many of the injuries they treat occur from workouts at CrossFit gyms.

One of the advantages of working out at IX Innovations is that it’s basically a one-stop shop for professional training and treatment. Dr. Tran is able to communicate with the trainers about their patients’ rehab and give a much more hands-on approach to therapy. Proper communication can be critical between the trainer and therapists because these athletes are “strong and have a very high pain tolerance,” according to Dr. Tran. This communication helps the athletes to focus on their workouts and allows the professionals to deal with the science behind recovery and training.

 There are currently around 120 members and everyone must have a trainer that they are working with. This is not the type of gym where you just show up, get in some cardio and take off. Every gym member has a specific plan that is designed for them and a custom diet to help them reach their goals. If there is one word that describes the atmosphere and vibe, it would be hospitality. Hospitality is an overriding theme that has been instilled by the Foster family patriarch, Carl Foster. Before working in the fitness field, Foster worked closely with the hotel industry for quite some time and learned how important the guest experience truly is. “If you don’t treat them right, they won’t come back,” Carl said while giving a tour of the complex. After talking with Carl, Abdul, and Dr. Tran, you immediately notice their passion for helping their members reach their goals, and the amount of knowledge and experience they possess in fitness, recovery, and the business of professional sports.

They were able to share with me some of their incredible success stories of patients that have come to them for help, and in many cases, they were able to help their patients in ways that others places could not. So much of the recovery process is in the hands of trainers and therapists after surgery. Once the surgery is performed, doctors are very often out of the picture, and this is where IX Innovations serves a crucial role in recovery.

Of course, not everyone that works out at IX Innovations is recovering from an injury or a professional athlete. Many members come in for the specialized attention they get from trainers, and the opportunity to use state of the art equipment. They also offer sport specific training for members looking to improve certain muscle groups based on the sport they play. IX Innovations is clearly on the radar of many of the A-List athletes in Houston, because members of the Texans, Dynamo, Dash, and other NFL players come here when they want some personalized attention away from the team facility. They also enjoy a great gym atmosphere with good music, and don’t have to worry about stopping their workouts to take a selfie or give out an autograph.

IX Innovations, 5805 Star Ln, Houston, TX 77057; Monday through Friday 6am to 6:30pm; Closed Saturday and Sunday 832-987-3708

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Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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