17 : Tyler Belanger, What's Worse Than Skipping Leg Day? Neglecting to Train Your Brain

Tyler Belanger is the Cofounder of Ignite Gym in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.  The mission of the gym is to enrich cognitive fitness through the use of tutoring and therapeutic programs as well as educational courses and "Brain WODS."  Their services assist clients with autism, concussions, TBI's, brain fog and general cognitive improvement.  

Ignite Gym's program was built on 4 pillars:

  • FUN – Fun piques curiosity and helps maintain interest, a necessary element in an enriched learning environment. 
  • MASTERY – Separate from the Learning process, Mastery requires many hours spent using higher order processes of the brain. 
  • VARIETY – Constant variance exposes the brain to as many subjects, puzzles, problems and languages as possible to develop resiliency or “antifragility”. 
  • RE-BRANDING FAILURE – From learning how to self-regulate to understanding mistakes, we teach a more productive approach to failure. Similar to the approach professional athletes, scientists and designers exercise during their work.
Ignite Gym Classroom

Ignite Gym Classroom

Ignite Gym also provides innovative concussion baseline and return-to-play testing.  Below is an outline of their return-to-play protocol:

In order to begin the Return to Play testing the athlete must have 48 hrs of rest, no physical activity, and be able to complete a full day of school without experiencing sensitivity to noise or light, irritability, headache, feeling in a fog, dizziness or nausea. These are signs that the brain needs less stimulation. Limit screen time to ensure symptoms stay at bay.

Once the athlete has made the previous requirement they will begin a 5 stage Return to Play protocol called B.R.A.I.N

B. Day 1 Testing: Bike or row test, Scat 3 Balance test, Auditory word recall and Verbal Fluency test.

  • PASS - Next step is to schedule day 2 testing within 24 hrs of passing this test.
  • FAIL - Next step is minimum of 48 hrs rest before redo Day 1 testing. 

R. Day 2 Testing: Run 400m and Digit Symbol test

  • PASS – Next step is to schedule day 3 testing within 24 hrs of passing this test.
  • FAIL – Next step is minimum 48 hrs rest before redo Day 2 testing.

A. Day 3 Testing: Agility, Scat 3 Balance test and Pattern Finding test

  • PASS – Next step is to schedule day 4 testing within 24 hrs of passing this test.
  • FAIL – Next step is minimum 48 hrs rest before redo Day 3 testing.

I. Day 4 Testing: Interval training, Scat 3 Balance test and Stroop test.

  • PASS – Next step is to monitor ‘No Contact’ stage of plan. The athlete will be advised to make an appointment with their Physician to set up a final evaluation at this time. Concussion Pro will fax over Baseline scores and remind the athlete to bring in their Tracking Log into the appointment
  • FAIL – Next step is minimum 48 hrs rest before redo Day 4 testing 

N. No Contact Testing: Athlete must participate in "No Contact" practices until final clearance from the Physician.

*Passing one stage does not clear the player to play. Clearance must come from your Physician.

The combination of physical and cognitive load in their protocol is unlike any other I have ever seen.  Most sports put some level of reactionary demand on the athletes, so it is extremely logical to add puzzles and memory tests into the workouts.  Try adding some of their workouts into your exercise routine.  Click here to follow Ignite Gym's Daily Brain WOD.

Where can you find Tyler and Ignite Gym?

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Website

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