By: Keith Ryan Cartwright May 28, 2014@ 07:15:00 PM
FORT WORTH, Texas ― Until two months ago, Brant Atwood hadn’t been in gym since he was in junior high school.
He’s 27 years old.
That’s more than a decade since he’d been to one. In fact, the thought of going to a gym never really crossed his mind and any idea of him training at a facility owned by a 13-time gold medal sprinter regarded as the fastest man in the world was unfathomable.
As the list of PBR athletes training at Michael Johnson Performance was growing, Atwood reached out to Pistol Robinson just to gather some information. He never really expected he would go there, but, in spite of being nervous, a few days later he pulled up to the McKinney, Texas, facility.
He saw Robinson and Douglas Duncan talking in the parking lot.
“I walked in with them and it wasn’t near as scary,” Atwood recalled. “It’s intimidating at first, but everybody here really made us feel at home.”
Daniel DeVega of Michael Johnson Performance talks about Brant Atwood’s development and his training program.
It’s hard to believe a young man willing to risk his own life every time he climbs into the chute to attempt riding a bucking bull weighing in excess of 1,600 pounds would be intimidated by anything, much less going to a gym.
“Everybody is intimidated by different things,” said Atwood. “I didn’t even know what core strength is, so coming here I’ve learned a lot on core and the energy I need to stay on bulls.”
After shying away from the idea, Atwood has become a regular and grown immensely from the opportunity.
More importantly, he’s finally working to get himself healthy.
According to Lorenzo Vite, a physical therapist at MJP, he was informed by Dr. Tandy Freeman that Atwood has a chronic left ACL injury – which unbeknownst to Atwood, he originally tore in 2009 – along with an MCL strain.
Atwood is hoping to avoid surgery, so over the past two weeks they have worked on improving the stability of his knee.
“The ankle provides stability to the knee, which in turn provides stability to the hip, so we need to strengthen the entire left leg,” Vite said. “The stronger we make that left leg the better his chances are. We need to make sure the left knee is strong and supportive so he can trust it and have confidence on it.”
In recent weeks, Atwood has continued to compete at Touring Pro Division events.
This weekend he’ll be at the J.W. Hart PBR Challenge in Decatur, Texas, which will be streamed in its entirety on PBR LIVE for fans worldwide. Click here to sign up.
Upon hearing Atwood talk about not taking time off and instead choosing to compete with a knee brace, Vite said, “I think it’s fair to say that cowboys are pretty tough. Short of telling this guy he has a bone sticking out, I think he’s going to toughen up and go back out there.”
The brace will help protect the MCL from sustaining further damage and give it some additional support. According to Vite, it typically takes trainers four to six weeks to help an athlete through the strengthening process.
Brant Atwood works on strengthening his left leg at Michael Johnson Performance. Photo by Keith Ryan Cartwright / PBR.com.
However, he added, “We’re going to try to fast track him as much as possible, but we can’t accelerate Mother Nature.”
In the past, Atwood said he would have simply dealt with the injury and gone on. In other words, he would have labored through the issue and, like many riders, let the injury linger and potentially get worse before addressing it.
Since he’s been training at a state-of-the-art facility like the one Michael Johnson made available to PBR riders, which is located an hour south of where Atwood’s been living, he elected to do everything he can to recover from the recent ACL tear he sustained in the opening round of the Last Cowboy Standing event in Las Vegas.
“I probably wouldn’t have even asked Freeman for a PT script had it not been for Lorenzo,” said Atwood, who noted the biggest lesson he’s learned working with Vite, Daniel DeVega and Lance Walker is, “It’s not only for my body to get stronger, but my mind and my confidence to get stronger as well.”
Atwood said he thought he had nothing more than a weak knee.
“I’m going to do everything I can in here to make it better and start wearing that knee brace and hopefully I won’t have to have surgery,” Atwood said. “Tandy said we’re going to monitor it.”
That in itself is a huge difference from how Atwood previously dealt with injuries.
Since working with MJP, he’s transitioning from simply being a cowboy who rides bulls to being an athlete who rides bulls.
“At first, I didn’t want to come because I didn’t know what working out is,” Atwood concluded. “They teach you to have a healthy body and to have a healthy mind as well. It’s been awesome what I’ve learned from coach DeVega and everybody else here.”
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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