Hip hop beats reverberated through the second floor of the Worcester Ice Arena on Monday morning. Two athletes wearing clothing covered in college football and XFL logos squatted down, placed one hand on the floor, arched their back and waited to sprint down the straight-away of the 10,000-square foot fitness center.

As Kanye West’s popular track called out “No one man should have all that power,” players for the Worcester Pirates debated which athlete’s form and speed topped the others.

After each sprint, Bando trainers critiqued their technique and offered helpful tips to produce better results.

Monday morning, the gym belonged to the Indoor Football League’s 2021 champions. It’s a scene repeated quite often at the fitness center in Worcester’s Canal District.

Bando has agreements to train all levels of the Worcester Railers hockey teams, including the Junior Railers.

Clark University, Worcester Academy and the Worcester Cowboys youth football teams also all train at Bando Performance, which opened in the ice arena in November, inheriting the space previously occupied by True North Training.

“I think what sets Bando Performance apart from the rest is how the coaching staff is with the teams,” said Ricky La Vache, who manages the fitness center but is also a strength and conditioning coach at the facility.

La Vache has worked at the ice center since 2017 and worked with all three fitness centers that filled the space since 2019.

“I think the atmosphere has been the most [different],” La Vache said. “That’s definitely been a lot more noticeable. When you come in here, we want to make sure you have an awesome time when you’re here.”

Charlie Bando is one of the founding partners of Bando Performance, which is located in Woburn and inside the Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center in the Canal District in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The architect of that atmosphere is Charlie Bando.

Bando and three other partners started Bando Performance in Woburn. Six months later the business outgrew the 500-square-foot space and moved to Winchester with 3,000 square feet to flex. But that space soon too became too small and Bando Performance returned home to Woburn at a 10,000-square-foot location.

Back in Woburn, Bando Performance gained a reputation of training some of the nation’s top young hockey players including several that have gone on to compete at the Division I level and were drafted by NHL teams.

The reputation he built in Woburn spread to New England’s second largest city through training one of the Worcester Junior Railers. Ownership of the team then connected Bando with an opportunity to branch out to Worcester and a second location.

“I said I might as well jump on this,” Bando said. “It’s a brand new rink. It’s a beautiful location.”

Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Arena

The Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Arena is located in the Canal District in Worcester, Massachusetts and is home to a number of local businesses.

Training hockey players is the center’s “bread and butter,” Bando said.

Few locations offer more access to hockey players than the Worcester Ice Center. Not only do the Worcester Railers and Junior Railers practice at the facility, but it also holds countless youth hockey tournaments throughout the year.

“We want to have good advertising downstairs where people can come up and peek through the windows and see what we have going on,” Bando said. “That can be anyone from a beginner hockey player that’s starting out or it could be college and professional athletes who also come through these doors. We just want to provide as many resources as possible.”

One of those state-of-the-art resources includes synthetic ice. The plastic sheet replicates ice and allows players to work on stickhandling and shooting away from an ice rink.

Bando said it’s difficult to fully skate on the synthetic ice, but it’s perfect for refining stick skills.

“The kids can do exactly the same thing they do on the ice,” Bando said. “It’s funny, you’ll see kids with high socks on and they’ll just be in shorts and skates.”

Athletes at Bando Performance also have access to Force Plates, which can be found in the training centers at elite collegiate programs as well as professional sports organizations. They gauge the overall leg strength of users but more specifically the individual strength of each leg.

For hockey players, that means revealing imbalances in a sport Bando said is played primarily on one leg.

For all athletes, the imbalances can reveal a higher probability of severe injuries such as torn ligaments.

“The No. 1 rule is do no harm and prevent injury,” Bando said.

Bando Performance in Worcester

Charlie Bando is one of the founding partners of Bando Performance, which is located in Woburn, Massachusetts and inside the Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center in the Canal District in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Beyond team training, Bando Performance offers both private and semi-private sessions for clients. Private trainers are available around the clock to cater to clients.

Classes are always capped at eight people to ensure low athlete-to-coach ratios. Semi-private classes for adults are available from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and again from noon to 3 p.m.

Semi-private classes for young athletes start after school from 3:30 p.m. through 8 p.m.

Training usually begins with a first-class assessment followed by a program to start. Athletes often start with private sessions. After fully grasping the routine, they graduate to semi-private sessions.

“Our goal is — regardless if you’re an adult or an athlete — we want to make sure you can move in all planes of motion and be ready for your sport or your daily life,” La Vache said.

Team sessions are available only through appointments.

From the Railers to the Pirates and Worcester Academy, the team sessions bring more than fitness to a club.

Bando Performance in Worcester

The Worcester Pirates work out at Bando Performance inside the Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center located in the Canal District of Worcester, Massachusetts.

As the Pirates tossed heavy bags against the wall, leaped on one foot over hurdles and mustered the strength to lift hundreds of pounds, they smiled, joked and bonded.

Away from kinesiology, Bando Performance delves into chemistry.

“It builds camaraderie. Not that it’s a break from their sport, but altogether it’s in a different environment,” La Vache said. “Instead of being on the field with football or on the ice with hockey, they’re all in this position here where they’re able to thrive in a different sense.”

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