The video starts with a title screen. A maroon and orange gradient aura shifts in the upper right corner of the screen as words appear. They read “UFC PI: Supporting UFC Athletes’ Health From a Distance” and appear over a short resume blurb. The blurb reads: “Clint Wattenberg: Director of Performance Nutrition, UFC Performance Institute.”
After a few seconds the words pan up the screen as a question fades in from below. The question reads: “What were some of the biggest challenges to supporting training remotely?”
For us, the real critical piece is making sure that our athletes are able to recover in a way that facilitates their ability to perform in the cage. And there are so many layers to that, that we have to be able to keep them all moving in the same direction. And so for us, it's really tying into our sister services. We operate as an integrated performance team here. And when I have a consultation with an athlete and oftentimes it's, "Hey, Clint, I just signed a fight contract in three weeks. I'm X number of pounds over, what do I need to do?" And I can't answer that question without getting a lot of details around, first of all, I'm MMA. What are they doing around MMA? What's their capacity? What is their training? And sometimes right now, they're just doing it in their garage gym with one or two training partners.
Other times their gym may be open for just the profession, for the pro-classes or for a select group of them. But I need to understand the MMA piece as the physical exertion, that's their skill base, that's always primary and everything else that we're providing is a support to that. But we need to understand recovery. We need to understand the essence. We need to understand what are the other mitigating factors around injury, sleep. And so that's our job, is to either connect with other service providers or to connect enough information, so that at least I can understand if there are red flags or things that I may be able to tie my colleagues, both Sanibel, Heather Linden, Roman Foamin, into to provide an additional level of insight or an additional level of influence, so that we can connect the dots.
We've had some really, really great case examples. Just over, we've had four events since we've been back open. And we've had some really, really impactful case utilizations where our SNC team, our nutrition team, and our sports medicine, sports science teams have come together to provide a really comprehensive intervention from 3000 miles away, or from even across the world where we're supporting people with these training recommendations, recovery. And of course, nutrition and the dynamics that we can influence with nutrition and nutrients to support a training recovery adaptation. But at the end of the day for us and for my job and my team, we got to get people to efficiently and effectively make weight. And that's a really important component where we tie everything together.
Another question appears as text on the screen reading: How has the UFCPI been supporting the mental health of athletes during these hard times?
Yeah. I mean, this time is a real challenge for a lot of people, especially, MMA athletes are competing in an individual sport, but they're part of a greater unit. And they're great of... They're part of a team community where so much socialization happens in those moments of training, of suffering and that's where a lot of the bonding comes together. And so when you get pulled out of those environments and especially the routine of these athletes that will spend hours and hours in the gym, because the nature of the sport as a skill-based combat sport, you just have to dedicate so much time to gaining these skills, but also the physicality. And so the loss of that for a lot of them is no different than a lot of people in our society where you lose touch and you lose contact. And so for us, a big part of what we really tried to do was to provide those all branches, to provide the outreach and the points of contact to our service providers.
We have, I believe, 12 members of our performance team, and we each are on a daily basis interfacing. And then again, connecting to other resources, whether it's internal or external, to support just that semblance of community, even though we are the support structure. On the nutrition side, supporting athletes and developing strong self-care is something that's been really at the core of my professional, I guess, endeavors and my focus. And it's just strengthened in this time. It's about building consistency. It's about building routine. It's about using nutrition to support training and to support these training outcomes. And so really we're focused on performance fueling, supporting metabolic needs and then adjusting and adapting to meet them in a weight management and the metabolic needs of each individual athlete. Just to look at it at a global level, it's about maintaining structure and keeping athletes empowered to get up, start their day, and to have routine that's going to set them up for success each and every day.
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