A new level
After Dr. Andrew Pasternak and his family moved to Reno, he envisioned a facility for elite athletes and those who want to stay physically fit.
Rehabbing from an injury while attending medical school at the University of Michigan Dr. Pasternak became immersed in physical fitness and endurance sports such as biking, running and skiing. He entered several races, such as the Boston Marathon, with his wife and trained with some of the top experts in the field including those at the University of California, Davis and the University of Utah.
His training travels also led him to the Reno-Tahoe region, where he and his family immediately fell in love with the area.
He opened his practice Silver Sage Family Medicine in South Meadows, in a business park off of Double R Boulevard and Professional Circle. While tending to the primary practice, Dr. Pasternak had a sense that Reno was a prime market for a sports training facility like the ones he had attended in other markets.
With help of his friend Jeff Angermann, Ph.D., an assistant professor of molecular biosciences at the University of Nevada, Reno, they opened Silver Sage Sports Performance Center in the mid-2000’s, adjacent to the family practice in the 3,500-square-foot building.
At first, Dr. Pasternak had a conservative approach.
“We didn’t know the market, so we wanted to keep it small,” he said.
But Dr. Pasternak soon found out that it was difficult to balance the regular medical practice with the training center, so the training center mostly sat idle for the time being.
Luckily, though, while on a cross-country skiing trip in Lake Tahoe, Dr. Pasternak came across Julie Young, a world-class professional cyclist that happened to be working as director of cross-country skiing at Northstar at Tahoe.
“Andy said he had this sports lab, but he was too busy to conduct it,” Young said. “We started talking and he said, gosh it would be great if I could get a partner in here to run it.”
Young, trained with some of the most prominent coaches, physiologist and biomechanical engineers seemed to be a good fit for the practice, agreed to come aboard in 2010 and manage the ‘sports lab.’
“Julie brings a world-class background as an athlete, as a physician, and with a medical coaching expertise,” Dr. Pasternak said. “It’s been helpful to allow me to perform my primary care practice.”
Even with Young running the Performance Center, they realized that the marketing plan was not reaching their intended demographics. People assumed from the name that it was only intended for elite athletes.
“We found that people were intimated by the word ‘Sports Performance,’” Young said. “We realized the market is the busy professional dedicated to their fitness goals.”
It partnered with The Estipona Group to formulate a new marketing plan. Silver Sage and Estipona spent the better part of three years trying to rebrand the company.
“People thought you had to be a pro athlete to come here, and that’s not the case,” said Jackie Shelton vice president, public relations of Estipona. “They have some pro athletes who come here, but it’s a small percentage.”
Part of the rebranding campaign was to rename the practice Silver Sage Sports & Fitness, to appeal to broader client base.
The mission of the facility is to provide those individuals serious about physical fitness with a roadmap of how they can reach their goals. They provide physiological testing to assess a person’s fitness level and design a plan combining high and low-impact routines into a regimen when they go to a gym.
Dr. Pasternak invested heavily into obtaining the top-level testing equipment to conduct physiological tests, such as a ParvoMedic True One VO2 Max testing machine, which cost around $25,000. The machine provides data on how one’s body uses particular energy sources and determines lactate threshold and heart rate training zones.
In addition to its physiological testing, Silver Sage provides other services, such as gait analysis. Young and other staff conduct tests on a person’s motion when they run, analyze the data by video and make recommendations to avoid injuries and help reach their goals of either personal physical fitness or in the competitive arena.
It also provides bike-fitting analysis for both recreational and pro bicyclists. Individuals can bring their bicycles into the center and have it fitted to their body type and range of motion. It is intended to address problems with pain or fatigue while riding, promote good posture while riding and, for competitive cyclists, maximize their performance.
As business has picked up since the rebranding, Silver Sage has added new staff members, Silver Sage has added to its staff of trainers and coaches with new areas of expertise to assist Young.
Silver Sage promotes the business through partnerships with recreation sports groups. Young uses her cycling connections such as the Bike Like a Girl program, which introduces girls and women to learn the sport of cycling and encourage physical fitness. She is also involved in other cycling programs in the region.
Young acknowledges while although Silver Sage went through its growing pains, it can be very beneficial to the fitness-conscious and athletes alike. Dr. Pasternak and Young also believe its affordability and services are comparable to other similar facilities at larger universities or at those in bigger markets.
“(The clients) want to see results and we feel we have the tools to help them maximize their time,” Young said.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.