Yankee’s Director of Strength and Conditioning Dana Cavalea on Getting Fit

The founder of ML Strength in White Plains knows his way around the gym, but you won’t catch him slipping in his diet either.

Dana Cavalea, 30, whips the Bronx Bombers’ bodies into peak condition. He’s also worked with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 2011, armed with a degree in  Exercise Science from the University of South Florida and certifications from both the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Cavalea founded ML Strength in White Plains, which provides athletes with first-class training that simulates a professional-athletics training atmosphere. Cavalea also lives in White Plains.

Why is it imperative to correctly use training equipment? You first must learn how to correctly use your body. If you don’t know how to create proper form, angles, and loading patterns, and learn how the muscles are supposed to load and unload, there’s no way you’re going to be successful with the equipment. Once people have shown proficiency in their ability to use their body with the equipment, we transition them into using the actual equipment.

How can a body be harmed by improperly using it? We often see issues with people trying to rehabilitate themselves on their own. They don’t get the results they’re looking for because they’re not conscious of the actual movements they’re supposed to be doing, so ignorance is dangerous.

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How can people keep up their motivation to go to the gym? Find a coach or a workout partner who’s dedicated and has goals similar to yours. And quantify what you’re trying to achieve. For example, ‘I want to lower my blood pressure by a certain number of points’ or ‘I want to weigh a specific amount.’ Saying just, ‘I want to get in shape’ will usually make the desire fade away.

What’s the connection between exercise and diet? If you only exercise, you’re going to fail your overall fitness and health plan. Many nutritionists say that diet is 80 percent of the equation of getting into good physical shape.

What foods do you recommend? Poor fuel is anything that’s been through some type of processing. The closer to nature your fuel is, the better off it will be for your body. When you’re about to eat something, ask yourself, ‘Do I know where this came from? What kind of nutrient value does this fuel provide?’ and, ‘What are the vitamins?’ If you have an apple or a pear or a banana, you know where it came from; and you can research where your meats are coming from. But when you eat a chicken nugget, you’re not really sure what that chicken is, where it truly came from, and the processes it’s gone through. The more ingredients there are, the worse it’s going to be for you.

What are the three top reasons to get in good physical shape? Your body will function well and more efficiently; your body will start to lean out; you’ll have more confidence.

ML Strength uses some of the most cutting-edge equipment and methods. What are some of them? A lot of it is about recovery. We put people in compression pants, which go on each leg, from the foot to the thigh. They squeeze your legs and drain them of toxins that may be in there. It’s called lymphatic drainage. We also use pneumatic air pressure cable systems, which give users no restriction in terms of overall speed and allow people to do a variety of exercises.

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