2012-07-05 / Front Page

Young athletes can take their skills to the Next Level

Muscle Maker Grill in N.B. holds meet-and-greet with pro athletes
BY JENNIFER AMATO
Staff Writer


Jarvis Johnson, a former cornerback for the Baltimore Ravens football team, autographs footballs for Sahil Parkash and Sam Maganti, both from Montgomery, while Anil Mehra looks on, during an event at Muscle Maker Grill in North Brunswick on June 30. 
SCOTT FRIEDMAN Jarvis Johnson, a former cornerback for the Baltimore Ravens football team, autographs footballs for Sahil Parkash and Sam Maganti, both from Montgomery, while Anil Mehra looks on, during an event at Muscle Maker Grill in North Brunswick on June 30. SCOTT FRIEDMAN NORTH BRUNSWICK— Professional athletes were on hand at Muscle Maker Grill in North Brunswick on Saturday to promote healthy eating and proper fitness regimens.

Franchise owner Ron Arora and Dan Siejk, the facility director for Next Level Hockey and Sports Performance in East Brunswick, collaborated on a meet-andgreet event with Sergei Starikov and Luke Popko of the National Hockey League and Jarvis Johnson of the National Football League.

“We want to show how important it is for people to have the right food and the right training facility to be healthy for life,” Arora said.

Next Level, which opened in February, began because Siejk, who played hockey, wanted to provide an opportunity for young athletes to improve their skills. Sports-specific training, camps, clinics and team drills are offered for athletes as young as 5 years old and up to the professional level.

Players, trainers and coaches for hockey, baseball, football, soccer and lacrosse use the 15,000-square-foot facility on Kimberly Road, which includes a turf field, hockey rink, virtual sports simulator, hockey skating treadmill and fully equipped gym.

Sports recovery and rehabilitation are also offered on-site.

So are recreation-level programs, including the Future Stars program, which introduces 3- to 9-year-olds to a variety of sports to promote basic skills and athletic ability so that the child can ultimately decide which sport he or she would like to continue playing.

“The main thing is that I know there are a lot of athletes in the area, so this gives them a chance to develop their skills as a high-level athlete,” Siejk said. “We’ve all played at the levels these kids are trying to get to.”

One of the athletes who will offer guidance to football players is Johnson, who played safety for Rutgers University from 2001 to 2005 and cornerback for the Baltimore Ravens in 2005 and 2006.

He is developing speed, agility and football camps with Next Level; the first camp will begin July 9.

“I always wanted to give back to the community, being that I have knowledge of the game,” he said. “You see what you can teach to the younger guys coming up who have the opportunity I had. To educate, it’s always something good.”

Jarvis grew up with New York Giants player Antrel Rolle in Florida, from Pop Warner up through South Dade High School. Rolle will participate in next summer’s camp, according to Ehaab Bayoumi, a sports representative from Next Play Sports in Bridgewater. There will be oneon one drills, mental coaching, speed and agility, football strategy, strength and conditioning, nutrition, flexibility and positionspecific instruction.

“It seems more listened-to when it’s an NFL player,” Bayoumi said. “[Camps] help you stay ahead of the pack … and help you gauge yourself for the season.”

In addition, Siejk stressed the importance of a healthful diet for athletes, hence the association with Muscle Maker Grill. He said that anyone training needs to eat healthful foods, focusing on the proper nutrients to fuel the body.

Jared Pleskovitch, a sports nutritionist and strength and conditioning coordinator for Next Level, said that low-glycemic carbohydrates, such as rice or oats, are needed before a workout or competition, while high-glycemic carbohydrates, like potatoes, sweet potatoes or pasta, should be eaten afterward.

He said a balance of protein and carbohydrates is essential for athletes.

“We don’t make health food. We take food you love to eat and make it healthy,” said Rod Silva, the founder and chairman of Muscle Maker Grill. “It’s anything you like to eat in any other restaurant. … You can still eat good food, but you’re making a better choice.”

Greater Media’s Magic 98.3 radio station was on hand at the event. Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@gmnews.com.

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