La Jolla football team’s conditioning coach says ‘fitness is my game’


By Michael Ragovin

David Contreras, fitness and conditioning coach for the La Jolla High School Varsity Football Team, is a man who practices what he preaches.

“I got started in the fitness and conditioning business because I was 90 pounds overweight and I could not get off the bench. I just got sick of it. So, I decided to dedicate myself to health and fitness ... it felt so good, I decided to stay with it.”

After 9/11, Contreras said he joined the Marine Corps and realized he had a long way to go to become the man he wanted to be. Once again, he dedicated himself and ultimately ended up training the entire population of the base where he was stationed. He said he “fell in love” with idea of helping other people.

Subsequently, he went from being a trainer at 24-Hour Fitness to starting his own fitness business.

His mantra is: In order to attain any goal in life, one has to train beyond the pain. “It’s not what you can do right now,” Contreras said. “You must look past the immediate exercise because in a few months it will become so much easier. Athleticism, speed and endurance improve and these abilities are what coaches look for in an athlete.”

Contreras uses bodyweight to strengthen muscle and improve cardio functioning, which in turn, improves movement and endurance to prepare athletes for every activity they will face.

Each exercise he designs has four sets and every football game has four quarters. Endurance plays a large part of how teams perform in the fourth quarter. Teams that are not in peak physical and emotional condition get sloppy and make mistakes that lose football games, he said.

“Physical pain is just part of the equation,” Contreras explained. “Emotional and spiritual pain must be addressed as well. It has been said that athletes play like they practice. Games are won and lost on the practice field; practice fast, play fast; practice with intensity, play with intensity.

“Coaches are constantly looking for speed and intensity. The best teams practice the hardest. Physical conditioning provides confidence, the will to win, refusal to lose, emotional stability as well as improving skills. An athlete’s skill set must be all-inclusive. Leave it all on the field — the game field as well as the practice field.”

Whether he is training an entire football team or individual clients, Contreras strives to inspire everyone to lead a healthier lifestyle and understand that fitness is something they need. He said he believes everyone needs a person who will keep them accountable, help him or her jog up a hill without collapsing and achieve mobility of movement without tiring.