03/11/2015 08:53 EDT | Updated 05/11/2015 05:59 EDT

Ex-NHLer Roberts expanding training business to new facility outside Pittsburgh

Gary Roberts is taking his fitness talents to the United States as co-ordinator of the new University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Lemieux Sports Complex, duties that won't conflict with his renowned off-season training program.

Roberts works with the likes of Steven Stamkos and Connor McDavid at St. Andrew's College in Aurora, Ont., from June through August each summer. The Lemieux Sports Complex opens Aug. 15 and gives the former Toronto Maple Leafs forward a chance to extend his efforts to youth athletes and others.

"That's what I love about this opportunity and the consulting role is I'm still able to work with guys like Connor McDavid. Cody Hodgson, Steven Stamkos," Roberts said in a phone interview Wednesday as he drove back from the facility in Cranberry, Pa. "It just gives me an opportunity to expand to the U.S.A. I really believe that there's a lot of young players out there that would benefit from the information we're going to provide them."

Roberts, a fitness buff who played in the NHL until he was 42, is looking forward to using those players who are part of his "High Performance Training" program as examples.

"I really believe that the players that pay more attention to what they do away from their sport, so away from the rink or away from the field, those players in the end will have a better chance," Roberts said. "And I'm not saying it always happens because it doesn't. But they have a much better chance at longevity in their game."

Roberts will still live in the Toronto area and be in the Pittsburgh area one week a month. He'll have staff members there to take care of the day-to-day work.

What Roberts will do is set the agenda for everything from training techniques to the food and drinks available for athletes. Nutrition is a big deal to the 48-year-old.

"My biggest beef still today in all these arenas is what we feed our children and the athletes," he said. "I believe we're going to see better athletes, better results by understanding and educating our youth on all elements of a high-performance lifestyle, I call it.

"I really believe it's more about a high-performance lifestyle than it is about just high-performance training."

UPMC and Roberts expect to attract not just hockey players but other types of athletes to the US$70 million facility that the Penguins will also use to practise at. Roberts, who had input on the planning of Consol Energy Center when he was late in his NHL career with the Penguins, also helped design this one.

"We'll literally be able to do 40-yard time trials for football players inside the facility. We've got a 60-yard turf area to do all our footwork and our agility and our sled pushes," Roberts said. "It's going to blow people away."


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