Dan Meinz ’11 Trains NHL Stars

Health and exercise science grad Dan Meinz '11 leads strength and conditioning for two dozen pro hockey players during the off-season.
Posted on October 16th, 2017 by

2011 graduate Dan Meinz is the director of strength and conditioning at Velocity Training Center.

The New York Rangers’ first win of the season was sealed on October 8 after defenseman Brady Skjei netted the game-winning goal over the Montreal Canadiens. Six months and nearly 80 games from now, the National Hockey League’s Rangers hope to return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the eighth-straight season. Between now and then, the players will travel thousands of miles, manage the inevitable ups and downs of the season, and – hopefully – stay healthy throughout the campaign.

For Skjei and fellow Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh, the journey back to the playoffs began this summer when they trained under Gustavus Adolphus College alumnus Dan Meinz ’11.

Dan Meinz ’11

As the director of strength and conditioning at Velocity Training Center in Edina, Minn., Meinz and his assistants led two dozen hockey players from the NHL, American Hockey League (AHL), ECHL, and various European leagues through off-season workouts to prepare their bodies for the rigors of a professional hockey schedule.

“With the pros, everything is at the highest level,” Meinz said. “They’re all elite performers and their needs are different than the average athlete.”

Meinz writes the workout plans and sets the programming for the athletes, but he works closely with teams’ training staff to make sure each athlete’s individual strengths and weaknesses are addressed. Each day during the summer, he arrives at the facility before 7 a.m. to prep equipment and make any final tweaks to the training schedule before leading two groups of professionals through their 90-minute morning workouts.

“Dan does a great job of listening and has a good feel for each player’s needs and wants,” Rangers captain and two-time NHL All-Star Game selection McDonagh said. “His workouts provide a great balance of player-specific exercises and group work to get us ready for a successful and injury-free season.”

“This is a perfect fit,” echoed Skjei, who represented the Rangers on the NHL’s 2017 All-Rookie Team. “Dan has a great mentality in the weight room. He’s very smart and knows what he’s doing but likes to have fun during the workouts.”

Meinz majored in health fitness, played on the Gustavus football team, and presented his undergraduate research at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Regional Meeting during his time on the hill. After graduation, he completed his master’s program in exercise physiology at Minnesota State University, Mankato and interned at the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Performance Center in Colorado Springs, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Michigan before joining the team at Velocity.

“The Gustavus health and exercise science program provided great preparation and opportunities,” Meinz said. “I was way ahead of the curve in grad school, which really set the tone for my career.”

In addition to working with professional athletes during the off-season, Meinz oversees strength and conditioning programs for athletes ranging from middle school to college while supervising the day-to-day operations of the training center. He primarily works with hockey players, but also guides football, baseball, soccer, lacrosse, and skiing athletes through sport-specific strength and conditioning programs.

Most of his time outside the gym is spent with his fiancé and their daughter, but Meinz also enjoys time outdoors and likes catching up with his old Gustavus teammates.

“Gustavus is a special place,” he explained. “The close-knit campus, the way that students develop and grow with support from faculty, staff, and their friends – it’s a great community.”

Meinz also watches a lot of hockey. Even though he’s a Minnesota Wild Fan, his work with Skjei and McDonagh has created a soft spot for the Rangers. He’s glad to play a behind-the-scenes role in getting the athletes ready to perform at the highest level.

“I’ve seen how much work it takes to get to the NHL and how much it takes to stay here,” Skjei reflected. “We push each other hard in the summer because we all want to be better than the next guy.”

“The guys are really down to earth,” Meinz said. “It’s rewarding to watch them play on TV in the winter and have them in my gym every day in the summer. I love my job.”

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Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
jakin@gustavus.edu
507-933-7510

 

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