What may appear to be an unlikely trio can often be seen giving it their all for any range of heart-racing morning workouts at Armone’s Core Connection on Girard Avenue.
Like the fitness-studio version of “Cheers,” everyone is greeted by name at Armone’s, no matter who walks through the door. Whether it be Chargers cornerback Antoine Cason or locally renowned chef and triathlete Giuseppe Ciuffa, everyone gets the same treatment, enjoys the same camaraderie and works equally hard to achieve their fitness goals with personal trainer and nutrition consultant Jay Hoehn.
Hoehn’s revolutionary nutrition guide and workout regimen focuses on maximizing his clients’ endocrine functions, making them feel and look younger, healthier and more energetic. He customizes each program to his client’s specific needs, facilitating achievement of one’s fitness goals while optimizing strength, endurance, recovery time and range of motion.
While most people take one look at Cason and conclude the 26-year-old professional athlete is at the pinnacle of his athletic prowess, Hoehn discovered ways to actually reduce Cason’s already low body-fat percentage and increase his body weight with lean muscle since they started working together in early spring.
“He’s able to recover from all the exertion he puts out more quickly, and he’s more proficient with his endocrine function and his immune function — things that are important to have a good season, so you don’t have other issues weighing you down, like [health] bugs or feeling like you’re not recovering effectively,” said Hoehn.
Cason’s friend Rick Ahumada — who also trains with Hoehn — raved to him about the impact Hoehn’s nutrition and workout plan has had on his own life. At lunch one day, over a bunless burger, Ahumada let Cason in on the secret to his newfound energy.
“He starts telling me he’s on this new diet — that he’s eating healthier, got his blood work done and he’s feeling great,” said Cason. “I’ve been looking for a nutrition person to kind of get me right. For the profession I’m in, you have to take care of your body even more so, so he gave me Jay’s number.”
In addition to rigorous circuit training workouts to supplement Cason’s Chargers workouts and practice, Hoehn plays an instrumental role in Cason’s diet. Hoehn enlisted the help of another client of his, La Jolla chef Ciuffa, head chef and founder of Giuseppe Restaurants and Fine Catering.
“We were brainstorming how my nutrition plan could express itself in a more attractive way, given his culinary talents,” said Hoehn. “We primarily keep [Cason] on foods that are low or not processed, nutrient dense, that generally build his system up, rather than tax his system, so that he’s able to digest well, assimilate well and use it as fuel for his workouts and athletic performance.”
During training camp, Ciuffa made Cason three meals a day that not only met Cason’s nutrition requirements as a professional athlete, but also made his meals more enticing.
“We try to alternate so he doesn’t get bored,” said Ciuffa. “There’s always a salad of some sort, a little bit of dairy, a little bit of vegetables and a little bit of greens. We try to keep the dressings fat-free, low in sugar content, so we use a lot of balsamic, olive oil, things like that.”
Earlier in the day, Cason’s plate is filled with good starches and carbohydrates — like quinoa and root vegetables — and as the day progressed, the meals move toward a more protein-rich, vegetable-laden dish geared toward maximizing his endocrine function. Thanks to Ciuffa’s meals, Cason said his eating habits have changed for the better, improving his endurance, energy and recovery time on and off the field.
“He’s more aware of how good it is to eat organic. He won’t eat any junk,” said Ciuffa. “He’s the type of guy at training camp that, if he doesn’t have the type of food that he knows is good for him, he just goes by without eating. He would rather just put it off then eat something that is not good for him.”
Now, during the regular season, Ciuffa continues to make one meal a day for his training partner to keep Cason’s athletic performance at its peak.
“I wanted to continue eating the way I’ve been eating because it had me feeling great. My body has changed, and everything feels good — my endurance, overall health, my mental mindset,” said Cason. “And I’m always looking forward to the next meal. People confuse having healthy meals with not tasting as good, but it’s really good.”
Cason said his training with Hoehn, Ciuffa and the rest of the crew at Armone’s — supplemented by his newfound eating habits — reflect in his performance on game day.
“It’s very different in my game. My body has even changed, my endurance. I don’t get tired as fast, I don’t feel sluggish ever,” he said. “I’m a young guy, and it’s working excellent for me. I feel great, and I don’t ever want to go backward. I feel like I would be going backward if I didn’t continue with the way I’ve been going.”
He said the guys at the gym help to push him in his workouts, just as he undoubtedly challenges them.
“We have a great group of guys — all those guys I’ve trained with, along with Jay, have really helped me. Instead of me working out alone, I had guys encouraging me. We encouraged each other. We had conversations along the way and we pushed each other along the way, and that’s what made it so great,” he said. “It’s not just me. Everyone sees me out there, but for me to get there, it took a lot of people.”
The solidarity and kinship of the core group at Armone’s results in everyone achieving his utmost ability — no matter the age, athletic ability or profession.
“I’m very fortunate to have met these people and for them to be in my life to help me enter the career and the path I would like to take. It’s really been a blessing for me,” said Cason. “I do everything I need to for the Chargers, and then if there’s anything else I need, I know I can come here.”