Sport camps to help youth become better overall athletes

Athletic camps for youth coming to valley this month

Chris Bruton grew up playing hockey and went on to play professionally but said he would have been better served by a fitness regime that focused on athletics in general rather than so narrowly on hockey.

Bruton played in the Western Hockey League for the Spokane Chiefs and spent four years playing in the American Hockey League for various NHL teams that included the St. Louis Blues, New York Islanders and Detroit Red Wings.

“In my professional hockey background, so much of my training was focused on hockey alone and not only was that, I think, a little bit mechanically-detrimental to my body over time, but it was also just the wearing out of the enjoyment of working out,” he said. “Hockey can be a way of life in Canada but it can also be quite taxing on the mind.”

He isn’t the only one who lost some of the joy the sport had once brought.

“I knew a lot of friends that became burnt out and they became probably less excited, enthusiastic about the game and didn’t really reach their potential because too much emphasis was put on that one sport,” he said.

Now he wants to help young athletes progress in their sports while also keeping their enthusiasm high.

“It’s important to take the pressure off all these kids and for them to enjoy these really, really important years for their development,” he said.

Bruton was one of the original founders of the Columbia Valley Hockey School, and has now started a personal training initiative called Grit Performance with Dan Tatton of Radium.

“If you want to be the best at your sport you need to be a great athlete,” he said. “All of the training we do is to become a great athlete, whether it’s a dancer, a nordic skier, a mountain biker. We want to really train these kids, to challenge them to understand their body, their mobility, their neurological muscularity actions and really just start to develop them as complete athletes… Our approach is really to support young athletes to find there way into whatever sport they love but to really have a diversity of options.”

In addition to having more enthusiasm, playing a variety of sports helps individuals perform better in their favourite sports, he said.

“If you’re an all-around better athlete and you can move and work and use your body in every way and shape and form and every type of different sport, you will be the best at your sport. I mean Wayne Gretsky was playing lacrosse every summer,” he said.

Bruton will be offering a five-day camp ($400) and a one-day camp ($100) for 13-18 year olds in the valley outdoors at the Mount Nelson Athletic Field. There are limits on how many youth will be able to participate and each athlete will have their own separate spaces and equipment.

“We do all the workouts together so it will have an inclusive group feel, but we make sure to have COVID practices… so that we’re doing things property and safely,” he said. “Amidst COVID we still feel it’s very important for kids to get outside and stay active, to feel like they have a community and they have friends, athletes and coaches that are here to support them.”

Students will work on agility, power and endurance, while learning about “the science behind why we’re doing things and what we’re doing,” nutrition and more, he said.

“We really train a lot differently on mobility and the range of motion and body movements to make all-around great athletes,” he said. “I think a lot of what’s missing in sport is… you kind of jump into things. You don’t really understand the mechanics.”

Camp participants will be able to stay connected after the training camps through an online program with videos, workouts, guest speakers and more..

“I love working with kids,” he said. “I miss teaching these kids, helping them grow, seeing them develop and then hopefully making them athletes and better people at the end of the day.”

Those who aren’t able to attend are welcome to arrange a group and request a private session.

For more information or to register a participant, visit

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