IRG’s Industrial Athlete Program

Published - May 11, 2020

IRG’s Industrial Athlete Program

What is an Industrial Athlete? 

The term industrial athlete refers to anyone who's career consists of using their mental and physical talents to perform jobs that require skill, strength, flexibility, coordination and endurance—just like an athleteAthletes and employees use their musculoskeletal system to perform their sport or job, and we at IRG provide a unique training program for a wide array of companies who's employees utilize their bodies day to day. 

What is IRG's Industrial Athlete Program?

IRG's Industrial Athlete Program (IA as we like to call it) allows for companies to work towards reducing their costs due to employee accidents and injuries on the job. Our IA Program focuses on injury prevention, attempting to get ahead of the bulk of injuries by providing daily warm-ups and stretching exercises, and to prepare the worker's bodies for the day’s work. Our IA Program incorporates an education component, as it has proven to be a large part of injury prevention. We take the time to teach proper lifting techniques, as well as pushing vs. pulling heavy objects, just to name a few. Educating workers about hydration and nutrition, the risks of over exhaustion, and other things pertaining to physical and mental health, are some of the additional points we focus on in our IA program. 

Benefits of an onsite medical employee in helping IA remain productive and improving morale.

No one wants to work while they are in pain. The job of the onsite Athletic Training Coach (ATC) is to work with worker's to assess what might be causing their pain and then work on a solution to prevent further trauma. This can entail changing ergonomics, doing stretches to improve mobility or exercises to improve strength, and more. The Industrial Athlete ATC is on-site contracted through IRG and acts as a third party between the industrial athletes and the management for a company. We are a resource for employees that is easy to access, confidential, and knowledgeable about a wide array of subjects. We've learned that maintaining a relationship with a constant and recognizable face makes for better accessibility of care, and even more importantly, provides regular follow-up coaching and training. The main goal of the IRG's Industrial Athlete Program is to keep employees working at their best possible self, by remaining healthy and happy on the job. 

Facts on Injury Reduction:

Stretching and proper warm-up help prepare the body for heavy lifting and other tasks 
Education is key in avoiding preventable injuries 

Proper diet and exercise keep the body healthy for years to come
Services available
Stretching and warm-up exercises, nutrition consultation, injury assessment, general health consultation, exercise plans and goal setting

Meet Lair Heslop 

One of IRG's premiere Industrial Athlete trainers. 

"I enjoy working with industrial athletes and other active populations, educating them on how to lead a healthy lifestyle as well as helping them perform to the best of their abilities every day."

   Lair is in charge of the Waste Management group in Seattle, and works with Industrial Athletes to provide training in wellness, safety and preventative education. He also provides treatment opportunities for those in demanding positions to reduce the chance of injury and pain, increase performance, and create sustainable employees and human capital. 

Below is a "Day in the Life" of Lair at Waste Management. 

Typical morning:

It's 4 in the morning at Waste Management in Seattle when I arrive to work. I don’t drink coffee, so it's just cold water helping wake me up in the morning. I typically arrive 30 minutes before most of the Industrial Athletes (IA's) arrive, so I can fully wake up, organize my rehab area and  get set up downstairs. I want to be available as the IA’s start to trickle in around 4:30 AM. I sit at my desk in an open area where the IA's congregate before starting their shift. I make myself visible and easy to access if anyone has questions for me.

IA interaction:

Most of my interactions with the IA's are in the mornings before launch or directly following a launch after I lead the daily stretches. A majority of the IA's, if they are hurting, will directly come up to me and ask for help. Other times I will see a driver limping around or while we are stretching I can see the someone is struggling with an exercise, and that raises a flag for me. I make sure to pay attention and track down IA’s that are struggling and talk with them before their day starts.

In the mornings I have limited time with each individual because they have to get ready and leave by a certain time, so my goal in the mornings is to be provide an IA with a general assessment of an injury and how to avoid making it worse throughout the day. For example, a driver approaches me in the morning with knee pain. They say it has been bothering them for a couple days, and it hasn’t gotten better on its own. They decided to come see me for some advice. After the assessment on what is causing the pain, I work on educating the IA on the injury and how to change what they do throughout the day to lessen the stress on the knee.

If time permits, I take them through some exercises that would be beneficial for them throughout the day while they are working. Lastly I schedule a follow-up with them, sometime at the end or their day or before their next shift so that we can meet again and further work or rehabbing the injury as well as work on future prevention of a similar injury.


After an initial meeting I put together my notes and create a plan for the IA for when I see them again. Using the MedBridge Patient Platform, I put together exercises that I can send home with them as well as education on the importance of ice and anti-inflammatories if needed.

Typical Afternoon:

I spend my afternoons in the same area as the mornings so it is easy for me to see anyone coming in that I need to follow up with or if anyone has new questions for me.

If the IA has time post shift, I take them upstairs and get more information about how the knee felt during work and if they had any problems with the exercises I gave them. At the end of a long day most IA's do not want to do a lot of rehab so I try and focus on education. I reiterate the importance of ice and rest if possible. I demonstrate the exercise I plan to send home with them and then send them on their way.


I continue to work with the same IA's for 2-3 weeks, doing exercises in the mornings and follow-ups in the evenings. Most IA's notice they start to feel better within the first week of working with me. If after 2-3 weeks an IA has not noticed any improvement we move into referral to an IRG clinic or physician for a second opinion.

“The morning stretches with Lair have really helped me with my general mobility. I have taken the stretches he has shown us and use them every day while out on route and when I get home.”
“Lair is a great resource and he is super easy to approach and talk to about any of my aches and pains.”