By Krissty Andaur | Contributor

Have you ever wondered how professional athletes maintain their fitness and health during the holidays? When their season is fast approaching, how do they maintain their fitness to meet the high expectations from coaches and fans? The new year is finally here, but true professional soccer players shouldn’t have to make any resolutions about their health and fitness.

The Armada FC, Jacksonville’s new professional NASL soccer team, is preparing for its inaugural season, which begins with a preseason friendly on February 7, against the Philadelphia Union of the MLS. The Armada FC coaching staff is comprised of professional coaches from around the world, including assistant coach Fernando Argila, who hails from the soccer-fanatic country of Spain. Argila works with head coach, José Luis Villarreal, and assistant coach, Eduardo Frisicaro, who both hail from Argentina, to provide players with world-class training sessions and resources.

Specifically, Argila plays a major role in developing and executing the team’s weekly workouts and nutrition plans. Argila sat down for a Q&A session to discuss how he gets the Armada FC players to peak performance on the pitch.

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Void: How does the strength and conditioning differ from other sports?

Argila: Unlike other sports, we don’t separate strength from conditioning training. In fact, strength training is incorporated into our daily soccer practices. Never overworking the muscles, we revolve all the workouts and exercises around the game and practices themselves, and thus out on the field. When we are at the gym, we focus primarily on the upper body for toning and structure. If a player is working his lower body, it is simply because he is hurt or the team physician has asked him to do so.

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Void: Do the players have set nutritional guidelines they must follow?

Argila: Nutrition is an important part of everyone’s life no matter the age, and even more so for a professional athlete. There are high expectations for professional athletes, and that’s why they must maintain an adequate diet throughout the week, before matches, and most importantly, post-match. As their training session or match ends, the players’ glucose levels are at their minimum, and this is when it is important to recharge them as fast and adequately as possible. For a speedy recovery at the end of every training session, we provide the players with fruits, breads, fruit juices and foods high in lactose. If they don’t maintain an adequate diet, they won’t perform well on the field.

Void: Are there certain foods you ask the players to avoid?

Argila: We ask them to avoid any canned or processed foods, precooked meals, fast foods, foods with excess fat and foods with a lot of sugar. We know the temptation for fast food and quick meals is there, but that is what separates the pros from the rest.

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Void: How will the preparation now help the players as the season develops?

Argila: We are currently focused on preparing the players tactically and technically so they fully understand the style of play we are looking for. As the season gets closer, we will amplify their sessions with several practices in one day, focusing more on the physical side.