Fitness coach Jan Kluitenberg has revealed how his work with Everton’s first-team squad will extend beyond the training pitch and gymnasium when they report back for pre-season training next month.
The Dutchman will liaise with Everton’s team of specialists to ensure the players have the right nutritional intake to deal with the tough training programme that lies in wait after their summer holidays.
Kluitenberg believes it’s essential the players are educated on the benefits of eating correctly, especially in pre-season when the primary focus is building fitness in what is generally the warmest time of the year.
Everton have a packed schedule in July, with the day-to-day work at USM Finch Farm accompanied by matches in Tanzania, Holland and Belgium to play Gor Mahia, FC Twente and KRC Genk.
There is also the two-legged Europa League qualifiers, one of which will be on foreign soil.
“If you see what kind of intensity we train and what kind of intensity we play, diet is a very important part,” Kluitenberg told The Everton Show
“We have some specialists at the Club and some good chefs. Our schedule for the weeks, I discuss that with our nutritionist because normally once in a week there will be a really tough session and they need other food than they would for a regular session or recovery session.
“What we do is supply the best during their period at Finch Farm. Outside Finch Farm, we also advise players on cooking lessons at home and we have good specialists for that. It’s really important nowadays.”
Kluitenberg, 54, has trodden an interesting career path - he played football at amateur level before retiring early due to injury and then having a spell as a referee in his homeland.
He then decided to focus on fitness and has worked with Blues boss Koeman at several clubs prior to joining Everton, including Southampton and Feyenoord.
“I started [as a fitness coach] in the Academy of Vitesse Arnhem,” he continued. “I believed in my way of working and the moment Ronald Koeman started as head coach at Vitesse [in 2001], he asked me some questions about the fitness levels of the team. I told him I would arrange some tests for him.
“He told me that if I could help and do the test in a good way, then I could stay. If not, then he wouldn’t need me!
“That’s our style - we are open and like to get the most out of a player. I love my job.”