Friday, September 11, 2009

T.R. Goodman Interview - Pro Camp Sports

On an early August morning at Gold's Gym in Venice Beach we spoke with famed trainer and founder of Pro Camp Sports T.R. Goodman about his reputed off-season regime for NHL athletes and his top-tier clientele. These are his stories.

Q: Is Pro Camp just for hockey players or do you train other athletes?
A: Well at this time of year it’s just hockey but at different times we’ve had NFL guys and all different kinds. Sometimes we prepare businessmen that we have as clients during the regular part of the year to be able to try and come out here and workout with the pros. So sometimes there's just regular fitness people that are looking forward to the challenge.

Q: Is it the same program for each athlete or is it sport specific?
A: Some things are similar because your shoulder joint is your shoulder joint whether you’re a hockey player or a baseball player. But as you project the training out let’s say from the first week to the twelfth week then things start to change because the needs and requirements for a baseball player are somewhat different than they are for a hockey player. I mean shooting the puck is obviously not the same kind of shoulder rotation as it would be for a baseball player swinging the bat or throwing a baseball. So certain things have to change but in the beginning a lot of things are similar.

Q: Who are your favorite athletes to train?
A: Hockey players by far.

Q: What’s the class size you shoot for out there?
A: It’s not really the size of the class, it’s more the matchups. You take a guy like Rob Blake who’s been in the league a while, he’s got some individual awards and has won a Stanley Cup, and you put him next to Chris Chelios who’s six or eight years older, has got two more Norris trophies than he does and two more Stanley Cups. It gives him something to shoot towards. Not having that would make it more difficult for me to take a guy like Blake and always put something in his face to motivate him to strive for a higher level. So it’s more of a combination of that than it is trying to get a certain number of people.

Q: As a former college hockey player do you ever skate with these guys?
A: I used to skate with them at least a couple times a year but I don’t skate more than that usually. After college I didn’t do anything for like ten years. I didn’t even look at a hockey game until I started training Chelios and Alan May. Then I said, you know, maybe I should watch again and see if there’s things that I could pick up that would make the training a little more specific. And then I started to play in the leagues again out here to try to get used to seeing how the workouts would feel in my body. Once I got a sense of that I just stopped. You know, it’s time to turn the page in life.

Q: How many students do you have right now in Pro Camp?
A: About 15 to 20. Somewhere in that range.

Q: How many weeks or months does the program last?
A: Some guys get here in May. It depends on when they’re done in the year. Some guys get here in June. We go all the way until the end of August. Some guys will stay through the first week of September.

Q: Who are some of your favorite students and why?
A: You got to say Chelios because his competitive drive is a blessing. It’s a blessing for me because it helps to create an atmosphere that would be difficult for me to recreate on my own. You know, like I say you take an older veteran like Sean O’Donnell or Blake and when they think that they want to jack off you got somebody like that who comes in and it just elevates the thing for everybody. Rick Tocchet was one of my favorite guys to work with because his intensity was equal to Chelios but his strength was even greater. He was great to have. I mean there’s been so many great guys over the years. If there’s some guy I don’t like I just don’t work with them. So it’s a difficult question to answer because each guy brings their own things that make them special and make it fun to look forward to having them here.

Q: You were talking about matchups with Blake and Chelios. Do you pair players by position to motivate one another?
A: Sometimes positional but it’s more intensity level. One of the mistakes I made was putting Chelios and Tocchet together. That was the worst mistake I could ever make because they’re so competitive and they would be going back and forth and they would lose all sense of technique and form. They were just pure intensity. So from that standpoint it was really cool. But if you have a guy who needs to learn intensity and you put him with a guy who’s intense it helps him learn that. And usually people that are really intense need to learn how to be a little bit more calm and calculating. So if you put them with somebody who’s not as intense they’ll learn that. You know, it helps to balance them out. So there’s a lot of chemistry to it.

Q: How does a hockey player crack Pro Camp?
A: Usually guys call. If they’re new, they can come as long as they get here early enough. You know the body has to go through a couple months of preparation before they do the high intensity stuff that we’re doing now. There’s no way somebody can just come out here and do it. It’s not possible.

Q: I understand the hour long outdoor circuits are split up by strength, speed, and endurance?
A: Yeah there’s three different types of circuits.

Q: How do you decide which player does what circuit on any given day?
A: You know guys like Blake and O'Donnell, guys that have been in the league for a while, they’re already big enough and strong enough for the most part so they do a higher percentage of endurance circuits than they would the strength circuits because I don’t want them to go to camp any bigger or heavier. Whereas younger kids will sometimes do a higher ratio of strength circuits because they still need to have an increase in strength and body weight.

Q: So individuals in the same class may be performing separate circuits?
A: Yup.

Q: Are you a fan of any NHL team right now?
A: It’s funny but over the years I've learned not to root for any team but to root for players instead. I mean there’s times when I have two guys in a game and they’re opposing each other . How do you deal with that? And then the next year they’re on a totally different team. So you learn not to get an allegiance to teams but more just to make sure that your guys don’t get hurt and to make sure they play well.

Q: Is there an evening shift where you guys go out and party together?
A: Not so much. Yeah you get friendly for sure. You've got to figure I've seen Blake from being a guy that was just a young freewheeling kid to being a husband to then being a father. Seeing his whole evolution as he's grown up. Yeah you learn to develop friendships with people after a while.

Q: In an earlier circuit session this morning your associate was really barking at the class whereas the session you ran with the veterans was quite quiet. Why the difference?
A: Yeah, those other guys are younger. You know, you've got to have different styles. Frankie used to be drill instructor and so he still brings a lot of that kind of stuff to it. The group that you saw with me was consisted of a lot of veterans. They’ve been through this, they know what it is, and they pretty much just need to know the next exercise. They don't need motivation. They don’t need any real hype. If I’m calm it helps them to stay calm. That's the way I look at it. With younger guys you want to remind them why they’re here. It’s difficult if you haven’t been through it before so it’s good to get that enthusiastic energy from somebody.

Q: Are these guys done for the day after their hour long circuit or will they get on a bike or go skating?
A: Yeah they'll go and get on the bike for a while. Then a group of those guys are going to eat and then they’ll go skating.

Q: Do you communicate with the players during the season?
A: Yeah there’s lots of talk. I can tell just by watching them if they’re not doing some of the exercises I’ve assigned them. And then I call them and we talk about it.

Many thanks to T.R. for speaking with us. Keep up the good work!

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