Sweating the details
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Goodman's cycle begins with a stage to remove and repair trauma from the body caused by the previous season, as well as strengthen the internal core of muscles and increase muscular endurance. That is followed by a second stage that stresses muscular growth.
Neither of those stages are that far removed from what most strength and conditioning coaches preach, although Goodman does go about those two phases in ways markedly different from more traditional fitness gurus. Instead it is the closing cycle -- his circuit-training routine -- that travels a bold new path. Designed to increase a player's explosiveness and endurance, Goodman's circuit training combines a series of polymetric exercises into a non-stop 60-minute workout.
It is not, however, the circuit-training class offered at the local gym designed to burn unwanted calories. It is a stern cardiovascular test that has humbled world-class athletes.
It is this workout that had Chelios sweating so early on a Wednesday morning. It is the same workout that made fellow defenseman Mathieu Schneider throw up when he first started doing it.
"The circuit training, which we finish the program with, is really tough," said Horcoff, just minutes after his 8 a.m. workout ended. "It's an hour long and your heart rate is up there -- in the 170 range. But, it's as much mental as physical there when you are doing that stuff. But, then it kicks in what we are doing out here every day at 7 or 8 a.m. each morning of the summer. You have to believe in what T.R. is doing and believe that it will pay off."
And despite the occasional doubt expressed by a fatigued player, there is indeed a method to Goodman's madness. He is not the closet sadist many clients have suggested in gasping breaths as they struggle to complete one of his workouts.
Goodman has a hockey background, having played for Trinity College, a small liberal arts school in Hartford, Conn. He understands the hockey player and designs his program to stress hockey-related activities.
But, he admits that it is not always an easy sell to convince the players that the strenuous circuit-training sessions -- multiple simple exercises like thrusts, rope jumping, pushups and one-arm rows -- are the solution. It is especially difficult when the players have been raised with a belief that heavy weight work is the ultimate - and perhaps only -- salvation for a pro athlete.
"I still get it from players, even now, questioning me about the circuit training," admits Goodman. "It's an on-going process to educate the guys as to what you are trying to accomplish. When guys don't do something I ask, I used to get offended, but now I understand that it's because the guy doesn't understand why you are asking them to do that specific exercise. You have to get that player to understand how it all works together."
Goodman explained his philosophy as he watched four clients -- Schneider, Blake, Chris Simon of the New York Rangers and Boston's Glen Murray -- struggle through that day's circuit. Each was coated in sweat, shirts clinging to their heaving chests as they moved from exercise to exercise.
"Each exercise has a critical effect on the body," says Goodman as the players dropped their jump ropes and moved onto to one-legged lunges. "So, it does matter what order they go in. It's a little like chemistry in that way, you have to understand how the order of exercises are going to effect the body when they are put together in a certain way. Your body has a conditioning memory and we are working on that with these exercises.
"When they go to their respective training camps, that memory is already there and they just have to work to maintain it instead of expending energy to develop it."
Goodman watches everything around him with the steely gaze of a chemistry professor, refusing to peel his eyes off the action in front of him as he answers questions. Occasionally, he stops in mid-sentence of the discourse of his philosophy to offer his charges a word of encouragement or a tip on technique. Throughout the hour of work, he never allows the players to lose concentration, demanding they perform each movement correctly each time to help instill mental toughness and proper work habits.
"See how they change from one exercise to the next?" Goodman asks, excitement briefly invading his usually placid demeanor. "See their temperament and the lack of wasted movement? It's the same for them in a game situation. That is what we are trying to develop here. The same things you see on the ice are the things you see from the guys here -- how they handle stress and deal with fatigue. They kind of parallel each other."
As each player finished his workout that Wednesday, a heavy sigh was followed by a smile -- and maybe a fist pump or a high five. Each realizing that the past hour of punishment was just another building block of what they believe will be a successful season.
"The first summer you do this program you don't feel like your accomplishing much," admitted Blake. "Then when you are done and you go to training camp you can really feel the difference and you know that it has paid off. That gets you excited to come back."
And, it is just the thing that gets these players through a workout on a beautiful summer day when hockey is the furthest thing from almost everyone else's mind.