It's always exciting to see the natural progression of a star in any sport as it's happening because you never know who, when and where that's going to be taking place.
Over the last week the Summer Olympic Games have certainly reminded us that it happens all over the world.
What's perhaps even more exciting for Flyers fans is that have gotten an up close look at one of their own in Claude Giroux and his rise from a star rookie, to star player on the team to now a star in the entire NHL and hockey universe.
However to get to that point there has been a lot of hard work and a good friendship developed along the way.
Enter Tony Greco.
Greco is Canada’s Leading Fitness Specialist, so it's no surprise that Giroux chooses to spend his summer in Greco's gym.
"My agent got us in touch and I've been working out with him for the last six years," said Giroux, who is coming off of his most successful season with 93 points in 77 games.
"He was there to get in better shape,” said Greco. “That's one of my goals each and every summer is to make sure that these athletes transform their bodies, lift their spirits and transform their minds.
"One of the things I did was sit him down and told him nutrition is important, so if you're going to do this, no matter how hard you work, food is fuel and you're going to have to change the way you eat."
Giroux, who makes his off-season home in Ottawa, Ont., credits his rise to Greco's specially designed program and attention to detail he dedicates to all of his clients.
"When I go to camp I feel great. I feel like I got a little bit stronger and faster," added Giroux. "Tony really likes to see a difference after a summer and really pushes us hard."
Among the other names training with Greco are Darroll Powe of the Minnesota Wild (and former teammate of Giroux), Todd White of the New York Rangers, Dan Boyle of the San Jose Sharks and Mike Fisher of the Nashville Predators, formerly of the Ottawa Senators but continued to stay with the program despite his move to Music City. Oh, and since that move, Greco has also trained Fisher's wife - Country Superstar singer and American Idol, Carrie Underwood.
So what makes Greco Lean & Fit such a good fit for the Flyers center?
"We keep changing up and do a lot of the latest research in movements and training procedures," said Greco. "This year's movements are probably going to be one of the better ones because what we did was furthered his strength base. In the first few weeks we did a lot of the strength stuff… I have him two days just working out stretching because as he's going, as he's playing and putting a lot of wear and tear on his muscles, it's really important that he continues to stretch, really isolate and get that range of motion in his muscles."
Throughout his evolution into the star he is now, Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette always notes one thing in particular that sets Claude apart from the rest - Competitiveness.
"When the best player in the world comes up to you and tells you, 'I don’t know who you’re planning on starting tonight, but I want that first shift', that says everything you need to know about Claude Giroux right there," said Laviolette following the Flyers clinching game against the Penguins in May. "For him to come up and say that, I think that speaks volumes for him, not only as a player but who he is as a person.”
It's that mindset that Greco preaches just as much, if not more than the physical exertion his program entails.
"The visualization part in your mind is really, really important,” added Greco. “Visualize yourself as if you've already gone through it and then your body will get you through it. I've tested him from time to time.
“I think Claude, over the years, and I’ve seen it, believed it and achieved it. It takes a lot of experiences to go through believing you can do it and I truly believe that because the confidence level in an athlete is important."
And the results speak for themselves. Giroux has posted four consecutive career-years, which has seen vast improvement in every offensive categories and has led to two-straight (and probably many more) All-Star nods.
"He works with the mind a lot," said Giroux. "When I'm tired I can work with my mind more. It's the little details like that."
Consider the stats below:
Season 1 (9G-18A--27pts) in just 42 games (.64 points per game)
Season 2 (16G-31A--47pts) in 82 games (.57 points per game)
Season 3 (25G-51A--76pts) in 82 games (.93 points per game)
Season 4 (28G-65A--93pts) in 77 games (1.21 points per game)
And we could go on and on about the Flyers leading scorer for the past two seasons, the most recent of which placed him third overall in the NHL and second overall in the League with 65 helpers.
Greco's program is also built for the NHL's second season success.
Averaging over a point-per-game pace in his Stanley Cup Playoff career with 21 goals and 34 assists for 55 points in 50 games, Giroux took his playoff performance even further this season with 17 points (8G-9A) in just 10 games.
In fact, Giroux LED all players in the postseason two weeks after the Flyers had been eliminated, finishing fourth overall and a tied for the lead with his eight goals.
But the past is the past, and while Flyers fans hope the rise of Giroux continues, Greco doesn’t need to hope.
"I always say that winning isn't everything, but wanting to win is. And Claude wants to win every time he gets in there to the point where he'll look at a trainer and say 'If that guy has a heavier weight, I want that weight.' That drive, that will, that determination and inspiration is one of the main reasons [for his success]."
The good news for Flyers fans is not the results you've just read about, its what both Giroux and Greco are working hard at in the gym as we speak.