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Summer Dryland Hockey Training Camp – June/July 2011

June 11, 2011 Leave a comment

As one of the focuses of this blog is self-promotion, I’d like to use this post to promote the Dryland Hockey Training Camp that I will be leading at Blackbelts gym, starting on June 21.  The camp will run twice a week; Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30pm, and continue on for a 6 week period.  You can sign up for the entire camp, or drop-in casually.  The program will aim towards improving players’ aerobic and anaerobic fitness, as well as their speed, strength, quickness, flexibility, and quick thinking, while utilizing the dynamic, plyometric and resistance training techniques that are most beneficial and parallel to the motions and actions hockey players perform during a game.  And perhaps best of all, we’ll be training outside, under the beautiful summer sun.  The later start time will allow for a more reasonable temperature to train in, while still being hot enough for everyone to work on their tans. 

We will be working towards helping players to peak in their fitness for the month of August, the month when most junior hockey rookie and main camps will commence.  Personally, I always dreaded this time of year.  But the condition you arrive at camp in is, more often than not, a direct indication of what level you’ll find yourself fitting in at on the team; at least in the beginning.  In a nutshell, if you’re concerned about either making the team, or contributing to your team, taking your off-season fitness seriously is worth your time, effort, and money. 

I am fortunate to be friends with a guy whose dad played in the NHL during the 70’s and 80’s, and one story I remember his dad telling me was regarding his training camp experiences, and the shift in mentality about them during his era of play.  Basically, in those days, training camp was the time NHL players would actually start working out and getting in shape for the season, so it wasn’t uncommon for those camps to be pretty lackluster, lung-capacity wise.  Everything was well and good with that status quo until the rookies progressively started to come to camp already in shape, and well ahead of the pack in terms of fitness, in hopes of taking away a roster spot from a veteran.  While some of the older players may have mocked or ridiculed those players for doing so, the result was that those rookies were indeed getting their names written on the game sheets, while those who were less prepared saw their starts diminish.  Veterans began to take notice of the smaller numbers appearing on their paycheques, and started to shape-up, literally; realizing their spots may not be as secure as they may have once thought.  

And progressively, over time, that approach and mentality shifted to the product we have now: players devoting their entire summers, starting immediately after their last season game, to preparing themselves physically for next season; either in hopes of cracking a lineup for the first time, or just to keep their spot on the team depth chart and/or payroll.  And if you were to ever watch game film from the 70’s and now side by side and compare the levels of play and role of physical preparation, the products are clearly night and day, and the proof is very obviously  in the pudding.

Players competing at all levels of hockey are welcome to join the camp.  Drop by Blackbelts (behind the Lake Country Tim Hortons’ in the Lakewood Mall), or call in (250 766 5665) to reserve your spot, as space is limited!  You can also leave a comment on this post or email me at davecunning09@shaw.ca if you want to get your name on the list.  If you’re taking your hockey training seriously this summer, I hope to see you at camp!

Train Smarter This Summer, and Step Ahead Next Season.

May 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Hi folks, time for some shameless self-promotion :)  This post was featured as a printed article in the April 8/11 issue of “The View” in Lake Country, BC.  It deals with some thoughts on summer hockey training.  Seems appropriate as every hockey team in the world (besides the Cup finals teams) are in their off-season now.  Have a read, and feel free to get in touch with me if you wanna talk training this summer, or ever!

-SDC

 

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When I was playing minor hockey in the 90’s, seeing other players participate in off-ice training was a rarity. After all, hockey was all about having fun. As I got older, I realized I wanted to play as long as I could and at the highest level possible; and that to do that’d I’d have to take the game more seriously. As I progressed up through my junior, college, and pro career, it became pretty obvious that these higher level leagues were filled with players who had been devoting time to their off-ice fitness, as well as further developing their on-ice skills; and that the players who chose to rely purely on their natural talent to progress, rather than add any extra-curricular fitness methodologies to their repertoire, all seemed to vanish from team rosters. As the level of play I competed at elevated, my natural skills for the game seemed to average out compared to other players; mostly because the level of competition and talent I played against increased at every increment. Moves I could make and goals I could score at lower levels became progressively more inadmissible the higher level I played at. I had to find a way to adapt my game if I were to have any success, and advance further in the game, as I aspired to. Devotion to off-ice training became an absolute necessity, and without it, I doubt I would have made it as far in hockey as I did. One of the most inspiring and applicable quotes I’ve heard in regards to this transition is, “Hard work beats talent when talent refuses to work hard.” Just ask the 8th seeded 2010 Montreal Canadiens about this idea, after beating the talent laden 1st place Washington Capitals and the previous year’s Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in that year’s NHL playoffs.

Sled Pulls. One of many miserable exercises that will get you in tremendous shape.

The difference in hockey training that sticks out most to me when I compare my generation to the current one is that, unlike when I was young and only a few players were committed to their off-ice training, it seems that nowadays any player that is remotely serious about furthering their hockey career has acknowledged the need to improve their physical fitness away from the rink. So now that the secret is out and the standard just to be average is set so high, the challenge for young hockey players hoping to move up the ladder is to decipher a way to rise above the already high median and stick out in a positive and attractive way.

My suggestion for accomplishing this task is the notion of training smarter. While it’s great to attend summer hockey camps, spring leagues, enroll in hockey academies, and explore other methods in getting ahead of the curve, those large group setting models may not be the most beneficial for player improvement, and can prove quite costly as well. Individual attention may be minimized, and a personalized program tailored to a player’s unique goals and attributes likely gets waived in favour of a general set of standards that everyone is expected to achieve. Whether you’re a centerman, left-winger, right-winger, defenceman, or goaltender; every position has a unique on-ice job description that requires different motions and actions to be performed, and different muscles to be activated in different scenarios. So how would a goaltender specifically benefit from partaking in the same program as a forward, when both will need to be strong in completely different ways in a game?

You may or may not be familiar with the term, “Periodization”. This is breaking a season up into smaller focus points: pre-season, in-season, post-season, and off-season. The concept helps to identify which training methods are most appropriate to a player’s development, and when. For example, the way off-season weight training focuses on heavy weight/low repetitions for maximum strength gains is nearly polar opposite to the post-season phase (playoffs), where players focus on simple maintenance of their strength and cardio, and may not lift more than their own body weight while weight training. Because different levels of hockey hold their playoffs at different points in the season, it is imperative that a player’s workout routine enables him or her to peak at the correct point in the season. Minor hockey will generally finish around March, while junior hockey can continue on until May, college hockey can last until late March/early April, and of course the NHL can take until June to complete. If a player’s body is not trained to adapt to and endure this changing but predictable schedule, they likely will not compete at their optimal level, at the time when their team needs them the most.

This is where a Personal Trainer can become an invaluable resource to a player. Often times, players will string together routines based on what others have told them, or perhaps on their own intuition. And more often than not, these workouts degrade into “beach workouts”, featuring chest, biceps, and abs exercises only. While they may indeed put on size and strength this way, their sport specific improvements will likely be limited. Working with a fitness professional can optimize a player’s development by maximizing their off-ice efficiency and gains, translating those improvements into a more effective on-ice product, showing you testable results, and navigating you down the quickest route to obtaining your fitness goals.

If you are a hockey player aspiring to advance to the next level and beyond, do yourself a favour and seek out a qualified Personal Trainer to keep you on track, no matter what phase your season is in. After all, the last day of the season is also the first day towards next season. Use your training time wisely and give yourself the best chance possible to be a stand-out player next year. If training smarter sounds like something you would benefit from, I’d be more than happy to work with you this summer to motivate, educate, and create a program that will spur you on towards being the best player you can be next season and beyond.

If you live in Kelowna, West Kelowna, Winfield, or Vernon I’d be happy to meet you at one of the facilities I’m affiliated with; otherwise, get in touch with me via email.

Blog:http://davecunning.wordpress.com                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Twitter: @davecunning                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Email:davecunning09@shaw.ca                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Phone: 250 826 7489

 

What do Wayne Gretzky, Joe Montana, & Skechers All Have In Common? They All Need To Shape-Up.

February 28, 2011 2 comments

Wayne retired in 1999, these come out 10 years later... yeah sounds airtight.

If you paid much attention to this year’s Superbowl commercials (as most people do, more so than the actual game being played), or you watch TV with even moderate regularity, you may have seen the ads for Skechers’ latest shoes (though the technology has been around for 10 years, and has been employed by multiple other companies), their “Shape-Ups”.  While I don’t usually bother paying much attention to commercials at all, I feel this one irked me a little bit on a professional level, and I feel the need to explain why.

Skechers is claiming that their latest and greatest shoes will make you “get in shape without setting foot in a gym” by just walking around, and that you might as well “say bye-bye, trainer.” As a Personal Trainer myself, I’m sure you can put together why this bothers me; at least if you consider that that they’re basically saying that my profession is a hinderance, and isn’t worth your time or money. I just can’t let that slide.

From their website, here’s why Skechers say you NEED their new shoes: “Shape-ups are designed to help you tone your muscles – from your back and abdomen to your buttocks and calves. Shape-ups may help you lose weight and improve your circulation, creating a healthier you.” You are free to look up the science of the shoes’ claims; but long story short, an insert in the in-sole and an unconventionally shaped sole create a modified walking stride, theoretically engage muscles that don’t usually get used in the typical human walking motion, and thusly make you huge, and dissolve your need to ever exercise again in any other form.

Here’s the thing: they’re just not telling you the whole story. While the approach does have some decent scientifically grounded theory (making muscles work can produce hypertrophy [getting bigger] ), these shoes are just like any late-night infomercial selling the most recently invented product that will (well, claims to) grant you six-pack abs while you do next to nothing. In most cases, the product does actually assist in making your body perform an isotonic action that will stress the muscle it claims to, make you “feel the burn”, and think that the product is the miracle its creators told you it was. The thing that doesn’t get said is that for you to actually lose that body fat and chisel out your inner beach body, you need to follow the unadvertised cardio regimen to engage your aerobic system, as well as the diet plan (both of which are included in the packaging), and that you need to do so consistently over an extended period of time. For some reason, these critical points never make it into the advertising campaign.

I know that just wearing a pair of shoes and walking around probably sounds a lot more appealing than sustained and consistent exercise, so if no one else has already, I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you that getting “More toned and strengthened leg, back, buttock and abdominal muscles, reduced body fat, improved circulation, aerobic conditioning and exercise tolerance, improved posture, relieving muscle tension and back/joint problems” is a little more difficult than Skechers and their unidentified “Doctors and researchers” would have you believe [interestingly, their website’s fine print states, “Walking regularly in Shape-ups may lead to the fitness benefits indicated on this page. Individual results may vary. These independent case studies were commissioned by SKECHERS. Results may vary from person to person. For the greatest results, walking in Shape-ups should be combined with a proper diet and regular exercise regimen.]

Another angle to consider is, of course, their celebrity endorsements. Commercial and website advertisements feature Kim Kardashian, Brooke Burke, Joe Montana, and my boyhood hero, Wayne Gretzky. I have no problem blasting the former three, but jabbing at The Great One is pretty tough for me, as he influenced a large portion of my childhood. But for a lot of people, I’m sure that’s the sell. “Wow look, Gretzky wears them, and he’s never done anything wrong or lied to us, they must be great!” I’m sure that’s how it’s sounded in many people’s heads as they debate whether their $100 – $300 is potentially being well spent on these shoes or not. But look everyone, were any of these aforementioned celebrities out of shape before these shoes existed? Did these shoes affect the playing careers of Wayne or Joe, both of whom completed their days as active players long before the shoes existed? Have the more than a decade old acting/modelling careers of Kardashian and Burke benefited from shoes that only just appeared on the market? Get serious. Shame on you, Wayne, shame (Gretz also recently played air-hockey with Justin Bieber on national TV, and gave him an autographed jersey; I’ve been meaning to having a word with Wayne for a while now).

So for argument’s sake, let’s give this gimmick the benefit of the doubt; let’s say the science is all dead on, and they work. My next question to you is, how long until they end up in your closet or storage room with along with the AbFlex, Ab-Roller, and every other fitness product you bought, used for a while, and then became disinterested in? In the end, this is where us trainers come in, and will remain: as motivators, educators, and enablers. Sticking to any fitness routine for the period of time it takes to see real benefit from is difficult, especially if you wouldn’t describe yourself as a self-motivated person. On more than one occasion now, my training clients have told me that there’s no way they would work as hard as they do with me if they were in the gym alone, if they even came to the gym at all. If you really want the results that the smokescreen of gimmicks promises you, eventually you’ll discover that the only way to achieve them is really is through hard work; and that sometimes the best way to realize your full physical potential is to have a Personal Trainer push you through to them.

Personal Trainers are equipped with the knowledge of how your body actually works — which hasn’t changed since humanity began.  Though gimmick fitness products would argue only they possess the secret to fitness, the real facts remain that to lose weight, you need to burn off more calories than you put into your body on a daily basis; and this is achieved by getting your heart pumping at a mathematically determined Training Heart Rate exclusive to your personal attributes,( ideally from 20 -60 minutes, and 2-6 days a week), taxing your aerobic system to draw in more oxygen and expel more carbon dioxide, and increasing the efficiency of your heart.  There are different aerobic training methods and approaches, and a Personal Trainer can steer you in the direction of which methods are most appropriate for your fitness level, body type, and fitness goals.  These methods and calculations is not information that most people are aware of, and many people get stuck and frustrated from not achieving their own goals because they are training like other people and not appropriately to themselves.  Along with motivation, a Personal Trainer can help you achieve your fitness goals faster by making your workouts more efficient and directed; avoiding time and energy wasted training in unnecessary and inappropriate approaches, thusly getting you “in shape” much quicker than on your own.  When you think about you, a Personal Trainer is the real shortcut, not the unused gimmick device collecting dust in your closet.

So if you live in Kelowna, West Kelowna, Lake Country, or Vernon, I’d be happy to spur you on to reaching your fitness goals the – regardless of what they are, or what kind of shoes you wear! Email ( davecunning09@shaw.ca ) , call ( 250 826 7489 ) , or Twitter ( @davecunning ) me today to book a training session!

 

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