Game On Magazine September 2015 - Page 44

I’m a huge advocate of cross-training in other sports Friesen and Morgan Burr, were also getting pushed through their daily off-season workouts. It was a hive of activity and some of the work was unique and, yes, one might suggest, unorthodox. “Rich is such a knowledgeable guy, he’s always coming up with new things to challenge us,” said Mark Stone, 23, who just finished second in voting for the Calder Trophy, emblematic of the NHL’s rookie of the year. “For me, the workouts always start with doing things that will help my skating, and Rich knows exactly what to do. But he also makes every workout different and interesting. He’s great.” For Burr, it’s all about passion and fun. The players love to play and Burr loves to make them better. And if you just look around his gym at the jerseys – Helm, Wilson, Eakin, Penner, Stone, Garbutt – it’s like a Who’s Who of Manitoba NHL stars. “This has always been pretty easy for me because I just naturally gravitated toward what they did, pushing them and having a lot of fun with it,” he said. “I had the opportunity of doing my first 10 years with this hockey group at the old Winnipeg Stadium and using their facilities and growing with the young hockey players. When I worked for the Bombers, I think the writing was on the wall for me the day there were more hockey players changing in the Winnipeg Stadium facilities than football players. “The guys that I was training were $5 million-a-year athletes. We used to run the steps of the stadium, doing crossovers and taking double steps and hopping. It reached the point that if one of these guys slipped and fell, the legalities of that whole training program could come into question, so we stopped doing that. “But we ran a ton of stairs. And we even pushed a Gator up the ramps. There was a variety of things we did at the stadium that helped develop energy systems for hockey. We do that now, but on the hill across the street and on the soccer fields and baseball diamond. Now, one day a week we go to the pool, we play tennis once a week, we play squash once a week. These pro guys need that agility stuff. They need it more than just running a couple of cones.” That’s why Burr opened his gym in a perfect spot to take advantage of outdoor activities in the players’ offseason. “I opened up my own space here and just continued the process,” Burr said. “Here we have a hill across the street, a dead end street, soccer pitches and baseball diamonds that we can use for training. Remember, the weights here in the gym are just one part of a complete training program. We’re trying to use all the tools in all the toolboxes. “I think hockey players should do many things. Soccer is a great complementary summer sport for hockey. I think if they play tennis, squash or lacrosse it gives them a mental break from hockey and makes them more excited for that upcoming hockey season to start. I think you often get too much of just one sport. On the one hand you develop some very good skills, but then you also develop some glaring imbalances where other sports can help you see the ice better, move a little better. I know guys who played soccer in the summer after playing hockey in the winter. I’m a huge advocate of cross-training in other sports. “It makes you a better overall athlete.” Burr is 42 and has been in the fitness game for more than 20 years. What sets him apart is his passion. And, yes, the fun he has making great athletes even better. “I’m as excited about this business as I was the day Ross Hodgkinson hired me as an assistant therapist for the Bombers,” he said. “I’m as jazzed about it as I’ve ever been. I get up at 5 in the morning to get to work by 6. I can’t see myself doing anything else. In fact, I know that even if I was financially set, I’d still do it.” n