In episode #8 of The Unknown Strength Podcast, Mac couldn't convince co-hosts Brenton or Steve to be available at 4am for the interview recording of this episode - Mac is flying solo on this one. Read below for the full transcription of this episode.
The guest for this episode is Eric Falstrault, a lifelong martial artist, most of all a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitor. He is also one of the most highly skilled an knowledgeable ‘pioneer' PICP level 5 strength and conditioning coaches out there. His close proximity to Charles Poliquin in Montreal, Canada led to him being one of Charles' earliest students. Since then, Eric has gone on to coach a whole host of amateur and professional athletes. Not the least of whom is NHL superstar goalkeeper, Martin Brodeur.
For those unaware, Martin Brodeur is largely considered either the greatest, or the second greatest NHL goalkeeper of all time. As you'll come to understand, Eric and Mac have more than a lot in common on this topic.
Finally, Eric is an author of the widely renowned book "The Strength Code". This interview explores some of the timeless truths and wisdom he has learned from the Samurai, and integrates these elements into modern day life.
Mac: Alright, thank you very much for joining us once again on the Unknown Strength podcast. This is episode 8. My name is Macgregor McNair, I’ll be your host, unfortunately I couldn’t convince my co-host Brenton McKiterick and Steve Phillips to join us this morning. The time zone difference between us in Melbourne and our guest in Montreal was a little bit extreme for my co-host, so I’m flying solo today. But without further ado, our guest today is none other than Mr. Eric Falstrault. He is a lifelong martial artist, PICP level 5 strength and conditioning coach for some of the most decorated athletes in professional sports. He is a naturopath, he is the owner of a successful training facility called Bodhi Fit in Montreal. He’s also an author, of a very highly regarded book, called the Strength Code and he’s a family-man. So ,thank you so much for joining on the show Eric, how are you doing?
Eric: Good, thank you for having me.
Mac: That’s an absolute pleasure mate. So what’s happening over there in Montreal today?
Eric: Ah it’s good, it’s very hot actually, it’s about –now it’s 30, very windy, so I am in the air conditioning now so talking to you, so it’s a good thing.
Mac: Wow, okay.
Eric: Summer has started.
Mac: [Laughter] Fantastic mate. So why don’t you tell us all about yourself, and your background in the martial arts and how you found your current path as a strength coach and a little bit about your journey to where you are today?
Eric: Actually I started training around 12 years old. I’ve always been into-fascinated-about martial arts. That was 8 or 9, as far as I can remember I always admired Jean Claude Van Damme and Bruce Lee, they were my idols at that time. And also it was a question of physique, so the muscle mass and the strength and the strength feats. I was always amazed by that. Even at a young age, I can remember having all those muscle magazines, and knowing all the body builders at that time. Then I started training around 10 or 11. My parents bought my first weight sets; the old Weider plastic plates with Cement inside-
Mac: Cement yes.
Eric: Yeah, you remember that. It’s very old but it’s the first weight set they bought me. I think it was like the empty bar so it was easily pliable, so you can’t put too much on it.
Eric: I was 12 and I think I was doing squats bench, I had a punching bag in my garage, and unheated garage- and in Montreal in the winter it was very cold. I was training Rocky style,
Eric - almost outside, going for run, and then after that getting in the gym in my garage and doing benches and squats. That’s the only thing I knew. And my godfather, he was champion judoka, so he made my programs, and it was very basic, it’s like deadlift, squats, bench then pull-ups. So very basic stuff. I kept on going-it was maybe 2-3 times a week and doing punching bag-we didn’t have too much money at that time, so I couldn’t get into martial art school, but I self-taught myself. I tried to do boxing, I tried to do kickboxing –by watching the movies- like all these kids. Then around 16 years old-I still trained- I never really stopped since I was 12, and around 16 I got my first membership in gym. It was a very cheap gym, if I can remember, I think it wasn’t even 100 bucks per year at that time.
Eric: Yeah, but it was-it was good, because it still was Atlantis machines, so, very good bio-mechanics with the machines, but I was mostly with dumbbells, barbells, like my god father taught me. I still trained, but I think I was the youngest at the gym, so I became the familiar face of the gym,
Eric: I was there 2 hours a day, after school I was there, I was there at five and till eight, then went back home, went to school the next day, same thing five days a week-six days a week. Then I started making programs to people over there at 16. The usual ,they came to see me, did programs- never charged, I couldn’t also at 16-but since I became the familiar face. The owners were two obese people, so they couldn’t show their face too much in the gym, doesn’t show too good.
Eric: And I became like the “hash tag” manager.
Eric: Yeah, for real. But then I started to make programs and that’s where it basically all started. At 16, I did that for about one or two years, then I got into a gym, I think I was 18, I got into a gym I was night manager, and from 2-10 I was the one who was taking care of the gym, and that’s the best gym I ever worked in, besides the one I own now, but it’s the example of what I am trying to do now. The brotherhood we had at night, it was crazy. It’s something that I still want to have now, and I think I succeeded, it’s something I will never forget. That’s the best gym I had, so now I am trying to do the same thing with the gym I own now. It’s a big family, so anyone who wants to come in, he’s getting in the family right away, we go, we train, like your special brotherhood there, it was, I am trying to get that now. Then after that, worked in another gym-this went on for about ten years- that’s where I started to go under Charles Poliquin and that’s where I discovered how he worked. We had a friend in common, so the first seminars he did in Montreal-I was there- and then I never stopped going under him. I went with Paul Chek also, I did a lot, but he’s the main influence in how I teach today and how I train people. After that ten years we owned Poliquin Performance in Montreal-he had four that time, it was like a franchise type- and we had an investor in there, Charles was his name-franchisor. He was there once in a while, but there was something wrong with one of the investor tara ta.. Then it came to another gym that I worked in , and it followed with the gym I own now. Still going with Charles’ way of teaching and never stopped and I think that’s the main reason why I am still in the game today and I love what I do now. So it’s a win win.
Mac: Absolutely. And that’s the beautiful thing about Charles’ methods – is that they tried and true their work, they’re scientifically back, they just work.
Eric: yeah, it’s just fast. The thing is that you have to show the people by any means necessary that what you are doing works and it works fast. That’s what he showed me very fast and as long as you get results, you put it on paper, people are going to see it and they’re going to stay. For any gym I had or the business I had –in personal trainer- never made any advertisement, it was all like word of mouth. I think that’s the best way of doing business.
Mac: Yeah, fantastic. And the thing about Charles’ methods as well, is, I don’t think he’s been ever accused of getting results too slowly. Right?
Eric: Exactly. That’s the main success story. It shows. Success leaves clues like you said.
Mac: Absolutely. So that’s great, we’ve got your early influences as a strength coach coming from Charles, what about In the martial arts, who are some of the guys you looked up to, or were big influences on you?
Eric: It was mostly like- at the beginning it was mostly movies- but there was one guy I met in the gym I worked for ten years. I was doing shadow boxing in the aerobic room, it was full of mirrors and was alone, and then I see this big guy come in. He was Steven, the person I talk in my book. So Steven came in and I didn’t know the guy, so I was doing shadow boxing and then he comes by and he said “You know what? You should come and try one of my classes” so I said “Okay, but, what was it?” he said “Just come and you’ll see”, and he was doing private session in his basement, but at that time there was like 2-3 people and it was the Aiki Jiu Jitsu, not Brazilian but Aiki,
Eric: Mostly joint locks and all that, take downs, mix of Aikido also, and Judo, so I said “okay” but he didn’t tell me. So I went into it, and I was alone with two black belts and him.
Eric: I said “Okay, I am going to get my butt kicked for sure”
Eric: And then we started, man it was the best experience I had in a while. Like when you find your calling with weights- you know that you like it and you’re never going to stop. Same thing with martial arts. He was my first sensei and he showed me so many stuff, it was like my next calling besides weight lifting. Then after that I went on for a maybe a year or so, and he saw that I was freaking out about it, and I couldn’t stop. He was special ops in the army, but it took like two years for him to tell me, and I never asked- I just wanted to learn as much as possible. We build a friendship and it was going very well, he showed me a lot of stuff, and he was doing school for body guards to show them how to-to show them the business about body guard- but my task was to put them into shape and do diets and habits and all that to build around his course- something that I could bring in for the health wise-, this went on for a year. But then he learned that he had knee cancer, a year after that, we stopped everything and then he died, but that was another passion and that’s how it got me started into martial arts very seriously. I love Jiu Jitsu, it’s the best thing I could do now. I had kids at that time, I just had like a few- I had one business, the one with Charles at the same time- so when he died the gym went to scrap also, so it was very hard. At that time I just had my son, he was very young, everything came all together just to show me where I should go and that’s where I chose to make the best out of people and put them into shape. So he was also an influence into my martial arts but also how I am going to go into the business after that. Now I, since my son is 10 and my –I have a younger girl also that’s 6, -they’re getting a bit older, so I started again Jiu Jitsu, as you know it’s hard to find a good sensei-
Eric: So I finally found one, and he comes to my gym because I can’t travel too much, or go too far or something because of the gym.
Eric: So I am working like two hours at my gym, I am doing private with him. It’s Andrew Prada from Gracie Barra, so he comes, I pay him-like two hours- we also have a lot of people who comes in also to do the classes, but two hours every day I am at it and I am not going to stop now.
Mac: That’s amazing. So first of all,- just wanted to express condolences on the passing of Steven, but for the listeners and for myself too, could you share with us, just some of the main differences between Aiki Jiu Jitsu and the more conventional these days Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Eric: Yeah, as I learned, and what I saw. Aiki Jiu Jitsu was more about Aikido and also the takedowns but but the joint locks, compared to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is more wrestling, Judo and- theirs is a small difference, but depend on where you read and where you get your info. They say that Aiki Jiu Jitsu is the mother of all Jiu Jitsu but I think a lot of them say the same thing, anyways, but what I saw mostly is that Aiki Jiu Jitsu, it started all from there ,and then they tried to do a bit of everything, or more into Aikido more in Jiu Jitsu but there is more joint locks-also knee locks and all that-with Aiki Jitsu, that’s what I saw. But Brazilian Jiu Jitsu it’s more of a wrestling, there is less wrist locks and elbow locks and all that, it’s and also, as far as I know is that there’s more of a competition feel with Brazilian Jiu jitsu also-
Mac: Yeah, it’s highly sport oriented martial art.
Eric: Yeah, exactly, and Aiki Jiu Jitsu not that much. But it’s like ten years ago, I haven’t been in touch too much with Aiki, I don’t know where it’s at right now, but I love the fact of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu- that there is points, there’s competition, there’s special ways, and I really love it. I couldn’t say that I love one more than the other but I find that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is more of the aspect of competition, which is awesome.
Mac: Yeah that’s fantastic. My wife and I and a few members of our club just got back from the IBJJF world championships in Long Beach and –witnessing the guys at the top of the sport just throwing down at the highest levels is just such an incredible thing to watch.
Eric: Yeah, their stamina, their strength and the agility man, it’s something that I respect very much.
Mac: The movement of some of these guys-the fluidity of the movement and such aggressive movements done with such fluidity and such finesse , it’s incredible to watch.
Eric: Graceful, I mean, the flow of it is wow, it’s incredible.
Mac: Absolutely. I am with you on that, I’ve a huge appreciation for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, although the more traditional Japanese Jiu Jitsu forms, that’s something that I haven’t had as much exposure to, so thank you for enlightening us on that.
Eric: I have to look into it more, but that’s what I saw. I wasn’t too much into it at that time, I was learning a lot, but we were also doing the side of bodyguard-close protection- so we didn’t go too much with Aiki Jiu Jitsu, I was more into the close protection side. As you know, Close protection, that you got to take the threat out very fast, so that’s why, it’s escorts and all that, you don’t go for the kill but you need to limit the movement of the opponent, so you just block them. It doesn’t have to go on the floor, it could be standing up, as long as you try to eliminate the threat, not with deadly force also. There was a big part of the training that went into the legal parts that we are to take care. Aiki is more of a control the opponent, instead of killing them.
Mac: It’s more used to diffuse a situation rather than to inflict any real harm?
Eric: Exactly, bring down the threat level.
Mac: Okay, that’s excellent. And you said you’re on the set of the bodyguard did you say?
Eric: No , no no, I was-The body guard stuff is that we had to train them,
Mac: Right , okay.
Eric: So we had a team, we were supposed to go in South Africa, to train a team of body guards over there, there were twenty or something, that we had to go train over there. I was taking care of the health and fitness and nutrition part, and he’s going to go into the aspect of body guard and all that, but I had to undergo the same training as the body guard to know what they’re going through, so that was an awesome experience we had to go through. So I had to have my gun permit, and go shooting and all that, do room clearing and all, it was awesome to do.
Eric: I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Mac: [Laughter] Awesome. Alright Eric, as an industry professional what do you perceive as your specialty and which demographic do you feel you work best with?
Eric: Two of my main clientele is, sports- for sure-, so Hockey, Martial Arts, I have also figure skating and baseball, and executives. Those are my main clients, the clientele I work with most, that I like to work with also. But I have also house wives, there are many, but my two main focus is that. Sports, periodization and –when we’re level 5 you have to bring- think you’re level 5 also huh?-
Eric: Exactly, congrats.
Mac: Thank you.
Eric: There’s not too many of us. [Laughter] We have to bring someone into a world championship or Olympics ,so, to periodize and all that stuff, that’s awesome. That’s fun to do. Also I like to plan in advance and that’s the main work we do with sports. Executives is more of a lifestyle thing, so we need to focus on habits, and nutrition and training- it’s a bit more complicated- you can’t periodize that much with them, but you have to go with how they feel, and what they’re doing now at the moment; if they’re too busy you can’t kill them, you just have to go according to what they’re doing now.
Mac: You kind of got to respond to their stress levels in a lot of ways.
Eric: Yeah, and same thing for almost everybody. Same thing for sports- you need to adjust- a good coach should adjust on the spot, you got to have many tools under your belt. You can’t have a program, that’s it, and that’s all. It’s possible to adjust on the spot, even if you have to tell them “You know what?, let’s cut the volume, cut down on sets for today, you’re tired, as long as you do the work. Instead of doing an hour we’re going to do thirty minutes, all out, just good work, good quality work and then you’re done. “ So you need to focus on what the client needs but you can’t also kill them every time. It goes with athletes, it goes with executives, it goes with the housewives, everybody should go under that principle.
Mac: Agreed. Yeah, it becomes a real jigsaw puzzle at times- piecing things together to suit the stress levels and the different stresses that are happening in clients and athletes’ lives.
Eric: Yeah, you have to adjust with it. The same with us, we’re trainers, we want to do martial arts, we want to train at the same time, but if doing too much, too much of a good thing is not good. So you got to have a balance somewhere.
Mac: Yeah, indeed. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about your business, Bodhi Fit in Montreal, you’ve just told us a little bit about the kinds of clients and athletes you are working with, and earlier you mentioned that the brotherhood and the community that you build there is like one of the most important things to you guys, why don’t you tell us how you got started with Bodhi fit, and what the name means and all the rest of it?
Eric: Well, Bodhi fit is , there’s two things, Bodhi is from Bodhisattva. Bodhisattva is a Buddha that dedicated his life into helping people get better, get healthier. That’s the dedication behind it, and Bodhi is also the one-it’s like two different things- but Bodhi, it started from the movie- I don’t know if you remember- the first Point Break, from Keanu Reeves.
Mac: And Patrick Swayze, let’s not forget him. [Laughter]
Eric: Yah, exactly. But Bodhi in that movie is Patrick Swayze.
Eric: okay, so he’s like Robin Hood. He wants to send a message. He’s going to steal but he’s going to give it out to people. It comes out to be-he sees it as a good thing. Not really in that movie, but still. So it started from there, then I wanted to know what Bodhi means, because – his girlfriend spells it in the movie, so I said, what’s Bodhi- B-o-d-h-I, so I said- I did a bit of research on it, that’s where it all started. So Bodhisattva, he dedicated his life into helping the others, so that’s where it came out. And also, when my friend died, with everything I saw him being someone that as strong as an ox, but the sickness got into his knees and it killed him. I said I never want to have deal with that or to see that in someone again, and that’s where I said “You know what , my goal will be to prevent or try to prevent as much as possible sickness”, so that’s what I am doing at the gym. I want people to be healthy, not only to train hard and go at it, and be machines. Like I said, it has to be a balance, if the goal is to teach them how to try to achieve balance, even if it’s not possible to get the perfect balance for a given amount of time, my job is to teach them how to recover or just to make sure that they’re healthy and that’s the main focus of the gym in Montreal. It’s semi-private and private gym, goes by appointments, you need to come, it’s like one on one based, so everybody that comes there, it’s personal training, I have a team and that’s what we do there.
Mac: Fantastic and tell us about the actual space, the actual facility itself, what kind of gear are you running there?
Eric: I am known in Montreal for my Strongman workout.
Mac: Oooh, fantastic.
Eric: Yeah, so that’s my little dada, it’s something I do a lot. I’ve classes on Monday, Wednesday and Sunday, and people come, they just show up , and we kill them the best we can.
Eric: Yeah, for real. That’s the main focus of the classes, but I have logs, power racks, dumbbells, we could deal with the strongman, power lifter and all that, as much as we can deal with little Linda that just wants to get in shape and never trained in their entire lives. So we can deal with everybody, but I have Atlantis, mostly as the main machines in the gym. I’ve a power lifting platform, I have a turf in the middle, I have about 60 feet and we have a prowler, sleds and big heavy tires –like 700 pounds- the other one is 900- also, I have a few mats, that’s where I do the classes of BJJ, at the end of the gym we put out the mats and that’s where we do it. It’s small, the gym is 2000 square feet, so it’s square, so we put everything there, we could fit 15-20 people at the same time.
Mac: Fantastic. That sounds like a dream set up my friend.
Eric: I looked for a local for a long time, took a while-I think two years- before I found the perfect place to go and put my stuff in. I started in my garage , so I build up my gym in my garage , I bought a leg curl, a power rack, plates and all that, so it was in my garage. Then after that “You know what?, let’s go invest.” Put about 20-30 thousand bucks of machines of Atlantis, put on the gym and now it’s my fourth year I am starting there. I am soon looking to get bigger now.
Mac: Congratulations sir, that really does sound incredible.
Eric: Thank you.
Mac: Sooner or later, it was inevitable that I was going to ask about Martin Brodeur.
Mac: Yeah, I should mention for the audience, I played field hockey myself as a goal keeper when I was younger, and I’ve always been a Habs fan, the Montreal Canadiens- and my hero was always Patrick Roy, the goal tender. So for our listeners Eric, could you please tell everyone who Martin is, how you came into contact with him, what’s some of his accomplishments are, and your experiences working with him?
Eric: First it was a big surprise when Mac told me that he liked Patrick Roy, since he is on the other side of the world. So that’s very rare- in Montreal that’s all we hear about-
Eric: There’s like a big fight between those who like Patrick Roy and those who like Martin. It’s always like “You know what, Roy is much better because of.. and “No, no,no , Martin’s better because of..”. It’s always like back and forth between the fans, and it’s cool that you were a goal tender also, it’s pretty cool. That’s it. Martin-he is known for his long stretch to play, because he played almost 20 years and- I think it was twenty years- and he also plays many games – he played many games, now he’s not playing anymore by the way- but when he was at the top of his game, he was playing-I think- the most games per year. So he is endurance, no injuries, and he had the most wins ever, there’s so many accomplishments and record that he did, as much as Patrick Roy, that’s why there’s a big feud between both of the fans, that it’s hard to pinpoint which one is the best. They’re very respected but for each their own. So he contacted me, and we had one friend in common. He wanted to get in better shape, because- I had him for the last ten years he played- and he started to feel like he needed to lose a bit of weight, he needed to get better. His joints and all that started to hurt, and that’s it. So he contacted me, we did the evaluation and then we went on from there.
Mac: Okay. And what about his actual training, what kind of athlete is he, he’s fast twitch, slow twitch?, and I guess- what I really want to know is- What are some of the requirements of an NHL goal keeper in terms of training and on-ice performance?
Eric: He-Martin was like a cardio freak,
Eric: He was stamina, he’s like perfect and I never could kill him with the prowler and that’s a big thing. If you know what the prowler is?
Mac: Yep, yep.
Eric: For him I had to train him at his house. When we started training we trained in the gym, so the gym we were getting bothered so many times-everybody wanted to come and see him, talk about the game, talk about what he did, everybody had their two cents about how he played or what’s going in the NHL-
Eric: So he said, “You know what? I am tired of this”, let any- the best guy to talk with, by the way he’s not like condescends -everybody that came to see him, he never turned them away. But it was bothering me also, because I couldn’t get in a decent workout and he said “You know what? ,It’s nice but I can’t go on like this, and I know that it bothers you”. I was looking at him, in his rest period and I said “Let’s go”. I saved him, a few times, of talking to someone, because it was getting ridiculous.
Eric: He said “You know what?” let’s build a gym in his house. So when he came in the off season, he’s coming up north, he has a big house in Up North, so we built a gym in his garage, we trained there, four and five days a week. So I had to go-drive an hour in the morning, train him and then come back to my gym in Montreal , after that around 9 started working at the gym, so five days a week I was there, and there is not a morning, he wasn’t there before me. He was in his garage when I came in, at 7 o’clock I was getting in the driveway, he was already doing his cardio, warming up. There is not a morning in those ten years, he wasn’t there doing that.
Eric: Yeah, dedication, this guy was the best. Because I’ve heard other crazy stories about the other players in the NHL, so I was very fortunate and lucky to have him. Every morning we were there, we were training. I could do almost anything, there’s some people- you know a bit of the types, like the Wood type and the Earth and , I know you follow a bit Poliquin so let’s say, the Wood type can take a lot of variety, but they can’t endure volume. He’s more of the Earth, Earth type they could do anything. But lets’ put,-Earth type for body building could be Schwarzenegger,
Eric: He was the Earth type of hockey. By the way, he had to make a choice, when he started Hockey, he was as good forward, as he was a goal tender. And he made the choice of going goal tender.
Mac: Do you know why he made that choice?
Eric: No, it was pure instinct. I asked him the same question, he said “No, you know what? That’s what life told me”, pure instinct, so he decided to go goal tender. Imagine if he had chosen the other one, but still maybe he could have had the same success or not, so that’s a good thing he followed his instinct.
Eric: Yeah, that’s it. I could give him power, also Olympic lifts, he caught on very fast, he learned very fast. So that’s what’s fun about that, it’s like multi-task and multi-qualities that he had, that made the job very easy for me to do. In the summer, I had ten weeks to prepare him, when we do it in the summer, I do few weeks at the beginning to get rid of the injuries, rehab, prehab and then we go more specific as the summer goes on. But ten weeks is very fast, so I had to prepare him in those ten weeks to get him in the best shape of his life. The thing is, with the NHL,when they evaluate them- specially, I don’t know if it’s with all the teams, every team is a bit different, but them, for New Jersey at that time- they had him at a specific weight, when he won the big trophy, what’s it called? I have a blank- the Stanley cup-
Mac: The cup.
Eric: Okay, so when he won, I think he was at 220- so every time he came back from offseason, they wanted him at 220 because he won the cup at that time, regardless of the body fat. They never tested him on that.
Mac: So what were the repercussions if he was lighter than 220 or heavier?
Eric: They wanted him at 220. That night he gave me shit, but he got shit because I was putting him down, there’s was one Summer I remember, he was at 215-214, and in the best shape of his life. And that’s like in the last years. We discovered a few food intolerance, and then he said “You know what? That’s the best thing that happened, I have no more problem in by way, blab la bl” but he came in very lean, he had abs at the end. Then I said “You know what?” and then he said “You know what? They don’t want me at that weight.” So I said “What the..?” ,“seriously?”. I knew that he was in the best shape of his life, and he knew it too. And he said “No, that’s how it goes.”, I said “Oh my god.” , but there’s a lot of things that’s a bit wrong, but it’s not same for everything. But they work that way.
Mac: It’s literally like looking at the situation through a straw.
Eric: Oh, absolutely.
Mac: Your body weight, it’s not an indication of anything, in terms of athletic performance.
Eric: And given the knowledge and the amount of knowledge they could acquire with going to see someone to learn more and all that. They don’t see it that way, and that was very surprising. I said “I am doing my job the best I can” and “it’s the NHL, blab la bla” and he came back with that info, I said “Are you serious?” he knew the exact. He saw his body fat go down, he felt great and all that, but that’s what he said, and then he said “Forget about it, I am going to tell them” but that’s how they work, and I said “Wow, okay that’s freaky”, but that’s the game. Then after that, let’s say in the season, he gained a bit, but in those ten years let’s say I had him at the beginning- his body fat was high- but at the end he was able to come back at the same body fat. We went down in the summer- he was finishing the summer at 12-13%, but when he came back the following year, he stayed almost at the same body fat, less injuries and was going good, but he took care of his habits also. He knew how to work around it, especially in the season, travelling and all that, he knew what to eat, like the old Pasta before game, and a Gatorade while they were playing- I changed a bit of that- and that’s where you saw that there was a big difference in his game. It’s mostly those habits; nutrition around the game and all that, that was the biggest things to change for him, but training wise I could give him almost anything, and he caught on very fast.
Mac: It sounds like a dream athlete to work with mate.
Eric: Oh, seriously. We came in the morning, we had an hour to train, and anything I could throw at him and he did it. He was staying in the summer, there was a big hill- so his kids came to train, because I took care also two of his sons- and one got recruited also for Jersey,
Mac: Oh, wow.
Eric: And we trained them at the same time, so we’re all training at the same time. We are all training in the morning. It was cool to see, everyone was pushing the other one, so, if one didn’t go well , Martin made sure that he knew it. [Laughter] It was in a funny way, -they were still kids- and we were doing the prowler up hill, sprints up hill and all that, and Martin beat them.
Eric: Even at his age. What made me mad, is, I saw a lot of people saying “He’s at the end”, “he’s less in shape” and all that, but I knew that wasn’t the case. But still it’s the same thing, in NHL if you’re getting about 35, they’re going to say that you’re getting old and your game is getting worse and blab la bla. Now you see a few players are now playing into their forties and they’re still going good, I think their mentality is going to change a bit, but it’s still the same sense overall. For sure, it depends also on if their doing, if there is too much training, and you see their work headaches, it’s going to reflect what they’re doing on the ice also.
Mac: Yeah, I’ve got a question for you about just how you approach training an NHL level goaltender, it’s such a specific demand in terms of coordination, balance and fine motor skill, like staying in the one spot, relatively speaking , compared to one of the other players on the ice, how do you approach that really specific set of demands for an NHL goaltender?
Eric: It’s easier in a way, because there’s not too much of- it’s less about endurance, or work capacity, it’s more of explosiveness and being there and also to take the pressure of the game. Because when you’re in a game six, you’re a goaltender, it sucks, it’s more about getting rid of the pressure, and he was great with that, you know that he could take the pressure and still sleep at night- had no problem with dealing with all the big pressure when there was big games. It’s easy to train them , but still it was a game of flexibility mostly, and also strength, power ,there’s not too much hypotrophy, there’s bit to prevent the injuries, that’s the goal with them; preventions, strength, flexibility mostly and to be explosive, so at the end of the off season , it was more of Olympic lifts, explosiveness and make sure that everything is –not flexible- but he has a lot of agility also, but his reflexes were crazy. I got him on the- you know what’s the Bongo board?-
Mac: Yes, I do, but why don’t you tell our listeners.
Eric: Okay, the Bongo board is like there’s a cylinder under a plank, so you have to be able to control and stay on top with both feet on the plank while trying- it’s hard to explain- to hold your balance and stay on top of the plank on top of the cylinder.
Eric: So, there’s always movement, you can’t stop. I was throwing him, tennis balls, full speed, and he caught them, while on top of the Bongo board. And I was making sure he was going out of his way to get the ball, so his reflexes were crazy, and still even at the end of his career.
Mac: That’s unbelievable.
Eric: So- that’s crazy. Even when he- his peripheral view was awesome, like he had no problem. He told me a story once ,that he was at a soft ball game, so the big ball, he was sitting in the stand, and his little girl was beside him. He was talking to his wife on his left side, the girl was between them, and as he was talking to his wife, he felt the ball coming for his daughter. Soft ball is as big as his daughter’s head- so it was coming full speed- he wasn’t even looking and he caught the ball with his hand.
Eric: Okay, so he felt like- I don’t know what- even his wife told me. He had- not a gift-but he was great with that. So I could do anything with speed and agility and to make sure that he went out of his way, and he caught on very fast, and great reflexes. Still up to his last year. Yeah.
Mac: That is like some sixth sense stuff right there.
Eric: Yeah, that’s exactly what he said. “You know what, I felt something”. That’s the best thing he could say, he said “ I don’t know, why and what, but I just caught the ball like that”, like he had a few days that his hand hurt, but still , he probably saved-
Mac: Saved his daughter’s life.
Eric: Oh, for sure, it was coming at full speed.
Mac: That’s unbelievable. Those really are the kinds of instincts that make goal tenders great right?
Eric: yeah exactly, because that’s where his feeling where it’s going, and that’s what made him great I guess.
Mac: What were on the topic of greats, I am sorry mate, I have to do this to you, I have to ask you. Where do you think Martin stacks up against some of the greats of all time? Now in my list I’ve got Patrick Roy, I’ve got Dominik Hašek I’ve got Jacques Plante ,and Terry Sawchuck and Glen Hall.
Eric: yeah, Jacques Plante man.
Mac: Yeah, [Laughter].
Eric: You surprised me, okay. I think, because he had a different style also huh, he was more of a stand up, no butterfly.
Eric: Okay. If you look at them walking, I don’t know if you looked at-I am talking about healthy wise- so if you look at Patrick Roy now, the way he walks says a lot.
Mac: He’s pretty banged up right?
Eric: The same with the other ones, I don’t know if there’s another one were more of a stand up, but him- he had a different style, so he went also in the back, he didn’t have a hard time to get out of the goal. But it’s hard to say, everybody has a good argument, so that’s why I can’t take a side because I grew up with Patrick Roy also , but then I had to train Martin, I can’t say that- that’s why it’s sucks a bit, because I don’t want to take a side.
Mac: You’re a traitor.
Eric: Yeah, exactly, but it’s a matter of, longevity, how they played? If you look at Jacques Plante, the game was different.
Mac: Yeah, it’s a long time ago.
Eric: yeah exactly, but the game was different, they didn’t have as much protection. Did you see the mask man, it was like Friday the 13th, that’s it.
Mac: That’s all, yeah.
Eric: Exactly, it depends on the era, it depends on the number of games, the game has changed also, the guys are like machines, the slap shots are bit harder now. Compared to before, with less protection, I don’t know, if you can compare that, so it’s hard to say. But I can’t take a side man, I’m sorry, because-
Mac: It’s okay, it’s okay.
Eric: Patrick Roy was a machine also, he was a great guy also, work ethics, it’s like untouchable but I know that Martin was the same with work ethics, didn’t take things too seriously, but when it was time to win, he was there, he was like the main guy of the team-who was holding the team-, same thing for, Patrick Roy same thing for Jacques Plante, so it’s hard to say man, it’s really hard to say.
Mac: No, I can respect that answer, you side stepped, getting yourself into trouble, very nicely.
Eric: [Laughter].Especially if Martin is listening.
Mac: [Laughter] Alright, mate, why don’t we change directions a little bit and talk about your book,- the Strength code, I’ve had a chance to go through it, now, I absolutely love the book, so thank you for putting it out there.
Eric: Thank you.
Mac: You cover a lot of ground in the book, and in my opinion I think it’s a fantastic resource for anyone looking to turn their life around, both athletes and general population. You lay out a very clear instructional guide for optimizing strength, health and making better lifestyle choices. Now before we delve into some of the specifics in the book ,the Strength Code, can you tell us how the book came about and what inspired you to write it?
Eric: I was writing off and on for my website, when I had a good idea, I said “ I am going to write it down”, there’s some stuff I kept for the book, then I posted it with- there was some stuff on the book , that I posted on my website also, and I saw that it was catching on, people were getting involved, so I knew what people were looking for or what info touched people more. After about five years or so, it came at the same time as my friend Stephen also - that’s where most of the book was written, it took about two three years after that , that I couldn’t write a thing, I wasn’t able to write like, writers block they say,
Eric: I stopped writing and all that. Then my friend died, I started the other gym, and all things came about, and I said “You know what, let’s finish this.”, so that’s where – the book is based on what I did with Stephen, also my experience with him and how it got me to go all out with it. But if you look also in the book, there’s a few clients I have wrote about the experience with them, what I learned from them and that’s what I tried to do with everyone that I train. Try to learn how to deal with some habits, some bad habits, lifestyle management and all that. That’s basically how I came up with the book, I said “you know what? , let’s put examples from what I had in my life”, what I dealt with clients and put into twelve habits that I think should be the main focus on of what someone should try to aim for, so they could get better health, train better, just have a better life also. Try to achieve balance, that’s the main focus of the book, and –let’s say- if you lose it also how to get it back, but it’s mostly simple habits that- some of them are basically easy and it’s like no brainer it’s going to help us get better, but some like chewing, people don’t focus on that too much but do you know how many times I’ve to remind clients,
Mac: To chew your food.
Eric: Yeah, exactly. If you don’t chew your food, you’re going to mess up your digestion, and if you have bad digestion it comes out to be other problems at the end. So that’s why I wanted to make the book as simple as possible, but to get the most info, but also that you can come back to the book-let’s say in an year or so, even in two three years- and you’re going to look into it and you’re going to say “Man, that’s true, I forgot about that”, and then you start doing it again. So it’s just like you get more bang for your bucks, because you can come back to your book and be reminded of what maybe you didn’t do for the past few months, and that was the goal of the book , and that’s how it came about also.
Mac: Fantastic. So you’ve kind of synthesized all the experience and knowledge you’ve gained from working with the broad variety of people you’ve been working with, and kind of formulated it into a book.
Eric: Exactly, that’s it. It’s the experience. It was from what I learned from people and tried to put it into something very easy to incorporate into your life.
Mac: And the mantra you put on the front of the book and the thing that best sums it up, is “action is the seed of true strength”. What can you tell us about that saying?
Eric: Yeah, the other mantra, “just do it”, was taken by Nike, so that’
Eric: But, the thing is that, as long as you put the first foot forward, is going to be what you need to do. It’s the action, try to just do one of the action, just do one of the habits, and then maybe you can be able to turn your life around , just like that, because you’re going to change one of the habit, that’s going to, maybe keep you back. So, just try to do one action, one habit, a day, a month or something, just, action, you need action, and you need to do it, so that’s why, “just do it” ,or “action is the seed of true strength” is the same, but just go ahead, first look forward and then don’t stop.
Mac: That’s fantastic. Another thing you speak about throughout the book, is “principles of the Bushido.”, now, I personally don’t have a whole lot of exposure to these principles, so for myself, and other listeners, could you please tell us exactly what they are , and how they can apply to guys like us, and members of the fight community?
Eric: yeah, there’s different schools that use Bushido, but if you look at the book of five rings, by Miyamoto Musashi, is the way of the Samurai. But – I always consider myself like a warrior, or a Ronan, just lost my master, and the way that he- Stephen I am talking about- is that is the way he showed me integrity, respect , honor, compassion, duty, loyalty, those are all the virtues of Bushido, so if you live your life according to those virtues, it’s impossible for you to go on a bad road. So that’s why- if you respect, first your body, -it’s impossible for you not to go well, or to be healthier, so if you look into it that way, that’s how I try to do it. It was a big part of the book, that’s how I tried to build around it, is the Bushido, or the way of the Samurai- the book of five rings- which is how a Samurai would- or should- compose himself, or just to go around life according to that. It’s like respect your body, train intelligently, honor your words, honor -again-your body, loyalty, it all comes out to how you project yourself, and how you respect your body, respect your word, that’s how it should be, and that’s a joyful life, in my opinion. And I learned that from Stephen, I learned that from Charles, it’s a way of life. That’s how I see it, and that’s what I wanted the book to reflect.
Mac: Okay, so it’s kind of like, a set of values, and a set of organizing your actions and your thoughts to kind of both create and attract the right kinds of things to your life, is that correct?
Eric: Exactly, yeah, that’s perfectly said.
Mac: Okay, fantastic. That’s something I am definitely going to be looking into, the book you mentioned was the book of five rings, sorry, who is the author?
Eric: It’s Miyamoto Musashi, there’s a lot of versions, there’s some for business, there’s some for- I think there’s some for health wise, but if you look at the traditional one, you can easily also see it as something you can incorporate into your life, there are some stuff in there that was like, from the old days; It’s past day, don’t worry about that, but if you look into the overall message, you’re going to get to it very easily.
Mac: Man it’s still relevant for today.
Eric: Yeah, the books that correlated to business, they’re awesome. It’s very good, it’s like the art of war also , from Sun Tzu.
Eric: There’s a few versions also according to business- on the business side- so they did the same thing with the book of five rings, but it’s more of a – the Art of war, it’s the art of tactical fighting and all that, but the other one- the book of five rings- is how one should compose himself into go along life.
Mac: That’s excellent. Alright, let’s move along to something else, you speak about in the book. Now this is one of my favorite topics, can also be a very controversial topic, and I am speaking about the Poliquin “meat and nut” breakfast, alright, so, before you delve into exactly what it is for our listeners, I can personally vouch for the “meat and nut” breakfast, especially when you follow it to the letter, because I’ve never seen better results in terms of my own body composition and the mental acuity – like how sharp and how effectively I can think through situations just by starting my day with this very simple diet. So please Eric share with us your experience, with the Poliquin “meat and nut” breakfast.
Eric: It’s actually one of the first thing I do with clients. They could be eating shit all day, if they can’t live without junk food in the rest of the day, or at least change a bit of it, but I tell them “ You know what, you want keep eating bread in the afternoon, or at night, I don’t mind, do whatever you want, but if you start with changing your breakfast with the “meat and nuts”, they still get good results , just by changing the breakfast, so basically it sets up your neurotransmitters during the day, so if you start with meat, which is a good part of carotene, protein, tyrosine – with the nuts and all that- it sets up your mood and your transmitters for the rest of the day. It’s proven also that you’re going to cheat less during the day, because you’re not going to be as hungry, you’re not going be as-you’re not going to affect, your blood sugar in the morning as much, so your blood sugar during the day should be more stable- which is a big part of why you’re going to cheat if you start with a breakfast- let’s say with only smoothie,- now I am going to get targeted because I said smoothie in the morning is not good, but if , let’s say, you look into how you’re starting your day and how it’s going to affect the rest of your day, that’ the breakfast to go to. However if you start with someone that never ate before in the morning and they start with it, right away, for sure they’re going to get results, but no one is able to do it. So the best way to incorporate into your life, I know that there’s a lot of listeners that’s going to say ”Ah yah, stake in the morning, how can I do that?” They’re used to eating a bagel or just not eating in the morning, So that’s the major complaint I get, but I tell them, “If you can” – there’s still eggs in the morning that people don’t really mind, you just don’t want to eat eggs every day, but I tell them “You know what, if you want to keep eating your cereals in the morning, or your toasts and coffee in the morning, it’s fine, but try to at least incorporate it three to four days a week and then do whatever you want in the rest of the week, still it’s not the best way, but it’s a way to start changing that habit slowly.
Eric: It’s not given to everybody, to be able to eat let’s say , “meat and nut” seven days a week, still, even if they know that it’s going to give them results, it’s going to be hard. So you start incorporating it very slowly into your daily nutrition but try to see how it’s going to affect you during the day, so for those days that you’re going to eat the “meat and nuts” breakfast, try to see how you feel during the day, more concentrated, better focus, more energy and then the days that you’re not going to eat it, try to compare. Then that’s the best thing to know if it’s good for you or not. There’s also a point also to see if they digest protein very well, enzymes and all that, that’s another story, but still if you start with it, and you change and you see a big difference, you’re in for a ride, because you’re going to see a big difference very fast.
Mac: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Eric: You tried it also.
Mac: I apologize for cutting you off there mate, but it’s so true, one of my early mentors had me get started on the Poliquin “meat and nut breakfast” by having it every third day,
Eric: Yeah, exactly.
Mac: So every third day, I would have a small piece of steak, a handful of nuts and then I would do whatever I normally did, for the next two days, and that could be skipping breakfast altogether or it could be just having something crap for breakfast, and the difference that I felt on the “meat and nut” days, between the other two days, was night and day difference, and it only took the space of about a week and a half, before I was absolutely sold on doing meat and nuts every day. Because the mental clarity- that in particular was what stood out to me. The other thing you touched on was, not getting as hungry throughout the day, as I understand, the satiety factor, or the not-getting-as-hungry, comes down to two factors with the “meat and nut breakfast” which is; the fat content, which just by default makes you feel fuller, but the other is the mechanical digestion, that’s required, it actually takes longer to digest, it’s more effort for your body to digest and
Mac: And it sticks around in your system for longer.
Eric: Yeah, and blood sugar also, because if your blood sugar crashes after you ate two bowls of cereals because of the high glycemic index, you’re going to be hungry, that’s the reflex you’re going to get , to bring up your blood sugar again. But still, like you said, the fat is going to try to stabilize your blood sugar levels, and it lasts longer, so it’s all a matter of controlling your hormones which is cortisol and all that, and then it’s going to help you out. And if you control your hormones, you’re going to lose fat, and you’re also going to perform better, so it’s, you kill two birds with one stone.
Mac: Yeah, that’s awesome. So for an absolute beginner to this, let’s lay out a really simple plan for breakfast, I am suggesting the “meat and nut “ every third day, what kind of meat and what kind of nuts, and what kind of ratios should we be talking about here, mate?
Eric: The mistake I see the most is that people try to eat a lot at the beginning, or they think the steak has to be as big as the dish. What I tell them is, “you’re hungry for what?”, if you’re hungry for a small Filet mignon , so be it, and maybe five or six nuts and that’s it, people who are not used to eat in the morning, that’s what I tell them. “You know, what, what do you feel like eating?” and they “Maybe a few Brazil nuts, fine that’s good. And then you start like that, I rarely put ratios or quantity, because people get mixed up, but also it takes out the instinct of eating, and stopping when you’re full.
Mac: Right, okay, so you need to be in tune with what your body feels like it needs.
Eric: That too, and that’s a big problem now, because people are so focused on eating a quantity, that they forget- that’s the worst mistake- our parents told us, like “finish your dish”, it’s a problem that. I see often, people are not going to listen to their instinct or their digestion, there’s also problems behind that, but what I’m telling them mostly in the morning, is eat what you’re in the mood for, but if again, like you said you need quantity, I usually go with the palm of your hand, so it goes to proportion for protein, it goes in proportion of your body size. So girls are going to eat a bit less, and guys are going to eat a bit more. If you look at the palm of your hand ,and the same thickness should be the same portion of meat or protein.
Mac: Okay, that’s very helpful.
Eric: Yeah, so steak as big as the palm of your hand, and stake that’s like a good size to start with. If you’re hungry in the morning, you want to eat two of those, no problem, but still again, if you eat the steak that’s very fat, maybe going to have a problem with digestion, so you have to look into that. So if you start with eggs, usually the portion for girls could be two three eggs, guys could be up to six to eight, and with the yoke, because you need fat. Eggs are supposed to be eaten like that, with the white and the yoke. So I never tell them to take it out, even those who want to cut fat and all that, I am not into cutting that fat and all that, I am just eat what’s good for you, and I know that’s good type of fat, it’s good cholesterol, you need some, that’s the portion sizes I go. And with the nuts, I try to rotate them, so don’t take a mixture, just take –let’s say Brazil Nuts one day, the next day take pine nuts, the other day take Almonds, but never take a mixture. Usually mixture, are those nuts they can’t get rid of, or the quality is less, so I never chose those types of nuts, unsalted –obviously- and just take a handful, put the cup away, and sit down at your meal, eat slowly, take your time, chew your food, and that’s the best advice.
Mac: That’s absolutely excellent, now I am going to recommend that everyone listening, try this breakfast, just at least try it before you judge it.
Eric: Yeah, absolutely. A lot of people are –don’t know how you say it in English- they’re afraid, I don’t know why, but-also the morning, most people see what they’re eating for breakfast as comfort food, because of the shitty day ahead, they want food that they’re going to make them feel good. But I rather give them food that’s going to make them perform better. It could be the same but there’s a big difference, so I tried to show them, but in about a week, let’s say I do their body fat, tell them just change that in the morning, do seven days like that, then they come back, I tell them redo their body fat again, and it’s almost certainty that they lost weight. They lost weight and fat mostly.
Mac: Yeah, so eating for health, not for pleasure people.
Mac: [Laughter] it’s great. Okay, so moving along mate, as I mentioned earlier, I feel like you’ve covered a lot of ground in the book, your passion, your experience, your vast knowledge, it’s all culminated into this fantastic resource of information. Now I don’t want to give away too much of what’s in the book, that’s actually in the book, that’s not what I’m trying to do with this, but could you please just summarize exactly why all our listeners and members of the fight community should get their hands on a copy of your book?
Eric: Okay. Now it’s for the fight community, let’s say you get a few bad habits out of the way, you’re going to use less energies for stupidities. No? Makes sense.
Eric: So, if you have more energy to put into training, which is – I would love that- and that’s the main focus of the book, is that if you incorporate good habits that could give you more energy, more stamina, more strength while you’re training , sleep better, digest properly, get better body composition, like- less fat and more muscle mass; which is going to help you fight better, be faster, be all there, also when you’re fighting. Not trying to remember in the middle of getting choked, and you just forget about how you should go out of it, you don’t want that. So you want to perform better all day, every day, especially in your workouts. That’s the main focus of the book, is to make sure that all your habits fit with your training regimen that you’re going to perform at your max every time you step into the dojo. That’s how I see it, and that’s what I’m trying to do every day, with myself, and also with everyone I work with. Especially with fighters I trained a few of them, everything is calculated, if you look at their training- one day they’re going to be- specially in MMA –they’re going to go into wrestling, the other day they’re going to go into striking, then after that flexibility, there’s a few steps that you need to work on, but at least every day you’re going to learn more and you’re going to retain more information also, because your body is going to be there. Your hormone levels are going to be optimal during the day, so all those habits are going to help you perform better, that’s the way I see it, that’s what I’m trying to teach.
Mac: Alright, that’s absolutely fantastic. The name of the book is “The strength Code” , please ladies and gentlemen get your hands on a copy of it, I’ll put a link to the amazon site in the show note, so you’ll be able to get your hands on it there. Okay Eric, let's change directions a little bit, you have been talking just a little bit about the fight scene and the fight community, why don’t you tell us about the fight team over there in Montreal? You’ve got over there- what I consider one of the strongest MMA academies on the planet- TriStar gym , led by Firas Zahabi-
Mac: Obviously you’ve got George St-Pierre, again in my opinion Is quite possibly the greatest mixed martial artist of all time, but you’ve also got the likes of Rory Macdonald, Tarec Saffiedine, Olivier Aubin Mercier, Francis Carmont, and now the Scottish girl, Joanne Calderwood over there. That’s a killer team over there, that’s a really impressive team of guys and girls, tell me, what’s your experience with the guys over there at TriStar, and what do you think it is they’re doing better than everybody else?
Eric: Actually I met Firas once and I was training – you know David Loiseau?-
Mac: Yes, the Crow, yeah.
Eric: the crow, okay. We were training him while ago, I think he was going for Rich Franklin at that time,
Eric: And we were training him and then Firas came into the gym ,and he’s an awesome guy, very technical, he’s very focused and what I’ve learned from him and what I felt also, is that; he knows the guys to the T. So psychologically, physically, what they can put out, he knows them to the T, he knows exactly what he wants from them, and he’s very focused. I respect him for all his work he did, he’s a true master of what he does, that’s when I met him. I think that’s why he excels that much is that he goes – not only the physical aspect – but also mentally, so he knows how to go get them, he learns from them, he- I don’t know if you watch also the movie, with GSP, what’s the name again, I don’t remember, it’s a while ago-it was focusing on GSP, -I am going to try to look for it and send it back to you-
Eric: It’s something that you should watch, because you look at his work ethics and it transpires on all his fighters, especially George. You see how George is very focused, like energy, I think that’s one of major trait of their success over there. Is that they learn who is the fighter, but they don’t try to change the fighter, they learn how to deal and to work with them, to make them shine, and to focus on their strength and also work on their weaknesses, so they know exactly what to do with their fighters. I am pretty sure that’s why they get lot of success with all the guys.
Mac: Mhm, so, focusing on enhancing the fighters, building on their strength, bringing up their weaknesses, rather than trying to change things around too much, is that it?
Eric: Yeah, because, you see, there’s a lot of people that they see, “okay, I’m going to go see “ if you come –let’s say in our house- you’re going to work the way we do. I don’t think it works with them. What I felt and when we spoke to Firas, they go with the flow, they go with what the fighter wants, and also work around it and they do their best to match both worlds together. That’s awesome, and that’s also what the strength coach should be doing. It’s not to change the person in front of them, it’s to match, both worlds together, so they can work their best and to also both work on their strength and weaknesses.
Mac: Yeah, fantastic. What about young, up and coming fighters over there in Montreal, is there anyone you’ve got your eye on at the moment?
Eric: Now my focus is more on Jiu Jitsu, but I don’t look into too much competition, when people come and see me, I do the evaluation, I have work to do. They tell me where they want to go, but unless they tell me who's their opponent and what they need to work on , that’s my job. So I am not looking into too much of the fighting world these days. I am mostly into BJJ now, that’s the main people I get.
Mac: Well, talking about BJJ, in terms of strength and conditioning for BJJ fighters or MMA fighters for that matter, what are some of the major breakthroughs you’ve seen, over the course of your career, in strength and conditioning for fighters?
Eric: Okay, I am going to tell you more of what I don’t see.
Mac: [Laughter] Okay. Please do.
Eric: The problem is that, exactly what you’re saying is that, people try to re-invent the wheel too much, they don’t focus on what they should be doing, they must stick to the basics- what’s working-. They try to reinvent the wheel or try to take something and put their name into it, by just changing a few ideas in there. Problem with that is that, they try to invent some- to try and better their endurance, focus on crazy body circuit, that’s going to help them improve their game or fight better and all that. But circuit training does shit for that.
Eric: You need to focus on Strength, power, agility-specially in BJJ, but there’s a lot of things to work on with a fighter, but you need to focus on the fighter, not on a specific technique that the fighter has to get into, to get better. That’s personalized training. Like I said- like Firas does- he doesn’t try to put his way which is, any fighter’s way in my opinion, he doesn’t have a specific technique that he’s going to try to put on a fighter. He’s goes and melt or try to go mold into his fighter’s way and technique to make it better, because he understands what the fighter needs. Same goes for strength training , you need to go look into your fighter, and to bring up his weaknesses, make sure that his weaknesses doesn’t block something else , or the evaluations going to help you bring the best out of him. If he has some weaknesses you make them better, if he has strength also, the name of the game is to make them better as well. So he focuses on them, but still keep them as special finisher or something like that, that he knows he’s going to do well. Again it’s like the art of war, the same goes for that. You could work on a lot of stuff with a fighter but don’t try to put a simple technique on a fighter, you need to mold yourself into it and try to understand the background and all that. So that’s the problem right now; people are trying to come up with a technique – which is something they want to sell- so they can get more people, but along the way, they forgot the basics. Like strength, try to build hypotrophy also, to make sure- like we said in Hockey- to prevent injuries. Same goes for any type of sports in my opinion. But now the problem is that if you try to build hypotrophy , the myth and the saying is there, that it’s going to make them slower, which is in fact the opposite. Because you’re going to work on strength, so there’s a lot of myths, are still there; if you get stronger, you’re going to be slower, less agile but this is all bullshit. Those myths are there I think, to sell other techniques or someone that tried to reinvent the wheel.
Eric: In order to sell what he’s saying but still it keeps the myth alive, which sucks by the way. So that’s why now-I always worked with the basics, which is also what Charles always showed me before, just never forget where you came from, what you did before, it’s always working. If you look into a special Strongman training circuits and all that, it’s functional strength, it’s something that you can apply everywhere else, so those types of movements. Like you look at deadlifts, you looks at stones carry ,even just the prowler pushes and all that, this is going to help you in any type of sports you are doing. But those are the basics, it’s not something I am going to put a different name and try to say that I invented something that was there twenty years ago. That’s what I’m seeing the most now, and it bugs me, but I’m sticking to what I am doing and I get good results. So I don’t care about what’s happening now with everybody else.
Mac: That’s great. And so I guess when it comes to myths, specially the myth of strength training making you slow and all that kind of stuff- another reality is, a lot of coaches out there, particularly like head coaches, not necessarily strength coaches, but the head coaches of martial arts and boxing and all these kinds of things, they don’t know anything about strength training, and it’s kind of almost intimidating for them to try and incorporate this whole new thing into the training of their fighters and athletes, so they just kind of stone wall it, and say “Well, I’ve heard that it makes you slow, and makes you bulky and it’s just going to have a negative impact, so we’re not even going to do it”,
Mac: You know what I mean? It’s more out of ignorance for a lot of these guys than anything else.
Eric: Yeah, and they’re just telling them you need to work less on that, which is hard work. It’s hard work, you need to put your time into it, but I never heard about people having success without hard work.
Eric: So you know what, it sucks, but it’s the name of the game. If you want to sell something, it’s easier to tell people to take the easier way than trying to tell them the hard way.
Mac: Yeah, agreed. And so, speaking earlier about identifying weaknesses and developing strength, what are some of the best methods that you’ve come across for actually identifying weaknesses in a fighter’s strength profile or movement patterns, how do you go about that?
Eric: I usually use the structural balance, I get a lot of teams, so we need to go fast and if I need to go into depth into the evaluation, I take them individually , but the structural balance and the muscle testing those are two of the tools that I use the most. So it’s more a personalized approach also, everybody has their strength and weaknesses, this is going to show them, and at least, they see it at the same time as you are doing it. Muscle testing, it’s manual muscle testing, let’s say you’re lying down on a table, I want to test your gluteus, I put you in certain position and I do different levels of the test, which is the resistance, and I go according to that. I base the evaluation on that, then I build a program around it.
Eric: It’s very basic, but I tried the functional screening, lot of tests that I did –some courses to learn more- which I use once in awhile , if I don’t get the answer I am supposed to, or if I am not sure about it, but those are the main tests I use.
Mac: Okay, that’s excellent. So tell us a little bit about how you break down a typical GPP or SPP cycle in a training year of a MMA or BJJ athlete?
Eric: Usually it’s – depends on-I want to have the end goal in mind. So if they get a completion-let’s say—six months, or they have an injury, I need to focus on building around that, or if the goal is a certain competition, I try to, again with the evaluation, figure out where we are at, and where we need to go, and that’s where I do it. So usually periodization blocks I could use strength, hypertrophy, power, even I can use Olympic lifts, depends on where is the comp date, but that’s how I do it. It’s very simple, nothing magic, it’s just like you did for your athlete as well, you try to go around. Let’s say three in blocks of three to four weeks and you work on given goals. So it could be hypertrophy, strength, could be also energy systems, so you work around that, but according to the year where they’re at, if there’s some stuff about nutrition, you put it on that. Yeah that’s it.
Mac: Okay, again, that’s very very similar to the way I do it. Now that’s the way we are taught- as PICP coaches- to some degree, like structural balance first, then hypertrophy, strength, power, like kind of in that order.
Eric: Yeah, it depends also on the weaknesses, they could be phase of rehab, there’s some rest periods also in there, so, it’s how you do it. He could be linear so you could go up in volume, go down in volume depends also on the athlete. Let’s say like Martin Brodeur, for him volume was never a problem, he could take it properly. There are some people I need to bring down the volume, let’s say every two weeks or else they’re going to crash, because they can’t take it. Again, you need to focus on who you have in front of you and you build around that.
Mac: Yeah, that’s excellent. Okay my friend that’s really really cool stuff, unfortunately we’re going to have to start to wrap this interview up, alright, can you share with us some books or resources, obviously other than your own book, for our listeners to learn more about some of the stuff that we’ve talked about here today?
Eric: Yeah, like I said, there’s the book of “five rings” which is mostly the one that inspired the book, there’s- one of my favorite authors is Steven Pressfield -there’s one book he wrote which is something that I go back once in awhile and I always look into it,- It’s the “Warrior at us”. The book is basically a code of manhood. How the old cultures from the old Spartans and there’s a few stories about the Spartans- which are great in the book- talk about how boys became men, and the ritual of passing, which makes me think about what we see now these days is that they give medals for participation, which sucks. It’s bad. One thing I learned very early with my Sensei is that there should be two belts, like the White and the Black, and that’s it. Then along the way it’s how you learn, it’s nice, you need to get belts, and you see where you’re going, but there’s two true belts, which is white and black, because along the way it’s just like a rites of passage and to see a progression, which is the same thing as In training, it’s the same thing. This is one of the good book ,and the other one, is “Do the work” , which again with Steven Pressfield,
Eric: It showed me how to- “Do the work” is basically people have resistance, they don’t want to give too much, they just resists going into their calling because they’re afraid or they don’t know how to step forward, like I said “The action is the seed of true strength”. You have to look into it, let’s say I wanted to start my gym, you start with the end in mind, the same goes with training. Like I said, you start with the competition and you build around that with where you want to start from. I did the same for my gym, for my gym I started with the experience I wanted people to have, when they come into the gym or when they get into the brotherhood. So, to get that experience, then you build around that; what you need to do, what you need to focus on, what’s your plan to go there?, that’s one of things I learned from the book. And last one again, it’s, man people are going to say I’m doing publicity for Steven Pressfield ,
Eric: But I- there’s all kinds of books he wrote and I tried to narrow it down to two or three ,and the other one, is “Turning pro” which again, you have professional habits, or amateur habits. So the pros do this and the amateurs do that, so if you want to be a pro, you need to go that way- take that road. So it woke me up and that’s why I got the gym. I went for it and asked a few people to help me and get ideas for the gym, so it’s how it went on, those books are awesome, you should get them.
Eric: And there’s nothing, no publicity, I get nothing for him.
Eric: It’s just like, he’s a great author, so I really like him.
Mac: Where is Steven Pressfield from? Out of interest?
Eric: I think, it’s been a while, I don’t remember that much, but he studied and he did a lot of work with Ward literatures. So he wrote a lot on that, if you go on his website, that’s what you’re going to see the most. That’s what I know from him, but the rest I just kept reading what he was doing.
Mac: Okay, that’s fantastic. So a lot of praise for Steven Pressfield there, that’s awesome mate, thank you very much.
Mac: Finally, what does the rest of 2017 have in store for yourself, and how can our listeners get in touch with you?
Eric: For now I am trying to- aiming for myself- to do a competition of BJJ on October.
Mac: Oh, fantastic.
Eric: Yeah, we’re going- me and a few of my guys at the gym, I am all training them, but I just want to go with them and have fun. But I want to do it for myself also, that’s six months ahead. If people want to get in touch with me, they can go on my website which is bodhifitonline.com, so it’s bodhifitonline.com, so go on there, send me an email, just say hi, or on my Facebook page; Bodhi Fit, and just come and say hi, ask questions, no problem.
Mac: Fantastic mate. Well mate, thank you so much for giving us the time today. I really appreciate you coming on. I‘ve had a lot of fun chatting with you today.
Eric: Thank you Sir.
Mac: And I hope to catch up with you again in the near future, and all the best with this upcoming Jiu Jitsu competition, that is really really cool mate.
Eric: Thank you man. All the best to you guys.
Mac: Thank you very much good sir, and I hope to chat with you again.
Eric: Thank you sir, see you again.