pretty in paradise
SHATTER YOUR LIMITS
When you think of Trish Stratus, you can’t help but think of the impressive mark she’s made on the entertainment industry. The Canadian beauty thrilled audiences with her unparalleled combination of striking looks and athletic skill in literally hundreds of cities across the world. But, before all of the notoriety, before the record-shattering titles, and before all of the blood, sweat and tears that it took to conquer the WWE, Trish Stratus had already established herself as the world’s premier fitness model when she first met Inside Fitness’ publisher Terry Frendo predating this title’s existence.
Today, Stratus has taken the knowledge she has gained and has tackled yet another field – yoga. Many of our readers may not be all that familiar with yoga, however, it remains arguably the best method possible to help anyone reach their maximum potential from either a fitness or bodybuilding perspective. In this Inside Fitness exclusive, Trish details exactly how yoga can help you reach that next level, and also candidly discusses her entire career, while also revealing her biggest fitness secrets.
INSIDE FITNESS: What motivated you to enter fitness modeling?
TRISH STRATUS: I was studying Biology and Kinesiology at York University and the professors went on strike in 1997. It was during this time that I got approached. I was working at a Globe gym just as a receptionist and a trainer there said, “You should meet Bob Kennedy. You have a great look.” I really would have not pursued something like that otherwise. I met with Robert Kennedy and he did a test shoot with me and he liked what he saw and he gave me an opportunity. I slept and breathed training and got
ready for this photo shoot. At the time, the [fitness] modeling industry was a new industry. That’s what motivated me, just having that opportunity.
IF: Did you find the other girls extremely competitive or were they nice to you?
TS: Everyone was so nice. Like I said, it was a brand new industry. Everyone was excited about exposure of the new industry. It was a really exciting time. It was a time of new opportunity. We were in demand.
IF: How did it prepare you for the next chapters in your life?
TS: I would say the structure and the routine of everything. I mean that’s definitely what you need to build a fitness body and to build a fitness lifestyle. Get into a routine, be determined and have a goal.
IF: You moved on to the WWE and became a 7-time champion. Were you surprised to leave the WWE as the reigning champion?
TS: I was surprised. I was thrilled. I worked really hard and I know that Vince (McMahon) knew that and I actually have a really great relationship with Vince. I feel like I tried my best to take a great opportunity and run with it. I think that he respected that and valued that along the way and I think that’s why I got such a great send-off.
IF: Was that your favourite moment as a WWE performer?
TS: It’s one of many. I have a lot of pinnacle moments. The retirement combining with the hometown crowd and bowing out as champion, probably. It’s pretty, pretty darn perfect.
IF: Following your wrestling career, you almost immediately jumped into the reality show genre. What was it like connecting again with your fans?
TS: They definitely were there. They’ve supported me this whole time. When I did my travel show recently, I was in India and we were stuck at the border there and the guy was being all stern making sure that paperwork was in order and then he looks up at me and he’s like “Trish Stratus?” And it was like chaos. I’ve never even performed live in India. It was crazy. I was like wow. And then recently I was nominated for a Gemini and I truly believe it was all my fans that made me top five. I definitely see fans crossing over.
IF: In your travel show, Stratusphere, you had the opportunity to do some Mui Thai kickboxing in Thailand. What was that like?
TS: That was awesome! I loved it. The Mui Thai was the most intense training from all the ones I did. I had an actual real match – like a sparring match. I had to adjust everything. The way I would kick for WWE would be big, showy. The Chick Kick looks better but this kick would deliver. I loved it! There was a minute when I got back where I thought: I’m going to be an MMA fighter.
IF: So you’re past that idea?
TS: After the EliteXC folded, there’s nowhere for women to really fight anymore. That’s gone but I kind of liked it. I think I have an actual fighter in me. I would love to actually learn more about that craft for sure.
IF: Most places seem to have a different specialty dish that they’re famous for. Was it difficult to maintain a good diet?
TS: Yes and no. I wanted to try all the different tastes of these places, but I was actually really cautious of what I ate because I didn’t want to have any adverse reactions. We had a really tight shooting schedule.
IF: Aside from travel, another passion of yours is yoga. The Stratusphere Yoga studio is clearly in a league of its own. Tell us about what got you into yoga.
TS: It started from having back pain in wrestling. As long as you can still work, you just do. At one point, (doctors) told me: “well you have degenerated disc image and eventually it’s going to catch up with you.” It did cease on me. At that point I had the herniated disc in my back.
IF: And on WWE television, they had 500-pound Viscera squish you.
TS: That’s how I was able to actually go and take care of my back injury. I was off television and I started doing some physiotherapy. It was like two months steady. Nothing was helping and I couldn’t even sit. I was real concerned and thought, “am I not going back at all?” I went to the Hot Yoga for the first time. I realized that I dramatically felt a difference from the Hot Yoga. I’m doing movements I haven’t done in a long time and I felt really great after class. I actually eased out the physiotherapy altogether. I was completely cured. Went back, finished my career, did all my acrobatic stuff, never had a reoccurrence of the back pain and I continue to do yoga. It really made a difference in my life.
IF: Explain the benefits of yoga.
TS: Believe it or not, it’s actually the type A personalities who would be best for yoga. We have had the Argos in and we have the Leafs in. Unbelievably, they were so good. From the sport, they had the strength, the balance and they had the focus. That’s why athletes are great candidates for it. It’ll enhance their sport. They’re going to be a lot more agile. Especially for weight training, they always say that flexibility is so important. If you put in one or two days of yoga you would be amazed how much more flexible your body would be in order to do your weights. I challenge the guys to give it a try. It’s a physical workout. It shapes your muscles. It wakes up your muscles. It stimulates your muscles. Ashtanga would be the best one to try.
IF: In other words, yoga gives you the flexibility and even the restorative ability to optimize your workouts by stretching your muscles.
TS: The more stretched out your muscles are, the more extension you’re able to get in a biceps curl. From a stamina standpoint, your whole body is flexed. It’s great for your core. It’s a great compliment to weight training. It tricks your body into a rest mode. Those are the times when your body recognizes it can recover. You will get a workout. If you need an off day, you can do a restorative craft.
It brings you back where you need to be so you’re fresh and strong for the
IF: What’s your best fat loss tip?
TS: Increase your amount of water. It’s amazing what a difference that makes.
IF: What’s your best nutrition tip?
TS: Every once in a while, I do a fast. I choose apple juice for example and I do a fast for a day. You give your intestines a break. The next day you feel this burst of energy, you feel cleaner, you feel lighter. It’s a great way to kick-start your clean eating.
IF: What’s your greatest training secret?
IF: Do you prefer free weights over machines?
TS: I think free weights – only because they’re easier to access. As long as you are strict to your form, I think you get the most out of them as well.
IF: What’s your favourite cardio?
TS: I had this awesome 45-minute routine I developed while I was on the road. I had 15-minute blocks where basically I would work out my entire body. Five minutes I would focus on my lower body. I would do lunges. Then I would do five minutes punching and crunching. The other five minutes I would do curls. You get a full body workout.
IF: What’s your favourite protein source?
TS: What I’ve really turned onto lately is hemp protein.
IF: What’s the one thing in your life that our readers would be surprised to learn that you enjoy?
TS: Reality television shows and scrapbooking.
IF: You’ve been the world’s top fitness model, are arguably the greatest female performer in wrestling history, hosted your own television shows and had more covers than most people could keep track of. What’s next for Trish Stratus?
TS: I know it’ll be a challenge – probably a new challenge that I’ll be tackling and hopefully conquering as well.
BACK TO TOP
FACE OFF: IFM sits down with one of the NHL’s best
STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING COACHES, MATT NICHOL
…A rare and in-depth look at how some of today’s top players stay in shape!
Lead photo left to right: Daniel Wikkin (Colorado Avalanche, Center), Andrew Cogliano (Edmonton Oilers, Center), Matt Nichol (Coach), Matt Stajan (Calgary Flames, Center), Mike Cammalleri (Montreal Canadiens, Left Wing), Jason Wilson (New York Rangers, Left Wing).
Photos by Arsenik Photography
As Told to Michelle Shaw by Matt Nichol
With summer over and the Fall season now officially upon us here in Canada, the eyes and attention of the sporting world shift their focus to the one sport that identifies us as a Nation, and has put us on the map all over the world, hockey! And in our never ending quest to bring you the best of the best when it comes to sport centered training, we’re proud to present this exclusive interview with the best strength and conditioning coach in the hockey biz, Matt Nichol! The former strength and conditioning coach for the storied Toronto Maple Leafs franchise and for Team Canada, Matt now runs a booming private practice that boasts an all-star studded NHL client list that includes the likes of Mike Cammalleri, Lee Stempniak and Mats Sundin. Bottom line: Matt is the go-to trainer NHL hockey players seek out when they need to up their game. Here, Matt shares his strength, conditioning and training principles that we’re sure are going to benefit all readers!
Inside Fitness Magazine: Matt, first off, thank you for taking the time to sit down with us. To get going here, we’re going to first start with a little bit about your background. Were you an athlete in high school/university and if so, what sports did you participate in?
(Matt seen here, summer 2010, putting NHL’ers through their paces at St. Mike’s field
Matt Nichol: Growing up I competed in a variety of sports, pretty much everything besides hockey. I swam competitively, played football, basketball, soccer, rugby, did track and field at the varsity level, and competed in power lifting; but football was definitely the sport I excelled at most. I attended McGill University for my undergraduate degree where I was a member of the football and track and field teams respectively. While completing my Masters Degree in Kinesiology at York University I also played, and coached football.
IFM: Do you think being an athlete yourself has helped when it comes to the training other athletes? If so, how?
MN: Absolutely. I think at the very least, every strength coach should have trained for some type of athletic event in their lifetime. I don’t know how you can truly appreciate or empathize with what is involved in high level athletic training if you have never really done any yourself. I think that your success in the sport of your choice is less relevant, but I think the fact that you have pushed yourself to achieve a goal through intense physical training makes your more adept to helping others to do the same.
IFM: Though you work with top athletes from all the major sports, you are best known for your work with hockey players, given your past as the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs for 7 years and for Team Canada’s gold medal run at the World Cup of Hockey in 2004. What is it about hockey, per say, that drew you in from a training perspective, more so than other sports?
MN: From a strength and conditioning coaching perspective, hockey is one of the most exciting sports to prepare an athlete for because it requires so many different physical abilities. Hockey players need to be strong, powerful, fast, agile and supremely well conditioned. Hockey is also a collision sport, so the players must be prepared to give, or receive contact; often without time to adjust or brace themselves. When you add to the equation the fact that they are playing their sport on a sheet of ice while standing on metal blades that are a couple of millimeters, thick you really have covered the full spectrum of trainable physical attributes.
IFM: Well put Matt. Do the metabolic, strength and endurance requirements for hockey make strength and conditioning for the sport more important than for, say, a sport like baseball or tennis?
MN: I think so. Much like baseball or tennis, hockey is a skill sport and above all else it requires a high level of specific technical ability (stick-handling, skating, passing, shooting), however, the one area that differentiates hockey the most from the two other sports mentioned is the element of contact, and the amount and variety of movement that is required. Baseball requires even higher levels of specific skill, but less overall fitness. Tennis requires an extremely high level of fitness, but the movements occur in a much more limited space, and there is obviously no physical contact.
(“Off-season training is more directed toward personal developement and increasing overall levels of strength, speed, fitness, etc.”)
IFM: When you are working with a hockey player from a training perspective, what do you ultimately hope to achieve; what is, or are, your main goal(s)?
MN: This is highly individualized. I have young players that are looking to
break into the league and earn a spot any way that they can. I have older players who are looking to maximize their health and longevity, and to hold on for one more contract. I have players who consult with me for nutritional advice and who are looking to gain size, and others who are looking to get leaner. I have a lot of players who see me just for re-hab. All of their goals are essentially the same; to maximize their potential, and to be the most successful player that they can be … but the route that each player takes can be vastly different.
IFM: What percentage of your strength and conditioning for hockey is done off ice (dry land training), as opposed to actually on the ice, if any?
MN: This is also very specific to the individual, and also specific with respect to the time of year. With my younger players, or players who did not get a sufficient amount of ice time during the previous season, we will focus more on the technical aspects of their game. With my more veteran players, or players who have just come off of a long season (or play-off run), or play an exceptionally high number of minutes, re-hab of the numerous injuries sustained during the season and subsequently maintaining/improving strength become the focus. In the first half of the off-season we probably spend 80-90% of the training time off of the ice. As the summer progresses, we transition to our specific preparation phase where we are on the ice 70-80% of the time, and in the gym 20-30% of the time.
IFM: On that note, how do your training techniques differ on-season, versus off-season?
MN: Off-season training is completely different from in-season training. Off-season is more science-based, whereas in-season is more art. In-season training is directed more towards maintaining, or optimizing health, whereas off-season training is directed more towards personal development and increasing overall levels of strength, speed, fitness, etc. This is not to suggest that these qualities cannot be targeted in-season, it’s just that there is a much lower capacity for off-ice training, in general, due to the demands of the NHL schedule.
IFM: Of the various components of training, be it strength, endurance, flexibility, balance, etc., which do you feel is, or are, the most important to target for hockey players, and why?
MN: I hate to sound like a broken record here, but once again, this is highly individualized. Being able to bench press 400 pounds is irrelevant if you can’t skate. Having a VO2 of 65 is irrelevant if you are slow and weak. It’s important for hockey players to be well rounded athletes.
(“Medicine balls are a staple in my training and always have been.”)
IFM: How much of reliance do you have on traditional weight training, using dumbbells, barbells and the like?
MN: I use whatever works. My private gym has very few machines (cables, a glute-ham raise, a gastroc calf raise, a reverse hyperextension machine), but we have nearly 500 pounds of medicine balls (in increments from four pounds to 20 pounds), dumbbells ranging from two pounds to 160 pounds, more than 3,000 pounds of
plates and a variety of bars … so I guess you could say that I still believe in lifting weights!
Inside Fitness: Do you make use some of the newer training innovations like kettle bells, the TRX® suspension trainer, bands, plyo balls, etc.? If so, how?
MN: I make use of everything. Different types of equipment elicit different adaptations and keep training interesting and challenging. Some of my NHL players have been training with me for as long as 10 years and they have already heard all of my jokes and can finish all of my sentence. I like to incorporate new toys to keep them guessing! Medicine balls and bands are an exception to this, whereby they are not used for variety, but are a staple in my training and always have been. We probably incorporate both into every training day, in some capacity or another.
IFM: Do you find that the athletes you train are internally driven, or is part of your role to act as motivator? If so, what sort of motivational techniques have you used with success?
MN: I am very fortunate in that I have been successful enough, or at least have been doing this long enough that I do not need to advertise my services. My clients are generated through word of mouth referrals and I turn away more clients than I accept. All of my athletes are internally driven, or they would not be with me. Not all of them are equally driven, and some will occasionally need a hug or a kick in the ass, but for the most part, I need to do very little in this department. If you need your trainer to motivate you to want to be better, then you’re probably not going to go far in today’s game.
IFM: Switching gears here a little bit, you’ll often hear the notion that so and so hockey player has to ‘bulk up’ to play at the NHL level. Have you ever come across that with one of your clients and if so, what sort of techniques did you adopt to help with the weight gain process, without compromising performance (i.e. speed)?
MN: This is a very common problem amongst younger players and one that I deal with regularly. From my own personal experience, I have found it harder to gain weight than to lose weight. Most of the time people who need to lose body fat just need to be honest with themselves, and stop eating/drinking all of the stuff they know they shouldn’t be consuming, and start consistently eating well. Gaining weight often takes more discipline with respect to meal timing and meal frequency. When you are trying to gain “functional bodyweight” you need to eat every three hours, you can never skip breakfast, and absolutely never screw up your workout supplement regimen. Years ago when I worked with a large number of football players, I had some players preparing for the NFL combine who would wake-up in the middle of the night to have a protein shake. I no longer think this is a healthy idea, but it demonstrates the level of commitment that you have to have to meal frequency in order to gain weight.
IFM: That’s a nice little segway into the importance of nutrition. What sort of a diet do you recommend for hockey players to follow, in terms of macronutrient ratios, and do you have any secret hockey super foods?
MN: There really aren’t any secrets. Most of the principles of nutrition that I teach my players are the same ones that were taught to me by my Mom. In fact; I wish that most of my players would be as health conscious with their diets as she was! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, a growing boy needs to eat, always eat your veggies, slow down and chew your food and don’t eat too many sweets; these strategies are all key. I also believe in a concept called Metabolic Typing, which is a nutritional protocol based on the concept of biochemical individuality (a fancy way of saying that no two people are the same biochemically). So, that in mind, there is no such thing as a one-size fits all diet … despite what many of the Internet nutrition gurus would have you believe! In general, the following recommendations are common amongst all of my athletes:
• Choose organic foods whenever possible
• Consume some form of protein with every meal
• Don’t be afraid of fat – olive oil, fish oil, nuts, seeds and even saturated fat
from organic sources are an integral part of a healthy diet
• Consume some type of green leafy vegetable with every meal
• Eat more vegetables of any kind in general
• Drink more water between meals and less during meals
• Don’t screw up your supplementation regimen
IFM: How does the diet differ on-season, versus off-season?
MN: In general, I am much more strict with my off-season nutritional recommendations. Superstition, habits and the like are not a factor, so I don’t have to worry about a player missing out on his “lucky” chicken parm that he thinks helps him score goals!
IFM: Can you tell us a little bit about your line, Biosteel?
MN: I was the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs for nearly 8 years. Before that job though I worked in the nutritional supplement industry as the assistant to one of the world’s foremost sports supplement formulators. I learned a lot about the industry during this time. When I took my job with the Leafs I quickly gained a reputation as “The Supplement Guy” and most of the players on the team (and many players around the league) would ask for advice. I decided at that time to take matters into my own hands and began producing all of the supplements that the Leafs used. The products were a huge hit with the players because they were safe and because they actually worked! When I began working privately again in 2009 I had enough of a demand for my products from a variety of players around the NHL and in some of the other professional leagues (NFL, CFL, NBA) that it warranted me taking my business to the next level … and thus Biosteel was born. For the past two years I streamlined my line down to one very specific product, which is the “Biosteel HPSD.” This product has been wildly popular with the athletes that have been using it. Biosteel HPSD is an amino acid and electrolyte replacement drink. I formulated the product to address the following issues:
- Energy without stimulants
- Increased Endurance
- Decreased Fatigue
- Maintenance of lean body mass
- Mitigating the effects of cortisol
Our company philosophy is simple; provide drug free athletes with the safest and most effective nutritional supplements available. If we can’t make a product that is better than anything currently available on the market then we won’t bother making it all. We will have an entire line of products that will be available to our professional athletes soon. I could go on and on all day about the highlights and benefits of the products, but obviously I am biased on the subject.
IFM: We’re getting close here to the end Matt. Thanks for hanging in there with us; you’re delivering some great answers that our readers will love! Any words of advice for an up and coming hockey player in terms of off-ice strength and conditioning?
MN: Quality before quantity. This applies to strength training and to conditioning. Nobody cares how much weight you can lift improperly or dangerously, and there is no benefit to being the strongest guy watching the game from the physiotherapy room. Likewise, nobody cares how long you can skate slowly for. When doing your conditioning, build speed and power first … and then improve your ability to sustain that speed and power.
IFM: And, finally, on that note, what can the average trainer take from your methods to help them achieve their goal(s)?
MN: #1,“Build from the Inside Out.” While I used to use this slogan 12 years ago referring to the importance of ‘core” training (which is still true!) I now use this to refer to the importance of proper nutrition and lifestyle habits. You can’t out-train a lousy diet or an imbalanced lifestyle. And # 2, “Unrealistic Expectations.” A lot of gym trainers that I see are over-worked, over-stressed and under-nourished. They then compound this problem by attempting to train like an NHL player or UFC champion, which often leads to burnout and/or injury. You need to take a long term approach to fitness; there are no secret short-cuts. Consistency is the most important component of any fitness regimen.
(Matt Stajan hard at work pushing the weighted sled under watchfull eye of Matt Nichol.)
Pretty In Paradise
Meet Canada’s Sexiest Export - Nadine Dumas
IFM: What was your reason for moving to Cayman besides the obvious perks?
Originally, I moved here as an accountant. I had been an accountant for one of the top ﬁrms in the world and wanted to expand my knowledge; little did I know I was soon going to fall in love with the ﬁtness industry. A few short years later, I decided to leave Cayman and move back to Canada to start my online company, coaching clients in training and nutrition. After a few years of building my brand, I decided to head back down to the sand, sun, and palm trees, and run my company from afar.
IFM: What do you miss most about Canada?
My friends and family (and the shopping centre, and Starbucks!). Thankfully, there are so many resources available that allow me to keep in contact with everyone that it never really feels like I’m that far away. Having my own company allows for a lot of travel as well, and we do go back to Canada quite often.
IFM: Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people.
I have diamonds drilled in two of my teeth. I’ve had them for over 16 years. I have no tattoos or piercings, just diamonds in my teeth.
IFM: Had you not worked in the industry you’re in now, what would you probably be doing as a profession?
That’s a tough question. I would probably still be an accountant, but not public practice. Boring, I know, but I’m a nerd at heart!
IFM: What do you believe is the most appealing muscle on a man?
Can’t complain about a great set of arms on a guy. They’re great for cuddling, and who doesn’t like to cuddle?
IFM: When is a man at his sexiest?
When he is fully engaged in your conversation and genuinely interested in what you are doing and saying.
IFM: What does it take to score a date with this hot fitness model?
Being a gentleman and a whole lot of patience. I have a pretty busy life between running my companies, travelling, and my son, so one must keep up!
IFM: What would your ideal date consist of?
I’m not hard to please. I don’t like the whole ﬂowers and candlelight thing. I’d rather have dinner, drink wine, and sit and talk for hours.
IFM: What would he be wearing?
Something casual but classy, something that looks like he put some thought into it. I’m a sucker for jeans and a dress shirt on a guy.
IFM: Since you’re in such great shape, would you ever date a man who isn’t?
I’m attracted to a man who takes care of himself, which usually means he works out and stays in shape. I think it tells a lot about a person if they take pride in how they carry themselves.
IFM: As a big player in the fitness scene, would you like your son to compete someday?
Only if he wanted to, but I would much rather see him commit to a healthy lifestyle. There is something to be said about one who commits to a sport, no matter what it is. It shows character, dedication, commitment, and determination.
IFM: When does a man’s confidence border on cocky?
As soon as he starts dropping hints about things like the car he drives or how much money he makes. Biggest turn-off!
IFM: Who is your go-to stud in Hollywood?
I really don’t have one! All of my girlfriends make fun of me for this. A few years back I was contacted to provide a diet consultation for Channing Tatum’s stunt double, and I actually had to Google who Channing was. Put me in front of a movie, I will fall asleep — so hopefully my date has some great arms for cuddling!
IFM: Men who take baths instead of showers — weird or not?
Weird, just weird.
IFM: Is chivalry dead?
No, but I do think there is a lack of it. I’m not saying that it’s the guy’s fault — or the girl’s, for that matter. I think a lot of women these days have developed more independence and almost scare guys off from doing certain things, like opening a car door. Us independent women still love chivalry. So guys, keep doing it!
IFM: Is the gym a place to flex your flirtation muscles?
It’s not a bad thing, just don’t be super annoying about it and have some common courtesy when the girl is working out.
IFM: What’s your take on men who take selfies at the gym?
Good for them — who doesn’t these days? Most people are proud of how hard they have worked, so show it off. Those things don’t get to me.
IFM: How can a man best present himself in an online dating profile?
As his current self would be best — concerning photos. And don’t lie in your bio. You’re wasting the girl’s time, and your own. True colours will eventually show.
By Bobby Box
Photos by Arsenik Studios Inc.