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Fitness Advice from an NHL Coach

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Interview with Tommy Powers

Tommy worked in the NHL as the Strength and Conditioning coach with the Florida Panthers and Arizona Coyotes, and currently supports dozens of clients across the league. Tommy has first-hand experience helping top performing athletes reach their highest levels. He also has significant involvement with helping team members recover and maximize sleep and rest while supporting daily stress management initiatives. He believes that building a better athlete means creating a more efficient, natural dynamic movement for sport and life.

Do you make new year’s resolutions?

Personally, I do. The beginning of the year is a great opportunity for a fresh start and a new look toward what’s next. Being a performance trainer, I’m always looking at how to grow my business and help my clients achieve their goals. Things change and you have to adapt but there are always new ways you can meet evolving expectations. It’s about building on the past to make the future better. 

When it comes to lifestyle, are there any common challenges being experienced by the people you coach?

I work with both professional athletes, particularly pro and semi-pro hockey players, as well as amateur athletes looking to level up their fitness, and anyone who wants a better quality of life. The pro athletes I work with are overall pretty dialed in with their training, nutrition, supplementation, and recovery. It’s about building that culture and educating the athletes on why we do what we do and how it’s an investment into themselves to not only get better in the short term but to have a long successful career. 

If you only had 30 minutes a day to work out, what exercises would you focus on or prioritize?

I’d start with a warm-up that includes hip mobility. You could start on the ground with some simple yoga poses like down dog, where your feet and hands are planted on the yoga mat but your hips are up in the air; followed by up dog where you’re lying front-down on the mat, lifting your upper body; and then child’s pose. Essentially, you want to get your heartrate up, increase body temperature, and activate particular aspects of the body. The next 20 minutes or so I would do some exercises to work the core, glutes, hamstrings and front part of the body. I always emphasize the importance of working the posterior chain muscles as well, which is the backside of your body and includes the glutes, hamstrings, calves, erector spinae, lats, and rear shoulder muscles. The challenge with most people is that they are constantly sitting down. Trying to open up the front body and strengthening the posterior chain is a good general system to follow.  

Is there one unhealthy food that you’d recommend everyone eliminate from their diet? 

The most common problematic ones are fried foods and processed foods. Instead, get healthy macro nutrients into your body including protein, complex carbs, healthy fats, and don’t forget your greens. Stay away, as much as possible, from foods that contain excess sugar and trans-fat. When the urges come to indulge in something sweet, moderation is key. 

If someone is starting from zero and looking to get more active in 2022, what simple exercises would you recommend they start with?

When starting from zero, I would start with simple goals. Go for walks. If you can’t go outside due to weather and have access to a gym, use a treadmill, slightly increasing the incline little by little or slightly increase the duration or speed and push yourself within reason. Similarly, with strength work, body work, or movement, gradually increase the volume of activity, number of reps or sets, and gradually increase the intensity by using heavier weights or adjusting the tempo. Go for a walk, roller blade, get fresh air, do floor exercises, and get quality sleep. If you’re looking to supplement, CaniBrands has great products to help with energy, recovery, stress, and sleep. And if you aren’t comfortable taking CBD, the Cani-Wellness products are also incredible ways to support a healthy lifestyle. 

What should people look for in a fitness coach if they’re looking to work with someone?

They should get to know that person. There are a lot of people out there claiming to be experts, especially on social media. Meet the person, find out where they got their education and experience. Understand their philosophy and outlook and look for someone you can build a relationship with. I developed my relationship with Andy O’Brien. I looked up to him, and over the time we trained together, we became friends. It’s great when you can find a coach or trainer that you can trust and open up to in order to have a friendly but professional relationship.  

What were some big learnings for you in 2021?

I think just learning to take care of myself emotionally, spiritually, and physically. For example, I try to get outside in the fresh air within the first hour of waking up and again prior to sunset. People get in the grind and forget to open up their eyes and ears and look around and value the little things. Make time for yourself and for your family and friends. 2021 was another “crazy” year and it’s not easy to see family and friends but this is a time when I’m going to try to take care of myself so that I can better take care of the important people in my life. 

What goals do you have in 2022 or what are you looking forward to the most this year?

There’s a lot going on in my life right now. It’s definitely been a different transition period. In writing a new chapter, I am opening up a performance and recovery center in Minnesota to service athletes. Moving from Arizona to Minnesota and being there for clients around the country during this difficult time presents a challenge but I’m committed to being there for them virtually and sharing this new chapter with them. 

Any other closing tips or advice?

Go for it. There’s never a right time to start. This is the time of year when people tend to trail off in terms of their new year’s resolutions and commitment to starting a healthy lifestyle. There will be times you get derailed but there’s always a new day, new week, new month. You can still reset your goals. It’s never too late to start – just get up and get going. 

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