Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Interview with Mike Boyle

When I first heard Mike Boyle speak at, I believe, his first Perform Better seminar in Boston in 2001. Mike was the first presenter to have video of his athletes performing the exercises he enlisted. He wasn’t the only one, but he was the first on that day. No one knew who this Bostonian was, and no one ever heard of some of his concepts. As I listened to Mike speak, I gathered that he doesn’t pull any punches and doesn’t pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. A true professional in the field of strength & conditioning, Mike’s popularity has grown as did his reputation for continuously learning more from everyone around him. I’ve heard Mike speak a total of 5 times and never have I had the chance to introduce myself to him personally. Want to know why? Every time Mike has a free moment after he presents, he is usually bombarded with individual questions—sort of like a paparazzi around him. That’s ok. I’ll get my day. We’ve e-mailed back and forth a few times and he has graciously taken a few moments to answer 5 short, but good questions that I had planned for him. I want to thank Mike for sharing this info with me and all of you.

JOHN: Mike, do you think that there is a trend among new trainers entering the field that they must by-pass training clients and gaining experience in order to start their own business? If so, do you think that can be a good thing or bad thing in the long term?

Mike: I think many trainers are jumping the gun a bit and trying to become experts and entrepreneurs before they are good trainers. Alwyn Cosgrove has always said to me that he won’t listen to someone who doesn’t pay the mortgage by training or at least did at some point. The internet has spawned all kinds of entrepreneurs/ experts who are in their twenties and have never done much in the training world.

On the flip side, I’m a huge Ryan Lee fan. Ryan has brought business sense to an industry that had none. People try to blame Ryan for all the ills of the industry. The reality is that Ryan has been a great resource for a lot of guys like me who were the exact opposite of the people your question refers to. I think if you asked me or Gray Cook or Alwyn Cosgrove about Ryan Lee, you’d get nothing but rave reviews.

JOHN: Mike, have you ever stopped training an athlete(s) before you had planned? Can you elaborate on what circumstances you would discontinue training an athlete during a program? (parents, coach, lack of self discipline, motivation, etc).

Mike: Yes. I can’t be specific but, I’m very selective about clients. My professional athlete clients are just that, “professional athletes”. This means they take their job seriously. This is more the exception than the rule in pro sports. I want guys who want to get better. As a result, I don’t market much with pros. I just let them come find us. The same applies to my personal training clients. They have to want to get better. I’m not a motivator. I don’t want to work with unmotivated people.

I have turned away numerous young athletes because the parent was a bad fit. Beware the parent who says “we”. This is always a warning. If their expectations are unrealistic, I don’t get involved. However, I have taken on a few young clients to save them from their parents. I have rules. You have to trust us, we are experts and no you can’t watch. One thing I’ve realized is that the more you tell rich people you don’t want their money the more they want to give it you. I want everything on my terms. I’m not an employee.

JOHN: How do you feel about personal trainers assessing and borderline "diagnosing" muscle imbalances and dysfunctions in order to train a client? Do you feel this "extra wisdom" steps over into the physical therapy realm?

Mike: John, truth is... I love it. I love that trainers have stepped up and become more than rep counters. I’m a huge Functional Movement Screen fan. I think PT’s have made their own bed. Good personal trainers are administering the best medicine in history, exercise. All this assessment stuff is just us figuring out how to better deliver our “medicine”. I hope they keep learning and keep going.

JOHN: Mike, if you can change one thing about the strength & conditioning field, what would it be?

Mike: John, I’d get rid of all the liars. I hate all the 500 squatters and 400 benchers that make us all look bad. I wish we had a national testing clearing house where you had to send in videos of your tests to be reviewed. The reality is that a lot of strength coaches are either bad, full of crap or both.

JOHN: Most readers who buy books like "Functional Training for Sports" and others tend to flip through and look for the exercise pictures to try on their clients--without ever reading the actual text! I call them "memorizers". What would be something you DON'T want people to take away from reading your book or similar texts?

Mike: I want them to realize that a book is like a snapshot. It’s very one dimensional and represents the way the author felt at the time. The older the book, the less likely the author still trains that way. I want them to be constantly learning, just like me. That is why I like the internet. You can constantly update a website and constantly get new articles up in almost real time.[END]

About: Michael Boyle is one of the foremost experts in the fields of Strength and Conditioning, Performance Enhancement and general fitness. He currently spends his time lecturing, teaching, training and writing. In 1996 Michael co founded Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning, one of the first for-profit strength and conditioning companies in the world. Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning exists for one reason: to provide performance enhancement training for athletes of all levels. Athletes trained range from junior high school students to All Stars in almost every majPrior to founding Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning, Michael served as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Boston University for 15 years. Presently Boyle continues to serve as an assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at Boston University, primarily responsible for ice hockey. In addition to his duties at Boston University, from 1991-1999 Boyle served as the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League. Michael was also the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the 1998 US Women’s Olympic Ice Hockey Team, Gold Medallists in Nagano, and served as a consultant in the development of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michael has been a featured speaker at numerous strength and conditioning and athletic training clinics across the country and has produced nine instructional videos in the area of strength and conditioning available through M-F Athletic. In addition, Michael published Functional Training for Sports for Human Kinetics Publishers. 

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