News and Information

Media Coverage

Personal attention pays off

Fitness guru Lorne Goldenberg has built up an impressive clientele by focusing on the individual athlete's needs.

By WAYNE SCANLAN
The Ottawa Citizen

Lorne Goldenberg used the earnings from his 14-year career as a corporate fitness consultant to build his Athletic Conditioning Centre in Ottawa's west end.

Lorne Goldenberg had this rather amusing conversation with Glen Sather.

Sather, the general manager of the New York Rangers, phoned Goldenberg in Ottawa this summer to offer the personal trainer a job as the NHL team's strength and conditioning coach.

It's a job Goldenberg has known before, including in Ottawa with the 1996-97 Senators.

"What's it going to take to get you down to New York?" asked Sather, according to Goldenberg.

Sather knew of Goldenberg because Adam Graves, the ex-Rangers forward, was one of his clients.

"You don't have enough money in your budget to bring me to New York," Goldenberg replied.

This was more than a little bold, considering Sather inherited a $60-million U.S. payroll when he first joined the Rangers last season. Goldenberg, 39, explained how he was settled in Ottawa with a wife and two kids, how he was providing corporate fitness consultation to clients across the country, using the proceeds from that 14-year business to develop his Athletic Conditioning Centre (ACC) in the city's west end.

Sather listened for a minute, more or less, then repeated, "So, what's it going to take . . . ?"

Goldenberg gave him a figure. "One million dollars U.S. per year on a three-year contract," he said.

"I don't pay my bleeping head coach that much," said Sather.

Goldenberg laughs in retelling it, but has a point with his anecdote. The NHL has tried for too long to get by on the cheap with its training and nutrition for the world's best hockey players.

Hockey teams invest millions in their players, then pay conditioning coaches a high school teacher's salary or less, only to fire them if the team racks up injuries that cost victories.

Since going solo, Goldenberg has turned his focus to individual athletes with some impressive results. More than a dozen NHL players and 100 major junior prospects and competitive skiers from Ontario and Quebec are among the converted who have flocked to Goldenberg's program on Woodward Avenue.

Gary Roberts, the Toronto Maple Leafs winger and leader, is sold on the idea of professional athletes investing time, money and sweat into their own bodies.

Roberts first met Goldenberg when they were both part of the Ottawa 67's organization in the early 1980s. Roberts would become a star forward in the Ontario Hockey League.

Goldenberg was the team's conditioning coach.

Five years ago, when a serious neck injury interrupted his NHL career with the Calgary Flames, Roberts consulted Goldenberg, wondering if there was someone in Calgary with whom he could train and rehabilitate his broken body.

Goldenberg recommended Charles Poliquin, who was working with high-performance athletes in Calgary.
Now that he's a Maple Leaf, the Toronto-born Roberts recently returned to Goldenberg for a thorough summer tuneup.
And he brought friends.

Fellow Leaf players Tie Domi, Cory Cross, Curtis Joseph, Nik Antropov, Dimitry Yushkevich and Bryan McCabe also worked with Goldenberg to develop a personal training regimen. Goldenberg has no Senators players for clients, but concedes that conditioning coach Randy Lee helps keep Ottawa one of the fittest teams in the NHL.

Senators head coach Jacques Martin is one of Goldenberg's best references. Martin brought Goldenberg into the NHL with the St. Louis Blues in the late 1980s, then introduced him to Mike Keenan in Chicago and Pierre Page with the Quebec Nordiques, where Martin worked as an assistant coach.

At his training centre, Goldenberg typically charges pro players $3,000 to $5,000 to have Goldenberg design a specific program to suit their needs. Student athletes pay less.

Roberts, 35, is the prototypical veteran NHL player trying to prolong his multimillion-dollar pay days through conditioning and diet.

"If it gets you another year or two," Roberts told a Globe and Mail reporter during the Leafs training camp, "the last time I checked that's a pretty good investment."

While it's accepted knowledge that training and diet can help prevent injuries, Goldenberg doesn't pretend to have an answer to the kind of fluke injuries that have typified defenceman Sami Salo's career with the Senators.

"You can't do anything about bone injuries," said Goldenberg.

Nevertheless, the groin injury that currently plagues Salo, a common problem for many hockey players, is something that Goldenberg targets by developing the load capabilities of the slow twitch muscle fibres in the groin.

Bounding, lateral lunges, lateral squats and use of a machine that mimics skating movement, are among the groin exercises.

Hockey demands explosive leg action. Goldenberg works to get bodies prepared to carry it out without injury.

Using equipment that isn't found in ordinary gyms, Goldenberg promotes power through the use of Olympic platforms, biometric carpets, resistance machines and Swiss balls, among other techniques.

Only competitive athletes are allowed in this small but impressive gym. Training among the elite and pros, younger competitors gain inspiration.

Debt-free in his third year, Goldenberg owns this equipment and envisions a 10,000-square-foot facility to house it eventually. One of Goldenberg's happiest success stories was the recent development of defenceman Francis Wathier.

An undrafted Junior C hockey from St-Isidore, Wathier commuted daily to Goldenberg's ACC this summer. This month, the 6-3 defenceman made the Hull Olympiques as a walk-on, one of the biggest surprises in camp.

"This kid was so dedicated," said Goldenberg. "He weighed 150-something and put on 27 pounds of muscle. He completely changed his body composition."
Nutrition is a huge part of the plan.
As Goldenberg is fond of saying, "you don't run a Formula One engine on Canadian Tire gas. You use high octane fuel."

When it comes to nutrition, Goldenberg does his own consulting, turning to Miami-based nutritionist Tom Incledon for guidance. Incledon has a PhD in biochemistry and is a former competitive weightlifter.
The Incledon diet for the modern athlete is designed to provide a caloric intake that maintains body weight and strength. Typically, a weekly menu might be comprised of 50-per-cent carbohydrates, 25-per-cent protein and 25-per-cent fat.

Roberts has said he will pack a blender with him on road trips this season to continue making protein shakes and other healthy foods. He plans to avoid eating "crap," while using his summer program from Ottawa to guide him through the long NHL season.

Roberts offers the perfect reason for paying extra attention to his fitness.

"No one's going to pay us this much money," he says, "to do anything else."

Return to main news section

Lorne Goldenberg used the earnings from his 14-year career as a corporate fitness consultant to build his Athletic Conditioning Centre in Ottawa's west end.