From Russia With Love


I've been very fortunate to work with and learn from some incredible minds in the fields of fitness, training, and strength and conditioning.

It goes beyond that however as I believe that the message is much more profound than what their title showcases. There are people in this business who live and love what they do. It is work and very hard work at that but rarely is there a day when it feels like it. Their ability to train, educate, and coach is producing change in health, well being, performance, and outlook beyond people's wildest expectations.

Most imporatntly they are re-invigorating a component of wealth that has been overlooked for quite some time. The idea that health, performance, and education are a currency in their own right and that it is something that provides a payout that no investment strategy will ever be able to touch as long as we are on this planet. 

I had the good fortune of being interviewed by one of these people this week. You can get it here.

I've known Sean Guevremont for a number of years and had the pleasure of working with him for a good part of it. 

As exciting as it is to be interviewed by another top notch coach I felt like getting his insights was something that had to be done considering I look at his story as something more interesting than mine.

Sean has been spending the season with the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia as their strength and conditioning coach. A very well respected title in the strength and conditioning community but a position that has required him to pack up and bust his ass in a completely different culture, language, and location. Not to mention spending a substantial amount of time away from his friends, clients, family, and his wife (read her post on his blog and you will see that she is a cool ass wife).

What is really amazing about the whole thing is that he is a part of a coaching staff that is rebuilding from unimaginable tragedy after last year's plane crash that claimed the lives of the entire team and coaching staff. 

For that reason I am extremely humbled that he had asked me to be a part of his website and compelled to share his story. 

So here we go.


So you're in Russia. How has it been getting used to a new opportunity in a completely new    culture? How are you enjoying things now that you've been there for a while?
Where to start, things have been great, the most challenging part was getting here and settled, all the visas, housing, transportation, banking, etc. is a whole lot different than North America and with the language barrier it doesn’t make things any easier. I have to have someone help me with all the translations, so when you are used to getting things done quickly it makes for a tough adjustment.
The training has had it challenges as well; you don’t know how much you rely on verbal cues and coaching until it is gone. The time we have available with the player’s in-season, the equipment, and the difficulty to communicate has made me re-think my programming and exercise selection. The upside is that you have to be creative and quick to make adjustments where needed.
As for the Russian culture, I am enjoying the new experience, meeting new people, learning new ways of thinking about preparation, sport, and even daily living.
How was this unique opportunity presented to you and what advice would you give to anyone seeking out a similar opportunity?
This is actually a long story, so I won’t bore you with all the details and give you the short version.
I met a trainer a few years ago named Andy O’Brien out at Edge School in Calgary, he is the trainer to hockey superstar Sydney Crosby amongst many other high profile athletes (Patrick Chan, Dana Torres, and Alex Rodriguez). We chatted a few times, kept in touch but that was about that.
Fast forward to last fall/winter, Andy was doing some interesting stuff with concussions and thought it would be something that I would like to learn about, I am always one to take an opportunity to learn something new so we re-connected.
This led to more discussion and a possibility to help Andy with some work he was doing in Ontario during the summer. Fortunately it fell through but he promised that another opportunity would come our way not to worry (how he knew that this would happen I will never know?)
Another opportunity did come up! In Early June Andy received an email about a Strength and Conditioning Job opening up in hockey that he thought might be a good fit for me (even though it was in Russia and I am newly married), he suggested I apply and so I did and the rest is history.
So I guess to answer your question fully, what advice would I give aspiring coaches, work hard, be patient, believe that the right opportunity will present itself and hope for a little luck.
What does your average day look like with the Lokomotiv?
I have come to realize that there is no such thing as an average day, things change by the second, schedules, priorities, needs of the players, literally everything, you just have to roll with it and adapt.
My responsibilities include warm-ups, team training, training injured players, training non-dressers on game day, recovery methods, talking with the coaching staff to understand what direction they are going, talking with the medical staff and integrating the training needs needed for each player, and finally and most importantly communicating with the players as best I can to understand where they are at physically, mentally, and emotional so that they are ready come game day.
You're doing a fair bit of travelling as well. Is life on the road all business or do you get a chance to sit back sometimes and say ''this is cool''?
I think the M.O of a hockey team is they visit a lot of airports and hotels. Most of the time our schedule is really tight, leaving only enough time to eat, sleep, practice, play, and then off to the next city.
I wish I could tell you differently but it’s not as glamorous as it sounds.
What is the craziest KHL city that you have visited and why?
All of the Russian and European cities are unique; some have much better living conditions than others. We tend to stay at some of the nicer hotels in each city, some are Hiltons where others are single bed, hotel built in the 1960’s, sheets may have never been changed type hotels.
The experiences have been interesting in all the cities, one game player’s are telling you not to take a walk alone after dinner and the next they are saying you should go shopping downtown for some Dolce Gabbana or something like that. The contrast can be somewhat shocking at times.
You have solid strength and conditioning experience in both North America and Europe. How does the Russian and European strength and conditioning community stack up against North America?
So different! I mean my background was definitely biased to strength work as the foundation to build upon. I am however working on the proper application and development of athlete’s work capacity and power in regards to their specific sport and can see how that can make a huge impact on true performance.
The Russian culture leans more to a heavy volume of low intensity work. Many of the athletes have a lower than expected strength level, their whole lives seemed to have revolved around, aerobic training, circuits, power endurance work, etc… So trying to change their minds when communication means are limited has been a real challenge.
We have a few international players that play for our team and I believe that their development is different once again. Technically they are amongst the higher percentile of the team, they are usually fairly conditioned, and display a little more power than the other players.
Which is best? I think it all depends on the coaching the players receive as young players. A proper model for long-term development should be applied and revisited yearly and improved upon taking the best practices from all areas. Unfortunately due to ego’s I think that would be almost impossible to accomplish.
What's next?
That’s up to my wife…Lol. No but in all seriousness, I want to continue to focus on the rest of the season, make sure that we do everything we can to reach our goals and then re-evaluate after that.
I do however love the sun, so if anyone in California is reading this and has an opportunity I am all ears.
You took on a position within an organization that has experienced tragedy beyond recognition. How is it being part of a fresh start within Yaroslavl and what is the culture like moving forward?
Whenever I am having a bad day I just think about what I am doing and why it is important that I bring my best effort everyday. Yaroslavl and it’s fans live and breathe hockey, the atmosphere in the rink and on the streets on game day is electric, I know that re-building this team is important to each and everyone of them and I am so grateful and humbled to be apart of this. This is something that I will remember forever.
Big thanks to Sean for taking some time to answer some questions. You can catch more of him on his website. Not to mention this is a name that I am sure you will be seeing more of in the very near future.
Back In The Day

All the best,