Thursday, January 21, 2010

An Interview with Charlie Weingroff


1. Charlie thank for your time. Could you give my readers your background, and how you came to be a strength and conditioning coach, and physical Therapist?

Yes, I think like many of us in our profession, I began as an athlete playing ice hockey and baseball through high school. I enjoyed weight training, and I found it very cool to be strong. I used typical young bodybuilding approaches and had success at that time. Going into college, I played baseball, but I knew that was done after college To stay in sports, I eschewed being an orthopedic surgeon since even though I was very good at carrying or moving large objects, I wasn't very good at putting them together. So I became set on being a Certified Athletic Trainer and go on to graduate school. My undergrad had the same Premed program for the ATC program, so that also gave me all the prereqs for physical therapy school. My advisor said I could still do everything I wanted to do as an ATC even if I went to PT school, and it would make me more marketable and have a good backup as well. So I graduated undergrad in '96, got my ATC in '97, MSPT in '99, and DPT this month. In the summer of '98, I was working as a PT aide, and one of the referring physicians asked the owner of the PT office if they knew any ATCs for a minor league basketball team coming to the area. I got that job while still in PT school, and after graduating, the connections from that minor league job got me to the New Jersey Nets for the '99-00 season. From 2000-03, I was the Head Athletic Trainer in the IBL and NBDL, which also included responsiblities of Strength Coach, Equipment Manager, and Travel Secretary. In '03, I got back to the NBA with the Philadelphia 76ers as Game Day Athletic Trainer and Rehab Consultant. At that point, the 76ers did not have a Strength Coach, so given my build I think the players found some confidence lifting with my guidance. That earned me Head Strength Coach and Assistant Athletic Trainer for the 76ers through 2006. Currently I am Director of Sports Performance and Physical Therapy @ CentraState Sports Performance, which is a hospital-owned sports training center where we train and rehab folks as PTs, Personal Trainers, and Strength & Conditioning Coaches all side by side.

2. What, in your opinion, is the biggest problem you see within the fitness industry, and also with physical therapy today?

The biggest problem I see in fitness and rehab is individuals that do and should have credibility are very poorly skilled and poorly motivated clinicians. If someone has any kind of facility, any kind of certification, any kind of following in what they do, that automatically gains them credibility in the public's view. In fact, these folks are atrocious clinicians, don't help the people that trust them, yet become the measuring stick for success. Nothing frustrates me more than seeing leadership, respect, and credibility based on prolifics and marketing. Credibility seems to be gained by folks with tons of blog posts with interesting information or a huge facility and following. Marketing champions over skills, which is just very sobering for folks that work hard to do the best they can by the people that trust us with the most sacred things they have, their bodies.

3. Charlie being a physical therapist and a strength coach, could you give us a summary on how you integrate the two into one wholistic approach?

I think when/if I put together my DVD this summer, the title will be Rehab = Training, Training = Rehab. I think they're all the same. They are both a mode to improve specific qualities. With an individual in front of you, they are a bag of qualities. ROM, strength, balance, hip extension, proprioception, 40 time, 4-board close grip bench press, curveball grip, cervical segmental mobility, the list is endless. Some qualities are movement based, some speed and strength based, and some skill based. Certainly when there are qualities that are below industry standard or when they hurt, these qualities take precedence. Some qualities may be industry standard, and the aim is to improve their measures with the belief that some greater goal will be improved. Often there is a combination of pain, physical limitations, GPP, or SPP. Qualities that you attack may be based on your individual skill set or environment. You just prioritize the attack based on what they need and what you have to give. Certainly pain and movement dysfunction or "rehab" will take precedence, and depending on the severity. That may or may not leave room to train other qualities. It's just about prioritizing qualities and going to war with the skill set that you have as a practitioner. I'd like to think that my niche is indeed blending some skills of addressing a lot of different qualities.

4. Who has had the biggest influence on you as a coach and as a clinican?

It is almost absurd for me to single out 1 individual to answer this. There have been so many people in so many different venues and walks of life that have influenced me in different facets of life. I will say this, which was a paraphrase from something I said at my brother's wedding. I wanted to thank my parents for whatever they did for me and my brother because whatever they did, they did it right.

5. What are you all-time favourite books in the following areas:

- Strength Training:
Functional Training for Sports
- Physical Therapy Rehabilitation:
Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance
- Business
How to Win Friends and Influence People
- Nutrition :
- Random:
Green Lantern: Secret Origins

6. What do you do to for your continuing education (Seminars attended etc)?

I am very much in tune to following what Gray Cook puts out. I am honored to call him a colleague and friend and been able to disseminate his messages of brilliance.
Some of the things I have on my calendar for 2010 are continuing the Prague School of Rehabilitation DNS series, Postural Restoration Institute, TPI, Hands On Seminars, and Maitland.
I have gotten away from focusing on performance training education outside of books as I have come to believe that an elite purchase on general movement is far more key than mastering any of the great strength and speed programs. I'm not sure it even matters much who or what you follow as long as you are busting your ass and moving properly and efficiently.

7. What resources that are out there, would you recommend to young up and coming coaches (Podcasts, Websites, Blogs, Products)?

I spend a lot of time on and When valuable things come up through there from links and posts from elsewhere, I check them out, but really just those 2 sites are on my daily go-to clicks.

8. Could you give my readers a basic summary of what your methodology on training is (eg. how do you assess, and design, and periodize programs)?

I do not have an enormous assessment package. Here is what we do Day 1. Everyone gets what I call the Janda Screen which is a combination of Janda's and Kolar's ISSS tests. It is done supported on the table or floor. Its goals are to assess and test the inner core and joint centration. Since this examination is supported, it is mainly looking for true joint mobility. This is in a one-on-one situation. Even though it is no more than 10 minutes, it is not practical for more than 1 at a time since there is quite a bit of passive movement and palpation. Then if the individual is in pain, they get the SFMA followed by the Breakouts, but since I do the Janda Screen first, I don't always go by the book and do all the Breakouts. If the individual is not in pain, they get the FMS. The FMS or SFMA is the guide or indicator for success. Excellence through symmetrical 2s and 3s in the FMS and functional non-painful movement in the SFMA are the goals. How we get there is far less important than getting and staying there.
A session is qualities-prioritized as I mentioned before. The ultimate program with broad qualities is in this order is soft tissue work, passive stretching, joint mobility, corrective exercise, dynamic warmup, speed and agility technique, power, strength, conditioning. As we get towards power and strength, many performance qualities are interspersed as we set up super-, tri-, and quad-sets. You can see that the dynamic warmup bridges typical rehab qualities with performance qualities. Some folks can get a beast of a workout just getting up through corrective exercise. A lot of this is semantics, but it is how I position specific goals and tasks.

9. If you had to pick one exercise, and one exercise only, what would it be and why?

Turkish Get-up because it can serve almost any purpose with mild tweaks in repetitions, speed of movement (even though your not supposed to go fast), load, or technique.

10. Last question. What advice would you give to other young coaches, like mkyself getting into the field?

In a positive way, care about being better than anyone that has ever lived at what you do. This doesn't mean stomp out the competition or be disrespectful. What I mean is that if you try to be the better than everybody else, you will automatically be the best you can be.
And just care about what you do and the people you impact. Honor those that came before you and gave you the opportunities to do what you do now. Just by caring puts you on the down side of the Bell Curve. You can be a greenhorn or have a very limited skill set. But if you are really care, and I mean REALLY care, about something, you are automatically better than half the people in your profession.
And speaking of the Bell Curve, the goal is to be on the very, very end. If you are in the 80th percentile, you are pretty damn good. But there are also 20 people better than you. Some people think an SL500 is a very nice Mercedes. Many SL500 owners have never seen a Maybach.

Charlie, thank you so much for your time. Where can my readers find out more about you?
I don't have a Website or anything, but I am very accessible at Coach Boyle's and Joe Heiler's I am often at conferences supporting Woodway and Vibraflex, and my role in the booth is not just to discuss the products my company is selling. My e-mail is, and as you know, I respond in some way to every message I get.

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