Saturday, April 17, 2010

An Interview with Brian St. Pierre

1. Brian thank for your time. Could you give my readers your background, and how you came to be a strength and conditioning coach, and nutritional expert?

Robbie, thanks for having me. I am a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and a Certified Sports Nutritionist. I have my degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Maine, and I will actually be returning there this fall to get my Master’s degree in the same field, as well completing a Dietetic Internship to become a Registered Dietitian.
I currently work at Cressey Performance as the nutritionist and as a strength and conditioning coach.

My route to becoming a fitness professional was a strange one. I actually enrolled at UMaine to be an engineer. After suffering through three long and miserable years trying to make that happen, I decided that it was not for me. I had spent more time in those three years reading about training and nutrition than I had on my engineering work, so I decided that was probably a better direction for my career.

From there I just happened to get in touch with Eric Cressey right as he was starting Cressey Performance. I went down and observed him and Tony Gentilcore train athletes a few times, completed Mike Boyle’s mentorship program, and then was offered an internship with Cressey Performance. A few months later I was hired to actually work there, and it has all just fallen into place since then. Right place right time I guess.

2. What, in your opinion, is the biggest problem you see within the fitness and nutrition industry today?

Wow, this could go a lot of different ways. I guess the biggest problem with the whole industry is that we have had such a minimal impact on the way the masses train. With all the advances in knowledge and application, when you set foot in a commercial gym you realize that almost nothing has changed. The biggest problem is not only getting good information into the hands of people that need it, but getting them to buy into and put it into practice.

3. Who has had the biggest influence on you as a coach and as a nutrition expert?

The biggest influence on me as a coach would most definitely be Eric Cressey. Working with him day in and day out, you see how relentless he is in making himself better, so he can make his clients better. The passion he has for his clients. He has certainly been a tremendous influence in that regard. Same goes for my programming, as I’ve learned practically everything I know about program design from EC. You truly become good at program design when Eric looks them over every day, because he will certainly let you know what he thinks!

For the nutrition aspect, no doubt it has been John Berardi. I spent more time reading his work in college than practically anything else I did. There is no question that his entire system was the basis for much of the way I thought about food and nutrition. I would go so far as to say I would not be in this field today if I had not come across Berardi’s website. There is no doubt in my mind.

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

Strength Training: Never Let Go – by Dan John

Physical Therapy Rehabilitation: Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes – by Shirley Sahrmann

Nutrition: The Omnivore’s Dilemma – by Michael Pollan

Business: E-Myth – by Michael Gerber

Random: Born to Run – by Christopher McDougall / The entire Harry Potter series

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

I read. A lot. There are a lot of great blogs out there where you can learn so much. I read probably about 10 blogs on a consistent basis. I read lots of books, which is why your above question was so hard! At CP we hold 1-2 seminars per year. Mike Boyle’s Winter Seminar, Perform Better Seminar, etc. Then there are things like the strengthcoach podcast, the FitCast,, etc. There is a lot of great information out there, you just have to look.

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

7. If you could chose one exercise, and one exercise only, what would it be and why?

This is a tough question. If I had to pick one exercise, it would probably be pushing the Prowler. I know it sounds cliché because Mike wrote an article about it, but I think it is true. Almost any client can do it without contraindication. It is a true expression of someone’s ability to display strength, get leverage, and be fit. It also doesn’t have an eccentric component, so it does not get people sore for the most part, which can be advantageous in some situations. It really just gives you the biggest bang for your buck.

Anyone for the Powler!

8. If you could give someone one piece of nutritional advice, what would that be?

Eat Real Food. That’s it. If you focus on that one piece of advice, that probably covers 90% of your needs. Eat Real Food.

Real Food!

9. 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 would say my methodology is about getting the client optimal results in minimal time. My assessment is pretty comprehensive, as I put clients through a battery of tests, ranges of motion, and dynamic movement patters looking for restrictions, asymmetries and other red flags.

My program design is built around one thing: fitting the program to the client, not the client to the program. Every client gets a personalized program based on their assessment outcome, health history, injury history, age, goals, and many other variables. The style of the program can vary greatly depending on all those factors, so every program is client-dependant. There is not one set style in mind, just whatever gets clients results.

My periodization also depends on the client. Are they an athlete? Multi-sport athlete? What position(s) do they play, what season are they in, how long have they been training, how often do they train, etc? Periodization is also something, just like program design, that is dictated by the client and all the different variables they bring to the table. It is a dynamic process that is constantly changing due to vacations, illness, and other unexpected occurrences in life that seem to come up and interrupt training cycles. In my mind it is best to program with some periodization in mind, but be aware of the fact that your program is going to have to adapt to the ever-changing demands of someone’s life.

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

Put your time in. Do not expect to finish up an internship and be an internet expert making 6 figures right out of the shoot, with your own high-profile facility. It does not work like that. It takes years to get good at this, so put your time in.

Other than that, I am going to steal a great quote from Mike Boyle, “Find the best places to work, and work there.” It is that simple. Find out what it takes to get a job there, and then do what is necessary to make it happen. Work your ass off, study your ass off, and good things will come.

11. Brian, thank you so much for your time. Where can my readers find out more about you, and any projects that you may have coming up?

Robbie thanks again for having me, it was my pleasure.
Your readers can find out more about me at my website, I try to blog 3-4 times per week, giving mainly nutrition and some training advice, with a few fun things mixed in as well.

I recently did an interview with Kevin Neeld for Other than that, there are always project ideas being kicked around, it is just a matter of finding the time!

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