Trainer Talk with.....Cody Cooper and Trainer Tim Gearhart
By Tim Crytser
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Virtual Trainer: Hey guys, thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to sit with me and talk. Lucky for me it has been raining all day so you guys have nothing better to do than sit and talk a little training (laughs). Tim, let's start with you. How did you become the trainer for the JGR Motocross Team?
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What does this have to do with training? Nothing...it's just the view from the gym at Joe Gibbs Racing!

photo Tim Crytser
Tim Gearhart : Actually it was just total coincidence. It was a case of people knowing people. One of my best friends up in Maryland used to be an assistant strength coach with the Redskins. My office for my other business up in Maryland is actually out of his gym. I was just sitting there one day and Coy sent out an email saying that he was putting a motocross team together and he was looking for somebody to be the trainer. It was wierd because we sat there for a few days and were like, who do we know that would be good for this? I got to thinking about it and thought, hey this might be kind of cool and I might have to give that a try myself (laughs). To make a long story short, Coy and I talked on the phone and met four or five times since I was just living up the road in Virginia. We just hit it off really well together and our ideas and training philosophies are very similar so that made it pretty easy.

Have you ever trained any other motocross athletes or been around the sport?
Tim: No, never. I followed the sport a little bit when I was a kid and rode here and there but had never trained specifically for motocross.

What are your main responsibilities here at JGRMX?
Tim: Just to prepare the two riders and make sure they are ready to race both mentally and physically. I think the mental aspect of racing motocross is often overlooked but very important. I have done a lot of research on the mental side and read a bunch of articles on the topic and even follow your guy on Virtual Trainer, Dr. Patrick Cohn. I have read a lot of his stuff and he really makes sense. Towards the end of last season with Summey I worked more and more on the mental aspect of training. Not just the physical stuff but mentally preparing for races and looking for barriers that might be holding them back from performing at their max capabilities. That is all part of what I will be doing with Josh [Grant] and Cody [Cooper] as the season gets closer. We will be having mental training sessions as well. But yea, my job is to prepare these guys to go out there and be the best they can be.

Cody, how long have you been at JGR and what are your initial impressions of the team training concept?
Cody: Well I was contacted the first of October and I came up here two weeks ago. So far I really like it and think it is a huge advantage. They told me a lot about it and I read about it on paper with the contract stuff, but when I came here it was just a whole other story. It didn't say enough on paper to what it is actually like in real life. It's pretty amazing here. It's crazy how much stuff they provide you with not only mechanics and bikes, but a trainer and a full training facility. So far it has been great.

Are the rider's days structured like a nine to five job where they have certain things to do each day at certain times?
Tim: Well we try to but obviously with inclement weather and stuff like that it throws the schedule off a little. But yes, as long as the weather is good it is understood that from 8 am to pretty much 2 to 3 o'clock they are working. Their weeks are basically structured so that on Monday and Tuesday they go ride. They leave here at 8:30 in the morning and get back around 2 or 3 and sometimes later if they are testing. Then we hit the gym. On the days that they don't ride, we train at 8:30 in the morning and get it out of the way. Usually Wednesday's they get a day off from riding and we do some optional bike rides or something like that. and the rest of the week is pretty much the same. Since these guys just got here we are still working out the schedule and obviously it changes throughout the year.

How old are you Cody?
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Tim pushes his riders hard. Here he adds a new level of difficulty as Cody busts out pushups on the TransformX bar!

photo Tim Crytser
Cody: I just turned twenty five.

So you aren't one of the teenagers just coming out of Loretta's. What is your perspective so far as to training at JGR compared to what you were used to in New Zealand?
Cody: Yea, well even though I am 25 I have just come straight from New Zealand and this is my first year here. Training here is nothing like I trained back home. I didn't really know what to do. I would just get up and be like, well what should I do today? I obviously knew to ride a lot but other than that I didn't really know. I would go for a run and not really know anything about intensities and stuff like that. I would just go hard all the time.

The Team Training concept at JGR is certainly new to motocross. Do you think more teams will start to take a closer look and say, yes, that is how things are supposed to be done, or do you think they will buck their head and resist?
Cody: I think a few teams will switch for sure. I know there are a lot of younger riders who find it hard to train. They say they are but they aren't. I think that the teams are going to start to see that more and not let riders get away with it. I think most are getting away with it because they are relying on their young age and just riding a lot. But the young guys who are working hard stick out from the rest.

Yea, I have always been shocked that teams hire riders and just expect them to be in shape without offering them the expertise of a trainer. That has never made sense to me. But maybe guys like Mitch Payton look at the other way and figure they are saving money by not supplying a trainer when a rider like Villopoto hires his own! But, what do you do when you get a guy who isn't as smart as Ryan to hire a trainer like Randy Lawrence?
Tim: That is something that I first talked to Coy about when I came down here. He explained his whole philosophy and it was exactly that. He saw how his dad and his brother built their NASCAR team and he said, I see the motocross industry as all spread out and I want to bring everything together to support the riders. He thinks that he can bring something new to the industry that no one else is doing and revolutionize the way teams are managed in motocross. That has been Coy's vision from the beginning to run a motocross team like you do a NASCAR team. It's a complete team concept where everyone lives here, rides here, and trains here.

I can certainly see the benefit of everyone being in the same place. Just like today. It was raining and nasty out but everyone was right here in the shop all day. That is how teams are built; spending time together; getting to know each other and stuff like that.
Cody: It's like a family here. I had a lot of the same thing when I road for Honda of New Zealand. Riding for them was like a family. They didn't give us as much stuff as we get here but the team was really close.

Building a team is more difficult than it may sound. You have to spend time together to really develop the confidence to know that everyone on the team has your back. You can't just throw a bunch of guys together and call them a team. What do you think so far of the fact that you guys are required to live in Charlotte?
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Preventing neck injuries isn't always just by luck. Borrowing from years of training in football, Tim knows that a strong neck is a good neck!

photo Tim Crytser
Cody: Well, I think it is good. I haven't lived in America very long. I lived in Tallahassee for a while with Ben Townley and I think it is a step forward coming here. For me it would be hard to go back there. The training facility where I rode with Ben was good. But the whole overview here is much better. Like the scenery and stuff is nice. It's just a nice place to live. The people are nice and it's easy to get around and do stuff. It has a fit sort-of feeling about it. You always see people out running or riding their bikes. It is a very active town.

The fact that Charlotte is not the epicenter of motocross, do you guys see that as a positive or negative?
Cody: I think it is a positive thing. In California the riders are a lot more popular so there are more distractions.
Tim: Obviously a lot of the guys are from California and when they first came here last year to live there was a little bit of a question. At first it was a bit of a hurdle contacting new riders and getting them to move here and ride for us. But now all the guys from California who have been here for a while are like, man I don't ever want to go back to California. They like it here. They really like the idea of team, family and friends all being right here. The quality of life is really good.
Cody: It's just a short distance to go see the other guys too since they all just live right down the road. We all live pretty close to each other.

Tim, as a trainer, what do you initially do when a brand new rider comes in like Cody and Josh?
Tim: The first thing I do is sit down with them, just me and the rider. First I try to get a feel for their training background if any and what they are used to. We talk about their past as far as injuries go and if they have a physical ailments that continue to bother them in any way. Through the Cup shop we have access to a full staff of Orthopedists and Sports Medicine Specialists. Last week when Cody got here that was one of the first things he went through was a full Orthopedic exam and complete physical. Then we put them through a V02 max test to get a baseline for their current state of conditioning. Based on all that I can then start to put together a training program for each guy.
Cody: Yea, the testing is pretty complete and tough; especially the V02 max and max heart rate tests.

Tim, what is you main activity for cardio; running, cycling, or rowing?
Tim: I try to mix it up and keep it interesting for these guys. We do a lot of cycling since obviously that is an effective modality. A lot of these guys come from a cycling background and are used to it and their bodies have adapted to cycling as a training method and just for that reason I like to do other things. I like to use the rower and I like to run intervals outside. Stadium steps are good.

Cody are you aware of any of this yet (laughs).
Cody: No not yet, but I like it!
Tim: And on days like today when it's tough to get outside I like to hit the gym and do some circuit cardio with the jump rope and all the cardio machines. It keeps it interesting for the rider and most importantly it keeps their bodies guessing.

Tim, what do you see as your biggest challenge training these guys?
Tim: Well, with Cody and Josh I haven't had any problems so far. This guy [Cody] is already in great shape and loves to train. So far it has been good but we have only been together a couple of weeks. But already it is leaps and bounds better than last year. Two weeks into it last year I was calling guys because they weren't showing up on time and it was a battle just to get them in here. But with these guys I haven't seen any of that. They have good attitudes and are hard workers.

Since Josh was out sick today I didn't get to see him work out, but with what I saw from Cody you are definitely right. Do you see the same hard work and dedication from Josh?
Tim: Oh yea for sure, Josh has a real good attitude. Josh isn't in nearly as good as shape to start off as Cody. That's why he is hurting a little more [eluding to the fact that Josh was out sick]. A couple of days so far he has been pretty ragged (laughs).

He is a California kid. How do you think he will adjust to life in North Carolina?
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Tim likes to keep things fun and interesting for his riders. Incorporating balance training is just one of the many different diciplines they utilize at JGRMX!

photo Tim Crytser
Tim: Well, so far he seems to like it.
Cody: I think being on the lake helps. He lives right on the lake and can walk out his back door and be on the water.
Tim, do you normally train with these guys?
Tim: Yes, normally I do on the bike rides but not so much the lifting stuff. I usually go lift with Coy. But whenever we go biking or the interval running outside, I do it with them. Like right now with the base cardio training I usually do the rides with them. I have the heart rate monitors on them so all I have to do is keep them in the range I want them in. But with the strength training I really like to focus on each guy one-on-one. They are two totally different individuals with their own strengths and weaknesses.

Does JGR have plans on expanding beyond two riders and if so how many riders do you think you could handle at once?
Tim: Possibly in the future, yes. Realistically, I think I could handle four guys without an assistant. I think above four you would loose the one-on-one aspect of training.

Cody, as a rider on this team you will be sharing your trainer; a guy who will end up knowing everything about you, with a guy who even though you are on the same team are trying everything you can each week to beat him. Do you see any problems with that setup?
Cody: No, not as long as we are on the same team. Since he is one my teammates it's like if he wins the whole team wins. I get a buzz out of it too if he wins. And if we were going at it each week on the track I think training together will be an advantage because it will push each of us harder in practice.
Tim: I agree. I think it will motivate each one of them to work that much harder.

What if you two end up battling for a championship?
Cody: I still don't think it would be a problem. Since he is right here I'll know what I have to do to beat the guy (laughs). I would see him training so I would work even harder.

At lunch today I heard you guys talking a little about nutrition and eating. Does JGR provide nutritional counseling as well to the riders?
Tim: Well, I am not a registered dietician or anything like that but I have a pretty good idea about nutrition and they have both come to me and asked for some advice. I printed out some guidelines for them to follow and we are trying a new program with a restaurant, Just Fresh. I laid out some guidelines on calories, protein, carbs, and fats for the girl over there and she will be making up some of their meals.

Wow, that's nice. Two single guys in a brand new town getting their meals prepared for them. That is a huge advantage in making sure your riders are getting proper nutrition. Unless either of them is a cook, I'm sure the temptation and convenience of ordering pizza would be high. Another advantage for the team.
Tim: Yes, the convenience alone makes it worth it.

Man the more I think about it, if you fail in this environment then you just aren't taking advantage of what you were given.
Tim: Yea, if the rider just follows the program that we have most likely they are going to be successful.
Cody: Yea, it’s a great program. You just have to take advantage of it.
....................Um, its four o'clock right. I have to get to my message appointment.

Yea, no problem. Can't be late for that especially since you used Tim's card to hold the reservation (laughs). Cody, thanks for letting me pal around with you guys today and follow your workout at the gym. I really appreciate it and good luck this season.
Cody: Yea, thanks; no problem.

Tim: Alright Coop, see you tomorrow.................To sum it up the team training aspect takes away unneeded distractions and allows the riders to focus on riding and training.

Let's talk a little bit about a topic that I think is one of the most misunderstood concepts when it comes to training for motocross and that is strength training. Tell me a little about your ideas on the topic and how you incorporate it into the riders programs.
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Strength training plays a major role in the overall conditioning of the athletes at Joe Gibbs Racing!

photo Tim Crytser
Well, motocross is a sport just like any other. You know for years in basketball there was this myth that you can't lift weights because it will mess up your shot. Well, then a few guys started lifting weights and showed how much you can improve. Michael Jordan is a great example of that. I think in motocross there is no way you can prepare your body properly without strength training. Cody and Josh will find out just like Summey did last year, once he got stronger he was able to handle the bike easier and wasn't as fatigued at the end of practice or a race. With strength training his body was much better prepared to race motocross. The whole "lifting weights causes arm pump" thing to me is such a joke. Seems to me that if you prepared those muscles it would prevent arm pump in the first place!

I couldn't agree more. Now on to my favorite subject that I end all my interviews with; Performance Enhancing Drugs. Do you think it's in motocross and do you think it is a problem?
I have heard rumors, let's just say that. I have seen no proof what-so-ever myself. It wouldn't surprise me if there were a few things going on here and there. But quite frankly if you are a talented rider, work harder than the next guy and train your butt off you are going to be just as successful. Usually if someone is taking performance enhancing drugs there is a reason. They probably don't want to train as hard and they are looking for a shortcut. So they are probably not mentally tough in the first place.

Do you think the AMA should be doing more about it?
I think they should. If not for any other reason than to put it out there and say here we are and we are testing. Why hold back and say, nah we don't need to test for all that stuff. Why not just come right out and do the tests. That way everyone is being tested whether it's random or whatever and then everyone would know that the playing field was level. Why not test? They do it in almost all other sports.

Well, with that I will let you go. Thanks again for inviting me down and opening the doors to talk shop. I really appreciate it.
No problem. It was fun. You'll have to come down some other time once we get further into the program with these guys and talk some more. Maybe the next time, Josh won't be out sick.

Thanks for the invite. That sounds great!
 
 

That's it for now from Huntersville, NC. Home of the revolutionary new JGRMX race team. Until next time, good luck with your training and, as always, VT can be reached anytime at crytset@comcast.net. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section , your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness.
 

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