Jonathan Toews. Duncan Keith. Tim Thomas. You know them as standout NHL players and three of the last five Conn Smythe Trophy recipients. We are proud to know them as EVO UltraFit athletes. What do the Conn Smythe Trophy and EVO UltraFit share? A focus on sustained, high-level performance.
Unlike many other professional sports, the Conn Smythe Trophy is presented to the player most valuable to his team during the entire post-season—not just the finals. So on top of stellar performance in the regular season—what took their teams to the playoffs in the first place—these athletes maintained or surpassed that performance during the mentally and physically-demanding post-season haul.
It’s no shock that these three athletes have been called “brilliant” (Thomas, by the Boston Globe), “[on] another level” (Toews, by the NY Times), and a “freak of nature” (Keith, by Bleacher Report). Thomas not only holds the record for most saves in a playoff run and the Stanley Cup finals series, but at 36, he was (and is still) the oldest Conn Smythe recipient. Thomas is a four-time all-star and Vezina Trophy winner. Toews, by contrast, is the second- youngest Conn Smythe recipient, was one of the youngest team captains in NHL history, and was the youngest player to join the Triple Gold Club. He is also a four-time NHL all-star. Keith, who won this year’s Conn Smythe, is a two-time James Norris Memorial Trophy winner and three-time NHL all-star.
In an environment where extraordinary is ordinary, and elite is normal, these players became…well…abnormal.
Is it a coincidence that their training program also disrupts the status quo? “You get used to so many old school ways of training, and you learn to believe certain things…about the way you need to train to be an athlete,” Toews said. “But it’s just letting go of some of those old school things that don’t really matter.” The “new school” EVO training is a system of high intensity to supra-intensity (high-speed, high load, high volume) training routines which target specific physiological traits; those associated with efficient athletic and/or human performance.
These physiological traits are:
• Balance, coordination – the contraction and relaxation of specific muscles, and/or muscle groups
• Nervous system development
• Connective tissue strength
• Usable strength development
• Muscle group involvement in the proportionate production of strength and size; the ancillary muscle groups “turn on” at the same proportionate rate as the primary movers. This greatly reduces the chance of injury during the performance of a sport skill and everyday activities. The system reduces the number of exercises that an individual must master in order to enhance their sport skill(s) and/or improve the quality of life.
Training routines are arranged according to their importance for the specific individual, and that individual proceeds in a precise order through each of these traits as his or her physiology indicates. It’s a controlled process. Toews speaks to this process when he says, “[With the EVO system], it’s all about patience, and it’s all about working toward your goals. I have goals of where I want to be down the road, and I know I can get there with this [the EVO system].”
But the EVO system isn’t designed to create incredible hockey players (or football players, or any other athletes); it is designed to create incredible humans. In refining the neurological and soft tissue systems in the body, EVO goes where other training and rehabilitation programs can’t: directly to the source. Physical training is futile for a body that has a compromised neurological system. By discovering and repairing these disconnects and inefficiencies, EVO training reestablishes proper human function.
Thomas notes, “As soon as I started to follow your protocols, within the first couple of days, I noticed I felt young again.” And as his training progressed, his performance only improved. “I hadn’t moved like that in a long time, since…well maybe never, because the POV [one of EVO’s training modalities] takes you to a whole new level.”
Thomas also speaks to how the EVO system improved more than his physical game. “A lot of my game relies on movement, and the mental aspect [is important] as well,” he said. “But the POV also helped me with that…and the stress. It changed my whole mental outlook.” Part of evolving human performance means empowering individuals to achieve allostasis—stability through any conceivable change—including changes that stem from mental stress.
In a sport where the average professional career is 5-6 seasons long, the longevity demonstrated by Toews (who just concluded his 8th season), Keith (who just closed out a 10th season), and Thomas (who spanned an impressive 11 seasons) is remarkable, yet unsurprising. When the body’s proper physiological functioning is restored, injuries are substantially reduced and the incremental deterioration of the body (and subsequently performance) doesn’t happen.
“This [EVO training] is the best thing for me,” Toews said. “This is the best thing I can do for the remainder of my career, and even after my career as well. When you have this understanding, you feel like the sky’s the limit. I don’t know when that day is, when I’ll reach my potential, but I still feel like it’s a long ways away.”
So here’s to obliterating expectations, to evading “average,” and to an ending that has yet to be conceived. We’re looking forward to the future.