Who’s the most popular celebrity I’ve worked with?
I get that question a lot.
We could debate that for hours, but if you want to talk about the most extraordinary athletes who are celebrities I’ve encountered?
Andrei Arlovski would be up there with the best of them.
Both in training and competition, the former world Ultimate Fighting Heavyweight Champion makes demands on his body that few of us could imagine, let alone endure.
For six days a week and between six and eight hours a day, Andrei undergoes extreme training to ensure he is at the top in the UFC — a mixed martial arts competition where any hint of weakness is exploited and punished as competitors engage in combat.
Like so many elite athletes and performers, Andrei is extraordinarily driven and has the most intense focus when it comes to building, maintaining and sometimes, rebuilding his body.
This had its genesis back in his hometown of Minsk, Belarus where, as a teenager, he used to endure the taunts of bullies. Could you imagine? Andrei’s response as a 14 year old was to start lifting weights.
By 18, he was dedicated to martial arts, and won a world title in Sambo, a defense system developed in the old Soviet Union. When I first started working with him in 2001, he had just come to the US to further his blossoming MMA career in the UFC. His managers brought him to me and asked me what it would take to make him a world champion.
I suggested we release the muscle spasms and joint restrictions from his entire body (what I call, his integrated spring mechanism) and his upper extremities, rebuild his impact resistance mechanism for quickness speed and agility (what i call the spring suspension system ) focusing on treating every spasmed muscle and every stiff joint from toe to head. Then there was that little extra thing I mentioned about improving his diet in an attempt to pack another 40 – 50 pounds of muscle on his 6’4″ frame.
The first step was the restoration and fine tuning of his spring mechanisms.
During intense sessions three times a week, I worked on Andrei’s body, by hand, to remove every painful spasm from his body from the bottom of his feet to the top of his head. I had a special emphasis on fine-tuning the elastic recoil (spring) mechanism in the arch of his feet and the suspension system of the area to maximize his quickness, general agility and balance. My goal in the team effort was to essentially make his body injury resistant and be able to move with the maximum spring quickness and efficiency as possible.
Soon after, Andrei had knockouts of Ian Freeman, Vladimir Matyushenko, Wesley Correira, Tim Silvia Justin Eilers and Paul Buentello. That was not because of what we did but the culmination of all the hard work Andrei put into his whole integrated training, strength and conditioning program. Watch this interview I did with Andrei before his fight with Ray Lopez as we reminisce about those days.
Next, my suggestion was to add 40 pounds of solid muscle to his frame in strategic areas of support. With incredible dedication, Andrei quickly built his frame to allow him to absorb the breathtaking beatings the fighters inevitably face and hand out during his grueling 6 – 8 hour training sessions, as well as to absorb the punishment in the octagon canvas behind a steel cage.
While none of the athletes revel in their fellow fighters’ misery – as a martial arts sport, respect for opponents is tantamount – it’s perhaps a measure of Andrei’s excellence that one of the major injuries he’s endured has been breaking his hand four times from striking his opponents so hard. The first fracture occurred in the Ian Freeman fight and after that Andrei fractured this same hand 3 more times in sparring sessions and fights.
Finally, before the Silvia #1 fight he had to have surgery to insert a donor bone in his hand to make it strong enough to withstand the force of impact on his opponents’ head and body without breaking.
Every UFC fighter knows one mistake in preparation can lead to defeat and potentially, serious injury. Andrei’s unrelenting style and intimidating power left one of his opponents with two broken hands, a broken foot, a broken nose, and a torn ligament in his knee.
To reach the fitness pinnacle where elite athletes excel, Andrei undertakes a daily routine of 6 am wrestling training then, at 8am it’s a 30-minute run and a dozen 100 meter sprints. He does plyometric training and more conditioning depending on the periodization cycle he is in.
When many of us are getting ready to sit down for dinner, Andrei works on Jiu-Jitsu. He also takes regular classes so he can work with many opponents with varying styles of attack – he practices bear crawls, Chinese push-ups and other drills.
His strength coach says training in the weeks leading up to a bout are even more intense with a focus on exacting exercises including throwing a 20 pound medicine ball repeatedly over his head and other jumping drills.
Andrei fuels all this activity with a diet of mainly fish, chicken, vegetable foods, shakes and juices.
His diet used to be Subway sandwiches, salted fish and potato soup
Just kidding! Kinda not.
The two weeks he takes off immediately after a bout gives him a chance to explore a few other favored pursuits including skydiving.
Andrei is a prime example of the kind of results that can be achieved by combining dedication and careful planning with natural talent. So far, his accomplishments include being a top celebrity athlete, famous in Las Vegas where he won his first UFC World Heavyweight title at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, a beautiful home in Chicago and a glamorous circle of friends to share the glory with – I often wondered when he would star in his first Hollywood action movie. We know the answer to that question.
I respect Andrei’s dedication and work ethic. He is a superstar I am very proud to have worked with over the last 10 years. He is also a gentleman and a good friend.
Andrei Arlovski Highlights (links below)