Locked out Caps head to Gold's Gym

Locked out Caps head to Gold's Gym
October 23, 2012, 5:00 pm
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Fitness director Serge Sejour [center] has worked with from left to right Matt Hendricks, Jason Chimera, Mike Green, John Carlson, Jay Beagle and Karl Alzner.

(Chuck Gormley)

A little more than a month ago, when the NHL lockout was in its first week, Matt Hendricks walked into Gold’s Gym in Arlington and asked the operations manager if a handful of Capitals could use the gym’s workout facilities.

As luck would have it, fitness director Serge Sejour happened to walk in on the conversation.

A former cornerback in the Canadian Football League who had a brief stint with the Redskins in 2003, Sejour had trained NFL players Vernon Davis, Joe Haden and D’Qwell Jackson, but had never worked with hockey players.

“To be honest, it’s not that much different,” Sejour said. “Both are very physical games and they’re both going short distances as fast as they can. Hockey players run into walls at full speed and can get hit at any moment. The only difference is that hockey players have to be quicker laterally.”
With that in mind, every Tuesday and Thursday morning, from 7:45 until 9:15, a small group of Capitals – Hendricks, Jason Chimera, Jay Beagle and John Carlson – began working out with Sejour and pushing themselves to the limit.
“His workouts are 100 percent all out,” Beagle said. “You’re destroying your body. When you leave the gym you’re toast.”

Sejour, 31, said he designed individual workouts for each of the players he’s worked with, reviewing hours of YouTube videos of them skating. What were his first impressions?

“I saw Matt’s explosion,” Sejour said of Hendricks. “I saw Chimera’s quickness. He’s quick as a cat, but his explosiveness doesn’t last. I think in the third period the way he’ll perform is on parallel to what he did in the first period.”

Sejour said Beagle and Carlson came to him with strength but lacked flexibility. Chimera lacked mobility in his shoulders and Hendricks, who has since returned to Minnesota, was a fitness machine.

“Matt Hendricks is like a perfect technician,” Sejour said. “Every single workout we’ve done he’s the one I use to show how it’s done. He’s so perfect with his execution.”

Defensemen Mike Green and Karl Alzner have also participated in a few of Sejour’s workouts.

“Training during the lockout to just maintain is not the way to go,” Sejour said. “I want to train them to be faster, quicker, stronger and have a lot more power while maintaining flexibility. I told all of them you have to play your third period as you played your first period. It’s worked wonders for them.”

Hendricks said the goal is to be ready to go in the event the NHL labor dispute ends quickly and players are given just a week of training camp.

“Physically, you can’t keep climbing that ladder,” he said. “You’ve got to have some down time and then build back up. If you keep climbing you burn yourself out. Our job is to stay in shape and be ready to play hockey when this thing gets done.”

Sejour said he mixes up his twice-a-week workouts, focusing on core strength, balance and explosiveness. On Tuesday Sejour had the Capitals bouncing off medicine balls and hopping laterally through rings while holding a hockey stick.
“There’s no sense doing 500-pound squats and then you’re stiff as a brick when you hit the ice,” Sejour said.

“I need to make sure I wear the muscle out without wearing the athlete out. I don’t want them peaking until the season starts.”

When that will be is anyone’s guess. But whenever the NHL returns to action, it will have one more fan.

“I can’t wait to go to a game and see all the hard work they put in here translated onto the ice,” Sejour said, “and know I had a part in that.”