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This Profile of Brady's Fitness Guru is Surreal

Alex Guerrero

Over the weekend, Men’s Journal ran a long profile piece about Alex Guerrero, Tom Brady’s personal trainor, advisor and business partner in TB12 Sports Therapy Center. To put into perspective what an enormous deal Guerrero is in Brady’s world, right after the Super Bowl, when Brady was on his knees and elbows sobbing like me watching Field of Dreams drunk on Father’s Day, the person who pushed through the mob of TV cameras to interrupt him and pull his to his feet was this guy.

So naturally, as is the case with all things Brady, the Boston media is blowing their collective gasket over the article. Even with the Celtics in the conference semis and the Red Sox starting to hit, sports radio and TV have done almost two full days of reaction to the article. And as they’ve done before, painting Guerrero like he’s a total quack. Brady’s combination witch doctor/psychic healer/Defense Against the Dark Arts professor.

The article is by a mountain climber named Mike Chambers, who went to TB12 after shattering his foot falling off a rock wall. He had an operation to repair his heel bone, from a conventional surgeon who put screws in it, told him to stay off it for at least three months and said he’ll never be the athlete he was before. It’s a long article, full of details like him watching Gisele do crunches and the fact the rooms are all have names like Grit, Determination, Perseverance and We Got This. So I’ll try to keep the excerpts appropriately blog-length:

Guerrero’s methods are unconventional, to say the least. And yet he’s become something of a legend in the sports world. NFL stars from Wes Welker to LaDainian Tomlinson have trusted him with their livelihoods. Julian Edelman once referred to him as Mr. Miyagi. Danny Amendola calls him a wizard. …

Guerrero leads me to a machine that looks like a treadmill covered in a small greenhouse. “It’s an antigravity treadmill,” he explains. “It’s time to start retraining your neuro-patterns.” He straps me into the apparatus and begins pressing buttons until the greenhouse fills with air and I’m floating above the treadmill, bearing just 10 percent of my body weight.

Guerrero explains that when I fell, my brain noticed. Instantly, new neural pathways were created, sending signals to my body that my heel was now out of commission. Using my heel, even in a small way, starts to reprogram those pathways. …

I was analyzed on a series of machines that checked my load distribution and biomechanical efficiency. … Before I could get my heel to start recovering, he explained, I needed to convince my brain to “reclaim” it. Everything I did, from deep-tissue massage to accelerated weight bearing (the antigravity treadmill) was seemingly designed to send a message to my heel that it was still a part of the team and needed to get off the bench. …

I struggled to drink 100 ounces of water a day and avoid white flour, sugar, caffeine, dairy, salt, and the inflammation-causing axis of evil: peppers, mushrooms, and tomatoes. To Guerrero, diet-induced inflammation may as well be the eighth deadly sin. … Instead of my daily cup of coffee, I switched to a substitute made of barley, rye, and various other sticks and twigs. …

But I had yet to tell my doctor. At my 10-week checkup, I was terrified of showing him how I’d already been walking. His reaction to my mobility was one of disbelief. “In my 25 years of practicing medicine, I have never seen someone recover from a calcaneus injury this quickly,” he said.

OK, I admit the methods sound bizarre as hell. All that programming your brain to talk to your foot to tell it to get back in the game and start healing sounds like something Morpheus would tell Neo. The anti-gravity treadmill – along with Guerrero telling the guy he has to meditate every night before bed – sounds like the kind of shit you see in tents at a music festival, sold by a Patchouli-soaked neckbearded guy with gauges in his ears sitting under a copper tubing pyramid. And personally a life without peppers, mushrooms or tomatoes and drinking twig coffee is not a life I’ll ever consider living. So I get the skepticism.

But the results speak for themselves. If Brady was spending half his year on the inactive list with hamstring pulls, or Amendola and Edelman were showing obvious signs of slowing down, it’d be easy as hell to mock this. And even if you think Brady has some kook in him because of his cookbook with the dehydrated algae recipes and his $200 ceramic-lined pajamas, do Welker and Tomlinson strike you as crackpots too? The fact that this Mike Chambers is back climbing rock walls within weeks and his own doctor said he’s never seen anything like it is pretty solid evidence that Guerrero and Brady are onto something. And it might be nothing less than an entire new discipline of sports medicine.

Regardless, after reading this I think if you doubt Brady when he says he’s got another five years in him? You’re the one who’s nuts.

@jerrythornton1