Tony Villani

Secrets From the Trainer of the Fastest NFL Players in History

Season  1Episode  757 MinutesDecember 27, 2023
Click to Watch Youtube Video

Prepare to be blown away in this pulse-pounding episode of Interesting Humans, as Jeff Hopeck sits down for an electrifying conversation with none other than Tony Villani, the visionary president and founder of XPE Sports.

Hold onto your seats as Tony takes us on a wild ride through his meteoric rise from humble personal trainer to the elite realm of NFL athleticism.

Get ready to feel the adrenaline surge as he reveals the grit, determination, and sheer audacity that propelled him to the top – including a fateful pickup game against none other than the legendary Dr. J that changed the trajectory of his career forever.

But it’s not just about touchdowns and tackles; Tony bares his soul as he opens up about his upbringing and the profound influence of his father on his life’s journey. From the grit of the gridiron to the lessons learned at home, Tony’s story is a testament to the power of perseverance, passion, and the unwavering belief in oneself.

And hold onto your helmets, because here’s the kicker: Tony’s clients boast an awe-inspiring eight out of twelve of the fastest times ever recorded in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.

So, if you’re ready to be inspired and motivated by one of the most influential figures in sports performance training, don’t miss this captivating conversation with Tony Villani. It’s a game-changer, folks.


Key takeaways from Tony:

  1. Learn from life’s setbacks. Instead of letting failures define you, use those experiences as learning opportunities to become stronger and more successful.
  2. Be persistent. It’s important to persevere and take advantage of the opportunities that come your way, even if they initially seem elusive.

 

Tune in to hear more inspiring stories from fascinating individuals.

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Timestamps:

01:48 Growing up in Myrtle Beach.
05:41 The Forbes list and success.
07:33 Golf mentality and aggression.
10:18 Competitive sports and movement.
13:06 Career path and starting business.
17:35 Dr. J helps launch career.
22:07 XPE business history.
22:24 Athletes as business startup investors.
26:53 A unique treadmill design.
31:14 Deficiencies in athletes’ evaluations.
34:31 Preventing injuries in the NFL.
38:32 Transformations and explosive growth.
38:45 Transformations in NFL careers.
47:28 Training for movement techniques.
50:25 Books that shaped me.
51:47 Embracing the highs and lows.
54:43 A pivotal time.

 


Show Transcript

I was already working as a personal trainer in Orlando. It was a, it was a huge facility called the RDV Sportsplex. Half of it was public, half of it was where the magic trained. I was like, all right, I’m going to personal train here and make my 50 to 60 bucks an hour, and I’m going to start interning with the magic and then get my start in basketball.

I mean, I must have called the magic 10, 20 times, never got a call back. One day, Dr. J came over and he was playing pick up ball, and my pick up team was against Dr. J’s team, and we won. And I scored most of the points, but he wasn’t guarded. So we won, and he’s like, you’re not, we’re playing again. I said, if we play and my team beats yours, you’re gonna give me five minutes of your time.

He said, deal.

Welcome to another episode of Interesting Humans. Today I have Tony Villani. Tony’s the president and founder of XPE Sports. And XPE Sports focuses on training elite humans. It’s  ready to go into the NFL. Interesting about Tony, Tony’s group holds 8 out of 12 records, all time records for the 40 yard dash in the NFL Combine.

We’re gonna hear incredible parts of his journey. It, it’s, it’s something that’s not in the career list in our colleges. You know, you can’t go out and be a trainer, a speed coach trainer for NFL athletes. So things like this just fascinate me. I am just so excited to have Tony Villani here today. We’re going to hear great stuff.

Tony, thanks so much for coming on. Of course.

Anytime.

Tony, why don’t you start off?

Where are you from?  From Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  I was born in Conway, a small town, moved to Virginia for a little bit of time in my life, but really grew up in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Awesome. So I want to focus in on pretty much the, the first, the first 10 years of life.

So,  siblings,

older, older sister,  you know, kind of, I grew up, I mean, you know, parents were divorced when I was four and, went to live with my mom until I was 13 and then kind of moved back down to live with my dad full time after 13. So,  dad was very athletic and a doctor, well, athletic growing up and a doctor.

mom, very nice lady and caring, but I just wanted to be more involved in sports at a young age. So when I was 13, I moved to live with my dad full time.  Okay.

And what kind of stuff were you into at

that, at that point in life? honestly, basketball was my best sport, but I’m 5’8 and white, and I should have stuck with soccer.

So when I was 13, when I was 13, I had to kind of make a choice between basketball and soccer because they were the same  season. And I chose basketball because I liked it so much. And it’s funny because if I was in my career now and had to turn back to looking at me at 13, I’d say,  Son, you’re really built for soccer.

Like you don’t get tired. You’re very quick and fast for a soccer player,  but you’re not big and powerful. Like these basketball players are going to be that you go up against. So I focused on basketball and the other sports like the Immortal beach, beach, beach, volleyball. I love surfing. And stuff like that.

but never at an level cause basketball is probably my one team sport. I focused on the most that I could ever play at a big time college.  Got it.

Okay. And,  grades and school and academic, all that. How, how were you there?

I don’t know who hammered it in, if it was my grandmother or my father,  maybe my mother, I don’t know.

I just, I was always told education first, but I wasn’t this elite athlete that had to be reminded of that. But I mean, I guess even at a young age, I was playing golf a lot.  Even at 13 and 14, you all have dreams of playing pro sport. You know, that’s the only way you think you’re going to make a lot of money or be successful is pro sports.

My dad always stressed education. I think he knew I wasn’t ever going to be a pro athlete.  so I mean, education was always important. And the more I look at it now, what I try to give back to our aspiring pro athletes is still education first, because the most.  Educated NFL football player and well rounded off the field is normally the one that succeeds the most on the field and,  it’s just true in life.

And one thing I do with our younger players is.  You know, in college or even high school that are trying to, you know, they, they’re a five star kid. They think they’re going to be a pro.  I’m like, first thing I do is tell them to Google the, the Forbes list, 100, 500, I just tell them to Google it, like find me the richest Americans and what they do.

And they are astounded to see that not one athlete is on there. And, you know, the first one that appears may be magic Johnson or Michael Jordan, but it’s, I mean, it’s hundreds down the list. You know? And I’m like. Here are hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of people you’ve never heard of  that are more, you know, they think about money that are richer than the person you thought was the richest guy in the world.

So, your key to success is not athlete  or being athletic. Your key to success is how you use your brain to get ahead. And if you’re using your body  to get your brain ahead, then that’s a good thing. But so, I don’t.  I guess my parents really taught me that, but I really didn’t see it unfold until I saw NFL players going through the process of how true it really was.

Right. I can’t wait to come back to that right there. That, that is fascinating. So if there’s no, if there’s no other nuggets in this entire podcast, like, and I’ll get 20 myself, that actually,  I am so glad you said that. Like the Forbes list. That is just awesome. Awesome. So they never understand the hundred.

I wouldn’t either. I would, I was never thinking that way. So, okay, let’s, let’s take a detour of those hundred or 500.  What do they all have in common? How did they make it?

And well, yeah, it’s normally business, business and innovation and being unique and finding out what, what they’re good at. And I tell my players all the time, I mean, you don’t have to believe in God.

I mean, I do don’t force anyone to, but like. You’re, you’re gifted certain things in your world. And if, if you’re in a bad situation, maybe you’re gifted. You can, you’re, you’re resilient and you can deal with adversity better than it’s been given everyone, but you’re gifted certain things. And I tell all my athletes, like I say, Hey, none at all.

You’re going to tell me you’re ugly. I’ll swear you’re good looking. Okay. Well, all right. You’re good looking and you got the best athletic ability in the world. Okay. You need to focus on this up here.  You know, whereas the smartest person in the world with gifted has to go focus on their physical proudness, their physical fitness, they’ve got to go walk, they got to work out to stay looking lean and work out a lot harder than you, y’all are going to look the way you want to look, we’ve got to focus on this and the mind,  and just.

over the body is what makes these guys succeed, which I don’t think the average person or the kid growing up really sees.

That’s, that’s fascinating. All right. So back, back to high school. So you’re playing one sport

for. Basketball. I played, I played golf. Yeah, I played golf, but I didn’t have the golf mentality.

I was probably best at golf, but I didn’t, again, didn’t understand the mental capacity of golf. I thought the harder I practiced.  The more I would never hit a bad shot. And it’s really, the more you practice, the better your bad shots are. I didn’t learn that till later in life, just, you know, growth out of life.

And if I would’ve had the mentality for golf, I probably would’ve stuck with it. But I was, I liked using my aggression.  I was a kid, you know, and like, you can’t get mad at golf. You can get mad at basketball. You can get mad at beach volleyball, played some serious beach volleyball tournaments for being in high school.

and,  I, I just liked being able to use my aggression for sport. So. Yeah, besides that, never played a down a football.  my dad wouldn’t let me, he played football at Duke. He was like, you’re too little. You’re going to get killed. I was kind of upset, but I never played a down a football and never ran one race on any track, but yet here I am teaching speed to football players.

And when I told my dad, my career was going to be teaching football players how to be fast and he’s a doctor. He laughed me out of the building. You know, he’s like, what are you talking about?  but I don’t know what he did eventually. He did encourage me to create my own business, be my own business owner.

He did encourage me not to go to medical school. Cause I thought that was going to be my path. My uncles, my grandfather and him were all doc. He kind of looked at the way medical care was going. He’s like, don’t be a doctor. It’s not  going to pay off. We will pay for your medical school. That was one thing he.

Maybe that’s what got me really dialed into education is like his grandparents and, and him, he was like, we pay for your schooling, no matter how long and far you want to go, as long as it’s worth it. Like you never come out with a student loan. Like that was ingrained in, and you have to do that for your children.

You have to,  but.  They had money set away, of course, and  he said he would have paid for my medical school, and that’s what I thought my path was, and then he looked at me and said, I’ll pay for your medical school. It’s just not going to be worth it. You know, right? so he, him and my uncle convinced me not to pursue being a doctor and instead open my own business somehow.

And I came up with this business idea, but it’s Very, he was like, I don’t understand this business,  but that was 25 years ago. So all these speed training businesses and every gym looking like some type of CrossFit functional training thing was never around. So  I understand why he doubted it so much, but you know, at least he didn’t doubt it enough to tell me not to do it.

Right,

right. Which is fascinating. Okay, so you, so what did college look like for you then?

College was at Clemson University, so I decided to go to a bigger school. I wanted to have fun, you know, so I went to a bigger school and had fun there and,  still worked out and that led me to my career. You know, I’m always playing pickup basketball against the best football players and, you know, like beat it wanting to win.

I’m not going to lose to them. So I always had to step on, pick up basketball courts and prove I was deserving. That was my like competitive juices in college. And I kind of started studying how people worked out then and moved.  And didn’t really understand,  why,  you know, I, obviously less powerful and less,  size than the football players I was going against, but it intrigued me to  how you could learn to get around them or stop them from what they want to do.

and a lot of that’s leverage. A lot of that  it’s leverage. It’s jujitsu. It’s, it’s all that like jujitsu is amazing thing. It’s. When do you use someone’s strength against them? When do you use it, your strength against theirs? I mean, just learning that is so much thing. I remember I was  boxing out or  fighting with this, you know, six, one hundred and ninety five pound Clemson DB and we’re fighting like while we’re playing basketball.

And at the end, he like shook my hand. He’s like, did you wrestle or anything in high school? I was like, no,  you know? And,  but it was, it just intrigued me to how am I competing with this freak of an athlete? And like, yes, I’ve had to learn to shoot better than him, but maybe my hand eye coordination is better than his, or I’m recognizing things, or I’m feeling his weight better than he’s feeling mine.

Like. And that’s when it like really intrigued me to like, I didn’t develop it then, but how do you teach athletes how to move,  you know? Right. And so that was Clemson. And then, you know, I went in to get a graduate degree, but at Clemson, I made good grades, A’s and B’s, got a degree, which was kind of like pre physical therapy or pre med.

It was called health science. They didn’t have exercise science back then. Um,  and I, and I had fun. I played a lot of pickup basketball, played every intramural sport. Called me an intramural sport All American because I was.  Good enough in a real sports would be good, but not elite. And,  and, just then try to decide on the next career, which was, you know, grad school and a master’s degree in exercise science at that time, which was, you know, there weren’t many schools doing it.

So when, when you went into college, you didn’t have it anywhere on your radar that you were going to  be in what you’re doing now. You just sort of had a liking. Did you have a liking? Is that fair enough to say a liking for the body and movement?

Yep. Okay. I thought I was going to be physical therapist because at the time physical therapists were a good career option to get into.

Luckily that those schools got so overloaded with people trying to get that job that it was harder to get in the med school at the time. And I’m lucky I didn’t get in it because then the market got saturated with physical therapists.  So you weren’t making as much as coming out. My sister was a physical therapist, so I saw that.

Whole path go down where I just got lucky. I didn’t couldn’t get into PT school. If I could have got into a good PT school,  probably would have gone and tried to be a physical therapist for athletes. But when I was in grad school, getting my master’s of exercise science, I worked for some pro teams. I mean, I did an internship with the Washington capitals.

And just talking about life. I mean, I, I chose DC cause I had an intern set up with the Washington wizards at the time. Then the GM who I knew from, his niece got fired and I get up to DC and I’m like.  Now I don’t have my internship that was going to lead me to a new job.  I had to do some research around and that’s when my dad did step in and he’s like, Hey, one of my fraternity brothers is now the team doctor of the capitals.

You know, nothing about hockey, but go meet him.  I met him. He got me in touch with the conditioning coach of the capitals, and I  performed my internship and worked free for there. And even at that age, they had a top conditioning coach.  with a former track coat and that’s what was weird as I’m  trying to do hand eye coordination drills, flexibility with the goalies, more like trying to learn and yeah, I mean, God bless him great, but he was just conditioning like a track star  and I understood it, but that’s where our profession was way back then and.

It started with football, maybe getting conditioning coaches. He was a hockey coach, the wizards coach that got hired that I then had to try to meet to become an intern for the wizards. Cause I knew basketball.  It’s how that was a bouncer at a bar that the athletic trainer for the wizards was at big guy.

And it used to athletic trainers, tape ankles, kind of the bridge to physical therapy, strength, conditioning coaches. They used to be meatheads and,  honestly, again, lucky or God, whatever you look at, that’s what gave me my start in my business. I got done with grad school. I went and met with some meatheads like at university of North Carolina, their head strength and conditioning coach basically told me to get out when I interviewed and because I thought what I did was right, I researched his staff and they were all meatheads, let’s just call it what it is now.

They were all big, I mean, huge, monstrous, former division one football players without any education.  So he asked me what I could bring to his staff.  I wasn’t being rude. I said, I think I bring something different than what your current staff has. I bring like a scientific approach where we can start doing like testing and I can bring some new educational principles to the background.

He literally looked at me and said, you answered that totally wrong. You should tell me you’re going to mop my floors for me and learn from us instead of teaching us anything.  I said, okay,  you know, and it was a slap in the face. And you know, some of those guys are like that, Hey, I should have gone in more humble, but I was trying to tell what I could bring to him instead of mopping his floors, but it kind of woke my eyes up like, okay, well, maybe I don’t want to battle these meatheads and egos to get with the team.

Like I always thought I’m going to learn how to start my own business. Like my dad always told me. So that meathead and ego that’s still  existence in our business, but it’s, it’s, it’s being waived out.  I had to start with 20 years ago, which made me unique. Now I’m not as unique. Now there’s a million.

People like me coming out with a master’s degree that have a scientific approach and aren’t former athletes. There’s a million, but back then I was just honestly butting heads with  ever, every strength and conditioning coach I met because  I thought they were doing stuff wrong and I wouldn’t tell them that I just went open my own business and let athletes.

Either decide to listen or not. And the athletes that I trained were so elite. I went over it with them and they believed in it and then they proved it for me.  Right.

Some of those athletes being

in the early days, it was Chris Carter’s fast program, hall of fame. Now gave me my start,  but he gave me my start.

Cause I took the job for 25 K  with a master’s degree. I was already working as a personal trainer in Orlando. I weaseled my way in to be the assistant of the Orlando magic. By playing a basketball game against Dr. J I couldn’t get into the,  I was, it was a, it was a huge facility called the RDV sports flex.

Half of it was public. Half of it was where the magic train. I was like, all right, I’m going to personal train here and make my 50 to 60 bucks an hour. I’m 25  and I’m going to start interning with the Magic and then get my start in basketball.  I mean, I must’ve called the Magic 10, 20 times, never got a call back.

One day, Dr. Jay came over and he was playing pickup ball and I had a 6 p. m. session, Maida, I remember her. She was like a financial analyst for someone back then. And I was playing and she would always ride the bike and watch people play pickup. And then I’d go train her at 6.  And my pickup team was against Dr.

Jay’s team and we won.  And, he,  and I scored most of the points, but he wasn’t guarding me. So we won and he’s like, you’re,  you’re not, we’re playing again, you know?  And I looked at Maida, I said, you got to give me some time. She goes, I get it. I said, yeah, if we play and my team beats yours, you’re going to give me five minutes of your time.

He said, deal, you know,  so then he guarded me, but this is an old Dr. Jay, you know, so I’m just running. I’m a running like my life depends on it. Right. So we won again.  And he said, what do you need? I said, I have a master’s degrees. I work for the capitals, my specialties in basketball game, my little story.

And he said, call Mick Smith and tell him Dr. Jay says he needs to give you a chance.  All right. That was back in the time I go back home  to a little piece of paper I had written down to the number I was calling 10 times and never getting a call. And it was the same number and name that Dr. Jay gave me,  but I called up, I called the same number and name the next day and said, Dr.

Jay told me you need to give me a chance. And if we could meet and he get, he called me that day. And I started interning with him now. He’s a good guy, but he was doing like Olympic lifting with basketball players, and I understood it.  But I looked at him with this guy named Corey Maggette, who was literally one of those genetic freaks of a basketball player ever out of Duke.

He went to the magic right out of freshman year and he could jump 42 inches, but he couldn’t shoot. And, I know about, I was like, Hey, do you want me to not teach him how to do power development and maybe take him and do agility drills and shooting? And no, no, no, no. And it, and it kind of hammered me down again, that a lot of the stuff I learned.

Isn’t going to be used. It’s it’s done their way, but I love the guy, Mick Smith. He was amazing. And,  and he told me, he’s like, went back to my, what my dad said, Hey, if I had to do this all over again, I’d start up my own business.  Really?  So I worked for them for like a year, year and a half for the grace of Mick Smith, which was amazing.

And, then Chris Carter’s fast program opened up a job. And at that time I was making like, you know, a thousand a week, 60K a year. I was 25 living in Orlando, had a nice apartment right across from where the gym were, where it was a beautiful life.  and Chris Carter’s program interviewed me and they gave me the job, but they kind of gave me the job out of all that because I accepted 25, 000 a year.

So I had to take half a pay cut, move from Orlando to Boca Raton. And just, you know, learn from Chris Carter and his program. But that was the first place where they truly did speed and agility training, where speed and agility was the focus, not the weight.  And that’s where I found my home. And that’s when I started competing against the likes of Chris Carter, Randy Moss on a daily basis and loving it.

And, and training became, training became the workout, the competition, the, how fast can you move? How quick can you change directions? Do it like this, do it like that. Chase me, let me chase you, plant here. And that’s when it became fun again. And that was my passion as I found out speed and agility.  and then I moved to Atlanta after three years cause I didn’t own my own business at Chris’s.

and I wanted to open my own business and I left very cordially, very the right way and started my own business and went to Atlanta.  Okay, and that

business back then was XPE, which is still here today.

Still here today. It’s been like 23 years, crazy enough.

Wow,  that’s incredible. How, okay, how about, okay, so Chris Carter, Randy Moss,  who else through

the years?

Then Atlanta,  Jamal Lewis, like, gave me my start. He believed in me. ACL. We had trained Jamal at Chris Carter’s FAST program for the draft, but it wasn’t my business who trained him. I was part of the training staff that trained him. When I left Chris Carter’s fast program, luckily enough, I had offers from Travis Taylor was a top 10 pick for the Ravens.

And when Jamal was the fifth overall pick, Travis Taylor wanted me to move to  Jacksonville.  Dante Culpepper, who was a league MVP, wanted me to move to Orlando. And this one athlete, Dwayne Rudd, who was SEC defensive player there, just signed a big contract with Cleveland, wanted me to move to Atlanta  because he didn’t want to travel down to Boca Raton to train anymore.

So Dwayne Rudd gave me.  Money to pay for a year lease at a gym, buy about 30, 000 worth of equipment. And that was my business startup,  about 30, 000 worth of equipment and a lease. And I had a budgeted to pay myself 2, 500 a month for a year, you know, and  that was my startup money given to me by an athlete.

I could move to Atlanta and he would never have to pay training fees again.  So that’s when you met me at main event fitness just using a basement and Jamal Lewis had started training with us. And within that first year or two training him in Jamal Lewis, he was combat player of the year, year one NFL MVP, year two of XPE.

And Jamal always paid me to train him, but I just, you know,  um,  when he went for 295 yards in the game and set the NFL record, I called him and I just said, Hey, am I still allowed to market that? I train you. And he said, you better, you better put that on billboards and do whatever you can with it. You know, so he gave me just full rights to use his name and just, he was like NFL MVP.

And that really.  Started it off and then Times Ward in the area came and trained, Keo Spikes came and trained, Osiyo Minoriya came and trained, and all of those guys formed just this core group.  Of five to six workout dudes that dedicated their life to working out no matter what trip they were on, no matter what time they came back, like they taught me  what training was all about.

And I was trying to implement my system on them  and they believed in it and it worked, but they were like my go to’s and Wayne Gandy. And they all ended up after they all started, Jamal started with me after his rookie year, Keo Spikes after year seven coming off a torn Achilles. Wayne Gandy in about year six, Heinz Ward in about year four, and Osea Minoru before his second year in the NFL.

Some of them were about to be stars, but they haven’t become stars. They all ended up playing 10 to 15 years and starting 150 to 200 NFL games. And, you know, some of them came off, you know, Keo Spikes, when he started, I mean, was already an All Pro linebacker, but he tore his Achilles in year seven. Then he went on to play 15 years, you know, and so I went through my movement  And at that time,  he was like, all right, tell me what your system is.

I will, let’s warm up first. I taught him how to move in a warmup for about 20 minutes. And at that time I had the spreadsheet  and while I was teaching him how to move, I was like, it depends on how you do these movements, what we’re going to next. But, you know, this is our goal here. And it’s tight, you know, it’s not big.

And this is how we start out tight. But then these are the options that open up. And I was like, then these are the options that open up. Then these are the options that open up. I was like, we’re not doing all these options. We just navigate through here until we get here. And after 40 minutes of working out and just showing the spreadsheet and, Hey, you move like this, you need to move like he was sold.

No one had ever done that with him before. Everybody else had probably let him lift weights. He had traps up to his ears. He didn’t need to lift weight. Everybody else probably tried to kill him. I didn’t try to kill him, you know?  so.  He gave me a lot of confidence, but Jamal Lewis was the MVP before that.

Hans Ward sticking with me his whole career, you know, gave me a lot of confidence. Wayne Gandy, a big guy, Osi Minora budding like into a NFL DN Superstar. They just gave me the confidence for XPE like the first eight or 10 years of his existence in Atlanta.

Right. Okay. And you also have founded a product, which is remarkable.

And I remember seeing it back when, when you were in Atlanta, it,  talk us, walk us through that. It’s incredible.

So, yeah, since my thing is speed,  and Chris Carter’s fast program, we used to jump on these moving treadmills  and that’s why everybody thought I was so fast because I could run 20, 23 miles an hour on them and not get tired.

Well, I had great positive mechanic. It means I could lift up real quick.  I don’t have down force like a pro athlete. I don’t, not the powerful muscle. So although I don’t get tired and I can recruit my muscles real coordinated fast, if I don’t have the power output, I’m not going to be as fast. So I would be running on these treadmills super fast, but if we went outside.

I had to get guys tired before I was faster than them. That’s when I learned like with all these guys that I never was as fast or as powerful as all the guys I was beating at in basketball.  I just didn’t get tired as much. I was more efficient at movement.  so I developed something called the shred mill,  which doesn’t move unless if it’s on your own power.

So at the time curve started coming out, curve treadmills, those are great for fitness chicks.  You want to walk on there and feel like you’re pushing the belt. Great. But it tells you to, if I’m running on it, it tells you to reach forward, hit the downhill portion, hit forward, hit forward, hit forward. And then it brings their feet up underneath you and you create this circle.

Well, that’s actually, everybody knows that trains anyone. If you hit forward, it’s called the braking effect.  So when a receiver runs and stops, they hit forward.  When you’re jogging and you want to stop, you hit forward,  you know? So  that curved treadmill uses the braking effect.  That happens outside to speed the belt up.

It’s absolutely awful. And I’ve been saying that for 10 to 15 years. So I created a shred mill because I believe in a belt that you have to move instead of it moving for you, because now you’re using your own power to generate it. So I created a shred mill that patented a continuous hill adjustment  and it has a patented magnetic resistance system that fights you back to a certain level and then let goes, let goes of the resistance, depending on what you’re at.

And I didn’t know when we created it, that we created it  with luck.  God, whatever, like with so many properties that exist in sprinting, for example,  in the first three steps of your speed, you can generate speeds as much as 60 to 70 percent of your maximum speed. That’s how quick it comes. You don’t just build speed.

It shoots up to 70 percent your first three to four steps. Next three or four steps, you might go to 85%. You may get another 15%.  And then you need like three or four more steps to get 2%, three or four more steps. It’s like  this acceleration curve starts to die out.  The shred mills acceleration curve that creates is exactly the same as the ground.

So I started seeing how we could now inside in a confined area, 2 percent leg training with speed training.  and get immediate results much faster. And that, that statement right there is just now being followed. Whereas it makes so much sense now, but people weren’t doing it back then.  They were running too much, lifting too heavy, sometimes doing them on the same days, sometimes running one day, lifting on the next.

Like they weren’t getting any gains. Well, you use your legs to run.  So now what everybody’s understanding is train them together.  Okay. Okay. Rest and recover. And do it again, a second day of the week,  maybe three days a week if you’re rested enough, but you can’t just do legs and running legs and running every day and get fast, right?

I kind of fell into that at an early age and that’s why the shred mill works so good because the curve is just like you pick up speed on the ground. You can target resistance. If I got to improve an athlete’s force, you can target a hill. If I got to improve an athlete’s form,  I can do it inside and then I can target leg drills and auxiliary drills.

Inside in the middle of his running set. So it’s kind of like moving a hill,  any weighted sled and a weight room to a track.  Okay. And you can’t do all that. It’s too much money. So what you can do is you can move a shred mill inside and have it all.  That’s incredible.

What’s, what’s the most common deficiency one of these athletes would have when they come and do an evaluation with you, like the very first eval, what do you

see?

The, you can look at their body type and normally tell it out. If you got a short stocky guy, middle linebacker type, offensive lineman type, they’re quick and powerful, but they don’t have the stride length or mechanic  that they need to run a fast 40, if that’s what we’re going. Right. Okay. Now, all we’re preparing them for is football.

We say, Hey, I don’t care about how fast your 40 is. I care about how, how much you can, we call it be a bumper car and move fast to 10, 15 yards. Right. So I’m not going to train you what I call like a drag race car to be good at the 40 yards. I’m going to train you like a bumper car and an F1 car. Okay. But if they got to improve their 40, these stocky types, these heavy types have to improve on building their long speed  and making sure they accelerate for all 40 yards to get time fast.

And that’s easily done. You teach them some sprint mechanics and you let them run uphills on a shred mill and you don’t let their legs get too tired and then when their legs get tired, you go lift weights with them and then they rest and repeat it two days later, pretty simple. The opposite of that is your lighter guy that may have some good back end speed.

That knows how to run, maybe ran track in high school. Those guys, we hammer their legs while they run and put the shred mill, not up a hill, but lower against resistance. So they’re hammering power and acceleration for their running drills.  And part of their power and acceleration for speed is in the weight room.

So they follow a whole different speed program. So, I mean, luckily it’s, it sounds disgusting and crazy, but it’s just fact, like there’s been five, four, three O’s and under run the last two years at Indy, we have all five,  we had the fastest DB ever at four, two, eight, the past three years, we’ve gone four, two, three, four, two, six, four, two, six.

We’ve beaten three times.  We had the second fastest receiver ever at 4 2 8. We just tied them.  So we, we have eight of the fastest 12 times in the history of the NFL combine.  And like one year for the NFL combine, we don’t, there’s 300 participants, about 30 from each position. We send two to five from each position.

And two years ago, we had the fastest running back. Isaiah Pachanko is now with the Chiefs. We had the fastest tight end who was, from Maryland who went to Titans. We had the two fastest DBs in history, the two fastest safeties that year, and the fastest receiver that year. So we swept all the divisions at Indy for the fast results.

So. People think I’m this speed guru or whatever, but I literally just developed something that makes speed training so easy.  it’s not that complicated, you know? So, so

eight, one more time, you have eight of the top 12

times ever,

times ever in Combine history. Oh my goodness. Okay, that’s awesome. So talk to us about why do some  NFL teams or, or, or even division one does matter, but why do some football teams get injured a lot and why do some not get injured a lot?

So injuries, of course, in NFL are always going to happen. We always try not to play armchair quarterback, but there are some teams that study a lot more about how to prevent injuries and not.  The old school approach does not work for preventing injuries. Old school approach is lift and run a lot.  Okay. It should be  lift for power and to prevent injuries and sprint fast and recover a lot  and condition only enough to stay in shape.

But not to be in shape like a marathon runner, cause then these big guys get overuse injuries.  So all that stuff that I said that makes sense is  been adopted the last five years,  you know, but I’ve been  not saying I’ve been doing it for 20, but I’ve been doing it for 20 years because it just made sense to me.

So there’s still some NFL teams, not many  that are still old school,  you know, Alabama till the last three to five years was old school.  You know, it’s called the fourth quarter program. You know, and then they hired this guy who was at the university of Indiana. And the reason why he came from university of Indiana football, cause it was the only football team that was listening to him.

They are basketball school. So let this guy named Matt Ray, let this guy, Matt Ray do whatever he wants for the football team. You can treat them like lab rats, but they were running fast and being powerful and preventing injury. So then he went to Alabama five years ago  and he became a God in our, in our strength and conditioning world, because now he’s at Alabama doing the same stuff he was doing at Indiana.

And then Alabama made the transition three to five years ago.  LSU with a great coach named Tommy Amalfa had started to make the transition. And it’s not how much weight you lift on the bar. It’s how fast do you move? What weight you have on it? Just simple. You look at bar speed versus bar weight. That’s one simple evolution in our business, you know?

and Alabama, so everyone’s followed suit now. So now there’s great coaches all over the country. That are, we’re all, I think, training about 80 percent the same  and we do our 20 percent different than each other. Whereas 10, 15 years ago,  my 80 percent was literally like maybe followed 10 percent of the time.

Hmm. So,  so it’s,  it’s, it’s not my system that’s being followed. It’s just the system that makes most scientific sense that’s being proven now that makes sense. So, you know, you’ve, you’ve got to run, it’s called fascinate.  hamstring vaccine, right? You’ve got to sprint fast once a week, so you don’t pull a muscle if you ever do it.

and you can’t over sprint because then you’re going to get tired and pull a muscle in training. So there’s an appropriate dosage for hamstring health. Now, what that is, nobody really knows, but people are following that now, you know?  so, you know, muscular imbalances instead of just squat bench and deadlift everyone, maybe this guy needs to go single legs.

Lunges instead of squat, maybe this guy’s low back is weakened, which is why he can’t squat. Whereas 10, 15 years ago, you’re just going to scream at him to squat, you know? So we’ve made a lot of evolutions  and teams are starting to dial in to see what causes injuries. And now a team has a strength and conditioning coach, an assistant strength and conditioning coach, a sports scientist on staff.

Like they may have three different people that have been head strength and conditioning coaches somewhere on an NFL team. And all three of them have different roles. One may be just to analyze data, GPS data, player loads. You know, one may be to run the weight room. One may be to implement between,  A healthy player and a hurt player.

So they’re starting to look at it so much more, which is exciting. Cause I thought I’d be done with this business by now. But  like the, the fact that the change is just starting to happen, makes me excited to stay in the business sector.  That’s

awesome. Wow. Do you, or any favorite,  I’ll call them transformations, but like before and afters somebody that came to you and then just, you just exploded their, their, their

growth or speed.

Some of our combine athletes, just whenever you have a guy go run four, two, it’s amazing, you know, and people think that we just get fast guys that show up every four, two, we’ve had a pre tested at like four, four to four, five,  and we’ve gotten two to three tenths of a second off of,  but that’s fast for us.

Like, so those transformations, Tariq Woollin was one, an avatar, and he made Pro Bowl his first year. Those, those are just great stories, but. The best stories are the guys that come back for NFL training and you elongate their career from a three year average to 10 to 15 years.  And like, so Mark Ingram, he didn’t train with me for the comp.

He went and listened to a guy who was a track coach who said he could get him to a certain speed that I told him I couldn’t get him.  I said, you got to be a four, five 40.  Okay. And if we touch some four fours, we’ll be great, but you got to be a four, five 40 to go top 15. I went and met with him in his room.

I was the most honest guy in the world. He went to someone who told him they could go four, three.  Now to a 20 year old kid who Mark was at the time, he hears this guy telling him 4 3, I’m telling him I’m going to get a 4 5, maybe 4 4, Mark looks at it like, well, even if the guy misses 4 4, I’m going to go to him.

Mark went and ran awful at the combine.  Absolutely awful.  And,  I love him to death. He’s one of my closest friends now, but you know, he went last pick of the first round instead of top 15.  And, he started training with us the second year in the NFL.  And,  we had to improve his speed first because he was so agility based.

And he did, he, he, he did a run 75 yards with the, with the 49ers in his fourth year, where he hit 21. 1, 21. 8 miles an hour on GPS. That’s as fast as DK Metcalf. Now he was so much slower than DK Metcalf. Now he can run as fast as him and Pat.  And when he did that, he started to get big, big con or not big contracts, but played and he played 12 years as a starting running back.

It’s it’s unheard of. So I sat with Mark after his third year and I said, if we do our job, Mark, save your money because we’re going to make you about another 5 million between years five and six. Besides that you’re done like running backs don’t make eight and 10 anymore.  And I remember sitting with him, talking to him about that life.

And then him getting a four year, 16 million contract that he played it all out. Normally you get cut from it because you don’t make it. Did all four. Then he signed a three year, 15 million. He played two of that. Then he signed another deal three, like, and he played 12 years. And watching his transformation  to how we started with speed to then we, we started with mind, and then we started with agility, and then we started with life off the field, watching, and I don’t make him the man he is not saying that life off the field, but watching someone grow from 22 to 32 and them stay in the NFL.

Are the biggest transformations ever. And we’ve done that with a lot of guys.  whereas the Jamal Lewis is the tequila spikes is of the world. I feel like they taught me what to pass on to these guys. And, Travis Kelsey’s one, like when I left Atlanta, they told me you’re never going to have that run again.

Even my players told.  And we had one NFL all decade player, Jamal Lewis, and a lot of good guy. Well, this last decade, we have four NFL all decade players, Eric Berry, Marquise Pouncey, Darrell Revis, and Travis Kelsey.  So we’ve gotten better,  but those guys in Atlanta set the way for me to teach it to the young guys.

And I’ve seen Chris Carter teach it to me,  the Anquan Bolden teach it to Travis Kelsey and seeing Travis Kelsey and I start up Tight End U and teach the same drills we’ve been doing for years to the new tight ends in the NFL. And that’s what I’m most proud about is a guy like Travis Kelsey will come to me for the combine.

Trust me, start with us in the off season, learn more. And then by year six to eight, he’s teach, he’s teaching our people how to train. Like the guys, once when they get to year six to 10, they become trainers with me. Anquan Bolden is the perfect example. Like I started training Anquan Bolden when he was year six in the league, when I moved that down to Florida and he’s stuck with me ever since and made 14 years.

And the amount of stuff I learned from Anquan Bolden  was amazing. And it was honestly  a session with Darrell Revis only training with me one year.  but this is a great story. So Revis comes,  you know, he’s in like year 12, he’s in twilight of his career. He signed a big deal with the Jets. The Jets had to pay him if he played or not.

So he’s like, I’m going to play for a Superbowl team. I’m not playing for the Jets, you know? So they had cut them and he’s like, do like 8 million or something.  And, so that’s the year he waited to sign with KC in like week 10. Okay. So Reeves came and trained with the group  all March and April when guys were there  and just fit in with like 20 to 25 and we’re going through like foot placement and stuff and  patterns with them.

And, he can look at you and be, yeah, that’s how I want to do it. And we’re like, we’re trying to do it. And he kept missing it.  Other players are in there that I trained that are way worse than Revis, but they’re doing the drill right.  And so I kept correcting and I caught myself.  I’m correcting a Revis too much.

Like this looks bad. This makes it look like I’m trying to single the great Revis out. Cause he doesn’t know how to do our drill. That’s what it felt like. I was trying to look like, even though I wasn’t.  And it was in March and he’s with a big group. And,  I went and talked to like Ingram who knows him well.

And I say, I’ll go  talk to Reeves. Like I wasn’t trying to single him out, you know?  And they looked at me, man, he don’t give a f k about that.  Don’t worry about that.  And,  they never even went and talked to him. And then like two days later, I talked to him. I said, Hey, like, I’m trying to send you out, but we wanted to plant here and get here and you planted here and did this.

He’s like, no, you’re right. And he looked at me, he goes, keep correcting me. That’s why I’m here. Now he was already hall of fame level,  but this was a guy  I felt like I was embarrassing him cause I kept correcting. He was like, keep correcting me. That’s why I’m here.  You know,  um, that was in March and April.

And then he took like May off and went to some retreat where he vegetarian and did all this stuff. And he came back and trained with the whole group of 20 guys in July.  Okay. And just fit right in.  And then we had Anquan went to Buffalo, retired, said, I’m not playing anymore. He literally left to go to camp.

I came right back. I was like, what’s going on? He’s like, man, I just want to be in my family. I’m like more power to you, man. You put on your terms and you’re, you’re a man. So it was me and Anquan Bolden and Rivas training every, every day.  Just keeping Revis ready.  And they told me something that I just wouldn’t believe.

They told me to stop all the speed training and start focusing on movement training, which is what I’m even better at.  And I said, wait, wait, wait. So it’s supposed to be speed, speed, speed. And they’re like, nah, it’s movement, movement, movement. None of our game’s about speed. I’m like, it’s all about speed and 40, but they opened up my eyes to how to train movement, which is why the 40 yard dash doesn’t matter as much as people.

Well, like everybody knows like 40 hour dash is a metric, but why do some people run fast and can’t play in football? And that’s an age old question. They unlocked the key for me. So then I started coming up with testing systems to prove what they were telling me was right, and they were right on things that I didn’t believe them about.

So about five years ago, I changed from being. A speed guy and teaching movement to being a speed guy only for the NFL combine when we got to run a 40 yard dash. And it sounds crazy, but being a guy, a game speed guy and agility guy for all season training.  So we train at the speeds you actually play at  and change directions at instead of trying to train faster than that.

And that’s, that’s an argument now in our sector that, that I don’t do enough speed training with our guys. But if you talk to the best players in the world, now, Travis Kelsey’s the next proofer of it.  He’s just like.  Like it’s, it’s, it’s why guys play pass your stick. Cause once when their speed starts to diminish just a little bit, they have so many tools in the box that they can still do stuff, you know, so speed does matter and it’s a separator when you’re young, but once when everybody is close to your same speed, not saying the same speed,  if, if, if Travis Kelsey can run a four, five or four, six, he doesn’t need to be four, four.

He’s close. All the change of direction tools we put in his toolbox. He can play as long as his body holds up.

So what’s an example of how you would train somebody for movement?

So we say every, every different change of direction. So there’s, if we just run forward  here, my feet going forward, and I want to go this way.

If I can get this foot in the air and dip the shoulder just a tad, but not give it away, and this foot plants and turns just 15 degrees, my next step really shoots over here, two, three yards of separation.  The problem with that is if I don’t do that and turn that foot, then I’m running and I’m high now to create leverage.

I go outside my body  to create that same leverage that this creates. I go outside my body, then I come right back to the same spot with this foot. So I didn’t use a chance to create separation. I spun in place and that’s just a 45 degree angle, right? So we’ll teach people to shake, shake and go this way, but we’ll also teach people.

And go that way. So there’s two different ways. Ann Quambole and Chris Carter, Larry Fitzgerald. Some of the best I ever do are attack, attack, attack. I’m not damp.  Yeah. Some of the new school guys, ah, they’ll damp.  So I have to learn both because the new school guys hate it. In fact, I had one of the new school guys training with us and he’s a great client and trained with us for the combine and did great.

And he’s one of these new school guys. And like Revis, I asked him how he wanted to do this drill. And he was up front in the line.  And he kept doing it wrong  and other guys are behind me, looking at me like, are you going to fix them?  Like Revis, I fixed them. He got mad and never came back.  He, he, he made it look like I was embarrassing him and I wasn’t,  but it’s a difference of new school and old school.

These, these kids different now, man.  and I have to learn that. So I have to tell Anfon Bolden and Chris Carr.  Hey, I’m going to let receivers do it with sauce, which isn’t how you do it. And then we got to do it like a technician. So that’s just one way. And there’s different ways to do every angle, which is called a route tree.

But I say that’s an angle tree, not a route tree. It’s just hitting angles. 45s, 45 to 45, rolling 90, rolling 90, coming back downhill. It’s an angle tree. Now, if you can practice an angle tree, like the best receiver in the world. You’ve created an amazing soccer, lacrosse, and basketball player when they’re on offense,  because you have developed a skill that a wide receiver has, which is the best in the world at getting to a predetermined spot that everybody knows he’s going to, but he can’t let you know.

So he can’t change where he’s going. So we try to learn that for all receivers.  Everybody on offense.  So that’s just like one way. And, and it, and it’s, we call speed a science. Speed is easy. Just let’s fix what you’re weak at. Add some more power for it, do it enough, but not too much and move on. But the agility stuff is art and there’s a lot of different ways to do it.

Any favorite books?

Well, like not growing up after college, I’ll be admit, I wasn’t a much of a book reader in college, but when I was working at Chris Carter’s fast program, and there’s still like my go tos I read.  Who moved my, moved the cheese or what, what’s that book? Who moved the cheese? Cause it was so short.

Right. And that like got my brain thinking and I was like, all right. And then I read rich dad, poor dad. And like, again, that’s what my dad was talking about. Start your own business. And I understood it in taxes. And I love that. Those were the two books that shaped me. And, I’m re I mean, I’ve read purpose driven life.

I like that when I try to read like one book every fall.  and I’m on a book now about entrepreneurs.  But I haven’t read it enough to really know the title, but it’s just.  How do you take your entrepreneurial mind? If, if you’re the founder of your business and you’re the brand of your business, how do you turn that into a business that’s bigger than you?

Right. So that’s the business book I’m reading now.  cause I don’t mind being the founder of my business, but you’re also, I don’t like being the face of it. I want my business to grow and teach others instead of having to be me.

Yeah,  yeah, Dan, that’s awesome. How about, how about the younger Tony, now that you’re, I guess we’re about the same age.

What, what are you tell, what are you looking back, what are you telling the younger Tony?  Well,

luckily, you know,  hopefully, once when you get old like me or 49, 50, you realize that hopefully everything kind of happened for a purpose and taught me something. But it would be not let the lows get you too down and the highs are never highs.

Cause he, you know, it’s like, you just got to learn from the low  and, you know, everybody says that. And I think at our age, we hear it a lot, but kids don’t hear it enough. You know, that whole, that whole staff of you start here and end here is never like this, you know? And you see in a lot of ways, it’s like this, you know?

You know, and everybody who’s young thinks it just keeps going up. All of us know it’s like this, right? Right. And one business guy told me, he’s like, you’re going to be wrong. Like owning your own business. I mean, he was a billionaire and they all, and like, they all kept telling me the same thing. You’re going to be wrong so much.

You’re not even going to be right more than you’re wrong.  Just don’t let your wrongs bear you more than you’re right. And if you can be right 30 percent of the time. You’re going to win. Just don’t let the 70 percent ones bury you. And they were so right. And that’s the whole golf analogy. Like I couldn’t understand, like my great shots may be 30%, but my bad shots will be 70%, but let’s make the bad, not awful.

And,  and that, that is just, if I could go back and tell myself, anything is, is that. And we try to part that on our guys. It’s just. You know, like let the high, get the high, get the reward and don’t just give credit to someone else for it, really mean it. Like it’s not cause of you. It’s like, cause of other people that’s helped you.

It’s cause of the situation you were given. It’s because of your ability that someone else gave you besides you that did that. And if you can truly start believing in that, which is hard cause we all have egos, right?  Then it helps. But then the, the bad things that happen, it’s not the poor me or why me and.

It’s not like, oh, this is going to kill me and I’m going to be buried and it’s going to be,  why did this happen? What’s it going to teach me and how am I going to rebound from it? You know, that’s what I tell myself. And I hate the saying, Denzel Washington said it, get knocked down seven times, get up eight.

That’s not true. It’s get knocked down seven, get up seven. You can’t get up more times than you get knocked down. If I get up eight, I got to get knocked down eight. If I get up nine, I got to get knocked down nine. Whenever I see someone post that thing. I always re share it and say, you can’t get up more times than you’re knocked down.

Please redo your math, you know, because I love that quote. But I love it so much more because it’s wrong, but people don’t read into it enough, you know? Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I love it. That’s, that’s awesome, man. Great perspective. How about, how about in your life point us to a pivotal time  that you would say, Tony’s Tony,  right now where I am, Tony’s Tony because of this pivotal spot?

I mean,

I don’t want to get sad, but probably when my father passed.  So he was a,  Which is good, real hard on me, which is great.  When I finally went to the funeral and had to speak, so many of his friends came up to me and like, man, he was proud of you,  like he talked about you all the time.  And when I heard that,  I kind of,  it was a relief off my chest.

I like, wow, I am, I am successful. So that was like a very pivotal time. And it just kind of shows you like.  You never know what someone else is going through and I try to tell it to my daughter all the time. If someone’s being hard on you, you don’t know what they’re going through. Like she’s seven. If they’re mean to you, you don’t know what’s going on in their life.

Like, and all that. And that was like a real pivotal time for me. Like, damn, I have owned my own business for 10 years. Damn, he did think I was successful. Like he was bragging about me all the time. Like I did do everything to his blueprint. So it’s like that fine line. I didn’t have my daughter yet, but like  try to help me shape my life.

Like. Let’s, let’s be honest. Like we’re older, like we think this next generation is snowflakes.  And they are,  I’m sorry. Like, I think if you teach a killer attitude to some of these young kids coming up and to be mentally stronger than you are physically, and life is going to throw you lemons, make lemonade and suck on the lemons and it’s out like  these people will succeed.

And I think that’s what my dad was teaching me the whole time. And I just couldn’t understand it.

That’s awesome, man. That’s fascinating. All right. Thanks for your Thanks so much for coming on. I mean No problem. Unbelievable. Unbelievable nuggets here. So many. Yeah.

But I appreciate you, Jeff. And I’ve been following along with you forever.

So I’m happy to see it. And, Okay, I said hello. I see pictures of y’all’s beautiful children all the time. And I just  Zoom in and look at all their little faces. And I’m just like, this is awesome. So, congratulations. That’s

awesome.  That’s it. That’s what life’s all about. All right, Tony, appreciate you, buddy.

And we’ll be

in touch. No problem. Thanks, Jeff.

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