The New Orleans Pelicans are poised for a powerful reset this upcoming season, as new Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, David Griffin takes the helm and Jrue Holiday starts his tenure as the face of the franchise in earnest. I haven’t fully unpacked my suitcase from this past season, but I’m ready to tip next season off right now!
Jrue is one of the best all-around players in the NBA, often assigned to defend the opponent’s best scorer, regardless of size. Remember how Patrick Beverly owned Kevin Durant in the first two games of Round 1 during the NBA Playoffs this year? Jrue is the Crescent City king of playing defense above his fighting weight.
New Orleans’ star player prepares using a secret weapon of sorts: Mike Guevara, a performance consultant who has trained NFL stars like Terrell Owens and two-time Australian Open Champion, Victoria Azarenka.
“My focus revolves around the players’ ability to consistently maintain a high level of performance throughout an entire season,” Guevara says. “Many factors go into that outside of the weight room or court. Performance nutrition strategy, recovery strategy and sleep strategy are three concepts I educate the athletes on. I want to empower them to take ownership of their body and health to maintain this maximal elite level of performance.”
Guevara, affectionately known as Mike G, began working with Jrue at the recommendation of Jrue’s wife, Lauren, a soccer boss who has won two Olympic golds for Team USA, as well as a FIFA World Cup. Lauren trained with Mike G first and recommended Jrue team up with him too.
“Jrue and I have been working together full-time now for the last three years,” Guevara says. “Our relationship goes beyond a typical athlete-coach situation, and I consider him my family. There isn’t a more joyful feeling, professionally, then witnessing him dominate opposing guards on both ends of the floor. To know I have contributed to the engineering of that machine – that’s priceless.”
The owner of Do It Moving Human Performance also agreed to give me a few tips that we mere mortals can use. Guevara starts every morning doing this exercise himself to stretch his hips and strengthen his legs. It’s called a split squat isometric, but don’t let the fancy name intimidate you.
“You simply assume a split stance by taking a large step forward with one foot, maintaining a hip width distance between your feet. The front foot is flat, and the heel of your back foot is raised,” Guevara explains. “Drop the back knee down towards the floor, hovering about one to three inches. Avoid any forward trunk lean and maintain a vertical posture and hold this position for as long as possible. Aim for 60 seconds. Switch legs and repeat on the other side for the same amount of time.”
I’m committed to doing the split squat isometric every morning now. This summer, I’m also determined to get back into top cardiovascular shape. A bout with cardiomyopathy restricted me to relying on just walking for exercise, while my heart healed. Now that I’m cleared to exercise without restrictions, I want to build back up to running a 10k. Mike G’s advice for strengthening oneself: “There is great benefit in performing a task with maximal exertion and effort for short periods of time, 10-25 seconds. Sprinting is fantastic but also boxing, biking, swimming and rowing are all forms of movement that can be done maximally for short bursts.”
Finally, Mike G also says it’s critical for all of us to do some type of movement every day, regardless of what it is. “Stretching, yoga, swimming, weight lifting, biking, classes, team sports and anything else that brings you joy through movement,” Mike G says. “It should be implemented in everyone’s lifestyle daily for longevity, happiness and health.” This summer find something you enjoy and get moving!