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Lieutenant Commander Sam Tickle, who served for more than a decade in the United States Navy, recently finished the EAS Unstoppable Tour, a journey of 30 sports in 30 days in 30 cities.
The goal of the tour was to raise awareness for sports nutrition and to inspire people to be unstoppable in the pursuit of their fitness goals. EAS, a leader in science-based sports nutrition, sponsored the journey.
The sports Tickle trained for included desert rock climbing, boxing, baseball, swimming in open Atlantic waters, rugby, football, fencing and more.
Yesterday, a few members of the media were invited to experience for themselves a small portion of what Tickle went through; I was one of the lucky few. Tickle and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who worked with Tickle while Tickle was training for football, were both on hand to support us.
The first activity was fencing. We warmed up by running a few laps and doing defensive slides (basketball drill). Then, the instructor taught us proper form; we are supposed to be in a "lunge" stance the entire time, whether on the offensive or defensive.
In my first match, I lost 3-1 because I was too defensive. After shifting tactics and attacking more in my second match, I won 3-2.
Having never fenced before, I didn't realize how much energy one could expend. By the time my first match was over, I was already sweating.
People who have done lunges and squats know how much those exercises work the legs and glutes. During my second match, I couldn't stand in a "lunge" stance for more than a few seconds at a time without needing to straighten up and grab some air. The stamina required for fencing surprised me, to say the least.
But nothing could have prepared me for rock climbing—our next activity. The full-body workout was exhausting and made my muscles cry. I not only had to pull myself up with my arms and push myself up with my legs, I had to keep my muscles tensed in order to maintain balance while I tried to find new rocks to climb.
By the time we left the wall, my arm and back muscles were burning. I had no doubt that I would wake up extremely sore the next morning.
Turns out I didn't have to wait that long. Later that night, I was already having trouble moving around without wincing. I also had cuts on my fingers from grasping at jarring rocks.
The last part of the day focused on football drills. We leaped over hurdles, pushed a padded sled, ran through padded blockers, knocked down dummies, threw footballs and caught passes from Fitzgerald. Compared to the other two activities, the drills were downright easy.
I have the utmost respect and admiration for Tickle, who woke up each day for 30 straight days to train for a different sport. When I woke up this morning, I could barely move, much less get ready to do another day of training.
The experience truly opened my eyes to the different types of fitness options out there. I play traditional sports and work out with weights in the gym, but fencing, rock climbing and other activities are great alternative ways to stay fit without slaving away in the gym.
Tickle believes that the key to staying fit is all about doing something that you enjoy. If you don't like running, don't force yourself to go through the motions; if you don't like lifting weights, do outdoor activities that build muscle instead. Tickle, of course, loves all physical activity.
Afterward, I got the chance to speak with Fitzgerald about his own fitness regimen during the season and offseason, the pressures of being an NFL player, his opinions on an 18-game season, the quarterback situation for the Cardinals, which young receivers he respects in the league and other topics. I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with him; he was funny, personable, engaging and open.
On His Workouts During the Season
I'm on the field three hours a day. I'm in early, about 6:15. I work out in the morning for about an hour—cardio, weightlifting. After practice, I get a massage, some chiropractic work; not like the Jets massages, real massages. Steamed saunas. Same regimen year-round.
On Whether He Likes To Work Out Alone or With His Team
I like doing that with my team because it's a great way to push each other through. Late games, fourth quarter, overtime, when you're going to need each other, you're going to lean on the man to the left of you, lean on the man to the right of you. I like to be able to look at my teammate's eyes and see that they're pushing through. You can only get that when you're working together.
On the Pressures of Being an NFL Player
I try to take a good two months off after the season and just totally let my body heal and let your mind kind of rest a little bit because there's so much stress in our game. It's like a pressure cooker every single week—the scrutiny, yelling, coaches, fans. You can't really escape it. If you have a bad day at work, nobody is coming to you being like, "Yo, you're an idiot. Why did you drop this pass today? I lost money, my fantasy team..." You don't have to deal with that; it affects your whole life. When the season is over, that's why I like to travel. Because nobody knows me, I don't know anybody; I can just totally be me and do what I like to do and take my mind off the ball.
On a Possible 18-Game Season
I don't want 18 games; I think I can speak for every other NFL player, too. Sixteen games is hard enough to go through; the mental, physical grind every single week and the injuries you're already trying to get through. I was banged up from top to bottom and I didn't miss any games, and I know I'm not the only guy that's going through that. The guys you see on IR, those guys had injuries that were bad enough where they couldn't even finish. You look at other guys who are playing with torn meniscus and MCLs and all type of other stuff that you're fighting through, it would be even higher.
On How Much His Opinion Matters When It Comes to Quarterbacks
They don't talk to us about that stuff, honestly. They don't care what we say or what we think; they don't care what any of us think. At the end of the day, I'm just a number on the roster. And that number will one day be gone and the name behind the number will be gone. There were 11s before me, there will be 11s after me.
On Kurt Warner
Kurt is one of them guys, like, he tells you, "Fitz, I'm gonna be at your house at 7 pm on March 18." He'll be there at 6:55. You can always count on him to do exactly what he says he's going to do. So he tells me he's going to retire, I knew that he was. Not that I didn't try to help him come back; I said, "Kurt, man, you know you already got 14 million on the table, right? Think about how many people you can help with that money. The charity part of you could be monumental. Impact so many lives..."
On How He Handles the Media
I understand that you guys have a job to do, and our job is to give you information, and you guys gotta cater to the fans. The fans are interested in our game and personalities and a lot of things like that. I mean, it's an obligation that I have to fulfill. There's no reason to fight it; just do it, get it over with. I answer everything truthfully; be as honest as possible.
On Who He Thinks Some of the Best Young Wide Receivers Are
Dwayne Bowe. Johnny Knox is a really talented player. Stevie Johnson is really good.
On the Fact That Johnson Cried After a Dropped Touchdown Pass Last Season
You know, that showed me that he cares. If you don't care, you don't cry.
Special thanks to Sam Tickle, Larry Fitzgerald, EAS, and Catalyst for the experience.
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