Personal Training with Andy Cunningham

Personal trainer Andy Cunningham talks to us about training and his future with Daniel Reardon.
Author: Garry Morrow

Author: Garry Morrow


Andy Cunningham is a well respected personal trainer with a long list of motocross riders, such as Barry Surawski, Justin Carafa, Josh Strang, Brenden Harrison, Mitch Hoad, Cody Mackie, Jason Reed and Nathan Crawford all benefiting form his advice and methods in their efforts to reach the pinniacle of the sport over the years. Cunningham owned the Maximum Effort Fitness Centre in Queensland for 4 years until he sold out of the business 5 months Ago. He is also the man responsible for the fitness program of Daniel Reardon. Cunningham, a former body builder, worked hard with Reardon to get the Australian Champion to a level of fitness that has rarely been seen in the sport. We thought we would sit down for a chat with Andy to see what he is up to in the future and put a few questions to him regarding motocross fitness in particular. Insider: How did you first get started with motocross fitness program? Andy: I started out back in England when I used to race myself. I used to race RM80's but my parents weren't that rich so I didn't get to race that often, when I did I was in the same class as David Thorpe and Kurt Nichols so I used to get lapped pretty quick. I had friend from Middlesbrough who used to rider with Honda UK and he was one of Kurt Nichols early rivals so I used to go around a lot with him because my parents couldn't really afford to let me race, so I have always had an interest in motocross. The personal training side of it came in back in about 1998/99 when I started training Barry Surawski. I met Barry at the track and he started asking a lot of questions about weight training and stuff. At around the same time my son Matt started taking racing seriously and getting into the training side of it pretty heavily so it all came together about that stage. After that I had a roster of about 50 riders, some of them had it in them to keep going but it's a tough thing and most end up giving up - to train to be the best is a big ask. There is not many with the drive and determination to keep coming back for what i put them through, although i do invite riders to pop in when racing in QLD as they have no idea how hard you have to work to get to Dan's level of conditioning and a VO2 max of 78 he has a heart to match it. Insider: You are best know I guess from training Daniel Reardon. How long have you been training him and what is the current situation now he is going to the USA? Andy: I have been with Dan for nearly 6 years but when i sold the gym we went our own ways for 2-3 months before getting going again as i have no distractions now. I am going to be going with Dan for the full year, although slightly on and off. Dan leaves next week and I will leave in three weeks and then come back for Christmas,before returning late december for sx season.I am totally commited to making Dan bigger than even he realises. Insider: That's a pretty big commitment: Andy: Well yes it is but i really believe in the kid, it's not all about money otherwise i would just train normal people here as that is where the bread and butter is at.I really believe Dan will go a long way so the commitment is worth it i think. I also have a proposal in with KTM and Kawasaki and been talking to Dack as well withYamaha so i will hopefully still be doing a bit of work here as well. I will also do a few main stream customers here and there so i will still be busy. Insider: So how does that work if you are in America. Andy: Well when i come home in the American off season i can get all the tests done on riders and programs started. You can still do quite a bit via the internet so i will always be in contact with them. People may not realise but a lot of the training is done that way. For example Chad Reed used to have Jeff Spencer but he would not see him all the time but they are always in contact. Insider: OK, moving on, i would like some education so, I know this may seem obvious but what exactly does a personal trainer do? Andy: Well a lot of the stuff that we do would be a bit over the average persons head so a personal trainer really offers guidance. I do all their diets once a week, do body fat testing, set programs, you name it we do it all the way down to bone density tests etc and evaluate what is or isn't working. Everyone has their own needs. For example some need to gain weight, some need to lose weight some need muscular endurance some need reactive strength like in supercross training so really we are in a sense managing them from a physical perspective.We set up a program of periodisation to cater for different times of the year and the phase or cycle we are in. I like to cross train and mix it up and as a result i am constantly seeking out new methods and researching new stuff. The internet is a pretty good place and you can find a lot out on there but nothing beats experience. Like at the moment there is a lot of emphasis on what they call functional training which is a lot of body weight stuff, stuff like clapping your hands between push-ups and kettlebell work for example. A lot of people go to personal trainers because they simply lack confidence or maybe have no idea where to start or need someone to give them a push along. There is a bit of a problem out there at the moment with a lot of young kids coming into it that have just done a six week course and have no real life experience at being a personal trainer so you have to select one carefully. Insider: Compared to other sports, how tough is motocross from your point of view? Andy: I think it ranks right up there. There where a number of studies done a few years ago where they ranked it behind soccer and i tend to agree with that. I know it was done around the time of Brad Lackey and them guys back in the late 70's but i think that it would still be up there as one of the toughest today. From personal experience i know it's tough, i have trained people from a lot of different sports, Soccer, Rugby, Triathlons etc, but it is still one of the toughest - Boxing is also a very strenuous sport that competes with it. The fact that motocross is both Aerobic and Anaerobic is what sets it apart, most sport are either one or the other. Insider: To do a 30 minute moto what sort of time should a rider be devoting to fitness? Andy: Somebody on the National circuit they really should be doing 1 to 2 hours 5 or 6 days a week with a combination of weights,cardio,sports specific training and the same amount on the bike. Your average weekend warrior should be looking at trying to get in around 30 minutes a day 4 days a week and they would start to get comfortable, they would really want to concentrate more on the Cardio side of things though than the weight side of things,maybe do a circuit of weights once a week and take a spin class or pilates for flexibility. Insider: What are the main mistakes you see riders make regarding training? Andy: Well to use Dan as a case, he tended to over train. You need to listen to your body and know when to back off. The biggest problem with the young fellas is they simply do to much and that's where you really need to train smart. Diet is also another big mistake riders make. You see it all on the weekend with riders walking around with a hot dog in one hand and a bucket of chips in the other. This is where guidance comes in. Insider: Do you have any sponsors hooked up outside of Reardons whilst in the USA? Andy: Yes we have benfatto nutrition and hopefully we can get hooked up with Iron Montgommery from Cytosport as well and i have a lot of contacts in the states as ive been there lots to train pro bodybuilder Lee Priest from 1995 up until 2005,so i know the tracks and scene over there pretty well. Also lots of contacts in the fitness industry so we should be able to get some spin bikes for home for Wardy to use! Insider: OK, well i know you have to rush of and do some personal training now so thanks for your time? Andy: Yeah were playing catch up with Dan as he has had so many committments this week so i made him come here sunday night for a real hardcore workout just to bring him back to reality after all the excitement of the past week,by the way how calculated a ride did he have for his last race at coolum it was one of his best,thanks to Wardy and Charlie these past 2 years as well as they have been awesomw as part of team 122. Thank's a lot as always Garry for the interview and i'll keep in touch from USA. Main Photo: Andy with Dan Reardon
Photo: Stephanie Nutt

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