Peter Koch acting reel 2017

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Dr. Squat and Me

I want to talk about a man that had a great influence on me as an athlete and a man: Fred “Dr Squahatfieldt” Hatfield PhD. At the conclusion of my rookie NFL season (an unremarkable stretch in Cincinnati the Bengals) I headed west to Los Angeles at the invitation of my friend Perry Rosen. My close friend, a training partner from my Long Island days (Rab’s Gym in Lynbrook), Perry had made the move west to pursue his dream of becoming a Hollywood star. It was an easy decision to accept his invitation to join him and spend my NFL off-season in balmy LA. When my season ended I stowed my striped orange helmet and headed directly east to Reseda, CA. Although I often worked out with Perry, who was reasonably strong at 215 pounds, I was IMG_7897in need of a training partner who could challenge me both physically and mentally. Not long after I arrived in “The Valley” (The movie Valley Girls with Nicholas Cage was the big movie that summer) I began dating a young lady who said “There’s a really strong man that works in my dad’s office and you totally have to meet him; he’s really smart and you two will hit it off!” Turns out my friend Jill’s dad worked for Joe Weider at his corporate headquarters in Woodland Hills, CA. Jill’s dad was in sales but friendly with one of Weider’s senior directors and sports science director Dr. Fred Hatfield. I had certainly heard of Dr. Squat and jumped at the chance to meet him and just as Jill had predicted Fred and I became fast friends. Before long Fred invited me to workout with him in his garage gym and that’s when it started to get interesting.

0822.jpgThere is no denying that Fred was powerfully built especially when viewed from the back; neck to a hamstrings Fred’s muscularity was incredibly thick and ropey. His lumbar paraspinals were so powerfully developed they created an appearance of having slabs of steak strapped on either side of his spinal column. Broad shoulders and thick pec too. His 250 pound body was compressed, with single digit body fat, on to just 5’6″. Think fire plug with traps. A tick more than a foot shorter than me but just 30 pounds lighter.

I was a good lifter, by football player standards, but was looking to improve myself as a football player and athlete and I know strength was a crucially important athletic quality. At the time I was squatting around 585. I realize that many reading his have never training the squat to the standards of high level powerlifters and football players so permit me to define the all important depth of the squat as is the standard; the crease of the hip passes BELOW the crease of the knee. Yep – it’s way down there where gravity is nasty, your chest is slammed into your knees and leverages are compromised. I held weightlifting records when I was at the University of Maryland and was among the stronger Bengals players. Incredibly Fred had me beat in the squat by 400 – not 40 – but 400 pounds! My first thought was Holy Crap, what am I doing training with this guy. My second thought was to align myself with Fred, pay close attention to everything he said and did  and work as hard as I could. He was my chance to spend an off season getting stronger and develop the most important asset in sport – power!

I spent three off-season’s training with Fred in his garage gym along with various athletes, amateur and professional, who would drop by to workout of just shoot the baloney. There was nothing fancy about the gym; a converted three car garage who’s dominant feature was an industrial strength power rack. Dumbbells ran in pairs up to 150 lbs. medicine balls, pull-up bar etc. Notable pieces of equipment included a “safety squat bar”, common in serious training gyms today but revolutionary in the 80’s. Many don’t know this but it was Fred who popularized the SSB when he began training with it in the   the 70’s. Fred and I used it quite a bit in the 80’s.  Notable too were the special bars and plates necessitated by the poundages Fred squatted. I’ll explain; the standard weightlifting bars in gyms across the world are designed and built to accommodate a load of 650-800 pounds. Load the bar with plates totaling more than that amount and the bar fails (bends) rendering it unusable. Yet reasonably new bars never bend. Here’s why; most obviously, there are few mighty enough to require their bar be loaded to 800 pounds and secondly the collars of the bar fill to horizontal capacity with 45 pound plates in effect “maxing out” the bar. Hence the need for the specialized bars and plates in Fred’s gym. The first order of business are bars, made of freakishly strong iron, that can accommodate 1,200 pounds. Secondly Fred had a stash of rare 100 pound plates – heavier than manhole covers and beastly to manage. These were the metaphorical hammer and chisel of super strength training employed buy only the strongest on the planet. Mind you this was a decade before “gear” (metal strut reenforced suits that permit one, while wearing it, to squat 200-300 pounds more than they could wearing a cotton single worn by Fred and the powerlifters of the day) was introduced to the sport of powerlifting – hastening its spiraling popularity.

I made great progress in all my lifts; in the NFL they test what I call the NFL Total: Bench Press, Power Clean and Full Squat. My NFL Total PR’s were: Bench 500, Clean 365, Squat 665. Of course the training led to improvements in my game, after all the reason I was training was ultimately to be a better NFL defensive lineman. The power I added while working with Fred led to increased “pop” at the point of contact ability to impose upper-body violence on my opponent. My game improved and importantly “I” improved; as an athlete, and a man. Those summers, Dr. Squat and me in Fred’s Gym were special times. Early on I asked Fred if had a would turn the stereo on to which said “don’t have one … I train to the music in my head”. Okey-dokie, no music was fine with me, besides the conversation was so power – mostly Fred talking and me listening – that music would only have mucked it up. Conversation, heavy training, followed by more conversation and seventy-five minutes later when the session was over Fred would fire up a Kool and kick back in his easy chair. Those were the days. Dr. Squat and me. PK

 

Working With World Renown Weight Loss Expert “Dr H”

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My life changed a year ago when I began working closely with TV’s Biggest Loser  physician Robert “Dr H” Huizenga at his incredible mountaintop retreat, overlooking the blue Pacific ocean in Malibu, CA. He asked me to head his Clinics fitness department and it has been nothing short of an incredible experience. To work directly with Dr Huizenga, a leading expert on fat loss, optimal wellness and physical fitness is both challenging and stimulating. Hs spectacular facility has set the standard in not only fat loss and health but total well-being.

I have known Dr Huizenga since 1989 when I was playing for the LA Raiders. Dr Huizenga was the Raiders team doctor, hand picked by owner Al Davis to ensure that the entire roster had the best medical care. That 1989 Raiders team included several future Hall of Fame players including Howie Long and  Marcus Allen. Rob Huizenga had the respect of all the Raiders – not always the case with NFL players – as he was identified as “one of us” as in a fellow combatant. Rob was an All- American wrestler at the University of Michigan and that is serious street cred with guys in the locker room. Rob earned his MD from Harvard and relocated to Los Angeles setting up his practice in Internal medicine where he continues today.

Helping people realize their fullest potential is a passion of mine and working with the folks at Dr H’s property is a blessing. It reminds me of how fortunate I am to be in the field of fitness and well-being. I wish my readers well in their unique journeys and am available to help those who may reach out to me. PK

 

 

My Impression of The 2014 CrossFit Games

This past July marked my forth straight year of attending the CrossFit Games in Carson, CA. I’m lucky to live just 20 miles from The Stub Hub center which houses the ever growing event. I like attending the Games for several reasons beyond the excitement of the live competition which consistently enthrall. Foremost I like the people that I meet when I’m there; Games friends from years past and new friends.

I’ve gotten to know 2013 Games competitor Carla Nunes da Costa and enjoy immensely listening to her insight as the events unfold. I had the opportunity to meet several CrossFit celebrity athletes like Games veteran the super cool Katie Hogan  (also my CF Level 1 Instructor) and Games legend the amazing  7 times Games competitor Becca Voigt. Also had a chance to meet ultra-inspirational athlete Kevin Ogar. I met Biggest Loser trainer and CrossFit athlete Bob Harper who was gracious with his fans. A highlight of my weekend was getting to know the founder and creative genius of one of my favorite CrossFit-esque companies Afro Brutality Mr Syn Martinez.

My favorite conversation all weekend may have been with world renown CrossFit Coach and founder of Gymnastics WOD Carl Paoli. I bought his new book FreeStyle while at the games and he was kind enough to sign it for me. I highly recommend this book to all athletes and coaches looking to improve training and performance.

For the forth consecutive summer I spent a long weekend soaking up all that goes on at The CrossFit Games and once again it was BLAST! The events rocked, the vendors area was super fun and the crowd was both enthusiastic and Southern California chill. If you ever get a chance to check out the Games for yourself I say come on – you’ll have a great time right along with the other ultra fit fans. PK

Heartbreak Ridge

I am regularly asked about my experience working on Heartbreak Ridge, the film I co-starred in with Mario Van Peebles and Clint Eastwood. For the record it was a remarkable experience in every way. When reflecting on the time making the movie, what truly stands out, was the absolute generosity of the film’s producer, director and star Clint Eastwood. The supporting cast and crew were friendly, committed and always professional. It was a dream to work with the exemplary group that were nearly all handpicked by Clint.

Here is a rare photo from the set of Heartbreak Ridge.

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