Training Day

Colorado’s Loren Landow has quietly become the go-to trainer for a host of world-class athletes across a variety of sports. What’s his secret?

November 2012

Sleepy-eyed football players meander from tinted-window SUVs onto the Regis High School football field. The sky on this July morning is spectacularly blue as Denver heads toward another 90-degree day. With less than a week before NFL teams start training camp, 13 players from the Broncos, the New York Giants, and several other teams, along with unsigned rookies and a kid hoping to take over the quarterback spot for Grand Junction High School, gather around Landow.

Although he sometimes hosts 30 to 50 athletes in his workouts, today a few stayed home to hold their families a little tighter. The night before, the Aurora theater shootings had taken 12 lives inside the same city boundaries where these hopefuls now stand waiting for a workout. Landow pauses to make sure each of the athletes’ friends and families is safe, and he reminds them to relish the job they get to do each day.

Today will be an “easy” workout: an hour of footwork drills, receivers running routes with quarterbacks, and weight lifting back at the clinic. Landow’s dynamic stretching exercises—like lunges, leg kicks, and jump squats—induce an initial sweat, and players begin to shed layers of workout clothes before the quick, precise footwork begins. He calls for the carioca drill, in which players rapidly tiptoe while swiveling their hips as they move back and forth over a 20-yard course. Landow scrutinizes and critiques each of their tiny steps, and doesn’t hesitate to call out a flub. “Don’t bullshit your way through this,” he says. “Finish all the way through!”

The entire workout mimics a 60-minute football game—intense bursts of activity followed by a half-minute or so of rest—almost to the second. When it’s over, the exhausted players veer toward their water bottles. Although Landow knows some of these men won’t make an NFL team, he follows all his athletes like a proud parent, waiting to hear which of his college football players have been selected in the NFL draft, watching Franklin’s medal count pile up, or sitting cage-side during a Marquardt bout. It’s all driven by his desire to make sure every detail is accounted for before Landow sends them off to pursue their shared quest for athletic excellence. “I offset my sense of responsibility with preparation,” Landow says. “I have to know when they’re ready for me to push them out of the nest.”