Feb. 19, 2020

Speedskater-turned-coach and massage therapist riffs on life, sports, and life after sports

Marcin Goszczynski, BSc’09, took an unconventional path to his current career

In the micro-universe occupied by the world’s elite athletes, this former national team speedskater is a legend. Not for his moves on the ice — but, rather, for his hands. The strength and conditioning coach and massage therapist has worked with some of the top athletes in the NHL, NFL and WTA with A-listers such as Maria Sharapova, Sidney Crosby and alumna Hayley Wickenheiser.

We catch up with Marcin Goszczynski.

Q: An all-star athlete in your own right, why did you leave the track?

A: Unfortunately, sport doesn’t last forever. As tough as it was, I thought it was time to move on and help in new ways while still staying connected to sports. It was a busy time for two years — I was working as a strength and conditioning coach by day and finishing up the two-year, 2,200-hour massage therapy program at Mount Royal in the evenings.

Q: What were the top three lessons you learned at UCalgary? 

A: I’d say: (1) The importance of objectively quantifying and tracking your work; (2) Having a strong scientific foundation allows for more creativity, which, in turn, helps generate potential solutions for complex problems; (3) Finding inspiration in subjects/departments in seemingly unrelated fields of interest.

Q: What are the common denominators that many of your clients share? 

A: In no particular order: driven, hard-working, resilient, focused.

Q: What have been two of your top career highlights? 

A: To me, “highlights” are results, which are achieved by the athletes I work with. My line of work is behind the scenes, so to speak. Every person and/or athlete is an individual and presents with various challenges unique to them. Instead of “highlights,” two career experiences I am truly grateful for were the 2014 and 2018 Olympic Winter Games, where I worked with the Canadian speedskating and bobsled teams, respectively.

Q: How often do you travel in a year? 

A: In 2018, I was home for less than two months.

Q: Any travel tips? 

A: Yes. Stay hydrated, use blue blocking glasses, practise grounding, buy a pair of great earplugs.

Q: What sports do you still play? 

A: I enjoy riding my road bike and, I suppose, of all games, I like golf the most. I enjoy watching anyone who is the best in their sport. If that person is Canadian and successful, it’s that much better — Steve Nash, Jeremy Wotherspoon, Donovan Bailey and Mike Weir come to mind.

Q: What’s your workout and how often? 

A: Depending on location and facilities, I love to bike (outside, preferably), lift weights, run, hike, yoga, skate, etc. I don’t have a set routine, but I do something every day.

Q: What does a perfect day look like? 

A: Start with two espressos with my wife, read for a couple hours, ride my bike for a couple hours while listening to a podcast, spend a couple hours in the anatomy lab, work on a few clients, walk our dog, make dinner for a bunch of friends and family, watch a documentary, sauna, meditate, go to bed.

Q: What are your three favourite books? 

A: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee. A.T. Still: From the Dry Bone to the Living Man by John Lewis.

Q: What movie title or song best describes your life? 

A: Meru [a 2015 documentary that chronicles the first ascent of the Shark’s Fin route on Meru Peak in the Himalayas].

Q: Do you have a motto you live by? 

A: Well done is better than well said.