While his new form is useful during the season, it doesn't help much when Hunter is enduring a "gasser," one of the running drills he and his basic workout group—Yankees reliever LaTroy Hawkins and Twins outfielder Craig Monroe— endure regularly during the winter. The trio, who are sporadically joined by a variety of other athletes (including NFL players like Omar Stoutmire and Kevin Mathis), typically work out Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Friday is "rejuvenation day," Hunter says. The weekend is for distance running or simply relaxing.
Hunter says there isn't a set rotation of exercises on each day, so the players don't know what Maresh will have them doing when they show up each morning. The only guarantee is that it will be an intense two to three hours, and that there won't be much machine work; it's all "Rocky Balboa stuff," as Hunter says, with the players often using their own body weight as the tension force. "You might do box jumps, stepups, and pullups," Hunter says. But the trickiest one has him in pushup position, feet on a physio ball, while using his hands to balance a board over asmall wheel. "At fi rst, the goal is to just balance it," he says. "I can do pushups now, but it's real tough. It takes focus.
"Frog jumps, with the ball between the legs, for 20 yards—those days are the ones I hate. We do [some] things with the free weights, but most of it is balance and stabilization.I feel like I'm stronger than some people who benchpress 400 pounds."
During the season, Hunter tones down his routine so his body isn't sapped before games, focusing on flexibility, stretching and cardio. He also makes sure to monitor his diet. Two years ago, he and his wife, Katrina, joined the Sari Mellman program . After having blood drawn and analyzed, the nutritionist tailored Hunter's diet to weed out foods that caused inflammatory reactions in his body. "The food I can't eat is tuna, rice and pineapples, cayenne peppers and peanut butter," Hunter says. "And [also they] told me I could not eat my pregame meal—a turkey sandwich! It gives me mucus, apparently. Oh, and mustard—I put mustard on everything and it was bad for me."
Now Hunter rarely just grabs a quick bite after a workout, choosing to wait until he gets home so he can eat an organic meal his wife has prepared, like steaks or other meats on the grill. His favorite: tuna steak with sea salt and basmati rice. "It's good—my body doesn't get too toxic anymore," he says, laughing. It's all part of the plan for Hunter, who believes that focusing on his body is what has kept him in the upper echelon of major leaguers for so many years. Everything matters: the workout routine, the food and those trips into the oxygen chamber. Just for an hour, sometimes more.