Football's frenetic nature—the chaos that often calls for players to make split-second game- or career-changing decisions— is difficult to replicate in the gym. Some athletes, Bush included, have found a regimen that comes close: Fre Flo Do. Developed by Los Angeles-based Kappel LeRoy Clarke, the exhausting acrobatic regimen is rooted in an eastern philosophy called The Way. "Living life on the path from which freedom flows," Clarke says.
Translated: Fre Flo Do will kick your butt. All exercises take place on a tortuous contraption Clarke created called the Launchpad. "It looks like something out of the Jetsons," he confesses. Think of a treadmill with no hand supports or digital display. Oh yeah, it also rotates. "It puts people in a freaky state of mind. But if you don't work on the mechanics of changing directions on a regular basis, you'll get injured trying to do something your body can't do intuitively," he says.
One primary objective is to get clients to land on the pads of their feet rather than their heels. "Be like that rock that skims the surface of the water," he says. "The less time your body spends in contact with the surface, the less risk of injury. If you don't land lightly, the Launchpad will do what it was designed to do: launch your ass right off."
Clarke abhors many fitness traditions. "The world is constantly in flux," he says. "Maintaining stability [in your workouts] is fruitless." For instance, he doesn't tell clients how many reps they'll do before each exercise. "As long as you have a number [in your head], you don't know what you can do," Clarke says. "The set really begins when the body says you have nothing left. I create strategies to help you get past that point."
Clarke's regimen isn't designed merely to help clients get stronger and prevent injuries but also to enhance their ability to control their body and understand it. "You become so much more in tune with not just how your body works but how your mental state affects how it works," he says.
During the early summer, Bush worked out with Clarke three times each week. As training camp approached, the frequency increased to four workouts. Clarke says he wanted to "make training camp feel like a vacation."
Some portions of the minimum-90-minute sessions do indeed look as if getting separated from your gray matter by Sheldon Brown might be a desirable alternative.
They're preceded by extensive stretching. Among the exercises (which are performed on a rotating treadmill operating at varying speeds):
With Clarke at one end of the launchpad swinging a pair of "bats" at his legs and body, a backpedaling Bush suddenly sprints forward to touch Clarke's chest, then backs away before he's tripped or touched by the bats. The trick, again, is to stay on the balls of your feet. "When your weight rocks back on your heels, your reaction time gets compromised and you're o.. balance," says Clarke. "Before you know it, you're on your back looking up at the ceiling."