One of the greatest in the strength and conditioning world has left us. Charles was without a doubt a pioneer in the field where he was unquestionably 10 to 20 years in advance of the popular trends and opinion, which is why he sounded a little ‘’out of the ordinary’’ with his claims, but they always turned out to be proven over time.
That’s exactly what got me interested in his work in the first place. I was not even 15 years old when I read all his work in Muscle Media and other publications and applying what he said to each of my workouts. I knew I was doing well since I was always coming out first in track and field and doing well in competition or any sports I got myself into, especially martial arts.
As I was getting myself into Phys. Ed. and registered in as many conferences and seminars on strength and conditioning as possible, my first Poliquin seminar was when he started giving them in Le Carrefour Multisport in Laval, more than 20 years ago. I was a young buck trying to learn as much as possible and this was an opportunity to learn from the best. Needless to say that his straight forward reputation preceded him and I was a little nervous walking into this field, more so having him and all the big guys in town all in the same room to learn from one of the best.
The conference was well underway talking about tempo and periodization, when he introduced for the first time his structural balance testing on the bench press. I probably was the smallest guy in the room and one of my friends pushed me in the back to step forward when Charles was looking for a test subject.
Got on the bench and Charles looked at me like; well this won’t take long. The bench press structural balance test basically is 10 sets of 1 rep until you max out. The goal is to find your one rep max on the 10th set. The result gives you a Pretoria of ratios which you can rely on. For example, if you can bench press 300lbs, you should be able to pull up 243lbs (bodyweight included), which is 81% of your 1 rep max on the close grip bench press.
I was still warming up with 235, which at that time, I think was impressive since I weighed only 170lbs. That is when Charles understood that I was an avid follower and applied what he was teaching from the beginning. I was so used to timing myself that at every set, without any watch or clocks, I sat down at 2 min 30 sec exactly, getting ready to push. I will always remember what Charles said and I think that is why I am still going strong and am very successful at what I do today. He said ‘’we have a strong and very well trained individual here’’. He was impressed by the fact that the speed of every repetition was on point at every single set.
From that day on, he remembered me at every conference I attended and we became good friends throughout the years and shared our passion about martial arts and talked about family every time we met.
I also went for an internship for a few weeks at his Arizona Gym where he trained many athletes of the NFL, NBA and MLB. To this day, this was the single most amazing experience of my strength coach career. He said that I was the only one who got to coach his athletes of the NBA and NFL at that time. This was nerve wrecking but the best on hands experience. Following this internship, we started a franchise of the Poliquin Performance Center in Montreal. Due to our investor trying to screw us up, the gym was doing well but had to close eventually with all the problems that came with the financial issues. When all my partners tried to dirty my reputation, Charles was the only one who knew the real story and always had my back. He helped me out of a really bad situation without me asking. He had the biggest heart and would have been available whenever I needed it.
One morning I got up and saw about 100 texts and notifications. Most were congratulations, which was about one of my athletes, Martin Brodeur, winning hockey Gold at the Olympics. In those notifications, one of them was Charles on his page saying that I was one of the new and rare coach to obtain the PICP level 5 requirements. I never made a big deal out of it but it was great to be recognized by my friend and mentor, without even asking for it!
The one thing that I always respected from Chuck is that he was a master of connecting people. A long time ago, in one of his seminar, he spoke about his grateful log. Every night, he wrote about the good he has done and those who done good to him, and also, he made it a point to connect people. He gave us a time sheet, where one of the weekly tasks was to connect at least 2 people, to grow their respective business. With all the incredible stories I hear since his passing, I know he did and most of us coaches are not afraid to reach out and connect if we know it can do some good.
Trying to choose the single best advice he gave us during his time here on earth is down right impossible. But if there is one that made a major impact on anyone who really put their mind to it was the grateful log. Choosing the power of positive thoughts, considering all he went through throughout his life, the haters and the hardships, it speaks volumes about the man he was and how he was able to influence all of us, including the generations to come.
I know that all of us coaches who were lucky enough to call him a friend and studied under his tutelage, will be more than happy to keep his legacy alive.
What we do in life, echoes in eternity. That my friend, is exactly what you did and we’ll make sure you’ll make waves in eternity. See you in the next life Chuck.