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
Marcin Goszczynski in Pyeongchang
Marcin Goszczynski in Pyeongchang Marcin Goszczynski

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.