Pro Hockey Coach and Firefighter Preaches the Importance of Hydration

Pro Hockey Coach and Firefighter Preaches the Importance of Hydration

Kevin Ziegler Kevin Zieglerknows fire and ice. Ziegler is a member of Minnesota Task Force 1 in the Minneapolis Fire Department, which he joined 14 years ago. He is also a Strength and Conditioning Coach for hockey players, a childhood interest that led to his role as Global Director of Sports Performance for Octagon Hockey.

“I was into hockey as a young kid,” Ziegler says. “I figured out that hockey wasn’t going to pay for my education but football was.” He attended Iowa State University on a football scholarship, earning a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and Physiology and a master’s degree in Physiology. He also holds certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association and the American College of Sports Medicine.

Ziegler’s hockey career includes work as Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League and consulting with other teams, including the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers. In 1990, he opened his pioneer sports training center exclusively for enhancing academic performance. Clients have won World Championships, World Series Championships, National Championships, and the Stanley Cup.

Although he has received offers to coach NHL teams, Ziegler remained committed to his native Minnesota and his firefighter work for Minneapolis. He was directing strength and conditioning for a hockey team of 16- to 20-year-olds when a nutritionist friend introduced him to The Right Stuff®. kiwi-packet-group2    Now he recommends it to hockey players and keeps it on hand for his firefighting job.

Hydration for Athletes

“We had talked about hydration for athletes. It’s one of the biggest issues,” he says, citing a Yale University study of hockey players that confirmed that those in pads sweat more than those without pads. “It’s something that’s really well known in hockey. Hydration is hugely important, especially for goaltenders.”

Our recovery for our team was much faster for the players that were using The Right Stuff than for the players that weren’t using it.

The Right Stuff is the solution. “Our recovery for our team is much faster for the players that use it than for the players that weren’t using it,” he says.” For the goaltenders, it gave them an advantage. They recovered quicker. They didn’t cramp. It made our travel that much better because our players weren’t getting dehydrated. Once you get dehydrated, it’s very hard to catch up. I found it was very beneficial. From there I started using it in our pro camps in Octagon. I’ve used it with our diabetic athletes to keep them hydrated. We’ve had great results.” [Editor Note: The Right Stuff does not contain any sugars or carbohydrates]

In addition to the benefits during workouts and games, Ziegler notes, The Right Stuff eases the dehydration of air travel that contributes to jet lag for teams flying cross-country.

“I think it would be a great product where you’re put in a situation where you can get dehydrated – flying or playing at altitude,” he says. “For an athlete who has to play the next day, jet lag is something you want to avoid.”

Ziegler drinks The Right Stuff for his own hydration at work. “I use it personally in the firefighting,” he says. “Especially if it’s a hot day, I keep The Right Stuff with me when I’m on the fire truck.”

How Does This Firefighter Thrive During Those High Heat Situations?

firefighterMinneapolis Fire Captain Paul Nemes joined the force over 20 years ago, looking for the life of service he had admired in a friend’s dad who was a firefighter.

“I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” he says. “It’s rewarding. It’s a second family. Being a captain or officer on a rig, you’re the first in on a building fire.  Whether single-family residence or apartment building, you have the most impact on the greatest number of folks.”

About five years ago, he noticed his weight gain was leaving his knees and hips sore after multiple daily firefighter trips to high-rises. He’s shed 55 pounds – weighing less now in full firefighter gear than he did without the gear before – and the joint problems went away.

“I changed my eating habits, eliminating a few things completely,” he says. “It was time to get exercising. I got into running pretty seriously. I ran my first marathon last year. My goal was to break four hours, which I did.”

The firefighter schedule also leaves free time for Nemes to run a side business as an excavator and landscaper, often spending long, hot days laying 100-150 retaining-wall blocks that weigh 120 pounds each. All three strenuous, sweaty activities – firefighting, running, and landscaping – often left Nemes dehydrated, fatigued, and cramped, no matter how much water or sports drinks he consumed. A friend on the firefighting force introduced him to The Right Stuff.

“I was looking for something to supplement what I was doing,” he says. “It works for me. I use it exclusively for training and the actual racing – marathon, half-marathon, 5K, whatever. I got involved with this product and I go through five or six bottles of water with The Right Stuff in it in the course of an 8-10 hour day laying block. It is night and day. I experienced less fatigue and no muscle cramping or soreness.

All three strenuous, sweaty activities – firefighting, running, and landscaping – often left Nemes dehydrated, fatigued, and cramped, no matter how much water or other drinks he consumed.

Nemes also uses The Right Stuff at his firefighter job on days with extreme heat or dew points, when suiting up can lead to excess sweating even without a fire to fight.

“We average somewhere between 10 to 14 runs a day,” he says. “Just putting that gear on with the ambient temperatures that high, you’re in a full sweat before you get out to the call. I’ll add The Right Stuff to my water. You still sweat, but you don’t have that fatigue factor as readily, and you don’t end up cramping up. You see it time and time again – these guys go to these fires on a hot day, a hot fire, they come out and they’re cramped up. They end up getting an IV to address their fluid loss. I don’t experience that.”

The International Firefighters Association and others are conducting research to gauge the effects of dehydration on firefighters’ absorption of smoke and other hazards in their work. Those results could mean The Right Stuff’s benefits are even more important, Nemes says.

“I use the product in the fire service, I use it for my training for my running, I use it during the races, and I use it on my days off for strenuous activity, such as the retaining-wall block laying,” he says. “It works for me. I’m sold on it.”