Interview: Zachary Case, Case Sports Performance [Tips + Preparation]
Life is hard enough on its own. There is no need to make it more difficult by chasing after things that are not fun or that don’t bring you joy.
Today, we’re talking to Zack Case who is a former collegiate football player turned exercise entrepreneur. He describes how he sought education, mentorship, and community in pursuing his passion to bring fun and facts to his successful fitness practice.
If you’re ready to grow and manage your business better, schedule a demo today.
Meet Zachary Case, New Father and Kayak Enthusiast
Schimri Yoyo: Welcome back. This is Schimri Yoyo with exercise.com, and we are continuing our series of interviews with fitness experts. And today we are lucky to have Zack Case of Case Sports Performance in Southeastern Louisiana joining us today.
So, thanks, Zack, for joining us.
Zachary Case: I appreciate you having me, man. Look forward to it.
Schimri Yoyo: Yeah. So, let’s jump into it, my friend. What sports did you play growing up?
Zachary Case: So, growing up I played everything. South Louisiana, you grow up, you’re a multi-sport athlete whether you want to or not. So, I grew up playing baseball, basketball. My dad was an AD at the local high school. I was fortunate enough to gain a scholarship to play football at the next level up in Northwestern State, an FCS School up in Natchitoches.
So, football is my big passion. That’s where—if anybody knows a football player, you’ve got to train—so, that’s where the training began, but then also, mentally to finish. And so, sports football was my main expertise. But I find that I train a lot more baseball athletes here, lately. So, it’s been an interesting segue.
Schimri Yoyo: And so, your time as a football player helps you to develop that passion for the health and fitness industry. When did you decide that this was something that you wanted to do professionally as a career?
Zachary Case: So, I think a better way to put it is football led me to that position. And so, after I finished playing, I was actually an offensive lineman. And so, I weighed 320. That was my heaviest weight. And so, about a year and a half after I finished playing, I dropped about 100 pounds. I got down to 218, and that was my lightest weight. And from there, I really just found that my quality of life overall improved.
[Editor’s note: Former All-Pro LT (and future Hall of Famer) Joe Thomas describes the less-than-glamorous life of offensive linemen on and off the field.]
So, I think that’s where my initial love for health and wellness became or started now while I was at—I was fortunate enough to coach at Division II for a couple of years after I finished playing. And so, I was actually the assistant strength conditioning coach there working on my CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist). I just really love biomechanics, really enjoyed the scientific approach to training.
And while this was all going on, I was on the journey myself to lose weight. And so, I was performance training these athletes here, and then at night—as a graduate assistant, people know you don’t have much time—9, 10 o’clock at night I’m hopping on a bike, I’m working on different energy systems.
And so, I’m just fortunate to be training athletes and then focusing on myself, which I wouldn’t have considered myself an athlete at that time. But more of the general population training. And so, I just fell into it and really loved it. I believe that’s just where it began.
Schimri Yoyo: Well, that’s pretty good. Now as you started down this path and continued on this path, who were some of your mentors that you had in the sports performance industry?
Zachary Case: Sports performance, Gayle Hatch is one that comes to mind. He was an Olympic strengthen conditioning coach back in the ’90s. A lot of his predecessors trained us in Northwestern State. And so, from there, that was one of the big guys that I followed with programming.
And then as I became more educated, Mario Jeberaeel was the head strength coach. He’s no longer doing strength conditioning. He’s an offensive line coach at Division II. But he instilled that scientific approach and really allowed me to begin my journey diving into the actual nuts and bolts of sports performance training. And so, that was one.
Once you start to research and learning, of course, the Mike Boyle’s always come out. One of my big guys that I like to pull a lot of training tips is Cal Dietz. I do a lot of Triphasic Training. I like to implement that with our athletes. I actually was fortunate to go up and attend his RPR (Reflexive Performance Reset) certification back in January in Minnesota. So, that was a little bit shocking going from South Louisiana to Minnesota in January.
Schimri Yoyo: Oh, wow.
Zachary Case: So, I did that. He’s one of the big guys that come to mind. But Mike Boyle, Cal Dietz, I like Lee Taft. He has a lot of really good speed stuff. He’s the godfather of speed per se. So, I’d have to say those three guys in regards to starting my journey as a coach.
Here recently working with a lot more baseball guys, I would say Eric Cressey has also been a big resource. If you haven’t read on it or about Eric Cressey, if you haven’t looked at Sturdy Shoulders—just grab as much information from that guy as possible. He’s a huge resource.
I’ll tell you anytime I have issues, questions, concerns, anything like that, that’s always a reference. So, I can go back and take a look and find the answers. So, those guys I’d say probably the four, maybe I might’ve listed five, pretty big influences on me starting this.
Schimri Yoyo: No, those are some solid guys to have as mentors and to follow because they’ve had a lot of success and longevity in this space. So, that’s good to know. What do you do outside of football and training for fun?
Zachary Case: So, actually my wife and I had just had our first baby girl.
Schimri Yoyo: Congratulations.
Zachary Case: Thank you. So, here recently, it’s been a lot of her and my wife. We live in a small town. I train the local high school football team. And so, we watch a lot of football. We enjoy going on hikes. I really enjoy kayaking. We get on the bayous that are attached around here and we kayak.
But a lot of it has to do with the schools. So, it’s a small town. You’re constantly working with somebody. You’re constantly helping, supporting, and really just being around friends and family. Everybody knows everybody here. It’s a unique place. And so, it’s nothing to go to a buddy’s house on a Friday, train in his backyard, wash up, go to the football game, and that’s your evening. And so, it’s a small-town feel, but it’s a unique thing.
[Editor’s note: High school football is almost a religious experience in Morgan City, LA. See how their students and coaches prepare for the Friday night lights.]
Training Efficient Movers and Educated Athletes
Schimri Yoyo: Yeah, it’s nice you got that community and the collegiality. Now if you had to describe your philosophy and methodology of training in one word, what word would that be?
Zachary Case: Efficient. To elaborate on that, now I believe that creating an efficient mover, especially at a young age—we train a lot of athletes that are eight, nine years old—and really if we can get them to do the essential movement patterns, your hinge, your squats, push, pull, all the basics at that age, then, whenever they get to middle school or junior high where they start manipulating weights and they start using things at school, we are really ahead of the curve.
So, they’re able to progress and really grasp onto the training concepts a lot better. And so, if we can create an efficient mover, I believe at a young age, then we can create lifelong efficient movers and efficient athletes as well.
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Schimri Yoyo: Okay. What’s the biggest misconception that you’ve encountered in the sports performance training world?
Zachary Case: “Heavier is better, more is better. Let me get in there and bang out five by five, all the major lifts every single day.”
Like I was alluded to earlier that we live in a small town in South Louisiana. And so, we’ve been really fortunate to be able to educate our community on the proper training methodologies and training practices and why rest is important, why nutrition is important, a lot of things.
Whenever you’re working with the general population, you really get down to the basics. And so, I think since our demographic is a lot of youth, we do a lot of just basic education on carbohydrates. A lot of kids, 14 years old, they don’t know what to carbohydrate is. Yes. And so, the lack of intelligence when it comes to nutrition and even basic rest principles is one of the big things, too, and more is better.
[Editor’s note: Do you know what a carbohydrate is? Check your knowledge with the video below.]
So, whenever I sit down with an athlete, we develop his program and he has rest days involved. He’s like, “What’s going on here?” I’m saying, “Well, it’s your rest day. Maybe do some soft tissue work, and bike, and then we’ve got you in the NormaTec moves or something.” It’s one of those deals.
Schimri Yoyo: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. That actually covers a couple of my next questions because in relationship to being proactive and the rest and recovery aspect of training. But you also mentioned nutrition. So, I just wanted to touch on that a little bit. How do you specifically address nutrition with your clients and with your athletes?
Zachary Case: So, I’ll educate them on the basics. Now typically, you’re strapped for time. Time is just against you in this. And so, depending on the client’s individual needs, if I have a client that comes in and says, “I want to lose 50 pounds in two months.” I say, “Okay, hold on right here. Let’s figure this out.”
So, of course, we’re going to spend a lot more time on nutrition, on how to change, things like that with that client. But if a 16-year-old comes in and wants to increase his vertical jump before basketball season, we’re going to look at nutrition. But, at the same time, it’s not going to be our big priority during this training cycle. And so, it’s very dependent on what the athlete or the client wants in regards to their goals. So, yeah, it just varies.
Schimri Yoyo: Now, we sometimes hear about high school or collegiate or even pro athletes having serious heat-related illnesses. What are some things that the coaches and players can do to prevent this from happening?
Zachary Case: I think education is just a big piece. Even with this field, education is huge. Up until I want to say it was 2016, you weren’t required to have any type of credential to work in a collegiate setting or professionally.
Up to that point, you could take an online seminar and print out a certificate and that would suffice. In 2016, NCAA mandated that you have to have a CSC or certified strength and conditioning coach from one of the organizations, anyway.
And so, I think the education piece has that and the minimal requirement for coaches to be knowledgeable was increasing. And so, I think that that is huge and really just understanding and being smarter about the environment. If the first thing you do.
Schimri Yoyo: Okay. Please continue.
Zachary Case: If the first thing you do—say you’ve got a group of guys for the summer workouts—if the first thing you do is run 16 110s on the first day, of course, their bodies are not conditioned for that. And so, it’s important that you tackle hydration, you emphasize hydration. Dealing with a lot of high school kids, you got to make sure you sit there and you watch them drink. It’s one of those.
[Editor’s note: See video below to hear about the importance of hydrating the night before a long practice session outdoors in the heat.]
But really here in South Louisiana, we have probably one of the highest climates in the country. One of the hottest climates in the country. 80 percent humidity, 100 degrees in the summertime. And so, working smarter as well, understanding that what we do here may not be conducive for what goes on in Indiana or Colorado.
And so, that education piece just making sure kids are aware of other signs of symptoms of heatstroke or the basics.
Progress, Partnerships, and Pleasure
Schimri Yoyo: And how do you measure progress for yourself and for your athletes?
Zachary Case: So, for our athletes, we start off with initial assessments. So, we’ll do a functional movement screen just to find out any inefficiencies in their movement patterns like I discussed earlier. We always identify, that correcting any issues if we need to correct, and then we’ll go from there to performance assessments.
So, depending on the client, for example, football athlete you’re going to do your vertical jump, broad jump. Different performance metrics right there over the course of your progression year and test those. I think one of the big things in this industry is not testing and just being like, “You, go workout without an end goal.” More of the Instagram model, social media guys or whatnot.
But I think it’s important where you have to assess, in some capacity, whether it be a functional movement screen or performance assessment, even postural assessment depending on the individual. For example, there’s another assessment. We use an InBody scale here, measures your body fat, BMI, lean muscle mass. And so, that’s also one of our assessments. And so, when you like to track progress, progress for me in regards to training or the business or whatnot?
Schimri Yoyo: Both-and.
Zachary Case: Both-and. And so, I will say that that progress for me, and we got on this interview at a unique time, Schimri, where we’re actually in the process of transitioning and merging with a physical therapist in town.
And so, we started off our own as a single entity, strength conditioning sports performance, and I’ve been collaborating with—his name’s Chet Sternfels. He owns Core PT here in town, Morgan City. And we are actually joining companies to better provide services for our athletes, for our members.
And so, that was a goal of mine to get in with a physical therapist, somebody who can do more soft tissue work, things of that nature. And so, that was a goal of mine, it has just taken about a year and a half to get to. But I measure that as progress as well.
Schimri Yoyo: I was going to say that was exciting because it speaks to your desire to be proactive with the injury prevention and also the rest and recovery, as you discussed earlier, and that whole overall wellness and that integrated medicine. So that’s pretty cool.
Zachary Case: Absolutely.
Schimri Yoyo: I just would like to talk more about your business and everything like that. It seems like a lot of good things are going on with this merger.
How is it that you manage your time between your entrepreneurial pursuits and also your training and coaching?
Zachary Case: So, I think it’s a very difficult, very difficult question. So, I’d say you’re just immersed in it. It’s just part of your life, part of your lifestyle. So, you don’t really look at it as work per se. There is work in there. You take your time, you train for yourself.
I will be honest right now with a new baby at the house, this merger going on, it’s very difficult to take time for yourself. So, I get it where I can. It’s 30 minutes here, it’s 20 minutes here. If I got to jump in with my class going on, I’m doing one of those super steps that I feel confident they’re comfortable with, then I’m joining in too.
And so, it’s been a challenge here, recently, with the baby and everything else. But you always have to take time for yourself to make sure that you are clear, conscious, and moving efficiently so that you can take care of the other things in place. It almost sounds like a selfish mentality, but at the same time, you have to focus on yourself so that other pieces can be taken care of.
The big thing I’m trying to—My wife is eight weeks post-pregnancy. And so, we’re going to start back in the gym on Thursday will be her eight-week mark. And so, we’ll be back there per doctor. So, we’ll see.
Schimri Yoyo: No, that makes sense, the self-care. It’s like being on a plane. You got to secure your mask first before you can help anyone else.
[Editor’s note: See the video below to view a delightful in-flight safety demonstration given in a British accent.]
Zachary Case: That’s it.
Schimri Yoyo: Let me give you an opportunity to brag about yourself and your staff there at Case Sports Performance a little bit. What makes you guys different and unique?
Zachary Case: So, unique? We make it fun. We make the environment fun. We bring a lot of scientific principles to a large demographic. We work with eight to 18-year-olds as our sports performance. And then we also have individual clients and small groups all the way from 18 to one of my oldest clients is actually 90. And so, we’re very versatile in our ability to help clients and help get people moving, achieve their goals.
All of our trainers here are credentialed. They do have degrees and have a long history of working with athletes as well as general population clients. And so, one of the good things that we can provide here is a variety of services for a smaller community.
And so, typically the larger towns and all of that, you have the sports performance facility here and then you have your corrective PT here. It’s separate. But I think that working with such a diverse population has given us the tools to really provide services officially for our community.
And so, I’d like to say that we make it fun as well. We have a lot of kids that really enjoy training with us. If your training, you’re not enjoying yourself, then you’re not really doing it right. And so, that would be about it, my brother.
Schimri Yoyo: No, that makes sense. That makes sense. Now a couple more questions, and thank you again for your time, Zach. How are you using social media and technology to promote your business?
Zachary Case: So, I try to use social media as much as possible. It’s very good for whenever you are running a facility yourself. You wear a lot of hats, and from there I try to pull up a clip, post it on Instagram or something like that real quick. But it’s very difficult. So, I use that whenever I can. But it’s a huge marketing tool.
But as far as spending as much time as I’d like to with that, I don’t think you ever can. So, social media is a big tool for us. I like to get a little bit deeper into eventually with this merger. But very difficult time restraints.
Another thing that we currently do, we use online programming. An online platform. So, we would use that to—It was a one-stop-shop for our clients. You could program, you could do POS there. And so, that’s really how we integrate and deliver workouts to our clients as well.
Schimri Yoyo: Yeah, well, you got to delegate. That’s one of the things. You can’t do everything yourself. So, you have all those 16 to 18-year-old clients. You should get one of them to be your social media intern and take care of that.
Zachary Case: They definitely do it more than I can. I know that.
Schimri Yoyo: Oh, that’s funny. Alright, well, lastly, what resources, whether they be books or podcasts or magazines or anything like that, would you recommend to our audience that you found beneficial to yourself?
Zachary Case: I would say Eric Cressey has a lot of really good resources. Really, anything he puts out is gold. So, if you work a lot of overhead athletes, rotational athletes, I say that he is one guy that you could check on his stuff. Sturdy Shoulders is a great program.
Also, the NSCA provides a lot of resources. That’s the organization that I go through. If you get on their website, they’ve got journal entries, everything to where it’s at your fingertips now. So, just make sure that what you’re reading, what you’re learning is scientifically-based.
It’s not just an opinion where somebody throws it on the web, on the Internet. So, we live in that. We live in the Reddit world now to where readily available information might not always be the best scope. I think with us, just having the ability to go get information like that, we lack the incentive to find the correct information sometimes. And so, just making sure that you find something that is credible.
Schimri Yoyo: Yes.
Zachary Case: NSCA has a lot of really good resources. Eric Cressey is one of the top guys that I reference. And like I said, Cal Dietz basic training. It’s more of an advanced form of training course. But at the same time, it’s a game-changer. I would say that those would be my references.
Schimri Yoyo: No, those are some good recommendations and that is also some good advice about fact-checking and making sure that we get good credentials as far as the sources that we’re plumbing information from.
So, thanks again, Zack, for your time. I wish you much-continued success with your merger and also a much-continued success as a new parent. I’m excited for you and your wife, and I know that’ll be a blessing to you guys as you enjoy parenthood. So, I hope to hear back from you down the road.
Zachary Case: I really appreciate your time, man. Thanks again.
Schimri Yoyo: No problem. And have a good one.
Zachary Case: You, too.
If you’re ready to grow and manage your business better, schedule a demo today.
Schimri Yoyo is a writer for Exercise.com and a financial advisor with active life and health insurance licenses. In a past life, he covered Villanova Men’s Basketball and Big East Football for Examiner.com. Schimri has also produced freelance copywriting, editing, and proofreading for various websites and online publications for over a decade. He is an avid sports fan, possessing an encyclopedic knowledge of all things Boston Celtics, Boston Red Sox, and San Francisco 49ers. Schimri is an educator and a storyteller who is eager to assist individuals and families to stay financially and physically fit.