Trimmer Theo fit to be tried

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:40 AM ET

Somewhere amid the mementos of Theoren Fleury's comeback effort is one of those embarrassing 'before' pictures taken just as it all began.

Where the journey ends may become a little clearer this morning, when the 41-year-old holds court at the Saddledome to let the public in on his plans.

Some feel he'll take an off-ice position with the Flames.

Others think he may push the comeback a little further and head to Europe or another hockey destination.

After all the work he put in to get into good enough shape to place 11th out of all Calgary Flames campers in fitness testing, who could blame him?

Certainly, nothing would surprise the pair of trainers he hired in February to whip him into shape. They've seen what he can do.

Introduced by the author of Fleury's soon-to-be-released autobiography, fitness guru Mike Porter remembers meeting the local hockey legend for the first time at the gym almost eight months ago.

"I had to take a second look," Porter said with a laugh. "Because it didn't look like the Theo I knew at the time.

"Close to 220 lb. At 5-foot-6, that's a lot."

Looking at that 'before' picture Porter snapped in February, they laugh now.

"Oh yeah," Fleury said during camp when asked about the snapshot. "For sure."

The battle was especially tough in the first couple of weeks. Porter had to help his client change his eating habits completely.

"At the beginning, he was looking for the quick fix," Porter said, recalling an episode with an energy drink Fleury chugged before working out.

"About an hour later, he wasn't feeling well. I said, 'It's that drink!' "

Fleury wasn't convinced, so Porter offered a challenge.

"Fine," he said. "Come back tomorrow, drink it again."

Fleury did and again felt like garbage working out.

"Good, cut the (crap) out," said the no-nonsense trainer, who teamed with pilates instructor Stephanie Davis to get Fleury ready for Flames camp.

"I couldn't do it without her," Porter said. "And she couldn't do it without me."

And Theo couldn't have done it without them.

"The guy is just one of those exceptional athletes. His mentality is incredible. You don't have to get him to work. He brings it," Davis said.

"We're all so proud of him."

It wasn't an easy beginning, despite Fleury's natural athleticism.

"We started off nice and slow -- walking on the treadmill, doing some agility stuff, some balance and stuff -- and he struggled," Porter said.

Then the strength started coming back to his stabilizer muscles.

"I started throwing everything at him but the kitchen sink," Porter said with a laugh.

"His athletic ability came in, and then look out."

The difference is striking. The before picture is a testament to that.

"He didn't bring that out yet?" Porter said. "I guess it'll be in his second book."

Tune in today to see whether this chapter ends or a new one begins.

STEVE.MACFARLANE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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