Entrepreneurs should always be open to new ideas and should be constantly evaluating how to improve their processes.
John Pryor, rugby, and strength training expert, is an internationally known biomechanist and innovative strength and conditioning coach who has demonstrated time and again that superior training methods are critical in achieving success at the elite levels of international sports competition. The strength and conditioning coordinator for the Japan Rugby Football Union was a key part of that team’s surprising run at the World Cup, with many observers recognizing that the team’s fitness program was at the heart of their triumphant showing. While Mr. Pryor’s unique and highly specialized approach to training for rugby was an unqualified success in competition, he has continued to fine-tune his approach in order to ensure the athletes under his guidance are always as fit as possible.
In addition to his coaching duties with Japan’s national team, Mr. Pryor is also a director of JointAction Group, a company that specializes in the prevention of musculoskeletal injuries.
A graduate of Southern Cross University with a Master of Health Science in biomechanics, Mr. Pryor has continued to conduct research and frequently publishes his findings despite his many demanding professional responsibilities. Mr. Pryor’s level of commitment to advancing his field as a whole has endeared him to his peers and remains a central reason why he has been able to successfully implement so many innovative training strategies.
Where did the idea for JointAction Group come from?
We realized that industries outside of the sports world were not nearly as attentive as they should be when it comes to musculoskeletal injury prevention, and this inattentiveness was likely causing reduced productivity among employees. We decided to offer our services to educate others and to demonstrate just how important it is to understand the value of prevention.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Even though I have many professional responsibilities, my days are rarely spent in conventional offices. I usually start my day with an early-morning beach swim or training session of my own before overseeing the training programs of my athletes. I often do this remotely. I keep detailed reports on their progress and ensure that they are taking proper care for recovery purposes, and then I reevaluate the rest of the program based on the progress they have already made.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Even when I feel confident that a training program is highly efficient in terms of generating results, I am always conducting tests and performing research to see if there is anything that can be done to achieve a better outcome. I try to test the programs on myself 4-6 weeks ahead of athletes. This gets harder with age of course.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
It seems that athletes are finally realizing the impact that rest and recovery have on training, so I am excited about the improvements athletes will see just by making this simple change. And I think we are passing the era of “dumb” strength training. We need to develop athletic sportsmen and women, not excessively muscled sportspeople who move poorly.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am never satisfied with my results, and I always feel like there is something that can be improved upon. I am robust to criticism and always ask questions and listen to good advisors. I didn’t do this at a younger age.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
After undergraduate, I worked full time on the family farm. It was a drought year and we lost hundreds of livestock. It taught me that the farm life was not for me. It decided to study for a Masters degree and have never looked back.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
There were times I hesitated to implement new strategies because a large portion of the changes was still untested. If I could start over, I would be less hesitant about making changes based on my findings through research and analysis.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I am always seeking out new ideas and researching new methods for doing things with little to no consideration for the status quo. Entrepreneurs should always be open to new ideas and should be constantly evaluating how to improve their processes. Talk to older mentors who have already achieved their goals. They are often very generous.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
I have enjoyed publishing articles focusing on my areas of expertise, but I have found that this is also an excellent promotional tool for building brand awareness as well. But above all, making my passion obvious to those I work with is key.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
This wasn’t necessarily an entrepreneurial failure, but I wish I had been more outspoken about some training programs I saw being practiced that were far from ideal. As an athlete myself, I understand how detrimental it can be if a coach’s authority is undermined, and this led me to be far too deferential to the chain of command.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
The corporate world is starting to catch up on the importance of keeping employees healthy, but the driving force has been to reduce healthcare costs and not to improve productivity. A program that introduced a fitness training program to the workplace and also tracked any correlation with employee productivity could be quite valuable.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought a new set of electronic, vibrating foam rollers for some of my athletes to help with their post-workout recovery. After using the rollers and experiencing the benefit, the other athletes took notice and starting paying more attention to active recovery strategies outside of their formal training sessions. Great for office workers also.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
I actually developed my own software for charting each athlete’s progress throughout each segment of training, and I have it set up so that it can be used to identify areas of weakness that could lead to injury while also considering any outside factors like poor dietary habits or a lack of proper rest. I love the Adobe product suite and dabbled in multimedia work some years ago. Now, I do small video and audio editing projects for fun.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Strength Training and Coordination: An Integrative Approach, by Frans Bosch. Obviously, the focus of this text is on training principles, but I believe the philosophy espoused by Bosch can be applied to entrepreneurial endeavors as well. Bosch discusses the folly of treating certain training modalities as separate entities rather than as parts of a larger whole, and he advocates an integrative approach in order to yield the best possible outcome. I feel this theory has value in many aspects of business as well.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Though it might be a bit surprising, I have always valued Arthur Lydiard’s philosophies on training and how he advanced the sport of distance running through constant physiological research, analysis and testing for the benefit of his athletes. He never seemed satisfied or seemed to feel as though he had it figured out and, therefore, was never complacent in his approach to coaching.
I also admired Percy Cerutty. Perhaps he was a little crazy, but he was an iconoclast and ahead of his time. He proved to be right about many things that it took the rest of the athletic world 10-20 years to find out. But for in person influence, Vern Gambetta is my greatest influence. He has been generous to me and many others in my industry. He is a voracious reader and a fantastic inspiration and source of information.
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