Brad Gushue has been keeping busy trying not to overthink the Tim Hortons Brier.
The 14-time provincial winner is aiming to win his first Canadian men’s curling championship in his hometown of St. John’s, N.L., at the Mile One Centre in front of all his family, friends and fans. No pressure, right?
That’s a lot on the mind, which is why Gushue has occupied himself leading up to Saturday’s start at the Brier by opening an Orangetheory Fitness franchise in St. John’s.
“When you actually get to sit down for an hour and think about what’s going to happen, your mind starts to wander,” Gushue said during a phone interview earlier this week. “I’ve been trying to stay as busy as possible because like last night I was there for two hours at home, my wife was in Toronto, and all I could think about was the Brier and what could happen — bad and good. Tonight I’m going to make sure I’m busy until I go to bed.”
Gushue and teammate Mark Nichols have been partners on the ice since they were teens winning a world junior championship, an Olympic gold medal and seven Grand Slam titles together. Their new off-ice venture combines their business backgrounds: Nichols is a fitness trainer and Gushue is an entrepreneur, once described as the “frozen yogurt tycoon” of Newfoundland.
When the duo looked into opening an Orangetheory Fitness franchise they had no idea they’d be working alongside a former competitive curler. Blake MacDonald, who won the Brier and world championship titles in 2010 with Alberta’s Team Koe, is now the president of Orangetheory Fitness Canada. The company has swept through the curling world recently with members of Team Homan, Team Rocque and Team Koe signing up for sessions. One of the key components at Orangetheory Fitness is interval training, which sort of mimics the start-stop-start periods one can expect while curling where high-energy levels while throwing and sweeping rocks are balanced with moments of rest while waiting during your opponent’s turn.
“Mark and I actually got involved in it without even knowing Blake was involved,” Gushue said. “We expressed some interest in there and finally I got an e-mail from Blake saying, ‘Oh you’re interest in it?’ I said, ‘What are you doing in it?’ and he said, ‘Oh, I’m the president.’
“It’s kind of unique for us. Mark and I have been looking for something to do together because we’ve been curling for 16 years together, so this has been good.”
Gushue explained how much fitness has an impact on curling as the world’s best have to be in peak physical condition or risk being left by the wayside. Teams at the Tim Hortons Brier expect to play over a dozen games in a week’s span and being in top shape is key to toughening it out through the grind.
“It really just comes down to physical fitness and making sure you’re getting your rest and eating the proper things,” Gushue said. “As cliché as it sounds it really is important when you’re talking 14 games over eight days. You’ve really got to do all of the little things right because it may not matter in the first 10 or 11 games but when you get to the end of the week those things count. Most of those games at the end of the week come down to one shot, so if you’re certainly a little bit sharper then it’s going to give you a better chance.”