- David Fleming, ESPN Senior Writer
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[Editor's note: The following story appears in the 2012 Body Issue of ESPN The Magazine. It continues Playbook's weeklong salute to David Fleming's ... ummm ... "Undercarriage Trilogy." Enjoy!]
I DON'T REALLY NOTICE the Preciosa crystal chandeliers that adorn the Conrad Indianapolis Hotel until I'm flat on my back on the lobby floor. Five minutes ago, during a short break from the NFL combine, I was strolling across this Hilton's marble mosaic entryway, enjoying the collection of modern art. Then, among the Warhols and Lichtensteins and past Andy Reid lounging, abstractly, in a big brown leather chair, I bumped into Mark Verstegen, the author, trainer and founder of Athletes' Performance. I asked him what I thought was a simple, innocent question: What's the most important part of an athlete's body?
A moment later, I'm on the lobby floor, performing exercises that are either supposed to serve as his answer or get us both arrested. Verstegen stands over me, his eyebrows pinched into an intense V. Drawing air back in through pursed lips, he makes a loud, high-pitched smooching sound while
simultaneously poking my ass cheeks with his fingertips, the way Cesar Millan shocks unruly canines back to compliance.
"Fire!" Verstegen yells. "Fire those glutes!"
Instinctively my cheeks contract, and my body rises off the carpet. Verstegen stretches his arms out, palms up, in a hallelujah pose. "The outside world might not talk about them," says the man who trained the rear ends of No. 1 pick Andrew Luck and 62 other players taken in the 2012 draft. "But for us, for athletes, glutes are everything -- the absolute epicenter and powerhouse of all athletic movement.
"It's all about the ass."
• • •
Playbook presents the Undercarriage Trilogy
Monday: It happens: the Tao of Poo in sports (Body Issue 2010)
Tuesday: Testicles and sports: guts, glory, injury (Body Issue 2011)
Thursday: Flem File supplement and outtakes from Call of Booty
Friday: David Fleming chat, 3 p.m. ET
Follow David Fleming on Twitter @FlemESPN