Bronson Koenig turns to celebrity trainer to get in best shape of his life

Nicole Auerbach

MADISON, Wis. — Corey Calliet considers himself more than just a celebrity trainer. He's a body transformation specialist.

Wisconsin player Bronson Koenig is an activist in the Native American community.

He trained Michael B. Jordan for the lead role in Creed, turning his body into that of a prizefighter, among others preparing for physically grueling movie roles out in Los Angeles. And last summer, after being connected to him through Native American actor Martin Sensmeier, he gained a new client: University of Wisconsin senior point guard Bronson Koenig.

Koenig hired Calliet to help him get back in shape. He’d willingly played through a knee bruise the second half of last season, and as the injury got worse and worse, Koenig said he got more and more out of shape.

"I kind of got fat, basically,” Koenig said. “I wasn’t really getting in any reps at practice anymore. I couldn't do everything I used to be able to do because of my knee, but I just had to keep playing on it.

“After the season, I took it upon myself to hire a trainer.”

Calliet didn’t know much about Koenig when he first took him on as a client. He combed through Koenig’s social media accounts to try to get a feel for his personality and what motivational techniques might work on him. Calliet had never played basketball, so the training wasn’t going to focus on basketball moves.

“He had all the basketball skills,” Calliet said by phone this week. “I just had to fine-tune him. … A conditioned, in-shape body can do whatever you want for however long you want.”

Wisconsin Badgers guard Bronson Koenig (24) shoots a three during the game with the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Koenig worked with Calliet for three weeks, took a break, then returned for a four-week stretch. They’d train about five times a week with sessions averaging about 90 minutes. There were a lot of plyometric movements and High Intensity Interval Training work.

Calliet began building up Koenig’s strength. Then, he focused on agility — making sure Koenig had strong hips and a strong core so he could turn quicker and run faster on the court.

But, as Calliet reminded Koenig over and over, "You can train an athlete as much as you want but if they don’t nourish the body it’s like a car running on bad gas,” Calliet said. “It’s not going to go well.”

Eating well became a focal point; Calliet set Koenig up with a meal plan.

“He would Snapchat me meals once he left LA, too,” Calliet said. “So I could see he was following it.”

Sometimes, Koenig would call, too, asking for advice about eating well on the go, at fast-food restaurants. Calliet would suggest, for example at Subway, to order grilled chicken on a wheat bun. Jimmy John’s had good salads and sandwiches. Whole Foods had its delicious hot food area; you can always find chicken and rice somewhere in there. He showed Koenig how to find a good smoothie place — one that sells natural, organic juices and can give you the greens your body needs.

Koenig saw the fruits of his labor by midsummer; he felt and looked great.

“The first time somebody noticed was when I went to Under Armour All-America camp and one of the refs there who refs a lot of our games — he was there and he was like, ‘Wow, you look a lot leaner.’ He said it to my face, and I could feel it 100%.

"When you eat healthy — you know how it is — you just feel better. Your mindset, everything, feels better. That's how I felt, I didn't really get tired on the court. I was quicker, more explosive, jumping way higher.”

Koenig is having his best season with the Badgers yet; he leads the team with 14.6 points per game, and he’s shooting better from the field (45.6%) and from beyond the arc (41.3%) than ever. Koenig is playing at 6-3, 190 pounds — he lost 10 pounds and shedded probably 3-4% body fat.

Calliet said Koenig — who he now considers a close friend, “like family” — will train with him leading up to June’s NBA draft.

“If you think he’s good and strong now, just wait until the draft,” Calliet said.