Is the world ready for Tom Brady, lifestyle guru? The New England Patriots quarterback and three-time football M.V.P., who turns 41 next month, is sharing the secrets of his professional longevity via a book, The TB12 Method; a clinic (the TB12 Sports Therapy Center in Foxboro, Mass.); and a variety of products including clothing and meal kits. The program, which Brady developed with trainer Alex Guerrero, emphasizes widely accepted health practices such as hydration, training with resistance bands, and eating an organic, plant-heavy diet. But some of Brady’s revelations—such as his disclosure that he avoids tomatoes or that he believes drinking electrolyte-spiked water helps him avoid sunburn—have health experts scratching their heads. (Thrillist has described TB12 as “Goop for bros.”) Fast Company caught up with Brady at On Cue, an annual event hosted by venture firm Cue Ball Capital, to discuss his burgeoning wellness empire and his plans to provide evidence to support the TB12 Method. Excerpts follow:
Fast Company: What is your ultimate ambition for TB12, as a brand, and as an enterprise?
All the things that I’ve learned over the course of a lot of years of training, I wanted to share with people. We really have to get outside of the [traditional] system [to learn] how to take care of your body. Especially for me—I’m an athlete. I need to perform at the highest level, and I’m not doing the right things. And I thought: I’m going to have to do things differently. And fortunately, I came to meet my cofounder and body coach, Alex. we just had a great relationship. We learned so much and challenge each other and I’m still going strong and still loving what I do. Want to keep sharing the products.
Is this program something that can reach the masses?
I’d love to reach as many people that are willing to commit their time and energy to do it. And if they don’t, then they don’t, but at least I feel like I provided the information.
The book has come under criticism from some commentators and medical professionals. Do you feel you need to provide research that it works?
I’d love to do that. I love science. I’d love to be able to have people study [the program] and understand why these [tools] are important to how your body is working efficiently. It’s worked so well for me, and I feel that it can and will work for you.
Is there a plan in place now to launch a medical study?
We’ve talked about it as a [TB12] team and I think they’re currently reaching out to different people and relationships we have who would love to be a part of it.
Over the last 30 years, professional athletes have become much more sophisticated about the way they think about their businesses and their business activities—its not just about endorsements. Could you talk a how you thought about structuring TB12 and some of your other enterprises to set you up for life beyond the NFL?
I absolutely love playing my sport, but I [also] love being an entrepreneur and business owner. I have a lot of different interests, certainly more than I did 15 years ago. We all evolve. We all aspire to do different things and beyond my football career, I want to continue to be successful in whatever I do, and I know that it takes a great plan.
You write in the book about mental exercises, too. In a world in which everyone is overloaded with information and stimulus, is there value in carving out time to take care of the brain?
When I was young, I had a lot of success in my career. There were so many opportunities coming at me and you feel like, “Oh my God, I need to be everyone, be everything to everybody all the time.” And it got really hard. There were too many requests to fulfill in a day. It takes a toll and I couldn’t keep doing it, so I had to find ways to find my own space, [to] find a place to rebalance.
For me, it was listening to music which was so important to me, or taking a nap, I did a little bit of yoga, a little bit of meditation at the time, I took showers and baths to find ways to de-stimulate.
I actually find a lot of peace on the field because I can be intensely focused and I am, in a way, mindless- I’m thinking, but I’m not thinking about 100 different things, just thinking about this one thing that I’ve worked very hard at, so in some ways that’s become a great meditative place for me. Some people need to sit in a chair to meditate. I go play football, and then I’m completely free of, absolved of, all these responsibilities, which is a great place to be.