Chris Gronkowski comes from a long line of competitors and elite athletes. His great-grandfather, Ignatius, was an Olympic cyclist. His father, Gordon, played big-time college football at Syracuse University. Three of his brothers made it to the NFL — one of whom, Rob, is arguably the greatest tight end in football history — and yet another brother played minor league baseball.
Chris, an excellent football player in his own right, spent four years in the NFL as a fullback before moving onto the next chapter. When his career ended earlier than expected — Chris was just 26 when the Chargers, his fourth team in four years, waived him — he poured his competitive spirit and drive into entrepreneurship, first joining the family business, Gronk Fitness, and then creating Ice Shaker, an insulated water bottle and shaker cup. Chris willed his way onto the biggest stage in entrepreneurship, ABC’s Shark Tank, where he secured a $150,000 investment from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and baseball icon Alex Rodriguez. Since his appearance, the product has predictably exploded.
Chris took some time out of his very busy schedule — he had his third child, an adorable boy named Cash, last week (congrats Chris!) — to talk to Spartan about some of his go-to workouts, what it was like to appear on Shark Tank, and his reaction to his brother’s stunning decision to come out of retirement and reunite with his former quarterback, Tom Brady, in Tampa Bay.
The Spartan Interview: Former NFL Fullback and Ice Shaker Creator Chris Gronkowski
Spartan Race: First of all, tell us about your experience with Spartan. Have you ever run a race? Do you plan to down the line?
Chris Gronkowski, Former NFL Fullback and the Creator of Ice Shaker: I have been to one race before, and I set up a booth with Ice Shaker! It ended up being the coldest day ever in Texas and would have really tested my mind and body if I had a chance to run the race. I am working on my conditioning to be able to run some of the longer races.
SR: How does the Spartan brand align with your outlook, both on the football field and in the boardroom?
CG: My family and I are all about living an active and healthy lifestyle. It doesn’t matter how you approach it. If you are getting people off the couch and moving, you are winning! Spartan has done an insanely amazing job of helping people live a more active and healthy lifestyle, and has changed so many people’s lives both physically and mentally.
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Chest and triceps at home workout 💪🏻💪🏻. Save, share and try this one out! . The first three exercises are a masssive superset. Hit all three exercises for 20 reps with no breaks. 3 sets total, I was able to do two sets with no breaks. That’s 120 reps, no breaks, I’m using 30lb @nubells. . After that, crush some push ups, 3×15 . Then some push ups with your feet up – 2×15. . Triceps: pull downs- 3×20 – Flip the grip after 10 reps. . Finisher 3 sets to failure of ball pushups. . Last but not least.. 100 burpees! I like to do 10 every min. It takes me about 9mins and 25 seconds. This is part is the #30forthekid challenge! If you need some motivation and went to help out a good cause, checkout 30forthekids.com. . #workoutathome #getthatwork #shredcity #workingoutathome #kidsaresleeping
Train Like Chris Gronkowski
SR: Everyone wants to know how an NFL player trains. Do you have one workout, in particular, that is a go-to? What does it look like?
CG: NFL training is much different than Spartan training. It is all about short bursts of speed and explosiveness. For example, when we would do a bike workout or VersaClimber workout, it would be for 15 seconds — as fast as we could — and then we would coast for 45 seconds. We did a lot of strength training, which was great for the sport, but it wasn’t ideal for functional movements.
A normal offseason routine would consist of cleans, squats, box jumps, step-ups, and core work. Next, we would do 20 rounds of 40-yard dashes or shuttles. We would then run routes in the afternoon.
The Gronkowski Bros Train Differently
SR: You’re very close with your brothers, all of whom are elite athletes. When you guys are home together, how do you train? Do you work out together? What will that look like?
CG: It’s funny because every brother approaches fitness a little bit differently. I was always more hardcore and looking to move some weight and get a massive pump. My oldest brother, Gordie, was more about functional training and looking good. Due to injuries, my brother Dan has pretty much stopped lifting weights and trains for cardio events only. Rob is now back training for the NFL. He is running a lot and lifting a lot as well. And my youngest brother, Glenn, is more into functional training and yoga.
When we all get together, our workouts are more like playing basketball or running routes.
Related: Our Full Workout Database
SR: You founded Ice Shaker in 2017, and the company has exploded. What is Ice Shaker, and what inspired you to transition from athlete to entrepreneur?
CG: Ice Shaker is the only bottle you will need to live an active and healthy lifestyle. It started because I was sick of having to use multiple bottles throughout the day — one for work, one for the car, one for the gym, and so on. There were a lot of other bottles on the market at the time, but none would keep your drink hot/cold, were super easy to fill and clean, and would blend powders. I went home one day after I was at the gym and said I am going to make the best bottle possible for myself and anyone that wants to live an active and healthy lifestyle.
SR: You appeared on the hit ABC show Shark Tank and secured a $150,000 deal with Mark Cuban and Alex Rodriguez (not bad). What was the Shark Tank experience like, and what has it been like to work with Cuban and A-Rod?
CG: Shark Tank is the real deal! I was a huge fan of the show, and always wanted to find a way to get on the show. When I started Ice Shaker, the goal was to get on Shark Tank as soon as possible. I was able to achieve this within the first six months of starting Ice Shaker. Closing a deal with Mark and Alex was a dream come true. It allowed us to accomplish goals in one year that would have most likely taken five years.
SR: What was a more rewarding experience: Appearing (and securing a deal on) Shark Tank, or scoring an NFL touchdown?
CG: Scoring a touchdown in the NFL was more rewarding. I was always told to get good grades because making it to the NFL was nearly impossible, and I wasn’t even the best or second-best football player in my family. It was a huge long shot for me to make a team, and I can say that playing in 34 games and scoring a TD was a huge accomplishment for me that I don’t think I will be able to top in my business career.
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Bros meeting their baby bro for the first time! . Blessed to add another healthy baby boy to the family. 👶 . Thank you for all gifts and prayers 🙏. And thank you @bgronko for everything you do, this is going to be a fun ride . Let the fun begin! Happy Saturday everyone. . #newbabyboy #dadofboys #threeboys #gameon #daddysboys
Why Did Rob Return to the NFL?
SR: OK, we couldn’t live with ourselves if we didn’t ask about your brother, Rob. Rob shockingly came out of retirement this year and signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, reuniting with his former teammate and quarterback, Tom Brady. Did Rob’s decision to return — in Tampa, no less — surprise you, and what are you expecting from Brady-Gronk 2.0 in 2020?
CG: It’s funny how things work. Rob had a house in Tampa early on in his career. He has since sold it, but out of all the places he wanted to buy his first house, it was Tampa. I didn’t think he would come out of retirement. He had an amazing career that took a big toll on him physically. But the fire is still burning, and he is still one of the best players to ever play the game. When you have that itch, you have to do it, or you will regret it for the rest of your life. I am super excited to watch Rob and Tom in Tampa. I know they are both super hard workers, and hard work always pays off.