How One EXOS Coach Helped a Pro Soccer Team Reach New Heights

By Tia Albright for EXOS

As a fitness coach with the German men’s national team and EXOS since 2010, Benjamin Kugel’s made his mark with both the EXOS team and the Germany players. In 2013, he took his career one step further and accepted the role as head of performance for German club team FC Köln. After just one year under Kugel’s guidance, FC Köln won the 2nd division Bundesliga league title and will move up to the top Bundesliga division next season.

Kugel kickstarted his career as a strength and conditioning coach for amateur athletes while pursuing a sports science degree at the German Sports University Cologne. After graduation, he worked in Spain as a personal trainer before taking an amazing opportunity offered by one of his clients who happened to be the general manager of the German 1st division club, Werder Bremen. Six months later, Kugel was setting the groundwork for his future and working as the team’s fitness coach. 

It’s from this foundation that’s he’s built his career and developed the skills and know-how to help FC Köln rise in the ranks. 

“I pulled many ideas from working with Germany. It started with learning to plan for a tournament, and I could definitely make a transfer to the preparation plan with a club team — even though there are some differences in preparing for a peak of seven games at the World Cup and a whole season of 34 games,” said Kugel, who works alongside EXOS‘ Shad Forsythe and the technical and medical staff to coordinate the national team’s physical preparation. “And it’s not just planning, but the training. Working with the national team has had a big influence on what I do with both training and regeneration strategies when working with my club teams.”

As an EXOS team member, Kugel’s been exposed to the EXOS methodology and philosophy, which is used with every individual client, athlete, and team he works with. “As a part of the EXOS team, I’ve learned the importance of correcting fundamental movement patters team-wide. This is a weekly priority for my athletes,” said Kugel.

On his experience with the EXOS team, Kugel said, “It was special to me the way EXOS team members shared their knowledge with me and always put the best interest of the athletes first.” 

“Benny Kugel’s been an invaluable member of the EXOS team for the last four years with our German national team partnership,” said Mark Verstegen, EXOS’ founder and president.

“Benny is not only a well-organized and smart coach, he’s an exceptionally resourceful leader who speaks five languages,” said Forsythe. “I was so impressed when we came in three days before the team arrived to create our home base. Benny became the central resource for the local workers and German national team organizers to bring things to life. We’re so lucky to have him be such a great member of the EXOS team.”

Looking to help your own team move up in the ranks? Kugel’s go-to advice: Focus on seamless integration. He says working together as one team and constantly communicating with the medical, fitness, and technical staff will breed the best results.