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Bruce Bowen

Why does everyone hate this man? Bruce Bowen is the NBA's Most Tenacious Defender, which isn't winning him any popularity contests. But he's vital to the reigning NBA champion San Antonio Spurs and, thanks to a rigorous devotion to Bikram Yoga, perhaps one of the fittest players in the game.

Men's Fitness, December 2007 By Mike Monroe

"Well, there it is"

And there Bruce Bowen is: on an island, guarding the most gifted scorers in basketball night after night, and doing it better than anyone.

Don't hate.

Bruce Bowen strikes a pose--and feels the burn--with Bikram yoga

San Antonio forward Bruce Bowen entered the 2007-08 season with the longest active "iron man" streak in the :league--436 consecutive regular-season games. He credits Bikram yoga and deeptissue massage for helping his 36-year-old body endure the rigors of a season that begins at the end of October and could last into midJune (as long as you re net a Los Angeles Clipper). He learned of Bikram two years ago from retired Spurs star David Robinson who had practiced the high-heat technique when back problems threatened to curtail his career, "I thought if it helped David, I should try it, too," Bowen says,

Bikram warms the muscles, which allows Bowen to stretch more. "I really enjoy the stretching aspect. A lot of ballplayers hate stretching. They just want to get on the court and play. But t is beneficial." He doesn't use it as a workout, however. "You have to be careful. because you think you are warm and can do things that maybe your body won't allow you to do and you can get injured."

Bowen regards himself a casual practitioner of yoga--he has not learned the names of the various positions--but believes he is significantly more flexible when regularly attending sessions at a Bikram studio in suburban Hollywood Park, Texas. "When I am consistent with the yoga exercises, I think I am at least 40% more flexible," he says. "Sometimes during last season on total off days, I would go to a class, and it always helped. But off days during the season only come about once every nine or 10 days."

Bowen has received once-a-week deeptissue massages from San Antonio therapist dackie McLaughin for several seasons, "Jackie has done remarkable things with me when I've had pain issues." he says, "The deeper you go into your muscles. that's when you start to solve your problems, I often ask myself what I did before I started working with her."

--M.L.M.

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