Anton Mukhin

Anton Mukhin, a senior exercise science major and goalkeeper on the men’s soccer team, is the creator and host of “Operation Exercise.” The podcast offers listeners information about athletic training, kinesiology and nutrition and is available to stream on Spotify. (Photo courtesy of UMSL Athletics)

Podcasting has been on the rise for nearly a decade, but Anton Mukhin didn’t intend to enter the popular digital medium.

It was an accident.

“I recorded something for a class, and there was extra credit to push it out on social media,” Mukhin said. “A couple of people listened to it and they go, ‘This is really good information. You should really make some more.’”

That’s how Mukhin, a senior exercise science major at the University of Missouri–St. Louis and goalkeeper on the men’s soccer team, became the creator and host of “Operation Exercise.”

The podcast, which Mukhin records and produces himself with the Anchor app, offers listeners a wealth of information about athletic training, kinesiology and nutrition and is available to stream on Spotify.

Over the course of the first seven episodes, he has covered topics such as core stability, muscular imbalance and the nutritional requirements of college athletes.

Mukhin’s soccer career began at young age in Windsor, England, where his family had moved from Moscow. He played for Wycombe Wanderers’ development academy, a pipeline to the English Premier League, as a teenager before moving to the U.S. to play college soccer.

He then earned an associate degree at St. Charles Community College and played on the men’s soccer team before transferring to UMSL to pursue a BES and play for the Tritons.

Each episode is built upon Mukhin’s experiences as an elite athlete and his education and work in exercise science. Guests such as George Butler, a former professional soccer player for Queens Park Rangers F.C., and Josh McMillian, the head of sports performance at UMSL, have also contributed their expertise to the podcast.

Mukhin was motivated to delve into the project after noticing the flood of misinformation about exercise and training on the internet, especially on social media. He noted that many Instagram and YouTube personalities are happy to churn out content about those subjects in pursuit of clicks and likes, but it doesn’t mean they’re educated in exercise science.

“Operation Exercise” intends to cut through the noise from a well-informed perspective.

“I feel the knowledge that I’ve gained over the last few years should be available to student athletes,” Mukhin said. “It’s knowledge that should be available to them very easily and very understandably because it can make such a huge difference if it’s done right or if it’s done wrong.”

Though even as a lifelong athlete, Mukhin still had some misperceptions until recently.

An internship at D1 Training St. Louis West gave him a more holistic view of exercise and training – that recovery, maintenance and nutrition are just as important as a tough workout. A coach at D1 pointed out that almost anyone can create a workout regimen that will make someone sweat or push someone to exhaustion.

What comes next is the part that’s often neglected.

“Say I have a session, and I throw up,” Mukhin said. “My body is so drained of everything that if I don’t recover properly, if I don’t eat properly, if I don’t sleep properly, the next day, I’ll be in a terrible, terrible situation.

“If I only know how to do the workout part, I don’t know how to recover, which is the more important part on how to push yourself to that limit – to overload yourself but then come back the next day stronger. I think that’s the huge thing that I didn’t really understand until a couple of years ago. I feel like a lot of other people don’t understand. They want to work hard, but then they don’t understand the recuperation that it takes a day later, two days later.”

While there are still some old-school coaches who run their athletes ragged, Mukhin is encouraged that attitudes are changing. More and more collegiate and professional teams are investing in comprehensive strength conditioning and nutrition programs.

He added that research continues to advance on how strength conditioning can aid injuries, overall athletic longevity and day-to-day performance.

“There are more and more games being played every single week now,” Mukhin said. “There are more and more games being played for the whole year now. Training regimens are so much harder now than they used to be. So, that science is needed, and it is great to see that it is slowly changing for the better.”

The podcast is geared toward athletes, but Mukhin tries to make each episode accessible to anyone who wants to learn more about exercise and fitness.

A recent episode on core stability hits both audiences but is especially useful to the latter.

Many people are now sitting for eight hours a day at office jobs, and Mukhin explained that sitting hinged for so long causes the hips to tighten. That shifts the pelvis up and pinches the lower back, causing pain.

To help alleviate that pain, he suggests getting up periodically throughout the day and doing planks to engage the abdomen and wide squats to engage the glutes. Each exercise strengthens different parts of the core, taking pressure off the lower back.

Mukhin is continuing to develop the podcast as he finishes his final semester at UMSL and final season on the field with the Tritons.

One future episode will feature a conversation with a former teammate about his knee injury and the recovery process. Other episodes are in the works, but he’s always open to suggestions from listeners.

His final season initially faced a setback when the Great Lakes Valley Conference moved all men’s soccer competition from the fall semester to the spring semester to stem the spread of COVID-19.

However, Mukhin hasn’t missed a step in UMSL’s early matches. He was named GLVC Defensive Player of the Week for posting two shutouts last weekend, making nine saves across 200 minutes in goal.

In the future, he would like help other soccer players shine on the field in the sports performance industry. That will most likely come after graduate school, though.

“I’ve been looking at two options for next year, either try to be a graduate assistant for a strength and conditioning program at a university while completing my master’s,” he said, “or do my Optional Practical Training, which will allow me to work for a year, then do my master’s.”

Stream or download “Operation Exercise” on Spotify.

Burk Krohe

Burk Krohe