10 Fitness Tips from Olympians
Having a tough time motivating yourself to go for a jog? Just imagine if exercise was your job. Welcome to the life of a professional athlete, or in the most elite cases, an Olympian. Even though they might seem superhuman, they too have to employ tricks and strategies to stay motivated and on-track. And guess what? You can use the same tricks to achieve your own fitness goals. Here, past and present Olympians share personal health and fitness advice that applies to everyone.
1. Workout buddies are key.
“After spending so much time by myself on the ice in the past, I love working out with friends now,” says Nancy Kerrigan, a former professional figure skater and two-time Olympic medalist who was recently honored at the 26th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner (hosted by the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis). “I take group classes at the gym—usually kick boxing, weight training or yoga—and then, after it's done, a group of us grab coffee and chat.” Working out with a friend can also motivate you to work harder, like it does for Lauren Wenger, a current member of the USA Water Polo Women’s National Team and Olympic silver medalist. “When I see a teammate working hard, it pushes me that much more,” says Wenger.
2. Put it on paper.
Do you ever find yourself in the gym, unable to remember how many reps you did last week? “If I don’t bring a sheet with my workouts on it, I end up wasting time and not being as efficient,” says Heather O’Reilly, a member of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, two-time Olympic gold medalist and adidas athlete. Jot down what you plan to accomplish at the gym before you go, bring a pen or pencil and keep track as you go. “For me, the sense of accomplishment when I see that I’ve completed a workout is great,” says O’Reilly.
3. Schedule it.
Elite athletes currently in training have no choice but to carve out time to do their workouts, but past Olympians, like Kristi Yamaguchi, a former figure skater and Olympic gold medalist, understand the importance of scheduling exercise. “As a busy mom, I can find 100 different things to do instead of working out,” says Yamaguchi, who is currently a spokeswoman for the Smucker's Uncrustables Unstoppable Family Photo Contest. “If I don’t say, OK on this day, I will work out for at least 20 minutes, it won’t happen.” Even though it might not be your job, you can still treat exercise as one of your main priorities by scheduling it like you would any other important meeting.
4. When it comes to nutrition, boring is OK.
The old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” applies to healthy eating, too. “Every single day, no matter where I am, I always eat one pack of instant oatmeal with a huge scoop of peanut butter for breakfast,” says Wenger. “It keeps me fueled and gives me enough energy for the morning practice.” Why change it up when you find something that works?
5. Rest doesn’t always mean sedentary.
Just because you’re taking a day off from working out doesn’t mean you should sit on the couch for the next 24 hours. “Staying active on down days actually makes me feel better the rest of the week,” says Erin Hamlin, a two-time luge Olympian. “Doing something low key, like going for a walk or taking a light yoga class, gets the blood flowing and results in more productive training days.” Chellsie Memmel, a gymnast and Olympic silver medalist agrees: “Walking on the treadmill or outside helps my muscles relax and loosen up.”
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