How to workout like an Olympian

Mercedes Nicholl, Women's Halfpipe Snowboarding. (Handout)

Mercedes Nicholl, Women's Halfpipe Snowboarding. (Handout)

Charlotte Herrold, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:42 PM ET

Ever wonder what it takes to compete at the Olympic level? It’s more than just drive and a propensity toward a certain sport. Our athletes train hard year round. We caught up with two Canadian Olympians and one coach on their way to Sochi to find out the workout routines that help them stay at the top of their game.

Mercedes Nicholl, Women’s Halfpipe Snowboarding

For Whistler, B.C.’s Mercedes Nicholl, snowboarding itself is a great way to stay in shape: “My legs burn, I’m out of breath and my heart rate is up there at the end of a pipe run,” she says. “But I don’t really think of it as a workout, it’s so much fun.”

In the gym, her training begins with ten minutes on a spin bike followed by dynamic movements such as leg swings, designed to increase blood flow and warm the muscles. Then she’s ready for her weight-training program, which involves six to eight different exercises per day for four weeks straight, after which she is reassessed by her trainer and her program is updated. “Our workouts are well rounded to help prevent us from getting injured,” she explains.

Nicholl also enjoys taking yoga and Zumba classes and getting outdoors to switch up her workout routine: “I’m lucky to live in a community where you step outside and it’s almost mandatory to be active.”


(Canadian Curling Association/Michael Burns Photography)

Ryan Fry, Men’s Curling

In addition to practising with his teammates on the curling rink, Sault Ste Marie, Ont. resident Ryan Fry hits the gym daily, focusing on muscle conditioning and aerobic exercise. After warming up on the treadmill, he spends approximately 45 minutes targeting all major muscle groups through weight lifting.

“You can’t just focus on one area,” he explains, “it’s all about balance.” Which is why he finishes his daily routine on an elliptical machine, activating muscles in the arms, legs, core and back, while going easy on the joints. But achieving balance means paying attention to the mind as well as the body. In addition to working with a sports psychologist, the curling team supports each other, helping members ward off nervousness and stay motivated. “We know what it takes to win,” says Fry.


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