Champions

By: Hannah Wallace

Amanda Evora » 25, and Mark Ladwig » 30 U.S. Olympic figure skating pair, Vancouver 2010 “Now when I say, ‘This will make you better,’ my students believe me.” How has your life changed since the Olympics? Amanda: Our Web site went down because so many people looked us up. Mark: [Now] when I say, […]


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Amanda Evora » 25, and Mark Ladwig » 30

U.S. Olympic figure skating pair, Vancouver 2010

“Now when I say, ‘This will make you better,’ my students believe me.”

How has your life changed since the Olympics?
Amanda: Our Web site went down because so many people looked us up.
Mark: [Now] when I say, “This will make you better,” my students believe me.

Training routine:
Amanda: We get to the rink at 9 a.m. and start with an off-ice class like ballet or technique on lifts or jumps. Then we skate for an hour or so, then another hour after lunch. We get off the ice at 2:10 and hit the gym until 3:20.
Mark: A lot of running and cardio. We’ll do 10 sets of 10 on a double flight of stairs, up and down.

Most important area to build strength:
Mark: Your core. That’s how you maintain your balance and hold your posture. I once showed a football player for USF some of our core work. He was amazed at how much strength it takes.

Motivation:
Amanda: It’s good to have different exercises—elliptical, stair-climber, bikes, treadmill—to keep it interesting.
Mark: I just have a love for skating. When I was a kid my favorite thing was flying around the rink at high speed.

Diet:
Mark: I was eating too much pasta and not enough meat. Now I make sure I get protein. I love fish, so that’s easy. Amanda: Breakfast is usually instant oatmeal and a banana. I also drink a lot of chocolate milk. It has what your body is asking for right after you work out—not only the protein, but the right sugar, too.

Guilty pleasure:
Amanda: I love my coffee.
Mark: I do hit the occasional McDonald’s—I won’t lie.

Rest:
Mark: You have to take time to recover; the Olympic committee really stressed that.
Amanda: We see a massage therapist at the end of every week. And it’s important to get at least eight hours of sleep. Nothing that can replace that.

“Hopefully your fitness plan is a marathon and not a sprint.”

Rob Butcher » 37

Executive director,
U.S. Masters Swimming

Career: I walked onto the high school swim team junior year and somehow had enough talent that I got into Georgia Southern University. A few years later, I started swimming again. Turns out my times, three years post-college, were better than they were in college. I just barely qualified for the 2000 Olympic trials—the 100-meter breaststroke. I was 28 years old, one of the oldest swimmers there.

Why swimming? I was not a great runner. I wasn’t a great biker. I’d read enough to know that swimming was one of those healthy activities that you could do all your life. 

Surprise benefit: When I started swimming in high school, I was an awkward kid that had been around all boys in soccer. I realized there were boys and girls in swimming. I didn’t have to ask anyone out. I could just learn to be comfortable.

Diet: In college, a swimmer can easily eat 7,000 calories a day. Now it’s about moderation, balance and common sense. You can enjoy a glass of wine; don’t beat yourself up over it. Just don’t accept eating poorly every day.

Training routine: I’ll swim four days a week at the Sarasota YMCA with the Masters group, 5:30 to 7 in the morning. I’ll also do some dry-land training, a combination of weights, stretching and floor sprints for extra cardio.

Hardest part: Not allowing it to over-consume you, especially if you’re ultra-competitive.

Rest: I try to be in bed around 9:30, asleep by 10, because I’m up at about 4:30 in the morning. But I listen to my body if I’m tired and need a day off.

Fitness advice: Hopefully your fitness plan is a marathon and not a sprint. Swimming can become a lifelong journey for you. Take small steps.

“Every time I get the opportunity to come to the ballpark, I’m happy as hell.”

Adam Jones » 24

Baltimore Orioles center fielder (2009 Gold Glove winner)

Proudest of: That I was able to get to the big leagues at a young age—20—and I’ve been working my tail off ever since. I’m proud of my Gold Glove, of course, and the All-Star appearance.

Pre-game routine: I get here two hours before, get my body loose by jumping in the hot tub. Then I’ll get in the [batting] cage for 10 or 15 minutes, working on my hands, not even swinging hard.

Post-game: Weight training is generally after the game, when I’m still warm. I don’t lift too heavy during season; I don’t want to get sore, and during season I’m sore enough. Then I’ll finish my day by getting in the cold tub. That helps everything feel better.

How strong do you need to be? Baseball is not a bulky sport. My strength is elastic strength. I play center field, so I’ve got to be quick as well as explosive.

Diet: You put in Taco Bell, you’re going to get Taco Bell out. My pre-workout meal is usually fruit, like bananas, and oatmeal. During the season and on the road, especially, it helps that we’re able to afford to have healthy meals brought to us. And I want to eat good meals.

Challenges: The hardest part is actually trying to play the game of baseball. I love when fans say, “Do this, do that.” [Laughs.] They can play unbelievable center field, hit a home run off of anybody, while they’re sitting on the couch.

Motivation: I love playing the game. Every time I get the opportunity to come to the ballpark, I’m happy as hell.

“They teach us how to stay focused. You have to have a daily routine, and you have to follow it.”

Reinaldo Brenes » 18

Captain, IMG Academy soccer team

Next step: University of Akron [2009 national championship runner-up] in the fall, then just see what happens.

Position: Defending midfielder.

Training routine: We practice every day from 3 to 5:30 p.m., and then we have weights two days a week from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The kind of weight training depends on the season. At the beginning of the season, we’re doing power stuff—squats, heavier weights. Towards the end of the season, we do a lot of isometrics.

Conditioning: We do a lot of sprints. But we also do exercises where we’re playing, and we have to pressure a lot on the ball. Everybody has to work.

Why soccer?
It’s a team sport. I like working as a group.

Second sport: I used to play tennis. I didn’t like it much, but it is good cross-training for soccer. It involves a lot of reaction time.

The mental edge: Every Monday we have mental conditioning. They teach us how to stay focused, how to approach matches. You have to have a daily routine, and you have to follow it. They also have us doing breathing exercises and visualization.

Diet: A lot of carbohydrates, especially before games. I like to eat pasta. The last big meal is three hours before the game.

What it takes: I was living in Costa Rica, so playing here means being away from my family. And no going to parties. But it’s worth it.

“There’s a misconception that rowing is all upper body. It’s not; it’s whole body.”

Bruce Smith » 40

Executive director, Boston’s Community Rowing Inc.; former head coach, U.S. National Rowing Team; key advisor to Sarasota’s new community rowing program

Local rowing opportunities: There are several existing crews: Sarasota Crew, Sarasota Scullers and Sarasota Masters. With this new rowing venue [Benderson Park] up by University Parkway, everybody in Sarasota can take advantage of it.

Benefits: Rowing a six-minute race is the equivalent of two NBA games. No sport burns more calories. If I have 30 minutes to work out, I could go for a run and burn about 250 calories, or I could row and burn 600 to 700 calories.

Who can become a rower? You can learn at any age. It’s great if you’ve used up your knees running, if you’ve got old injuries from football, or if you’re tired of staring at the bottom of the pool and want to look around at the world. We also run a program for disabled people. If you’re blind, paralyzed, in a wheelchair, we can get you on the water.

Surprise: There’s a misconception that rowing is all upper body. It’s not; it’s whole body. We like to show newcomers that the seat is on wheels. You push with your legs and then sustain your strength through your core.

Routine: On the water with the crew four or five days a week. One or two days, it’s hard pieces, rowing relatively short distances; the other two or three days, working on aerobic endurance with an hour-and-a-half row.

Diet: I train my elite athletes to eat the same thing at the same time every time—which probably gets a little boring. [Most] people should focus on limiting fats and make sure they get enough fiber and protein. Hydration is critical. We tell our rowers to drink at least a liter of water for every workout.

Motivation: It’s just really, really fun. Plus you get to interact with nature, and it’s stunningly beautiful. Every time I get out on the water, I say, “I can’t believe I get to do this every day.”