Olympians at the Office
By Lauren Cohen, NYU Nutrition Student and the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team
Walking through a hall of chiseled, marble statues in various athletic positions can make you wonder who that discus thrower’s trainer was and if his 450 BC workout is still available. This renaissance Photoshop, and very real Photoshop of the 2014 Sochi Athletes, may even elicit a google search for an “Olympic fitness routine.” But before you embark on your new training, consider this; “Olympian” is not a workout regiment—it’s a career.
If you have a job, go to school, are a full-time parent, or do all of the above, you already understand what kind of intense commitment goes into your profession. Being an Olympic Athlete isn’t just doing the workout, it’s doing the work. Let’s deconstruct this idea by taking a closer look at the United States ice dancing gold-medalists, Meryl Davis and Charlie White.
Davis, 27, and White, 26, have been ice dancing together for 17 years, training roughly 1.5-2 hours everyday—when they were young teens. These part-time students at The University of Michigan are now full-time Olympic Athletes. Davis and White are on the ice every Monday through Friday starting at 7am at the International Skating Academy in Canton, Michigan. They typically go through techniques, watch old performance tape, and develop new routines on and off the ice. They stay in their skates for about 6 hours. After work, they hit the gym.
A typical after work-workout consists of cardio, three days a week, and then strength training. They do agility, balance, and weight training and, on occasion, ballet. While it is not their favorite, it is essential to help with their balance practice. White often steadies a kettle bell on his shoulders during ballet practice in preparation for the lifts and carries during their skating routines. Davis and White enjoy their weekends off.
Despite the more offbeat nature of their professional life, their workday is very similar to your average adult. The main different is that their body is their office. It’s where they spend their business days and where they put in overtime; it’s their trade and their skill and it’s what pays their bills.
Training like an Olympic Athlete is taking on an entirely new profession; one where the most skilled are constantly subjected to injury. During the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, over 11% of the athletes injured themselves. More than half of those injuries occurred during training. These figures do not even include the athletes who were injured prior to the Games. Canadian ice-dancer Tessa Virtue famously skated through compartment syndrome in both her legs during the 2010 Games and went on to endure two painful surgeries and over a year of recovery. She and her partner, Scott Moir, withdrew from a series of 2012 competitions due to a faulty landing on Moir’s neck. Luckily, they were able to compete in the 2014 Games and took home the silver medal.
The very same attention and devotion you put into your work, they put into theirs. So, in a way, we are all Olympians in our field! You would never ask an athlete—or more importantly, any untrained individual—to take over your job. Maybe, from now on, we can just meet Davis and White at the gym when we all get off work.
- Longman, J. “Behind Meryl Davis and Charlie White, U.S. Is Close to Its First Ice Dance Gold.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 16 Feb. 2014. Web. 24 Feb. 2014. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/17/sports/olympics/behind-meryl-davis-and-charlie-white-us-is-close-to-its-first-ice-dance-gold.html?_r=0
- Junge, A., L. Engebretsen, J. M. Alonso, P. Renström, M. Mountjoy, M. Aubry, and J. Dvorak. “Result Filters.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 07 Apr. 2008. Web. 24 Feb. 2014. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18390916
- “Meryl Davis & Charlie White.” Classroom Champions. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2014. http://www.classroomchampions.org/person/37/Meryl-Davis-Charlie-White
- “Meryl Davis & Charlie White.” Shape Magazine. American Media, INC, n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2014. http://www.shape.com/topics/meryl-davis-charlie-white
- Cardarelli, L. “Ice Dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White Shape Up for the Olympics | The Fit Stop.” The Fit Stop. Fitness Magazine, 30 Nov. 2012. Web. 24 Feb. 2014. http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/blogs/fitstop/2012/11/30/fitness/ice-dancers-meryl-davis-and-charlie-white-shape-up-for-the-olympics/
- “Canadian Pair Scott Moir, Tessa Virtue Continue to Deal with Injuries – CBC Sports – Figure Skating.” CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 18 Oct. 2012. Web. 24 Feb. 2014. http://www.cbc.ca/sports/figureskating/canadian-pair-scott-moir-tessa-virtue-continue-to-deal-with-injuries-1.1284273
- Seidel, Jeff. “Jeff Seidel: Michigan Ice Dancers Meryl Davis, Charlie White Make Perfect Pair.” Detroit Free Press. N.p., 02 Feb. 2014. Web. 24 Feb. 2014. http://www.freep.com/article/20140202/SPORTS/302020058/Jeff-Seidel-Michigan-ice-dancers-Meryl-Davis-Charlie-White-make-perfect-pair