How to Get Fit Like a Winter Olympian (Part 1)
The Winter Olympics are in full swing and the amazing bodies and athletic prowess of the competitors are on display. This week, learn how to get the balance of an ice dancer, the speed of a slalom skier, the butt of a bobsledder, the legs of a ski jumper, the core of a snowboarder, and the fitness of a hockey player.
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You’ve probably realized by now that there’s something epic happening in Sochi, Russia – the 2014 Winter Olympics! Back in 2012, during the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, I wrote How to Train Like an Olympian (Part 1) and How to Train Like an Olympian (Part 2), in which you learned fitness lessons from the summer sport pros.
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Now it’s time to turn to the amazing bodies and athletic prowess of the winter Olympians, and learn how to get the balance of an ice dancer, the speed of a slalom skier, the butt of a bobsledder, the legs of a ski jumper, the core of a snowboarder, and the overall fitness of a hockey player.
This week, we'll discuss how to get Olympian balance, speed and of course, that part about the butt. In Part 2 next week, we’ll cover the rest. So without further ado, let’s break the ice and jump into the snow, shall we?
How to Get Balance Like an Ice Dancer
There’s nothing quite like the enchantment of seeing the top-level ice dancers whip about on that slippery surface as if it were no big deal – especially when I routinely show off my “Bambi on Ice” impression at the local ice rink in my hometown of Washington state.
But even if we never quite have the moves of an ice dancer, we can all certainly benefit from the grace, injury prevention, and increased coordination that comes with having better balance.
In the episode 3 Ways to Get Better Balance, you learned that you can simply think of balance as your ability to maintain your base of support with minimal postural sway or collapse. In physics, something called a “line of gravity” is used to define balance. Specifically, better balance involves an increased ability to maintain your line of gravity over your base of support.
But in more basic Get-Fit Guy terms, balance is simply the ability to move your body and limbs around efficiently, precisely, and quickly while also being able to change direction without falling down.
Technically, maintaining balance requires coordination of 3 different sensory systems in your body:
The vestibular system, which consists of the sense organs in your head (primarily your ears) which regulate your equilibrium and give your brain directional information related to your head position.
The somatosensory system, which relies on nerves called “propriocepters” in your joints, along with the pressure and vibration sensors in your skin and your joints.
The visual system, which relies on your eyes to figure out where your head and body are in space, and also your location in space relative to other objects.
So for you to be properly balanced, each of these 3 components must be optimized. In other words, you need to have good eyes, good ears, and healthy joints. I’d highly recommend you go check out the full episode 3 Ways to Get Better Balance to learn everything there is to know about improving your sensory systems.
But for now, you can start by taking care of your ears (avoiding loud sounds and not holding your cell phone up to your ear), taking care of your eyes (taking screen breaks while staring at a computer and eating organic eggs or wild caught fish a few times a week), and taking care of your joints (doing single leg balancing drills).