It seems everywhere I look the 2014 Winter Olympic Games are featured. The Biggest Loser contestants were at the US Olympic Training Center in Utah a couple of weeks ago. Most magazines about fitness, yoga or Pilates have one or more articles about Olympians and their workout regimes. Local gyms are holding “Olympic” competitions within their establishments. Oh and don’t forget (or maybe you would like to) that image of the “ugly sweater” USA Olympic uniforms, designed by Ralph Lauren, that has been flying around Facebook and the internet. (You can check them out here, if you missed them http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/24/us/sochi-us-security/.)

I have always enjoyed the winter Olympics the most. I really appreciate the skill, strength and creativity of the athletes. This year Team USA is sending 230 athletes to the games, to compete in up to 94 of the 98 medal events. According to the United States Olympic Committee this is the largest USA team ever sent to the winter games. The statistics that struck me most of all those in the announcement had to do with age. The age difference between the youngest (15) and oldest (45) Olympians is 30 years, both women I might add. This got me wondering about the age breakdown of all the athletes going to the games. I must admit I was a little surprised to find the average age of US athletes this year is 26. Here is the overall breakdown by age range:

PicSo now I ask you, how often do you watch these events in amazement of the performances and think “I could never do that”? I hear you! I am not a stranger to ice skating; I grew up skating on a local lake in the winter, which usually involved bringing our own shovels. But try as I may I still cannot tell the difference between a Lutz and a Flip, though I do think each use toe picks. I certainly could not perform them, but I do like to skate from time to time and I love watching the ice skating competitions. I also remember watching Joan Benoit Samuelson in the run up to the 1984 Summer Olympics Marathon event (I was 11). She was from Maine so a New Englander competing got a lot of attention in Massachusetts. At the time I remember thinking how unimaginable it was that anyone could run 26.2 miles. Sixteen years later I completed my first marathon. A middle of the pack finish, but I finished.

I am a big believer that anyone can achieve whatever goals they set their minds to and do the work to achieve. Joan Benoit says “Running is 80% mental.” When it comes down to it the ability to start on any endeavor is 100% mental. That initial commitment and belief that you can do it is the key.

As I was thinking about the Olympics and what type of “challenge” I could create at the studio it became clear to me that my clients are so individual that a single challenge simply wouldn’t serve you. I have had people working to meet a diverse set of challenges, to include:

  • Walking confidently on a sandy beach without knee pain.
  • Finishing the first 5k without pain.
  • Training smarter not harder by incorporating Pilates into a competitive figure skating regime.
  • Tackling a half marathon feeling great and with a great time in their age group.
  • Rehabbing injuries in order to complete an Ironman Triathlon at 40 and another, an Olympic Triathlon at 55.
  • Getting ready for the upcoming golf season.

Whether you want to get tuned up for the upcoming golf season or rebalance after your own Olympic weekend sledding with the kids Pilates and yoga can stretch, strengthen and up your game or provide a great foundation and cross training for all of the above goals.

My challenge for you as the 2014 Winter Olympics get underway is this; Put words to the Olympic accomplishment you want to achieve this year. Think big, put it in the comments and let me know how I can help you create your plan, set your milestones and help you on your journey to achieve your “Olympic” size dreams.