Olympic Snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler (One of the “Sexiest Women Alive”) Shares Favorite Off-Season Moves
Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of my new found (more) consistent workout habits. Like anyone who has climbed back on that horse, I deserve a pat on the back … and some fries. JUST KIDDING. Sort of.
But, when I hear about daily fitness regimens adopted by pro-athletes, I’m beyond humbled. Snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler, who took silver in Torino in 2006, spends much of the year “chasing” the snow from Aspen, CO to France, Norway, Japan, Russia and even the Southern Hemisphere’s Chile and Argentina during North America’s summer. When she’s off the mountain, she still needs to stay in shape and that’s when other forms of exercise come in.
Bleiler stays active in her beachy San Diego hub — surfing, road biking, mountain biking, stand-up paddle boarding, practicing yoga, hiking or running. Her trainer Paul Henicker creates “explosive” exercises that challenge every part of the body, emphasizing balance, coordination, strength and agility. “It’s really important to have all over strength (upper body, lower body and core) in snowboarding, not only for explosive power to spin, flip and get amplitude, but also for injury prevention,” she explains.
Here are 3 favorite moves she learned from Henicker:
1. Sumo Deadlift
This is great for strengthening your lower body and inner thighs, but also for opening up your hips and firing your shoulders and scapula. Start in a wide squat stance with your knees and feet pointed out. Place a dumbbell (Bleiler uses 20lbs) in between your legs, standing vertically. Bend your knees, grab the weight with two hands and explode up — lifting the weight upwards in your hands with your back straight — for a count of one, tilting your pelvis forward and your shoulder blades back. Then lower back down with your upper body straight and knees bent for a count of two.
*Do 3 sets of 10 reps.
2. Swiss Ball Roll Out
Start by balancing on all fours on two Swiss balls, your knees will be on one ball and your palms will be on the other. (If balancing on the two balls is too difficult, you can remove the ball from under your knees and stick with just balancing the ball under your hands.) Firing your abs, upper body and lower body, roll the balls away from you using both your upper body and lower body (upper body will push forward in front of you and lower body will push backward behind you) for a count of two. Then bring everything back the starting position for a count of two.
*Do 3 sets of 10 reps
3. Supine Lateral Ball Roll
Balance your back on a Swiss ball, so that your legs are at a 90-degree angle with feet on the floor. Extend your arms out to the sides and step your feet to the left and then the right, all the while keeping your hips square and even, letting your body — not the ball — do most of the moving. The further you walk out on each side, the harder the exercise will be.
*Do 3 sets of 5 reps on each side.
Give those the old Olympic try.
Meanwhile, one might imagine that Bleiler’s time is filled between working out and practicing, but she actually has a bunch of ambitious side projects (not including being nominated for Esquire’s “Sexiest Woman Alive” award).
She co-designs an outerwear, eye-wear, lifestyle and accessory line for Oakley, a sponsor. In July, a new collection of Signature Series goggles launched (above — $140). And, this fall, her fourth Gretchen Bleiler collection hits stores, including jackets lined with “mortho butterfly”-inspired liners, alluding to inner beauty. “The butterfly’s wings are iridescent and they reflect the most vivid blues,” she shares. “They supposedly have healing qualities, just a very magical ethereal vibe. Alexander McQueen worked with them as a concept actually.”
Obviously, fashion isn’t this athlete’s only priority. Her pieces are also informed by performance, fit and technology. “I see girls and women of all ages rocking all the different seasons on the mountain at this point all over the world; which is the best feeling!” the snowboarder says. “It’s so important for a woman to feel and look good on the mountain because that translates into how much fun [she has] and how well she does.”
Bleiler is also a big-time environmentalist, who launched an eco water carrier called Alex Bottle ($25) with her husband, ex-boarder Chris Hotell and created the 21-Day Reusable Challenge, which encourages people to ween themselves off “single serving plastic products” like water bottles and shopping bags. “I’ve seen the effects of climate change firsthand,” she says. “Not only does my livelihood depend on the snow, but I’m another person in this world whose actions are impacting our environment. If we all started to live a bit more consciously, it would really add up.”
More about the 21 Day Reusable Challenge.
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