Skip to main content

‘I usually do planks; if you get it right, your core really turns on. And it really helps if you do different types of planks.’Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Summer is no time to relax for Canada's best winter athletes, who are sweating hard with seven months to go before the Olympics in Sochi, Russia. We asked medal hopefuls to dish on their summer workout regimes and share their best exercise tips for our readers. This week: Kaetlyn Osmond.Like many Canadian teens, Kaetlyn Osmond will head to the mall this summer – only instead of goofing off at the food court, she'll be gliding and twirling around West Edmonton Mall's ice rink, her main training venue. The 17-year-old Canadian women's figure skating champion, who finished eighth at the World Championships this year after a breakthrough season, will be fine-tuning two new programs that she hopes will get her to her first Olympic Games. She'll also be improving her fitness off the ice, with weekly sessions of Pilates. But come the weekend, she says, she forgets about skating – which means Carrie Underwood tunes, hanging out poolside with friends and "being a normal teenager, I guess."

Focus: the core

"There's a lot of movement in skating. It's not just the legs where you need to be strong; the core keeps you balanced and upright and not collapsing at the end of jumps, and not losing your balance throughout the choreography. It really helps to have a strong core."

How I work it

"We were doing a lot of different core exercises, and then two years ago I started doing Pilates because it didn't only make my abs sore, it actually strengthened them and connected more to the rest of my body. I also have a very long history of getting injured, and we figured that Pilates is a good way to strengthen without the impact. It just worked really well for me. Even after a month I could see a difference on the ice."

My best exercise

"I usually do planks; if you get it right, your core really turns on. And it really helps if you do different types of planks. There's the classic plank-front where your stomach is over the floor, plank-sides where you're facing the wall, and then sometimes a plank-back. A plank-back is kind of like a plank-front, but your stomach is facing the ceiling, and you're pushing yourself up with your hands on the floor, and your legs are straight. That one doesn't only strengthen the core, it has a lot to do with shoulders and gluts. Depends on the day, but I usually hold them about a minute or so."

Good advice

"I think the main idea that both my trainer and my Pilates instructor agree with is you've got to keep breathing. A lot of people, I've noticed, when they do core exercises, they hold their breath. And it really doesn't help that way. You run out of steam, and you don't use your core in the right way when you're holding your breath."

How I know when my core is weak

"There are times on the ice when I just can't hold some positions as well, and my jumps go completely insane. I don't have the strength to stay upright and instead I go side to side, and when I land I collapse forward."

The bottom line

"During our competitions is when we're the most trained. And our job is to make it look effortless, and make it a show. So people do underestimate the amount of strength we have. Because we also have to be muscular but also look lean. You can't really have too much muscle to wear a dress like that."

This interview has been edited and condensed by