June 23, 2005

Jennifer Azzi's Fitness Forum: Tamika Catchings

If there is one player I wish I could have played with, it is Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings. Not only is she a great athlete, two-time all-star, but she knows the game inside and out. She will be among the best to have ever played the game. She plays with passion, intensity, and a great consideration for her teammates. She makes everyone around her better. Tamika has all of the skill in the world, but it is her work ethic that sets her apart.

J.A.: How does your fitness level help you on the court?

T.C.: "Obviously, if I was not in shape my performance would go down. You can't just get in shape right before the season. I work out a lot during the off-season to get ready. That way, I don't have to start at the bottom. I work to have a solid base."

What is your favorite cardiovascular workout?

"Swimming is my favorite. I like to do a lot in the pool. If I had to choose where I would do a 45-minute cardio workout, it would definitely be in the pool. I get more of a workout with low impact on my knees. After my knee surgery, I could not run, but in the pool I could run and jump. The pool workouts were crucial to my recovery."

What do you do in the pool?

"It varies. I sometimes do classes to have some organization. Or, I warm-up, run laps, and use the kick board and pull-buoy for a total body workout. I love it!"

What do you do for strength training?

"My strength training differs from the off-season to pre-season, and then in-season. In the off-season, I will lift weights 4 times each week, alternating upper and lower body. As it gets closer to the season, I taper down to let my body recuperate. You can't do the same thing all of the time, or you burn out. I think variety is good for your body. When it gets closer to the season and during the season, I lift my total body 3 times each week."

What do you do when you are not motivated to workout?

"I remember that if I don't do it, someone else will. I get motivated seeing other people, just regular people, out there exercising. When I see them, I tell myself, 'if they can do it, I can do it.' The ultimate motivation is seeing other people overcome obstacles and exercise. One lady at the gym, who was very overweight, totally changed her body. She took the initiative, had a plan, and got herself in shape. She looks amazing. Once I get ready (and put my workout clothes on), I'll do something. I end up pushing myself and I feel like I accomplished something, even if it was not as long as I had planned."

Do you have any tips for our fans?

"Don't make excuses. Make exercise a priority. If you want to do it, you will. I also think working out in the morning is best. I have a hard time with late practices. Plus, if you are working and you have had a bad day, or you are tired, it is easier to skip exercise at the end of the day. It is great to workout even at lunch. Get out walking, and take the stairs if you can. The little things make a big difference. When my brother started working, he had a hard time working out and balancing everything with his family, and his job. Then he started waking up early, running, and working out at the house, doing sit-ups and push-ups before the kids got up. After his workout, he gets the kids set for the day and goes to work. I respect that."

It was fun for me to talk with Tamika. I had no idea she worked out so much in the pool. Clearly her pool workouts have helped her fitness level!

Tamika and I share a similar motivation in seeing other people exercising. When I am having a tough time starting my workout, all I have to do is look out my window and see people running, walking, and biking. These people have no idea that they are speaking to me, saying "Come on! We're doing it, you can do it too!".

You can do anything you set your mind to. Talking care of your self is a top priority. You can swim, walk, jog, bike, hike, or whatever you choose to be active. Tamika and I are both encouraging all of you to go for it!

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