Work Out Like: A Figure Skater

The U.S. Figure Skating Championships, held in Boston in January, will decide the Olympic team.

Ross Miner in action. Photo provided.

Ross Miner in action. Photo provided.

When Watertown resident and Vermont native, Ross Miner, takes to the ice at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the TD Garden in January, he will be amongst almost two dozen other competitors, all vying for only two available spots on the Olympic team. The Winter Games takes place the following month in Sochi, Russia, and the team will be finalized at the event in Boston. If Miner were a gambling man, he’d know the odds are not in his favor.

Miner put on his first pair of skates at age two (like many Vermonters, putting on skates at an early age is like learning to swim, he says) and if you ask him about the competition to make the team, he’ll give you the standard press answer, “I’m focusing on training for myself and being as good as I can be, because in figure skating that is all you can control,” he says. “Only two make it.”

But he knows what’s really at stake, and that’s why he’s putting in 10 hour days on the ice and in the gym at the Skating Club of Boston on Soldiers Field Road.

“I am basically working out from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and then Saturday and Sundays I workout in the mornings but don’t skate,” Miner says. “I play golf on weekends. It’s really a privilege to train like this. Some days I’m like, ‘Ugh I have to get up and go to the gym at 6:30 a.m. and I don’t want to,’ but I’m incredibly lucky and super grateful.”

A day in the workout life of a figure skater:

6:30 a.m. Miner goes to the gym and does cardio on the arc trainer, which is easy on the shins and joints, for about 15 minutes. “Just to get the body going,” he says, “and then some balance work on the Bosu, like single leg lifts with flat side up, and then work on the foam rollers and do lunges and twists to work on ankle stability and balance.”

8 a.m. Miner hits the rink for his first skate session. “A program takes a lot out of you, like sprinting as hard as you can for both your long and short programs,” he says. “So it’s like sprinting for four and a half minutes and by the end you are pretty gassed.” Then, Miner takes a short break and performs either the long or short program (whichever he didn’t do first) and then another short break. Then comes the kicker: “I perform a third time, either the long or the short, whichever needs more work. So there’s incentive to do a good long program the first time around,” Miner says.

1 p.m. Back to the gym. “After the third program, I go straight to a workout class. We do different things designed specifically for skating training, like interval work. The exercises are not for time, but for reps,” Miner says. “The idea is to get them done well, like broad jumps, lunges, hurtles, and pushups. When skating, even when you are tired you also have to think about what you are doing. The mental and physical challenge is tiring.”

3 p.m. More gym time.  “I do Pilates; I’m a big fan,” Miner says. “I think it teaches you so much good stuff about core stability, which I the basis of any athletic movement.” Miner says that he is keeping his core strong so that the rest of his body can do what it needs to do. “All sports require core strength. I also do Gyrotonic. It’s a freer version of Pilates.”

With all of the work that Miner puts into his training, he isn’t about to ruin it with poor nutrition. “Skaters are healthy eaters; we don’t go for the McDonald’s too often,” he says. But he does have some food-related quirks. “I try to eat the same thing daily so I don’t get a stomach ache,” he says. That makes sense especially if you are about to perform in front of tens of thousands of people.

“I think that the most important thing about skating no matter what age you are is that you need to make sure that you’re always having fun doing it,” he says. “It’s too hard a sport to not have fun. You have to enjoy the process. Do I ever have a day when I don’t fall? Probably not, except during competition.”