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Q&A with Martina Navratilova on Staying Fit

Posted on 07/24/2008 by | AARP Blog Author | Comments

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We talked to Martina while she was here at AARP promoting the latest findings from a Red Hat Society/AARP survey. See what she had to say about working out, staying fit and her best work out buddy!
Martina - AARP 5.jpg
What surprised you the most from the Red Hat Society study?
Nothing really surprised me about it. It is what I experienced throughout my tennis career. We all do better when we have support and friendship. On the tennis tour, most of the women have always been supportive of each other, and we needed that. Everybody does. Chris Evert and others have consoled me after a loss, and I’d console them after a bad day too. We women were always good at getting along. We spent a lot of time with each other, and I guess that’s part of it, but we also seem to have an instinct for nurturing within us.
How important do you believe the social aspect of group exercise is for women?
Group exercise is in many ways like a team sport. I always loved playing on a team because your teammates always try to find ways to make each other better. You bring the best out in each other. You build friendships too. As the old saying goes, there is no “I” in “team.” Like a team, classes provide camaraderie and support. A lot of people don’t stick with exercise because they never get into a group. They hop on a treadmill and get bored in a week or two. Nobody talks to them, and they don’t know how to work the any of the equipment. But a class offers opportunities to create new friendships, cheer each other on, and get fit in the process.
Who’s your best workout buddy?
Anyone with a positive attitude who will have a positive influence on me. How do you find that kind of person? You can tell a lot about people by the way they act and interact – how they carry themselves, how they’re dressed, or whether they look you in the eye during conversations. How they do they treat servers in restaurants? Do they deal with them like human beings or treat them as someone who is subservient to them? Are they compassionate? Are they respectful of other people? Can they admit their mistakes? Positive people are dependable, they make fitness fun, and, they are committed to good health as you are. They bring upbeat, inspiring energy to your efforts. And they make the best workout buddies.
What do you recommend folks do to keep up their work out routine?
To improve your health habits and get in better shape, physically and mentally, get support from friends, family, and others. Having a support system increases your motivation so that you try harder, and even get in shape faster. No matter what your fitness level or goals, support can take you to the next level. It’s the extra boost that can keep you going when you feel like giving up. It can restore your flow when you’re at a low ebb. And it can make the difference between success and failure. I guess the best thing about a support system is that you always have people on your side.
Get someone from your support team to be your workout partner. You will probably walk more briskly and farther when you walk with a friend than if you walk alone, and you will most likely have more fun. You are less likely to cop out and not do it. You have a scheduled commitment with someone. You do not want to let them down. You want to help them get better. There is a synergy that helps both of you strive for your best.
What motivates you to stay fit?
Performance. Not just on the tennis court or in the gym, but to enjoy life. I need to move, I need to think, I need to be on my toes. I also like to push the limits of my body while it is still capable of pushing the limits. All of this is what motivates me. I know that I can only do as well as what I put into my body. You cannot ask your body to perform and then not put good things into it. So it is what you eat, what you drink, as well as how you work out and how much rest you get. I do not want anything to hold me back from doing what I want to do.
AARP members love to walk to stay fit, are there any tips you have for our walkers out there?
Of course, walking is the best all-round exercise. The body is designed to walk. I love to walk on the beach for exercise. I encourage walkers to “break your own records.” For example, challenge yourself to walk farther each week, or outdo the distance you walk on the treadmill. To get camaraderie of group exercise, participate in a walking club, or start one in your neighborhood or at work. This gives you a great built-in support system to keep you going.

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