Tuesday, July 7, 2015

In the waters with Rosie MacLennan

We sat down with Olympic Gold Medalist, Rosie MacLennan, who also won a Gold Medal at the 2011 Pan Am Games In Guadalajara, Mexico, and will be competing at the Pan Am Games here in Toronto. She is currently pursuing a Masters in exercise science at the University of Toronto, and was the first athlete to carry the Torch for this year's Pan Am Games. 

What is your sport?
What do you love about it?
I love that it combines power, strength and beauty. Athletes need the power and strength to jump high, flip and twist quickly but, at the same time, make it look effortless. The other aspect I really love is that there are always new skills to learn, new routines and ways to challenge and push yourself.

If you could clear up one misconception about your sport, what would it be?
Because our sport is not as mainstream as others, I think it’s a matter of making it a little more relatable. The best thing to do is watch it live - it is quite spectacular! Each routine we do, we jump 18-25 feet in the air, we are rotating between 22 - 25 times and twisting about 8 - 14 times in each ten skill routine. One routine is equivalent to a 200m sprint. In baseball, a batter has 0.3 seconds to decide whether they hit the ball or not and they are deemed successful if they are right 30% of the time. In trampoline, we have the same amount of time, 0.3 seconds, to made decisions and adjustments for the next skill and we have to be correct 100% of the time or we fall.

How often are you training now in preparation for the Pan Am Games?
Right now I have 8 trampoline sessions per week, I have 2 strength and conditioning sessions in a gym, 2 pilates sessions, 1 physiotherapy session and 1 cardio session where I do intervals.

Can you tell us a bit about some of the social initiatives you are involved with?
I have had the chance to work with some pretty incredible organizations. My main focus has always been to get kids more active and enhance girls’ self confidence. I am incredibly proud to be a Jumpstart Ambassador, an organization that helps kids overcome barriers to getting involved in sport. I believe that sport plays a huge role in life, especially for kids as it teaches resilience, determination, physical literacy and also provides a healthy social outlet. I am really excited about some of the work they are doing now which will focus on addressing the drop out rates of girls between the ages of 13-19!

How do you stay balanced with the pressure of competition?
Going into competitions, especially major Games like the Pan Am Games can be incredibly stressful. There can be a lot of pressure and expectations from external sources. When I start to feel that pressure, the best thing I do is bring it back to the basic question of why I do it - why I jump on trampolines and that is because I love it. I love the day in, day out grind of working hard, sweating and pushing myself to be the best that I can be. I love working with my coach, my teammates and trainers to enhance the sport. We obviously have goals, I want to do well in competition and we are constantly striving for the best results possible but if you focus on that one final moment, you miss all the incredible moments leading up to it - the highs, the lows, the challenges and the lessons. Chase the dream but love the journey!

Proudest accomplishment?
I think the obvious answer to this question is when I stood on top of the podium in London but not necessarily for the reason that you might think. Was I incredibly proud to win? Absolutely but what that moment represented more was the journey that I took to get there. It represented 18 years of dedication and hard work, overcoming some really challenging obstacles and reaching a point where I was jumping better than I ever had before but more importantly where I was loving my sport more than I had ever before. The best part was the weekend before, I got to spend a few days with my best friends at my cottage and that reminded me that life wouldn’t really change no matter what happened in London - I would still be the same person. On the day of competition, I looked up and saw my family in the stands and saw the anchors in my life, those who have loved and supported me every step of the way and when I was jumping on the trampoline, I knew that I was living my dream and loving every second of it. I had nothing to lose in that moment.

Who is your role model or mentor?
I have a number of role models and mentors but the one who has influenced me the most in sport is my teammate Karen Cockburn. She is the one who changed my childhood dream into an actual goal when I watched her qualify for the first Olympics trampoline would be in. I watched her in the months leading up to the Games and then saw her stand on the podium- this was a girl from my gym! As a young girl, this was powerful because not only did I realize that my dream was a possibility, I saw what it actually took to get there. Through my entire career, even to this day, she has guided me, mentored me, given me incredible advice and supported me. There is no way I would be where I am today without her.

How do you unwind after a day of training?
On an ideal day, I love sitting outside with the people I love, chatting listening to music and snacking on yummy food. Most days it’s hanging with my roommate, boyfriend or just some relaxing on my own with a good snack and either some Netflix or a good book.

If you could have lunch with anyone, who would it be?
That’s a hard question! I know it should be someone famous or maybe someone profound- in that case I would maybe say Tich Nhat Hanh (a Buddhist Zen master who I have been reading recently). Honestly, I would probably say my family. I have two brothers and a sister (plus three in-laws and two beautiful nieces that they have brought into the family). The group of us are rarely in the same place at the same time since they are scattered along the west-coast but every time I see any of them, or all of them, I just feel happy, home and re-energized. Plus spending time with my two-year-old niece, Marlowe, makes life so fun, seeing the world through her eyes with incredible simplicity, curiosity and freedom. My family gives me a really great perspective on what is important and what makes me truly happy.

Tell us about your first experience with body blitz?
My first Body Blitz experience was incredible! I honestly did not know what to expect when I got to the spa but right from entering the building, the staff were incredibly friendly and helpful. I found the experience very relaxing. I went by myself so it gave me time to meditate, reflect and really just enjoy the peace and quiet while rejuvenating my (aching) muscles. I don’t often get time to myself so it was great to just be present in the moment and be very self-aware. Every part of the circuit brought a different feeling almost rotating between relaxing and invigorating. The smoothie was delicious too! I left after two cycles feeling the most relaxed and chilled out that I have ever felt and my body felt incredible. It was the first time in a long time that I felt fully recovered going into my next training session.

What is your favourite part of the water circuit and why?
For me it is hard to pinpoint my favourite part. As I was doing it, I really enjoyed the warm salt bath and the Epsom salt bath. They were really relaxing. In retrospect, I actually like the cold plunge pool as well because of the effect it had on my body. It really helped with the aching muscles and also left me feeling quite invigorated. Plus it was kind of like a challenge to see how long I could stay in for. 

We will be cheering her on here at body blitz! Good luck Rosie.

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