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It’s easy to assume that professional athletes know what they’re doing when it comes to keeping fit. Because they have a team of people to help them do that for a living.
Where they struggle is during retirement and they join the ranks of us mere mortals.
On the latest episode of Healthy-ish ‘How do we keep every generation fit and healthy?’, Matt Shirvington tells co-hosts Maz Compton and Dr Sam Hay about how he stays fit now that he’s no longer the fastest sprinter in Australia.
Shirvington represented Australia at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the 1998 and 2006 Commonwealth Games and seven world championships.
Since retiring, he’s had to pay attention to the way he trains.
“When I was a professional athlete all did was I got up in morning and thought, how do I get the most out of myself physically?” he says.
“My whole day was based around how can I get stronger, fitter, faster and then how can I recover to do it all again tomorrow?
“Since I’ve been retired, life’s gotten in the way. I’ve got three kids now, other work I’m doing and I’ve got to balance my time. I can’t get up in the morning and say, ‘Great, I’ve got three hours in the gym them I’m going to go to the track, then I’ve got yoga, then Pilates, then I’m going to have an ice bath and then I’m going to go to bed’, because that’s just not realistic.”
He now chooses fun activities that keep him motivated, mountain biking, surfing and skiing with the family.
He is also an F45 training ambassador.
“Any professional athlete will tell you at the end you have to train smart because the quantity just doesn’t allow you to back up the next day and go again,” he says.
“Things have become smarter in the fitness world, the offerings are far, far wider.
F45 is just one of those boutique offerings that has created a system where people can just walk in… they walk out 45 minutes later.
“It’s gone so quickly because they haven’t thought about it. They don’t need to choose an exercise or choose a machine or even choose a trainer, they just rock up, get it done and walk out.”
One of the best pieces of advice he got was from his physio about 12 months after he retired.
“I remember my physio saying to me, I hurt knee really badly. ‘You’re like a Ferrari at the moment, you’ve been serviced and fuelled up in a certain way for a certain amount of time so you can go out and race that Ferrari at any moment. You’re about to put it in the garage, you have to choose whether you’re going to take it out and service it and maintain it because if you want to go and race it, you’re going to break it.”
“It was a good way to think about it in that way. So if you understand that you probably won’t ever get the results you got out of that Olympic period, I’m okay with it.
“The difficulty is for those former professional athletes if you have a predisposition to putting on weight, you won’t be training as much as you used to so the only thing that’s going to happen is you’re going to continue putting on weight for a period of time.”
Want to hear more? Tune into episode 55 of Healthy-ish ‘How do we keep every generation fit and healthy?’. Listen above, at Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts from.