Many people may see curling and think that the athletes don’t have to do much in the gym to prepare for the sport. In the past, that may have been true. But recently, curlers have started to realize that getting in shape and putting in hours at the gym can have a tremendous benefit when it comes to the sport.
NBC Olympics recently spoke with U.S. men’s curling team members John Shuster, John Landsteiner and Matt Hamilton and women’s team members Nina Roth and Aileen Geving about what they’re doing to prepare for PyeongChang.
John Shuster – men’s team skip
Typical workout: two hours at the gym, one hour at the curling club
“In the off-season we have up to four strength days a week, and two to three cardio days a week,” Shuster said. “So right now for me Monday, Wednesday, Friday are strength days for me, where there’s like 15 different things in there. There’s a dynamic warm-up, and then we actually do a lot of Olympic lifting, which is kind of different, and then we do some gains stuff in July.
“During the season it’s just trying to make sure you have that stability, flexibility, it’s a lot of that kind of work. We do a lot of interval work because it’s good for sweeping, because sweeping kind of is intervals. You can sweep for 15 to 25 seconds, and then you have 40 seconds off, then you’ll be sweeping for another 15, so we do a fair amount of intervals too.”
Is your workout routine typical throughout the sport?
“No, I think actually that people who did work out prior to this Olympics, the last Olympic cycle, were the outliers. And now that’s where the biggest change has been. To be part of the national team that’s something you have to be into. And I got cut from the national team in 2014. That first combine we had, I literally got cut. I was like ok, if these people are going to be putting the work in and making changes then that’s something I need to do because this is something I still want to be part of. And luckily I found three other guys that had similar commitment levels and the next year … that was maybe our best year as a team, we actually won the national championship and went on to the world championships, and then we’ve just grown from there.”
John Landsteiner – men’s team lead
“Wake up, go for a jog or run outside in summer, lift weights if its weight day. Shower up and head to work. Work, work, work. Come home. Workout if I didn't do that in the morning. Wife works until 6:00 p.m. most nights, so I try my best to get supper started for her. We just started a workout together, so we are trying to do a 30 minute high intensity cardio workout when she gets home, so my workout times vary quite a lot.
“In winter, wake up, bike on my stationary some mornings, shower up, go to work. Work, work, work. Walk from my office to the curling club via downtown skyways (best part about where we live for curling reasons). Practice for an hour or so. Walk to work and continue. Go home and start cooking. If we have league, I usually don't go home. I just stay at the club until our game. The days get long on league nights for sure.”
What’s the toughest part about training?
“For me, I have to really focus on what the goals are and remind myself what I need to do to meet them. I use fitness trackers and dietary trackers, etc. Since I am training very independently, this is how I keep myself in check as much as possible. I don't have a lot of opportunities for personal training since my schedule is very busy. My work requires a lot of my time and energy, both at home and when we are on the road. I am sometimes always working… That much of my training is by myself and self-motivated. I don't have personal trainers with my lifestyle. If I had a part time job and 4-6 hours per day to commit to that part of training, that would be great.
Matt Hamilton – men’s team second
Typical workout - Work out during a lunch break at work and during the winter months with ice, will go to the curling club and either play league or throw stones.
What sorts of training do you do?
“Every time our program goes to the Olympic training center our fitness trainer puts together a week of grueling activities… battle ropes, they are super hard but also fun.
“I like cross training in the summer by playing different sports. The traditional gym and jogging isn’t my favorite way to get and stay in shape. I like playing golf, tennis, frisbee, spike ball and other games that can help me stay limber and strong.”
What motivates you to train hard?
“You gotta keep your eyes on the prize and that’s not only competing in the Olympics but performing well and winning a medal… whenever you are not training, there is probably someone out there training hard to beat you and that is never ending.”
Nina Roth – women’s team skip
Typical workout – two hours practice. One-and-a-half hours in the gym, 15-30 minutes mental.
“Gym time in the morning. Usually my teammate Becca and I will go to the gym for strength training for 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours, grab lunch and head to the Madison Curling club around noon and a couple hours practice. A few days a week we are back at the club at night for a league game.”
What’s something outside of the gym that’s important for you to prepare?
“Getting sleep is very important for me to recharge. Mixing up work outs so I don't get bored. I also watch motivational videos or listen to music that motivates me.”
Aileen Geving – women’s team second
Typical workout - three hours in season
“Get up, go to the gym for an hour and a half of cardio or strength training. Go to work for eight hours with a one hour lunch break where I will go to the curling club and do a half hour practice. After work, Curling League games or time with family on days I don't have league games. Some days I have a hard time waking up and will do a workout after work and sleep in.”
“I love to run with my dog or do strength training.”
What motivates you to keep working out?
“It really is a lot of work with little acknowledgement. So much is just expected that it is not rewarded outwardly. You have to find intrinsic motivation and feel good that you are doing everything to better you.”
NBC’s Julia Grassie provided reporting for this story.