Fitness for Life: Golden Girl – @AmyWilliamsMBE
Amy Williams became Britain’s first solo Winter Olympic champion in 30 years (and the first by a woman in 58 years), when she won gold in the Skeleton at the 2010 Vancouver Winter games. Later in 2010, Amy was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours as well as being installed as an Honorary Freeman of the City of Bath.
Having retired from the sport in 2012, she has since been a regular on our TV screens, presenting Ski Sunday and The Gadget Show from 2014-16. In 2018, Amy will also be spearheading the BBC’s Winter Olympics coverage in Pyeonchang, South Korea and talks to us exclusively about her dedication to the sport, setting goals to achieve your fitness targets as well as getting back into shape since having her son Oscar in March 2017.
The last time we spoke you had just won your gold medal in Vancouver and had been projected overnight into the public eye. You will be covering the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea in February. Are you at all envious of those taking part?
It’s always an incredible experience being at an Olympic Games. In Sochi 2014 I was commenting with BBC Sport and it was very emotional as I really wanted to be competing, and believed I could have medalled again. However I retired because I couldn’t put up with the pain I was in & my ongoing injuries. It was there 4 years after Vancouver when it really hit me that every athlete there was after a Gold medal and that I was lucky enough to have one. It was very emotional and I’m sure PyeongChang will be no different!
When you look back at 16 sessions of training a week, 40 weeks of the year, what kept you motivated?
Ultimately it was the constant internal drive I had inside of me to always be the best athlete I could be. I would strive to improve every day, in even the tiniest way, and every day mounts up until you’re reaching personal bests in either an exercise in the gym, or sprinting on the track or then on the ice.
For anyone who is starting a new fitness regime in the New Year, how do you keep the motivation?
First thing is to set a goal – figure out exactly what you want to achieve and when by, but keep it realistic, and write it down as a constant reminder. Then work out step to step mini goals each day and each week so you can keep on track.
If you can buddy up with a friend and work together then it will be easier as you can encourage each other!
I know you kept a diary when you were training, did you find this beneficial, especially if you were injured?
Yes I really believe when you write things down you can see how far you have come and how much you have improved. When you’re injured you are in a negative place especially when you see other athletes around you training hard, so having these notes to look back on does really help.
So do smaller, more achievable goals become important?
Having achievable goals are important as they need to be realistic for you to aim for. You want to have a big end goal such as doing a half marathon or doing a triathlon and have that date in the diary. Then you need to work backwards and break it down into monthly, weekly and daily goals. The tiny ones all add up and before you know it you are completing your challenge.
Since retiring in 2012 you’ve been very busy with presenting, and being an ambassador for the Youth Olympics (to name a few).
How important is it to get children into a healthy lifestyle early in life?
For me it is so important to have a healthy lifestyle, whether that is spending time outside playing in a garden or park or going for walk each weekend. Sport is also such a great way to teach children life skills, such as how to respect one another, discipline, challenging yourself and working as a team, as well as keeping health and fit.
If you could become Sports Minister, what would you change or implement to create a much healthier Britain?
I would make all sports centres in every town & city offer a wider range of facilities and be much more affordable, with free child care to make it easier for parents to keep fit. I would also ensure they had partnerships with local schools with dedicated sessions 2-3 times a week to help children to stay active.
Having recently had your first child (congratulations), how easy/ difficult was it to get back into shape?
It’s been a slow process, and I had a lot of healing to do post birth so I had to take it very steady to begin with. In the first 6 weeks I walked every day, even if it was just to the end of the road, then I increased this to 30/60mins a day. Then from about week 10 post birth I started to jog a little and do some simple core exercises and pelvic floor. When Oscar was about 5 months old I joined a baby bootcamp class where I could bring him along with me and it was tailored for new mums, and I now do HIIT style of sessions which I try and do a few times a week.
What tips do you have for any new mothers out there?
Not to rush things and you need to listen to your body and do what feels right for you. Some weeks I have felt great and I’ve managed a few walks, a jog and a few classes, but other weeks I’ve been working lots and have been up a lot in the night with Oscar and I have had no energy to do anything!
Also remember not to compare yourself to others – it takes nine months to grow a child so you can’t expect to get back into your original shape much before this too.
We are looking forward to seeing you our TV’s again soon. Along with the Olympics, what else do you have planned for 2018?
I will be part of the BBC commentating team for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in Feb 2018, which I’m getting very excited about as we have a lot of medal hopes this year, and there are lots of other exciting projects in the pipeline so watch this space!