After a long day, the last thing most people want to do is work out. (Unless you’re one of those unicorns who wakes up early to exercise at the crack of dawn.) And if you feel guilty about watching Netflix instead of lifting weights, it might be comforting to know that even Olympic athletes experience this struggle.
Ice dancing champ (and Canadian hero) Tessa Virtue recently stopped by the Chatelaine Kitchen with Sophie Grégoire Trudeau. Both women are ambassadors for FitSpirit, a non-profit organization that encourages teenage girls to stay active — since one in two girls will drop sports when they hit puberty.
The two chatted with Chatelaine about their favourite sports memories, the importance of self-care and what motivates them on those days when they just don’t want to be active.
On their favourite sports memories:
Tessa Virtue: I’d have to say the 2018 Olympic games, but that’s personal. We come from a rich history of amazing sports and athletes here in Canada and there’s been a long legacy before us that helped pave the way. And that’s why I grew up believing I could go to the Olympics and stand on the podium one day.
Sophie Grégoire Trudeau: [As a child] we lived in the countryside on a very steep hill and my father would push me down the hill with little plastic skis tied to my boots with just like, normal ropes. And I would fall on my face, full of snow and he would laugh. I have lots of athletes in my family and they showed me how to waterski — slalom, barefoot — all that stuff. So pushing the limits of my body at a young age helped me have confidence in what I could do later.
On how the physical confidence you get through sports translates to other parts of your life:
T: I think that physical confidence transcends to all facets of your life. When you have a sense of yourself in space, in your movement, in your muscles, you can express yourself through your body, your instrument. You learn so much about who you are and what your truth is.
S: Physical exercise and sport is not just about sport; it’s about self-care and self-care is a gift for life.
T: And isn’t that the first thing to go when you’re facing the pressures of life and these demands?
S: And you always feel better after exercising!
T: There’s something about knowing you’re worth it. You’re worth the time to invest in that self-care and exercising. And I think sometimes we need those reminders.
On how to motivate yourself to get moving:
T: I always had this sense going into the rink, I knew I would be in pain training because it’s not easy and it’s gruelling. But I always thought, how do I want to feel when I walk out the doors of the arena today? I want to be proud of myself, I want to know that I didn’t give up that I want to know that I gave it my all, that I tested my limits and capabilities. I try to apply that even now. It’s a little different for me because I’m not in a regular training structure, but I know that I’ll feel better if I’ve worked out or just moved a little bit.
S: I try to, I don’t want to say, kick myself in the butt, but when I’m tired, the kids are driving me crazy, I don’t have time, I’ll be patient with myself. I’ll say, I don’t have an hour to go for a long walk, but I do have 20 minutes. It’s going to be 20 minutes because that’s what I can allow myself to do today. It’s fine. There will be other times that you have more time. So I try to take the guilt aspect away from it.
T: You’re never going to regret working out or being active. You might regret not doing it, you might regret pressing that snooze button, but you’ll never regret getting physically active.
On how Tessa’s working out now that she’s training for the Olympics:
T: I’m on the road a lot, I’m traveling, and I’m trying to take different classes. So cycling, boxing, pilates. I did a dance class in New York the other week, which was actually a little disheartening because I realized that I lost a lot of what I thought I was able to do on the dance floor. So I’m just trying to get to know this version of my body. I’m never going to be in Olympic shape again and I don’t need to be because I don’t have to compete at the Olympics, so getting to know this version of myself and accepting that fully is a challenging, yet really rewarding process.
How would you motivate young women to get active?
S: You can say whatever you want, but kids feed off our actions. I’m a little bit intrepid when it comes to sport. I like to try new things. And sometimes they’ll be like, “oh my gosh, we can’t do that mom” and I’ll be like, “who says we can’t do that, let’s try it!” But I listen to what they like. Ella Grace  loves gymnastics and dancing and she likes to move in different ways than I do and that’s okay, that’s fine. All my children ski now, they don’t have a choice. They have to join mom and dad on the ski hill.
T: I’m joining in on those lessons soon!
On the most important message teenage girls need to hear when it comes to sticking with a sport:
T: There really are no limits to what we can accomplish and what we can pursue and if we love something and we dream big, cheesy as it sounds, why not pursue it?
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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