At only 27 years old, Christen Press has quite the athletic career under her belt. Playing for the US Women's National Team as well as the Chicago Red Stars, she's already attended the 2012 Olympics and scored major points playing in the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. She's on a year-round schedule with very little off season, going from her club team to the national team, traveling for games, and always on the go. Now, Christen is heading with Team USA to Rio for the 2016 Summer Olympic games, and she's more prepared than ever — and that's not just because of training!
When we talked to Christen, we naturally wanted to know how one prepares for the Olympics — both in terms of physical conditioning and mental prep. The stress and pressure that comes with the Olympics is not for the faint of heart! So we asked her, "What's your secret?"
While she does train year-round with speed training, endurance, and muscle building, she told us her key to staying balanced and stress-free is yoga. "Yoga has been so important to me as an athlete for the last two years; it has kept me healthy physically and mentally," she said. "It's a daily discipline, year-round . . . even if it's 20 minutes, right when I get off an airplane."
She mentioned that her time meditating and practicing yoga is the most "different type of exercise" that she does, between running, lifting, and playing soccer. "It brings me back to myself, no matter what the surrounding conditions are or current environment is; I can take it with me everywhere I go." Christen really does practice everywhere she goes! She loves CorePower Yoga, because "I can do it anywhere I am in the country. . . . We're traveling and we have games all over, so I can always find a studio. "
"Yoga has been so important to me as an athlete. . . . It has kept me healthy physically and mentally."
Speaking to the pressure of her games and everything that comes with being an Olympian, she noted that yoga does more for her than balance her workout routine. "I really do believe that it's more than exercise. . . . It's a medication. I really feel grounded and stable when I do it. It's helpful to get rid of a lot of the pressure before games."
And that pressure is magnified in Rio. She mentioned that this week is particularly important for her preparation for the Olympic Games. She's at home in California to recharge, physically and mentally. "It's central for all of us to get back in touch with the things that made us who we are," she said. "It's going to be a really tough stretch of time physically and mentally, so I think that an important part of preparation is relaxation, recovery, good friends, good people, family."
By recharging and doing "a lot of yoga, always," Christen said she'll be more ready than ever. "In two days, I'll leave for training camp and sort of just snap right back into exactly what we were doing, but at the most amped-up level."
It's a concept we can apply to our everyday lives and our own stresses. Christen said by getting "a little R&R, hopefully when you jump back into it you can reach a little bit higher because you're so much more grounded."
And Christen practices (pun intended) what she preaches — she is totally grounded. When we asked her what she's most looking forward to at Rio, she said, "I'm excited to be my best self out there on the field . . . enjoy the games, enjoy the competition. My goal is to simply be my best self and help the team in any way I can."