Katarina Witt: That was “a fatal mistake”

“I delivered when it mattered and now I have my own timing and I can handle it well”: Former figure skater Katarina Witt (56) reveals in an interview with spot on news how she keeps fit. The two-time Olympic champion is now also the owner of a sports studio and explains how she experienced the pandemic.

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During the pandemic, many people were working from home, and the gyms were temporarily closed. What are the consequences?

Katarina Witt: Body weight went up during the Corona period, many people gained three to five kilos. There was also a great lack of movement among children and young people. New studies from America show that as adults we now sit eight and a half hours a day – and children ten and a half hours! That means they’re already building a lot less muscle than the generations before them. Pretty bad start for later! From the early 20s, muscle degeneration begins again – if you don’t actively counteract it. There really has to be a complete rethink here, sport has to start in early childhood. Movement also helps the children’s mental development because much more oxygen gets to the brain. As adults, we notice that too. If I have a performance or need special concentration, I always try to at least go jogging beforehand to get my brain going.

Does it get harder to shed excess pounds as you get older?

Witt: Yes, the metabolism is getting slower and slower. Losing weight is more work then than it was when I was 20. I was able to increase my sports quota for a short time and quickly lost a few kilos…

What is your advice for people in their 40s who are untrained but want to start exercising?

Witt: My advice is to hire a personal trainer or join a gym. I don’t think it’s that easy to just get started. If you are new to the sport, you should definitely seek advice. From the dentist to the hairdresser, there are professionals for everything, and the same should apply to sports. Beginners can first find out what suits their current physical condition and work out a suitable plan together with the trainer.

Has your gym got back to normal?

Witt: Yes. Of course, everyone is asked to continue to deal with the situation responsibly and, for example, to keep their distance. But my mission is: The sport must never be closed again.

What other lessons do you draw from the Corona period?

Witt: That it is more difficult to plan for the long term. Companies in particular are now being asked to react and respond to the situations even more. I would still wish for much more accommodation from the politicians. That they trust the entrepreneurs in this respect, and not just patronize them. It has been very difficult for the entire fitness industry. Closing it all down was a fatal mistake in my opinion. Without active sport there is basically no stable health. And you should have trusted the sports industry and not just lumped everything together and closed it completely. But I don’t think that will happen again.

Have you always lived healthily and consciously even after your active career?

Witt: When I was chair of the board of trustees for the 2018 Olympic bid, I was traveling all over the world for almost two years at a time. And I was always on the plane, had a lot of meetings and talks, which always involved food and often more than a glass of wine. I gained weight because the stress of my appointments prevented me from taking care of my health enough. It was a lesson for me that I’ve been handling this differently since then. Of course, today I’m a long way from my discipline at the time, as I was used to as a competitive athlete. And that’s okay with me too. I delivered when it mattered and now I have my own timing and I’m fine with it. Even if I no longer have the ideal dimensions. Other things are now more important. It’s important for me to be fit and to feel good. I go jogging regularly and at my gym I try to do my cardio, muscle and mobility training two to three times a week. Afterwards I always feel so good that it motivates me for the next time. As the saying goes, your fitness level determines your age. Well, I want to get older healthily and, as a role model, motivate many people to do the same.

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