Turning up for a gym session with any athlete is a daunting task – you already know that they are super fit and that you will likely feel absolutely exhausted simply watching them train after just ten minutes.
Training with a driver is the same, except for some of the different specialist exercises they will use. As Tatiana told us during the session, ‘Every sports person is an athlete first and then they specialise in to their chosen fields’ a statement which proves that despite the cynicism motorsport can sometimes still face nowadays, the same athletic requirements are a must.
Arriving at Pro Performance, a company specialising in motorsport training and known throughout the racing world, it is clear that every athlete coming through these doors is walking in to the perfect arena to train; accompanied by a professional personal trainer, Tatiana’s session is suited to what she needs to achieve.
Over the next two hours Tatiana works through a variety of different routines designed to make sure that she targets the correct muscles required to drive a car. She tells us she will change her routine depending on when her next race is – if there is one upcoming that weekend, her workout will vary compared to if she has a few weeks away from the car. However it’s also clear that the trainers at Pro Performance are great in setting up a balanced and challenging workout during every session so that nothing becomes too easy or too standardised.
Starting with some cardio, spinning on the bike is where she begins as part of a light warm-up, followed by stretching before the circuit training begins in earnest.
Tatiana mentions after the workout that men have 30% more lean muscle naturally than women which inevitably gives them a starting advantage in the gym however she’s also keenly aware that her capabilities when it comes to stamina and multitasking can match and exceed those of her male counterparts; these skills are two massively important elements required to drive race cars at high speeds for long periods of time.
During the two hour session a variety of techniques are used. A batak style wall with flashing lights is lit-up like a Christmas tree and each light pod needs to be switched off – so it’s a test of speed and reaction. However these light pods are then placed on the floor in front of her while she maintains a solid plank position for a minute – all the while turning off the flashing lights in front of her.
Focusing on stamina, sprinting, rowing and even a game of catch is used while strength is targeted by rope pulling, ball throwing, pull ups and sit ups. The entire exercise sets are repeated in a circuit style of training which aims to work every possible muscle she will require while driving a car. A specific exercise that those familiar with motorsport may recognise is a weighted wheel set up in which the driver sits in a bucket seat and turns the weighted steering wheel from side to side. Repetition and control is the key here.
One thing that stands out about her training having watched over the course of the two hours is the commitment. Faced with a countdown of five seconds marking the end of the current challenge, a high percentage of people would exhale and relax when they hear that lower number – feeling that they could lift and coast to the end. Tatiana continues to push until the countdown is over, often running over the time limit as she focuses so intently on the training. It’s an impressive mind set to watch.
But maybe that’s what sets athletes apart – their commitment and passion to what they do sets their focus that little bit higher and pushes them to be better, fitter and faster than they previously had been.
To watch the video of Tatiana’s training session at Pro Performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AO8ti9-Bp5Q&feature=youtu.be