Full Court Fitness
When rookie NBA Oklahoma City Thunder Girl, Lauren, joined the Thunder Girls dance team, she thought she was in good shape.
Small and fit, she started attending One Healthy Bod in Edmond, the Thunder Girls’ gym of choice, a week before prep class for all the athletes on the Thunder Girls squad and then attended the twice a week workouts with the squad.
“I thought I was in shape, but these workouts were a wake-up call,” the Bartlesville native said. “It’s still hard for me, but I’m better at it. I’m not the fastest on the team, but I can definitely see a difference.”
On a Tuesday night, the dancers sprinted five laps around the One Healthy Bod gym before lining up to do jumping split lunges, sprints, burpees and push ups. On some days, they have to run a 7-minute mile before the workouts even begin.
Steve Clausen, owner and trainer at One Healthy Bod, said even the most dedicated CrossFit or bootcamp enthusiast would struggle to do the workouts the Thunder Girls do on a regular basis. He designed their 30-minute workouts to build strength and endurance, but said anyone looking to get fit like a Thunder Girl can modify the moves to fit their own fitness level.
“This is our ninth year training the Thunder Girls,” said Clausen. “We promote a healthy lifestyle, not being just ‘skinny.’ These workouts are very high intensity. The average person wouldn’t be able to make it through them. The weakest Thunder Girl is still in better shape than most people you find in bootcamp.”
With over 15 years of experience and a client list that includes the Oklahoma City Thunder Girls, Golden State Warrior Dance Team, University of Central Oklahoma Cheer and Pom and more, Clausen knows how to sculpt bodies into peak physical shape. He, along with Thunder Girl fellow trainer Jessica, help people break out of fitness frustrations and faddish dieting to instead rely on sensible nutritional guidelines and fitness programs specifically catered to the needs of each individual to help them attain their goals.
So what does a Thunder Girl workout look like and how can everyone else incorporate those exercises? It’s easier, and harder, than you would think.
MIXING IT UP
“The workouts incorporate a lot of different moves. We constantly mix it up,” Clausen said. “These girls dance full out for two minutes at a time at games, so stamina is important. We do a bootcamp-style workout that includes push ups, burpees, sit ups, plate pushes, you name it.”
Paige, dance team manager and choreographer, said the mix of cardio and muscle building helps challenge the girls to become stronger. “Steve changes the workouts all the time. Sometimes we are running outside, sometimes we work on core muscle groups,” Paige said. “The workouts condition the girls to get through the games. All the workouts are hard.”
Jessica, a trainer and senior member of the Thunder Girls squad, ripples with muscles as she does a hanging abdominal workout. Her favorite exercises involve speed and agility, but push ups are her least favorite. “We work out together as a team, and you push yourself because you don’t want to let the team down,” Jessica said.
Rachel said her workouts were brutally challenging at first, but now she looks forward to them. “Cardio is the most challenging for me,” she said. “Keeping your heart rate up… I have trouble with that. My favorites are mountain climbers though. But everything we do can be done at home because the moves are things like push ups, sit ups, burpees. I suggest giving yourself a goal and increasing that goal each week.”
WORK OUT LIKE A THUNDER GIRL
Although every workout is different, Clausen said most people can incorporate his workouts for their own fitness level. For instance, while the Thunder Girls are expected to full-on sprint a 7-minute mile, others can warm up by walking fast or jogging for a mile.
In the bootcamp-style workouts, the Thunder Girls do each exercise for a full minute before moving on to the next. From box jumps to sprints to plate pushes, the girls go through the whole series three times. “Instead of doing a full minute, maybe do 20 seconds,” Clausen said. “Then, the following week, add another five or 10 seconds.”
Clausen’s suggested circuits include burpees, push ups, mountain climbers, lunges, reverse bridges, jump rope, box jumps, plate pushes and more. “Adjust to your level, but push yourself each week to get better,” he said. “For cardio, hop on a treadmill for 30 minutes at a pace where you can carry on a conversation. You’re still working and burning fat and calories. The next week, add another five minutes. Like anything, you build upon it.”
But most of all, he said, have patience. “It’s hard for people to hear that,” he said. “You didn’t put that weight on overnight, and you’re not going to lose it overnight.” Lauren agreed. “We have two workouts a week and then two and a half-hour dance practice following it,” she said. “But everything we do can be done at home too.”
Women wishing for a challenge can enter the OHB Train Like a Thunder Girl contest during the month of February for a chance to win training sessions with the Thunder Girls. For more information, visit OHB at onehealthybod.com.