Saturday, January 27, 2024

An Inside Look at Aryna Sabalenka's Personal Training: It's Not Complicated

Congratulations to Aryna Sabalenka, winner of the 2024 Australian Open. Coming into Melbourne as the defending champion and number two woman in the world, this is Aryna's second Grand Slam title. I describe her as one of my favorite players and I know others feel the same way. One reason might stem from her favorable profile in the Netflix series "Breaking Point." And the release of Season 2, Episode 1: The Curse offers a lesson for any and everyone. No tennis shoes required.

Season 2 begins with the first major of the year—the Australian Open 2023. Going into that tourney, Aryna had been a Grand Slam semi-finalist five times and a finalist once. Winning is hard enough. Carrying the desire she to prove her father right is a whole lot more. 

Sergey Sabalenka passed away suddenly in November 2019 at the age of 43. He told Aryna that she would win a Grand Slam before she was 25. Aryna, the eldest of two girls said, “I’m just trying to fight because my dad wanted me to be No.1. I’m doing it for him so that’s what is helping me to be strong right now."

Aryna turned 25 on May 5, 2023. The Aussie Open was the last Grand Slam event before that milestone birthday. Aryna fulfilled his prophesy when she defeated Donna Vekić 6-3, 6-2.  For Aryna, seeing her family name on the trophy and wall of fame was the honor she sought. Mission accomplished.

Start at minute 30:30 to 31:44 of Breaking Point.

In addition to intense training, continued high level competition, stretching and massage, Aryna's personal trainer Jason Stacy noted "we started working on her breathing. Breath control is emotional control. If you can just take a second, you lower your heart rate by how you're breathing, think more clearly, make better decisions." 

This practice, this focus is so simple. To me, it is so obvious, and yet it's such an important reminder. Time and again, I realize that what we need to do to stay healthy, focused, and on point really isn't that complex. My sense is that an entire market exists based on wanting it to be—but it's not.

Look to great athletes and listen to them for reassurance. For example, when asked: What do you think people would find most surprising about your wellness routine? Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs said, "No surprises, the rules are the same for everyone – eat well, sleep well, hydrate, stay active, remain positive and driven." Only thing worth adding might be to focus on breathing.

The word spirituality comes from the Latin, spiritus or breath. We have it in us to develop a healthy spirituality, which can lead to a living faith. A starting point is to bring intentionality—practice and purpose to our breathing. 

A warm congratulations to Aryna Sabalenka! I would love to hear how your practice of breath control paved the way for another Grand Slam title. Here's to many more.

photo credits
Aryna and her Dad
Number One

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