When you’re given a two percent chance of survival — you lose both legs, your spleen and you undergo a kidney transplant — most people would just be happy to be alive.
But, that wasn’t enough for Paralympic bronze medalist and Dancing with the Stars runner-up, Amy Purdy. No, from the day she woke up in the hospital and knew she would survive her near-fatal battle with meningococcal meningitis, she was fighting to get back on the slopes, “Losing my legs was a sudden, life-changing event. It’s amazing how you can be healthy one day, and the next you’re sidelined by something microscopic that came out of nowhere.”
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“Having snowboarding — this sport I was so passionate about, was important for my recovery. It’s all I thought about when I was in the hospital — I didn’t want to just walk, I wanted to snowboard! That goal helped me focus on the future and gave me physical and mental goals to work toward.”
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And work toward them, she did. In the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Games, she took the bronze medal in the snowboard cross — the only double-amputee to compete in the event. Her feat inspired fans, and landed her on the set of Dancing with the Stars, “I never set out to inspire the world or to be known as ‘something’ — I set out to inspire myself and always focus on my passions.”
With the Paralympics and DWTS behind her, her focus has changed. For two years, her entire life revolved around improved athletic performance — mental, physical and emotional training. But with no specific competition to train for, she’s giving herself the freedom to focus on other goals. In October, she’ll be speaking on the World-Class Athlete: Achieving Excellence panel at the espnW Summit, she’ll be touring with Oprah’s “Life You Want Weekend” this fall and, in the next year, she’ll release a book on her life and a clothing line with Element Eden.
With a changed focus on life, came a changed focus on workouts. Maintenance and health are now the name of the game, and with Purdy’s hectic schedule, she’s learning to feel comfortable with short, body-weight workout routines. “I’ve found I don’t need a gym or fancy workout equipment — just my own body weight. When I’m traveling, I’ll wake up, do cardio at the gym if there is one — maybe spinning for about 35 minutes — then I’ll do squats, pushups, lunges and a handful of ab exercises. It comes down to using what I have. I always carry bands with me as well.”
Amy’s 12-minute workout
In fact, I’ve added a few of her favorite band exercises into this 12-minute workout that perfectly matches her 12-minute Spotify playlist.
0:00-2:00, Band bicycles
- Lie on your back, holding one long exercise band in each hand. Loop the center of each band around the ball of the same-side foot, and grasp both ends of each band in your hands. Hold your arms at your sides, your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle so your fists are above your torso. Keep your arms fixed. Start bicycling your legs, extending one as you draw the other up toward your chest. Keep your low back affixed to the ground and keep your core tight.
2:01-4:00, Walking lunges
- Warm up and tone your legs with a walking lunge. Remember to keep your weight centered between your legs, and the heel of your front foot down. Focus on maintaining your balance as you track your knees in line with your toes, preventing your knees from extending in front of your toes.
4:01-5:00, Band side steps
- Using a circular band, or tying a long band into a small-ish circle, position the band around your legs, just below your knees. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, with the band taut. Step your left leg out to the left, working laterally against the band, then step your right leg to meet it. Continue stepping to the left for 30 seconds, then reverse the exercise and step to the right.
- You can perform push-ups modified on your knees, or in full push-up position, balanced on your toes. Just remember to keep your core tight and your body in a straight line from head to toe.
- With your core tight and your weight centered over your heels, tip your hips back as if sitting down into a chair. Squat as low as you can while keeping your knees from extending in front of your toes, then reverse the movement and return to standing.
7:01-8:00, Band YTLs
- This is one of Amy Purdy’s favorite upper body band exercises. You can perform this exercise lying on your back or standing tall. Start with your arms fully extended in front of your body, holding the band in both hands, as if you were going to do a bench press. Start by drawing your arms up over your head as you pull your hands further apart, as if you were making a Y with your arms in the “YMCA” dance. Return to start. Next, draw your arms straight out to the sides, pulling the band taut across your chest, as if you were forming a T with your arms. Return to start. Finally, pull your elbows directly back to your body and rotate your palms so they’re facing each other. Pulling your shoulder blades together, rotate your forearms outward, until they form L’s (one normal and one backward) at the sides of your body. Return to start and continue cycling through the “YTL” movements.
8:01-9:00, Band side steps
- Repeat the band side steps exercise.
- You can perform the plank exercise on your knees or your toes. Focus on keeping your core tight and your body straight — don’t let your back sway or your hips creep upward as you hold the static exercise.
10:01-11:00, Band YTLs
- Repeat the band YTLs exercise.
11:01-12:00, Band oblique twists
- Sit on a mat with your knees bent, your heels on the ground. Hold a band between your hands, palms facing each other, elbows bent at a 90-degree angle, upper arms fixed at your side. Lean your torso back slightly, and keeping it tight, twist to the right as far as you can as you simultaneously pull your right hand toward the floor on the outside of your right hip. Return to center, immediately twisting to the left, pulling your left hand toward the floor on the outside of your left hip. Continue this twist-and-pull motion to each side.