Jennifer Azzi's Fitness Forum
Q&A with All-Star Sue Bird

By Jennifer Azzi

Sue Bird is a winner. I could go on and on about how much success she has had--a three time WNBA All-Star, and one of six players to ever win an NCAA and WNBA Championship as well as an Olympic Gold Medal. There are so many impressive things about her career. In talking with Sue, however, what I respect the most is her continued motivation to improve her game and her fitness level. That is why she has been and will continue to be one of the best players in basketball.

Sue Bird, Seattle Storm
Jeff Reinking/NBAE/Getty Images
J.A.: How does your fitness level help your game?

S.B.: "It is the most important thing, especially for a point guard. You have the ball a lot, and have to play a lot of minutes. We also have to pick up full court which requires a lot of stamina to play with that kind of intensity."

What do you do for cardiovascular training to get in such great shape?

"I mostly play basketball to get ready for the season, but for fun I try everything. I like to roller-blade, and bike. For a more intense workout, I do 'spinning'. That is a great workout! Because of my knees, I need to do a lower impact workout to avoid the pounding. I also do the stair stepper. I had no idea how great of a workout that was!"

What do you do for strength training?

"We lifted a lot at UCONN, so I understand the importance of a strength program, and Dawn Staley told me that lifting weights is the key to longevity. In the off-season is when I really lift hard; it is tough to do during the season. For my upper body, I use weights, but for my lower body, I mostly use my own body weight. I have been doing static squats and lunges for a year now, and I feel great. I am in the best shape of my life this year. I have really benefited from this kind of training."

How do you get going when you are not motivated?

"I tell myself that some player out there is competing for my job and they are doing it. But, on a daily basis, it may be 10am and I have to workout. I think if I do it now, I will be so much happier at Noon. It can be hard to workout at times, especially if I am by myself, but I envision how I will feel when I am done. There is a real high after working out. I like that feeling."

Do you have any workout tips for fans?

"Find what works for you and stick with it. I know that sounds simple. Try new things and don't be scared. When I started doing squats, I hated it, but then I saw the benefit and that totally changed my thinking. Don't be afraid to try."

Sue's coach, Anne Donavan, has described her as "tough." I echo that description having played against Sue. In spite of her success, she improves each year. And this year in particular, it sounds like her conditioning has played a big part.

Along with Sue, I encourage you to try new workouts to find what you enjoy and be committed to working out. Exercise should be fun! If you are having a tough time getting going, think about how much better your day will be if you exercise.