Azzi's Fitness Forum
Q&A with Tina Thompson

By Jennifer Azzi

Comets forward Tina Thompson has accolades to take up this entire page and more. A six-time WNBA All-Star, and WNBA Champion, Tina is one of the best shooters and most skilled players in the game. In my brief opportunity to play with Tina on the National Team, I gained even more respect for her winning mentality and the kind of positive teammate she was. What I cannot believe is how fast she has come back from having a baby this past May! It was exciting to talk with Tina about her inspirational road back to the WNBA.

Tina Thompson, Houston Comets
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images
J.A.: How did you come back so fast after having a baby?

T.T. "I think the state of my body before the pregnancy helped a lot. I really did not have bad morning sickness and everything went so well. I ate whenever I was hungry since my metabolism was so high. My actual comeback was really pretty remedial. For the first two weeks after the birth of my son, I would just walk on the treadmill everyday. My body told me when I was ready to do more. So, I started to add 5 minutes more of walking everyday. I would gradually increase the incline, and the better I felt, the faster I went and I added more time. I finally started to run intervals during my workouts. I would walk and then do 15 to 30 second sprints. I did maybe 5 sprints to start and I rested about a minute in between each one. I steadily got better and my legs felt stronger. When I returned to the court, I was able to get close to my comfort zone, but this was certainly a gradual process."

J.A.: How do you feel now?

"Having a baby gives you a much higher pain tolerance. I am much stronger now. Your body goes through all kinds of changes. If you can give birth, you can do anything!"

J.A.: In general, how important has conditioning been for your career?

"It was very important until my pregnancy. I did not workout too much during that time. During other off seasons, I never let myself get out of shape, so when it was time to go, I could take it up a notch without it being too hard. I never let myself de-condition."

J.A.: What do you do for cardiovascular workouts?

"I love the elliptical machine. I never do just one level. I always do a workout that is changing. I do a latter workout. I warm-up on level 6 for 5 minutes and every minute after that I go up a level to level 10, then I work my way back down. Change and variety are great in a workout. After the workout, I always cool down for a few minutes."

J.A.: What is your weight routine like?

"I lift about three times a week. I go for stability and endurance so I lift a higher number of reps rather than lifting a lot of heavy weight. I tend to get tight, so lifting like this works well for me. Plus, I stretch a lot to maintain flexibility."

J.A.: Do you have any advice to share?

"My mom just started working out. She had started feeling uncomfortable and knew it was time to make a change. I told her 'Mom, you used to be active, so maybe that's why you feel like this.' After I had my baby, I started eating right and my Mom did too. Even when I slacked off, she kept it up. She has had five kids and never had "me" time. Now, she gets on the treadmill and she is so committed and dedicated to working out. Sometimes she does two-a-days! I think 'Mom, wow!' The change seemed to happen overnight. If people just get up a little earlier and go workout even 30 minutes a day makes a huge difference. It does not have to be an all out professional workout, anything can make a big change."

J.A.: Do you have any motivational tips?

"Each person is different. Not everyone is going to run a marathon. A small daily effort can take you so far. You gain so much confidence in just making yourself do it 3 to 4 times. You can condition yourself to exercise even when you may not want to. Stop complaining and make it a routine, a part of each day. You may not enjoy it. I don't enjoy lifting weights, but I see the results. If you know the rewards, that gets you through sometimes. You can do it!"

Both Tina and her Mom, Lady Thompson, are inspirational for all of us. The excitement in Tina's voice talking about her Mom working out reinforced how much we motivate and get motivated by the people who are right around us. Try to surround yourself with positive people who are also trying to make positive changes. It can be contagious.

Remember Tina's advice. The change is gradual, but you have to dedicate yourself to exercising a few times even when you may not want to so that you can make it a habit. Start where you are and go for it! The rewards are amazing.