Jennifer Azzi's Fitness Forum
Q&A with Sheri Sam

By Jennifer Azzi

Sheri Sam and I played together when she was just a rookie. I was 28 years old at the time. She made a bet with me that, by the time she was 28, she would be retired. Sheri thought I was "old." My how time flies! Sheri is now at the ripe old age of 32 and playing better than ever! I never got anything for winning our bet, but I am so proud of her spectacular career. I cherish the three years we were teammates. Sheri is one of the most skilled players I have ever played with. She credits a lot of her success in her "older" years to her dedication to working out. I believe women reach their athletic peak in their late thirties, so I still consider her young!

Sheri Sam,
W. Skalski/NBAE/Getty Images
J.A. How important is being fit?

S.S.: "As I get older in my career, it is everything. When I was younger, I just showed up and played, but now I have a foundation. I learned what to do and what not to do to stay healthy. And for life in general, I just feel better. Both aspects are important. High blood pressure runs in my family, as well as heart problems, so I know that I have to stay active."

How do you stay motivated to work out?

"I have a lot to keep me motivated, including family health history, and I just feel better when I workout. I like starting my day with a workout. But when I think about getting waived from Orlando, I know I what I have to do. I never want to be in that situation again."

What does your off-season training look like?

"For cardio, I like to mix it up. I do the elliptical and rowing machines. I will do 25 minutes on each machine. Sometimes I run, but I don't love the treadmill. I play a lot of pick-up basketball. I will play for 2-3 hours. There is nothing like being in basketball shape."

What about your weight or resistance training routine?

"I will do upper body one day, and lower body the next to break up my workouts. I use machines a lot for upper body. I can do more reps with lower weight and better form. If I am doing a heavier workout, I will use free weights."

Has anyone inspired you?

"Going back to playing with you and Sonja (Henning), I learned a lot from you guys. I knew what you both did and I learned from that. I may not have done it at the time, but I do it now."

Do you have any words of wisdom?

"Any little bit helps. If you are watching TV, you can do crunches. Any activity helps. Walk three blocks to the store. You don't have to be a gym rat. Most importantly, it is never too late to start. Getting in shape is a process. My mom used to get out of breath, and now she is walking for exercise. I am so proud of her!"

Talking with Sheri was like interviewing my little sister. Hearing that I had a positive impact on her career and her future is an honor. It is hard to imagine that Sheri was waived from a team and came back to make the WNBA All-Star Team! Credit that to her spirit and dedication to the game. And Sheri knows that nothing on the court can be accomplished without being in great shape. As Sheri said, "Any activity helps. It's never too late to start." Walk, bike, run, or whatever will inspire you to exercise. Go for it!