From YouTube ab workouts to home cooking

Anyone who’s tuned into Dancing on Ice over the last seven years will know the remarkable talent that is professional skater Vanessa Bauer. She has a winning mindset and dedicates herself to the show, training as hard as she can both on and off the ice.This year she’s partnered with Made In Chelsea’s Miles Nazire. And he’s got some big skates to fill with Vanessa, considering she has won the show once, and been runner-up pretty much every other series since.When Women’s Health catches up with her over Zoom, her excitement about the show and the people in it pours out of her as we chat. Especially when we asked her about Holly Willoughby and her new co-host Stephen Mulhern. For anyone not clued up on the show, the rumours were running rife over Christmas that Holly wouldn’t be coming back to this series after a tough time in the spotlight last year.Thankfully though she did and Vanessa is overjoyed. ‘Holly is such a big part of the show so it’s great to have her,’ she tells Women’s Health. ‘She’s such a ray of sunshine, I love it. And it’s a good dynamic with Stephen Mulhern too!’The German-born ice skater tells us she can spend as much as eight hours on the ice training when the show is on. And she works hard to maintain that level of fitness throughout the year. But after giving herself gruelling schedules when she was younger, she’s learnt consistency is key.’I used to be very specific with a fitness program before a new series of Dancing On Ice to look and feel fit for the show,’ Vanessa, 27, tells us. ‘But in the last three years, my body has settled into a state of being in a fit and physically strong state the whole year round.’I used to go to the gym every single day but that’s not sustainable”I’ve proven to myself it’s all about consistency and not driving into crash courses, diet plans or workout plans. I have a very healthy routine.’The self-confessed former gym bunny now makes sure she has a good balance in her life of workout days and rest days to keep her body strong and lean. So how can we replicate her lovely balanced approach to looking after the body?Here Vanessa tells us how she built her body.She doesn’t work out obsessivelyVanessa admits that when she started on Dancing on Ice, and even before that as a show ice skater, she would get obsessive about her exercise. Spending hours in the gym or running and monitoring her progress on tracking devices.But now she’s learnt that that’s not the best way for her body to get fit. ‘I used to go running a lot, kind of obsessively but I’ve realised that less is more and I can’t emphasise that enough. It’s all about being consistent with your daily food and exercise habits and finding a way to be able to incorporate that healthy lifestyle into your everyday routine rather than crashing something.’I also used to go to the gym every single day but that’s not sustainable and you’re not having the rest days your body needs. If you’re not having rest days your body is in a constant state of inflammation and that’s counterproductive to the fitness journey so those rest days are equally as important.’She mixes up the cardioThe workouts Vanessa now does when she’s not on the ice are a big fun mixed bag of what she loves doing, including getting in the pool or finding time to stretch out on a yoga mat.’I’m a personal trainer as well, I have my licence, so I’m very interested in all different types of sports and workout routines,’ she continues. ‘I do a bit of everything. I like to swim two times a week for half an hour, I run a few times a week, go to yoga classes and love to walk as much as I can.’The swimming for Vanessa isn’t just about fitness, though. It’s how she relaxes. ‘In the pool, I do lengths of breaststroke and I try to get into a meditative state otherwise I get bored.’People underestimate the power of training your lungs”I follow a breathing rhythm where I inhale for three and exhale for three, I follow that for about five minutes and then I’m in a meditation where I don’t have to think about my breathing or my swimming. It’s the perfect cardio and mind workout.’It’s also hugely beneficial to her skills on the ice. ‘People underestimate the power of training your lungs so I’m following the breathwork because that energises my body. The heat you generate whilst breathing properly is immensely powerful so I always try to incorporate that in my swimming.’Running is another way Vanessa tries to zone out of her busy life. ‘When I’m running I also go into a meditative state. A run for me needs to be at least half an hour, but no longer than 40 minutes. During Covid when I couldn’t skate I ran every day because it helped me stay calm, it was my escape.’She consistently resistance and strength trainsTo keep her strength on the ice as a skater and a dancer Vanessa knows that she needs to target certain muscles in her body – predominantly the abs and the glutes. And surprisingly it’s really simple how she does it.’I do a ten-minute ab workout every other day and it’s just a workout I follow on YouTube at home or in the gym. Pamela Reif’s ten-minute ab workout is more than enough if you want to engage the ab muscles. Some people do a whole hour on their abs but I struggle to do the ten minutes! It’s fun and kind of addictive.’I do another ten-minute butt workout also on YouTube. I’ve tried doing it in the gym on the machines but I like to follow a video, it’s more fun.’It’s so important to activate the glute muscles, it’s the biggest muscle in the human body and holds everything together. If I don’t work on my glutes I can feel it, especially in my back. So working on the glutes is vital as well as giving me a perky, nice bum!’It’s a lot of glute bridges,’ she continues. ‘And lots of extensions, engaging the core and pulsing. I love doing all of these exercises.’Recently Vanessa has also added another resistance routine to her workout after suffering from some niggles in her shoulders. ‘I do a lot of shoulder work now using a band in the gym – lateral pulls. If one body part is out of alignment it’ll have a knock-on effect on so many parts of the body so it’s super important to strengthen all the muscles.’She has learned what works for her bodyOver the years, and through hours of training, Vanessa now has a firm grip on what does and doesn’t work for her body.’I used to weight train a lot but now tend to do more bodyweight workouts,’ she explains. ‘My body type tends to build muscles very quickly and I like to look leaner and slimmer rather than bulky, and that’s just a personal choice for me. Every body type reacts very differently to different workouts, and my body type pops up very quickly. So weights scare me a little bit!’I also used to do F45 but it got too much for me, it’s too much shouting and too much noise! And I get really hungry after, I have to eat about five meals. They’re good fun but too much for me.’She always spends time warming upAs with any pro athlete, they know all too well how important a good warm-up is. And whether it’s a quick jog around the park or an eight-hour day on the ice, Vanessa has a regular routine.’I run up and down, do some high knees and heels-to-butt runs and do a lot of stretching,’ she reveals. ‘I always have my band that I do my shoulder work with too so I get the shoulders engaged before I skate or exercise. Then I do about 10 – 20 squat jumps to get the blood pumping.’She focuses on her mind as much as her bodyAs well as being a fully certified PT, Vanessa has also qualified as a yoga teacher – something she signed up for before even trying a class! And now she’s a fully-fledged yoga addict, hunting down the best classes across London.’I love doing yoga classes. I have my certification myself, but before I did that I’d never attended a yoga class before. Now I’ve fallen in love with it.’For me, it’s for the mind aspect, rather than the workout aspect. I do a class twice a week, it balances everything and it’s a good stretch at the same time. Whenever I find a great class and teacher I try to stick with it. I go to TriYoga in London and do their Hatha Yoga and Yin Yoga classes. I’m trained in Ashtanga Yoga but that’s very physical and tough on the body, it’s a real workout. So I tend to do more Hatha Yoga which emphasises the breath work and balances out the body.’Nothing will beat the iceNo matter what workouts she does, however, for Vanessa, the number one best thing for her body and fitness is to skate.’I’m on the ice currently every day, and that is a workout in itself. I don’t think there’s anything that can replicate figure skating because it is an all-body workout.’Every muscle is engaged to allow you to dance on the ice and perform stunts whilst making it look effortless. People should give it a go! It’s an amazing workout, I love it.’She eats intuitivelyFuelling the body is just as important as any workouts or rest days. And for a skating pro, who spends hours burning calories all day, it’s finding the right fuel to keep you energised and feeling good.But Vanessa is the first to say that what she eats and what works for her isn’t going to be the right fit for everyone.’I’m a very intuitive eater and I don’t follow a strict diet plan. I have a coffee the moment I wake up, usually around 7 am. I add collagen to my coffee and a little bit of manuka honey. Then I have a green smoothie before I leave the house.’I normally don’t eat a meal until 1 pm and then I’ll have some sort of protein. I’m obsessed with salmon so I have that with a bit of rice or potatoes and veggies – tons of vegetables!’And if she can, she loves to cook – especially as it helps her to know what she’s putting in her body. ‘I roast veggies or have stir-fries. I love the process of buying fresh ingredients and cooking and I usually eat the same ingredients but cook them in different ways. I know my body and how my body will react to that food. It helps me to avoid getting bloated or feeling uncomfortable.’Vanessa likes to work out in the evenings if she’s not training on the ice, so she tends to eat dinner just before bed. ‘I eat late, about 10 pm. I like to go to bed with a full stomach. I get told it’s not good for you but it works for me. I know my body and what makes me feel good so I eat late and then go to bed!’ Watch Dancing on Ice every Sunday, 6:30pm, ITV 1

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