"I get very cranky and can't focus if I don't have snacks throughout the day," she says.
—and athleticism, Penny could become the best Canadian female swimmer of all time.
And every woman needs strong muscles to protect our joints, fire up our metabolism and carry out daily tasks—but we naturally lose muscle as we age, so strength-training exercises (which use free weights, machines or a person's own body weight to develop muscle strength) are essential for maintenance.
When Sonia is short on time, she pares her usual morning workout down to a plank, which works the core (key for good posture and balance) as well as the upper body and legs.
Toronto native Penny Oleksiak has stolen the spotlight at the Olympics with four—yes, four! Both parents are athletes, big brother Jamie Oleksiak plays defence for the Dallas Stars and older sister Hayley is competitive rower at Northeastern University. And she's already breaking records—until she won gold on August 11, only one other Canadian female swimmer had taken the top spot: Anne Ottenbrite, who won at the 1984 games in Los Angeles.
—swimming medals, including Canada's first gold of 2016. Jamie took to Twitter this past weekend to let the world know how proud and happy he is for his little sister. The Taekwondo dynamo will be heading to Rio to compete for Canada at the 2016 Olympic Games.
Penelope ‘Penny’ Oleksiak is the youngest member of Canada’s Olympic swimming squad, but before the Rio Games started she was probably the least known. Penny was only 15 years old during the Olympic trials when she qualified for a spot on the Canadian Olympic Team, making her the youngest Canadian athlete in Rio. When she expressed interest in swimming, Penny’s parents took her to the Toronto Swim Club to enroll in their competitive program. At 27 years old, Melissa Pagnotta has competed in Taekwondo for close to two decades, but 2016 will mark her first time repping Canada at the Olympic Games. Principal ballet dancer Sonia Rodriguez depends on her body for support, whether she's rehearsing in the studio, performing onstage or playing with her kids.All that changed when she earned four medals at Rio, a bronze for the 4x100 freestyle relay, a bronze for the 4s200 freestyle relay, a silver in the 100m butterfly race and a gold (Canada's first! And that qualifying swim was a record breaker: her 56.99 100m butterfly was 0.28 seconds faster than the previous record, held by teammate Katerine Savard. Penny didn’t start to swim until she was nine years old. But when she told her parents how much she enjoyed it, they encouraged her to compete. She just had to swim two laps around the pool at the University of Toronto—but she couldn’t do it. Primed for success, she’s had an award-laden career that includes a gold medal at the 2011 Pan Am Games and multiple podium visits last year: She snagged gold at the Pan Am Open and silver at the Grand Prix in Moscow. Melissa travels with an evil eye talisman, which is supposed to protect the wearer from harm (olympic.ca). She is the only Taekwondo athlete on Team Canada at the 2016 Olympics (insidetoronto.com). She tweets inspirational quotes such as "People with goals succeed because they know where they're going." (twitter.com/melissapagnotta). Both of her parents emigrated from Italy (olympic.ca). She shares her best advice for staying strong and healthy.Keep your fitness goals small and achievable Ballerinas spend hours a day working on their form and striving for perfection, but Sonia knows that perfection is achieved one detail at a time."You can't improve everything at once; it's impossible," she says. That's how you make improvements." For Sonia, that might mean spending one rehearsal day focusing just on maintaining a strong supporting leg.For the rest of us, it might mean concentrating on proper breathing during yoga or engaging our core during strength training.Strategize your snacking Sonia fuels her workouts with balanced snacks.