client: Lauren | personal trainer: Francesca Pucher, co-owner, Fitness 121 | location: Roseland, New Jersey

In search of progress. Lauren was just 13 years old when she first met Francesca Pucher, personal trainer and co-owner of Fitness 121 in Roseland, New Jersey. Lauren’s mom was working with Pucher and asked for some advice on how to help her daughter with her ice skating. She wondered if Lauren’s performance would improve if she incorporated some strength training into her weekly routine.

“Her mom asked, ‘Should I get her ankle weights?,’” Pucher recalls. “To which I responded, ‘Absolutely not. Why not bring her in and let me evaluate her and start her on a Pilates-based program?’”

Lauren had never worked with a trainer outside of group workouts and private sessions with her synchronized ice skating coach, but she began seeing Pucher in what would become a lifechanging partnership.

A perfect partnership. “Lauren’s initial goals were to improve her strength, nutrition and flexibility so she could be a better, stronger skater,” Pucher says. “We focused on the key elements that are important for a skater: arms, core and legs.”

To best serve her new client, Pucher began by doing some research on synchronized skating.

“I have a dance background, so when Lauren showed me some videos and brought me to some of her private skating lessons, I quickly became schooled on the art of the dance on ice,” she says. “And if there was something I didn’t understand, Lauren would explain the move. Then we could break it down and strengthen the areas she was having problems with.”

As Lauren’s strength improved, Pucher added in free weights. Heavy weight training isn’t necessary to improve performance in the sport, but they did work all major muscle groups. They also spent time working on her jumps and improving her squats so that she could sink into lower skating positions.

Competition-ready. Lauren’s dedication to and trust in her training program produced unexpected—and wonderful—results. When the two started working together, Lauen simply wanted to get stronger. But as time passed, it seemed like she was destined for greater accomplishments.

“Our work [yielded] great improvements in her skating performance, and the other coaches and I felt it would be an amazing opportunity for her to try out for the national team,” says Pucher.

Their instincts were right on.

“I think I was more excited than she was [when she made the team] because I have watched the work we did to get to this point.”

Attitude is everything. Pucher says that Lauren’s success is largely due to her work ethic and dedication to training.

“I have worked with athletes but none with as much drive, work ethic and passion as Lauren. When we first met, she was a little shy, but she did everything I asked and was always willing to learn more and do the necessary off ice work at home, like foam-rolling, stretching, icing, etc. She never complains, always smiles and has respect and appreciation for the work we do and the coaching I provide.”

Finally, Pucher points out that it’s important to consider a young athlete’s attitude when designing a structured training program.

“You really need to make sure that the athlete wants to start this program and is not forced into it by parents or coaches; if the athlete is not serious, it can be a challenge.” she says. “You also want to make sure that the client understands the work and time that go into a successful program. I am always up front with my athletes: In order for me to help them become better, they need to trust that what I’m saying is going to be great for them.”

As for Lauren, Pucher is eager to see where the future takes her.

“I am so proud to be a part of the journey with Lauren, and I look forward to our continued work in the future.”