If someone didn’t give you the address of Revolution Sport Conditioning, at 577 Richmond Street, you would probably walk right by it without even noticing the workout facility above the Saffron Road fashion store.
It might be a good thing though international figure skating stars Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are able to find the place for Friday and Sunday training sessions.
“You don’t know it’s up here. It’s kind of secret,” said Maria Mountain, owner of Revolution Sport.
The local trainer has been working with London’s figure skating darlings for about eight years and maybe coincidentally, or maybe not, around the time Virtue and Moir caught the world’s attention when they became the first Canadians to win the Junior World Championships in 2006.
Since then the ice dance pair’s career has skyrocketed with Olympic gold and top-spots at the World Figure Skating Championships. If you hadn’t heard they’ll be going for their third world title in March when the International Skating Union championships come to the Forest City.
Mountain gets the unsung gritty part of the sport. While the skating coaches get to revel in the glory given by fans for helping create a flawless and creative routine, Mountain gets her silent satisfaction by knowing Virtue and Moir have the energy to complete their dance.
“Let’s say we went out and ran 1,200-metres, so three 400-metre laps of the track, as fast as we could with a smile on our face the whole time, while carrying weights,” Mountain said, showing the physical and mental toughness of a figure skater.
Boxers get praised for their relentless training for months. Football and hockey players are heralded for their physique when they come back from the off-season. There’s a large group of people who don’t give respect to the athleticism of figure skaters and Mountain might be part of the reason for making an ice dancers job look easier than it actually is due to her tough workouts.
“Even though they look so comfortable on skates there’s still that instability, every action has an equal and opposite reaction,” Mountain said, tailoring her exercise sessions for Virtue and Moir to their dance routine at times. “One of the lifts this year (Virtue) is kind of on a shoulder stand on Scott. How do you train that? Well, we sort of talked to each other and came up with a way she can do a shoulder stand off a weight lifting bench and practice being in that position and breathing.”
The Ilderton Skating Club pair spends some of their time training in Canton, Michigan as well, but Mountain seems to always feel responsible for them.
When Virtue’s leg cramped up during the pair’s free dance performance at the 2013 Four Continents Championships in February causing the ice dancers to pause their routine, Mountain’s mind went quicker than Moir can do a triple flip-double loop — or even say it for that matter.
“We look at what’s changed? Was the warm up the same? Was the travel the same? What have we changed in your training? Is there a reason for it?” Mountain said. “I think a good coach will eternalize anything and think, ‘Is there something I could have done different?’”
With the international competition coming to Budweiser Gardens just around the corner, Virtue and Moir’s workout with their London trainer is expected to cool down.
Mountain is as excited as a proud parent to see her fitness buddies compete locally and sit with a hometown crowd, even if nobody else around her in the arena knows just how much help she’s given to Virtue and Moir on their quest for gold.
“I’m looking forward to it because I know they’ll do great, but I feel nervous and I feel like crying just thinking about it,” she said, adding it’s a happy anxiousness. “I know how much they work and know how much time they’ve put into it.”