A day in the life with Maia and Alex Shibutani


Depending on what time their first on-ice session begins, Maia and Alex wake up anywhere from 5 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. It takes them about 25 minutes to drive to the rink.

Typically, they train five days a week on the ice (Monday through Friday). On those days, they also do off-ice workouts. The siblings workout one day on the weekend and then have one day “off” to recover. On days that they skate, they usually arrive at the rink at 7 a.m. Depending on the time of year, they finish with our training anywhere between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Maia likes to have eggs and oatmeal for breakfast with green tea with lemon for alongside grapefruit juice or orange juice. She says she generally snacks several times during the day while she is skating instead of sitting down for a typical lunch. She always eats a Kashi chia bar. Other snacks will include Greek yogurt and different fruit (typically strawberries and a tangerine). While she may have green tea with her breakfast, in the afternoon she switches to chamomile or mint (no caffeine). She likes to have chicken breast or grilled salmon, with a salad and brown rice for dinner. If she wants to indulge with some dessert, she loves chocolate! Since her family loves food, she believes in being balanced. Instead of waiting and over-indulging all at once, she makes sure she has small portions of different foods that she likes. It’s totally mood dependent, she says.

For Alex, meals throughout the day might include oatmeal with dried fruit, a chia seed bar and water for breakfast. His favorite snack is cereal and he says he’ll have it at any time during the day. For lunch, he might have fruit or vegetable juice with a tuna fish or chicken sandwich and a salad. Like Maia, he says chicken breasts or grilled salmon with a salad, steamed vegetables, brown rice or pasta is a typical dinner. But, he says, he also really likes Asian food. Recently, he says he enjoyed going out to eat Korean food, such as barbeque, bibimbap, chap chae and duk bokgi. For dessert, he likes chocolate.

Ice dance is a discipline that requires a lot of work, the Shibutanis explain, because they are always looking to challenge themselves with something new and different. It is the integration of athleticism and artistry that makes it so challenging.

As a team, the duo works with a large group of coaches, choreographers, and advisors. Communication is key to successfully achieving their goals and making progress, they say, adding, when they train, one of their greatest strengths is making improvements and adjustments in real-time. They continued by saying that this leads to more efficient training and quicker progress since they are concretely aware of what they want to accomplish. Having a long-term vision helps them figure out what steps they need to take every day to make it happen.

The most grueling workout they’ve ever had is when they spent 10 to 12 hours in one day alternating between working on the ice and dancing on the floor. It was so intense, they say, because even if they took quick breaks and did their best to refuel, that is a long time to function at a high level both mentally and physically. It goes beyond being purely physical. The concentration, creativity, and attention to detail make it exhausting.

They try to sleep at least seven hours a night, and since their days are so busy, they generally don’t have time to nap.

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