Lady Harlem Globetrotters Share Their Fitness Tips
By LILI LADAGA
The Harlem Globetrotters are a uniquely American institution, known around the world for their athleticism as well as their entertainment chops.
The ever-rotating team has been playing for crowds for more than 85 years, starting in 1926 as the Savoy Five. They've performed for a pope, a premier of China and were named America's Ambassadors of Goodwill in 1974 by President Gerald Ford.
The legendary roster has included some of the biggest names in basketball history, including Wilt Chamberlin and Magic Johnson. But a perhaps less well-known fact about the team is that 11 women have worn the Globetrotter jersey.
In 1985, Olympic basketball gold medalist Lynette Woodard made history when she became the first female member of the team, paving the way for the current female Globetrotters -- Fatima "TNT" Maddox, Tammy "T-Time" Brawner and Joyce "Sweet J" Ekworomadu.
These top athletes and entertainers shared their thoughts on being part of such an iconic group and tips for getting (and staying) fit and healthy.
OK, first, the nicknames. Where did those come from?
TNT: I got my nickname at training camp with the Globetrotters in 2011. I was an explosive player!
T-Time: I got my nickname at a young age. I would have moments where I would score 10 or 15 points in a row. When I would get "hot" like that, everyone would say, "Uh-oh, it's T-Time!"
Sweet J: I like to say that my nickname is twofold: The first reference is to my jump shot, or my "sweet J." The second reference is to me being a sweet person.
What are the challenges and benefits of being on what's historically been an all-male team?
TNT: It gives me the chance to not only tell girls, but also show them that we can accomplish great things with hard work and confidence in ourselves.
T-Time: The benefits are that I am able to inspire, break down gender barriers and advocate for women all over the world. As an athlete in general, I think that the challenge is always to improve and get better. So for me, the only challenges are the personal ones that require me to compete against the person in the mirror.
Sweet J: One of the benefits is the uniqueness of our role. We're a part of history and can act as inspiration for other females and little girls that want to succeed in a male-dominated industry. One challenge is that even though there are currently three females on the team, we usually each travel with separate Globetrotter units, so there aren't other females to relate to at times.
The team as whole plays around 400 games a year. On the North American tour alone, that means playing one game every day, sometimes two. Needless to say, fitness and good nutrition are vital to the players' on- and off-court performance.
What's your advice for people who have trouble committing to a healthy lifestyle?
TNT: It begins with changing your mentality and trying not to look at working out as a chore, but more like something that enhances the quality of your life. Make time! You get one body -- take care of it!
T-Time: Find out what motivates you and place daily reminders all around you. For instance, if physical appearance is your motivation, then place a picture of a very fit male or female on the background of your phone.
Don't set yourself up for failure. Don't tell yourself you are going to work out at times that you know might not work. Find a time, place and workout regimen that fits within your schedule. If time is an issue, the gym probably isn't a place that's convenient.
Instead, focus on exercises that can be done when you first get out of bed or when you get home at night, or things that can be done while watching television. Squats, calf raises, planks and push-ups are all great examples that can be done easily and produce great results.
Sweet J: Do workouts in small increments. Workouts don't have to necessarily be an hour long, but if that's your routine, you can split that hour into increments of five or 10 minutes of doing a simple thing -- like ab exercises or push-ups.
What motivates you to exercise and eat healthy?
TNT: I don't want to feel sluggish in general, and especially on the court.
T-Time: Eating healthy can be really tough at times. It seems like all the things that taste the best are not good for you. In order to motivate me to stay away from those things, I use Instagram and Twitter to follow a lot of fitness trainers and nutritionist who are in tip-top shape. I look at how fit they are, the daily exercises they post and their nutrition plans. It motivates me and lets me know it is possible to eat healthy and resist all those burgers, pizzas and fries.
Sweet J: I love how my body feels and looks when I work out and eat healthy, so that keeps me motivated. I feel a lot more energetic and active when I maintain a healthy lifestyle.
What's your typical workout routine?
TNT: Typically, I spend several hours in the gym a week working on core strength, cardio and basketball drills when not on tour. On the road, I still try to maintain my core strength. I get cardio and drill reps during games.
T-Time: Off-season training is more intense than during our touring season. My off-season workouts vary from doing CrossFit and boxing to pool workouts.
It would be very difficult to train at such high levels during our tour when we're playing and traveling every day. During our tour, I focus more on ball handing and innovating new moves and tricks with the ball that will "wow" the fans.
Sweet J: A typical day would include (but would not be limited to) body-weight squats on a physio ball, leg curls, leg extensions and step-ups for legs. For my upper body, I do incline press, bicep curls, tricep extension, lateral extension and push-ups.
Each day ends in ab work and stretching. I also love to play pickup basketball for at least an hour a day when I'm not touring. During the tour I focus on workouts that I am able to do in a hotel gym, such as body-weight squats, push-ups and plyometrics.
What are your go-to exercises or workouts?
TNT: I'm big on core and leg strength, so I like to do planks and squats.
T-Time: I believe that lifting your natural body weight without using additional weights is still the most effective to way to work out. I like push-ups and pull-ups for the upper body because they work your arms as well as your core. For lower body, I always go to calf raises and squats. With those two leg workouts, you focus on your entire lower-body muscles.
Sweet J: Body-weight squats, toe touches, planks, bicycles and warm-up cardio on the treadmill. Then I make sure to play basketball for about an hour.
What's the best part of being a Globetrotter?
TNT: Being a part of such a positive, legendary organization.
T-Time: Besides learning how to do all kind of cool tricks with the ball? I would say the best part is what we do off the court. We do a plethora of things that range from speaking at schools about bullying to visiting hospitals to put a smile on kids' faces. Those are the most gratifying moments for me.
Sweet J: The best part about being a Globetrotter is definitely being able to entertain, inspire and bring smiles to people's faces.
Lili Ladaga is a content editor for LIVESTRONG.COM. She's a former couch potato turned Pilates fanatic who enjoys hiking, traveling and eating everything -- in moderation.
You can follow her on Twitter at @leftcoastlili.