Dancing with the Stars champ and Olympic gold medal ice skater Kristi Yamaguchi may not be cha-chaing or fox-trotting much these days, but she is doing a dance moms across the country know all too well: the back-to-school boogie.
The 40-year-old mother of Keara, 7, and Emma, 5, is busy juggling their various activities with her own ventures—which include promoting a new fitness DVD and a children’s book, as well as supporting early childhood literacy through her Always Dream Foundation—as well as the busy schedule of her husband, retired pro hockey player Bret Hedican.
“It takes sitting down with my husband and going over calendar, looking at the activities for the week, saying, ‘Can you take Keara here,’ or ‘I can take Emma there,’ and if I have to travel, that their schedules are taken care of,” says Kristi, winner of the all-around gold in the 1992 Olympic Games. “I want to spend as much quality time with the children as I can—that’s a priority.”
Also a priority is keeping the family healthy. When her girls need encouragement to exercise, Kristi gets creative. “It’s all about trying to make it fun,” she says. “We live on a hilly road so we walk the street up the hill. We write down a list of things to find on the walk—kind of like a scavenger hunt. It may be a cat, or yellow flowers. It’s away to get us out in the fresh air and moving around.”
Having athletes as parents doesn’t hurt, either. “You have to set the example,” Kristi says. “When I’m exercising at home, they’ll come down and join me—they’re not doing it properly but it’s fun to let them improvise.”
Gone, for Kristi, though, are the days of hours-long workouts on the ice. “Finding time to fit fitness in is getting harder and harder,” she says. “Being able to work out at home is a great option.”
That’s one of the reasons why she and trainer Erin O’Brien created the Kristi Yamaguchi: Power Workout DVD. It features circuit workout routines combining cardio and strength moves in 10-, 30- and 50-minute segments to encourage women to do what they can when they can. “It’s nice to be able to accommodate a variety of schedules,” Kristi says.
Accommodating her kids’ tastes, too, can be challenging. “We try to have as many healthy choices available as possible,” Kristi says. On weekdays, she relies on quick-fix dishes she knows the whole family will enjoy. “My girls love chicken stir-fry with edamame, mushrooms and broccoli,” she says. “I also do a roasted whole chicken with lemons and Greek dressing.”
As the new season of Dancing With the Stars approaches (premiere set for September 19), Kristi has some thoughts for the producers on who she’d like to see join the cast. “I’ve said before I want to see an NHL player on there,” she says. “They’ve had guys from all the other professional sports, so the NHL needs to be represented. Now, I’m not pitching my husband, but just a hockey player in general.
“There are so many people that would be so great,” she says. “Maybe Justin Timberlake, although I don’t think that would be very fair—he would get all the votes.
While she keeps up with Season 6 partner Mark Ballas (“I saw him just a couple of nights ago”), Kristi dances just once a year or so, mostly, she says, for charity events.
“The farther I get from it, the more I’m forgetting everything,” she says. “It was such an incredible experience.”