Ice Network

Ronka makes injury prevention her mission

Figure Skating Fitness magazine focuses on skaters' off-ice regimens
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Signe Ronka has devoted herself to helping skaters implement off-ice training regimens aimed at preventing injuries. -courtesy of Signe Ronka

Signe Ronka's career included notable accomplishments like qualifying for the Junior Grand Prix (JGP) Final and competing at the world junior championships. But because of injuries, the former Canadian competitor never was able to reach her full potential.

After retiring from competitive skating following the 2006 Canadian Championships, Ronka attended the University of Toronto (Trinity College), earning a degree in psychology, political science and bioethics. She also became a certified strength and conditioning specialist and a certified personal trainer. When her heart led her back to skating, she made it her mission to help skaters avoid the pitfalls she endured.

"I'm really passionate about figure skating, so I started coaching," said Ronka, who spent two years after college working as a technology consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers. "I started getting really into the fitness industry. I noticed there were lots of gaps where I was interested to help build the fitness side of skating. So, I got into researching sport-specific training and I started a program called Figure Skater Bootcamp in 2010.

"We are doing workshops all over Canada," she continued. "I noticed a lot of these skating clubs, they don't have a lot of information about fitness training. When I come there, they're so excited to have this kind of opportunity."

Last week, Ronka, 27, launched Figure Skater Fitness, a digital magazine intended to help skaters incorporate off-ice exercises and a fitness regimen into their routines so has to help them avoid injury. It also delves into nutrition and psychology.

"I want this to be the kind of ultimate place where people can go to get the content that they need about what it takes to train off the ice," Ronka said.

Word of the magazine has spread; Ronka has received interest from writers with related expertise in Canada and the U.S. Each quarterly edition will have a theme and spotlight based on the time of year of publication (preseason, in-season etc.).

"When I went to school, I had a different path in mind, and then my life kind of turned around after I started the Figure Skating Bootcamp," Ronka said. "I released a DVD that sold all over the world. That made me realize there really is a need for figure skating fitness, sport-specific training. I decided to change my path."

Given skating's demands on the body, Ronka said there are off-ice exercises for skaters of all levels.

"Once they have the proper technique off the ice, in terms of the squat technique and the lunges and all the basic foundations of fitness, then we will go into more sport-specific training," she said. "They build a foundation from the start."

As for her own training, she said she works out 5-6 days a week, using her own Bootcamp warmup. She doesn't have a lot of time for skating but can still land triple toe loop and double axel.

"Before I give any exercise to the skaters, I will always do it myself," she said.

Ronka also coaches at the Granite Club in North York, Ontario, and the East York Skating Club in East York, Ontario.

"You can really see when the skater is dedicated to the sport and to fitness, and what that transformation can look like," Ronka said. "In the magazine, I want to be able to give people who are not available to come here the opportunity to practice some of these exercises.

"This issue that we just released has four different circuits of exercises," she added. "I want kids to be able to practice these things at home and have the guidance and proper technique built into it with the descriptions."