Exclusive Q&A: Former soccer star Cobi Jones talks fitness, Olympics and more
We're only a few days away from the start of the most exciting athletic competition in the world in Rio and as the games rev up, the fate of the U.S. soccer team will be on the minds of many.
Former Los Angeles Galaxy soccer team player and current sports analyst Cobi Jones knows what it takes to represent the country on the international soccer stage and how the games can help inspire families to get active. Cobi has teamed up with Let's Play, an initiative by Dr Pepper Snapple Group to provide kids and families with the tools, places and inspiration to make active play a daily priority.
In addition to talking about his own personal stories about fitness and wellness, Cobi talked about his career, his future and why kids today aren't getting the level of physical activity and active play they need.
In fact, a Let's Play survey found only 33% of children get the recommended daily active play -– Cobi is a big advocate for how important play is to childhood development and the formation of healthy lifestyle habits.
Here is the exclusive Q&A:
Q: How much fun has it been working on this campaign, and how has it developed into such a constructive passion?
A: It's been amazing. It's really special because they are helping build playgrounds and giving sports equipment for kids of a young age. For kids, it's important to play in the backyard, and those early play times are an early introduction to the games we love as we get older – basketball, baseball, football, and, of course, soccer. This is what it's all about. Get them outdoors and have a balanced lifestyle.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is looking to value fitness and wellness a little more than they previously had in their life?
A: Number one, I'd say, is to start. That's first and foremost. You gotta get outside and make that first step. If it's outside and going for a walk, or if it's going to a gym. If you have kids, go outside and play with the kids. Trust me -- you'll be active. It doesn't have to be treadmill and it doesn't have to be lifting weights. I started getting back into shape that way. I admit, I put on sympathy weight. I admit it. I got to the point where I said, you know what, I need to do something. I made sure to understand I had my kids, my family, and my job -- but I also have to make an appointment with myself. In the long run, you need to be around for those things later on.
You don't wanna put yourself in situation where you're not active. Make sure you're active. Set aside time. If adults think about it, you can be really active in a 30-minute time period. Really, think about how little time that is a day. In 30 minutes, after kids, I can get a decent workout in. It's important to remember that. I tell myself, 'Set aside an hour to make sure I can be fit -- and be around for my kids.' If it's working out, great. If it's outdoors playing with kids, then great.
Q: What does your fitness routine look like now?
A: I get up in the morning, and I get going to the gym. I try to get my time early on in the day. I spend an hour, hour and half -- and it varies. If I'm extremely tired, I will go to the gym, but I wont stay there for two hours. I'll get a quick 30-minute run in and I leave. I want to make sure I participate in as many activities with my kids as possible.
Q: What's one of the great stories that always sticks in your mind about participating in the 1992 Olympics?
A: One of the stories that really stands out for me was when we were walking out in our get-up for the opening ceremony. You can hear other crowd yelling. You're excited. Youre hyped up. As I started walking, they actually stopped the team right behind me and then let in the "Dream Team." I looked over my shoulder and saw the "Dream Team" players. In '92, that was a real big deal, and they were the biggest hype then. To share that moment, that was absolutely fabulous.
Q: What advice would you give a first-time Olympian?
A: I would say, for a first-time Olympian, things they've maybe heard before: understand what you're representing. Take time to appreciate the special time that, most likely, will only come around once. Another piece of advice I'd give is realize the expectations in place afterwards. No matter what happens, you are always an Olympian. There's a lot of people looking up to you. A lot of opeople are being inspired by you. Maybe kids will be inspired to get outside more. How you handle yourself will live with you beyond your Olympic games.
Q: What was the biggest thing you learned at the Olympics?
A: I would say, in a general sense, the inspiration to others that I didn't realize. I still remember a mom and dad with two older sons came up to me and she had the kids, who were all tatted up. She sad, 'Cobi, I want you to know you that you've inspired my kids. You kept them out of trouble. These two, they looked up to you. They had their hair braided because of you.' I didn't realize the effect you have on kids. There's been a few stories like that, and that felt real good.