What's new with two-time Olympian, GB halfpipe skier, World Cup freestyle gold medallist, personal trainer and fitness influencer Rowan Cheshire? 

Ski Club’s Sophie Mead finds out about recovering from injury, fitness for mental health and why it’s important to give your body healing time when extreme sports bite back.

Rowan we haven’t seen you in a while, what happened last season? 

I ended up hitting my head and thought I was ok then hurt my knee. The knee was more of a progressive thing after taking loads and loads of impacts, so it was a combination of both of those. I had to go to America and didn’t ski the whole time. Due to my head injury I was in bed for ten days with a migraine and whiplash. My knee was an ongoing thing so I wasn’t able to ski for the rest of the season. The fat pad was impinging, bruised and riled up. It was one of those niggly little injuries that came on during a trip to Austria. It was really warm and the snow was sticky so I needed to sit backseat and landings were a bit tricky. Some falls were my own fault, and I landed backseat a lot while I was getting used to the pipe. Since it wasn’t a really important season, it was ok to take the time out.

What have you been doing to recover? 

I’ve been in rehab every week twice a week and getting back into gymnastics, plus generally trying to strengthen my legs up again. I’ve been trying to stay healthy with my diet but obviously I missed a season so I’ve just been living in the gym trying to keep myself busy. I had an internship in London at a marketing agency which was something I wanted to do outside of skiing. I haven’t had a season off since I started skiing professionally so I took a season out as an opportunity for some self-growth.

Back in September you launched your online fitness training packages. How is that all going?

It’s going really well. I actually wanted to do more face-to-face personal training because I feel like that would be a lot more rewarding than just chatting to people through a computer. I’ve been testing the waters with the project and I’m really enjoying it. The plans are completely personalised, not just for skiing. For example, I have one client who is going away next season and I’ve been working with him since the start of last season to help him lose weight and get strong. I also created an e-book that is focussed on skiing. Going forward I’d like to make more video content.

Your fitness plans focus on ‘feeling strong and being strong,’ does this come from personal experience? 

It’s something I feel really strongly about. When I first started skiing I was really young and I didn’t like the gym at all to be honest. All I wanted to do was ski. Through my career I got into it a bit more because I had to. My first head injury, when I was 18 at Sochi, was the real turning point for me. It was hard and I suffered two more injuries after that. The second one really affected me emotionally as the concussion brought bad side effects like anxiety and depression. I didn’t feel very confident in myself at all and that’s when I properly got into the gym because it was all I could do and I fell in love with it. It really helped me build my confidence back up and manage my anxiety. After gaining a bit of weight when I was off (which is natural), it helped me feel confident and strong in my body but it also helped me feel the same thing in my mind.

Is the fitness world something you are looking to pursue career-wise? 

I am definitely going to be doing the fitness plans next season. There are a few different options that are up in the air and pathways that I could go down like going to university but I don’t want to overdo myself so it’s about picking what’s right for me at this stage. I’m definitely really passionate about fitness and helping people, both with the mental side and the physical side. In the future, I’d absolutely love to open a gym!

Social media is a powerful tool for self-promotion, how do you feel about the responsibility of being an influencer to your 29K Instagram followers?

It goes up and down I’d say. Social media is such a great platform for getting yourself out there and promoting and voicing a message to help people so I do think it’s a positive thing. But it can make you judge yourself if it seems like people are doing more than you. It’s important to remember that people only show the highlights on there and it’s a small snippet which doesn’t always reflect reality or the whole picture. People publish what they want you to see and everyone does things at their own pace. I definitely think social media can be beneficial for people to find information, help and a community to be a part of. It’s definitely got me to where I am today. Sponsorship-wise, I don’t think funding a career in skiing could be done as effectively without social media, especially since it is a winter sport.

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Nowadays your online presence is the shop-front to your lifestyle. What is it like to have people contacting you through this channel?

I think it’s a positive thing as people can see behind-the-scenes and look into your sport a bit more whereas they wouldn’t necessarily have that insight without social media. I find that people are really intrigued which is good to know. I have a lot of parents messaging me asking how to get their kids into skiing it so it’s great that the younger generation can benefit from it as well.

What’s in the pipeline for next season?

I am going to be doing my own thing next year. At the minute my head injury has thrown me back a little bit so I’m going to go and see a head doctor to make sure everything’s ok. I wouldn’t want to take another knock in case it leads to something more serious. I’m putting my health first at the moment. I’ll go skiing and see how I get on but I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself by rushing back into anything too soon. I want to assess the situation, assess my health and do what’s best for me.

Keep an eye out for Rowan’s next blog on fitness tips for summer. You'll find her fitness plans on her website and follow what she’s been up to on Instagram