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Recovery Day: Paralympic Team USA Athlete & Gold Medalist Megan Blunk on Adaptive Sports



Recovery Day: Paralympic Team USA Athlete & Gold Medalist Megan Blunk on Adaptive Sports

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Paralympic Gold Medalist Megan Blunk is in the hot seat for our latest “Recovery Day” series piece. The Paralympic Team USA athlete says that her work for The Hartford, specifically in being an instructor for Move United On Demand, is “incredibly special” to her for many reasons.

Adaptive sports organization Move United is spearheading a long-awaited movement for people with disabilities, thanks to Move United On Demand. The digital fitness platform delivers adaptive fitness training classes led by household name adaptive fitness trainers. One of those trainers, Paralympic Team USA athlete and gold medalist Megan Blunk, is honored to be a part of this unique initiative and The Hartford’s overarching Ability Equipped enterprise. (Move United is one of the handful of programs under the Ability Equipped umbrella.)  

Blunk, who began working with The Hartford in 2019, tells Athletech News that her partnership with the insurance company is “incredibly special” to her. As a mental health advocate who plays wheelchair basketball for Paralympic Team USA, she’s not only one of the foremost competitors of the sport, but has solidified her role model status, thanks to her work on and off the basketball court. In her own words, here are the Paralympic Team USA athlete’s thoughts on her partnership with The Hartford and Move United on Demand, her day-to-day life, self-care habits, and more. 

Athletech News (AN): Tell us about your partnership with The Hartford, and your role with Move United On Demand

Megan Blunk: I began working with The Hartford in 2019 when they first launched their Ability Equipped program which provides extremely important and beneficial adaptive sport equipment and grants to organizations as well as individual athletes. As a Hartford Athlete I have had the privilege of presenting equipment grants and helping to coach/run wheelchair basketball practices for adaptive sport organizations. It also gives me an opportunity to share my own personal story with other adaptive athletes and their families in communities across the country. My favorite part of these grant presentations is getting to meet the individual athlete receiving the equipment — learning more about who they are and how their new custom-fit equipment will make a difference in their life. The Hartford is making such a big impact within the adaptive sports community and I feel so proud to be a part of the movement. 

AN: How do you start your day?

Blunk: I try to start my day by getting out of bed on the first alarm because, when I do that, I definitely feel my best. I also try to always drink a glass of water before doing anything else. I look forward to my morning coffee and I get that going on my way to brush my teeth and wash my face. I drink my coffee while doing my makeup, hair and getting dressed for the day. I like to listen to music and take my time getting ready…but I don’t usually give myself a lot of extra time before I need to leave. If I am training that day, depending on what I am doing for the workout, I either make a larger or smaller portioned breakfast before heading out the door. 

AN: When can you actually relax?

Blunk: There definitely is not a lot of time to relax when you are training and competing in a sport at a high level but, lucky for me, I consider cleaning, organizing, showering and certain types of workouts to be relaxing. This helps immensely due to the fact that all of these things need to be done, constantly, and I find enjoyment in them. I also relax best at night. I have always been a night owl and I like to think of night as my “me time”. Sometimes that time consists of writing in my journal, having good phone conversations with people, listening to audiobooks or reading about something I am interested in.  

AN: How many days a week do you workout?

Blunk: When training for Team USA, I work out five to six days a week. We do hour-long lifts three days a week and then we have three shooting workouts that take one to two hours to complete, as well as three added individual chair skill workouts. I also play with a local wheelchair basketball team, training with them two to three times a week and competing in tournaments one to two times a month. With all that being said, training takes up most of my days.

AN: Can you tell us a bit more about the fitness classes as part of OnDemand? How do we sign up?

Blunk: This past year The Hartford expanded their partnership with Move United to launch a new OnDemand digital fitness platform that will offer adaptive sport training for all ability levels including strength, yoga, cardio, HIIT and dance-inspired classes. I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of these videos as an assistant instructor helping to modify the workouts for people with disabilities similar to my own. I love that the videos are designed to work for all abilities and are accessible anywhere, at any time. And, you can workout with your friends whether they have a disability or not.  Check it out at https://www.moveunitedsport.org/ondemand/ 

AN: Yes/No to fitness trackers? Data friend or enemy?

Blunk: I am actually not big on fitness trackers…but I think that is mainly due to the fact that there are not many trackers, if any at all, that work for people with disabilities. I think this is something that a few companies are working on but currently, there are not a lot out there.

AN on Food: What does breakfast look like for you on a regular day…on your cheat day?

Blunk: I’m not sure I have what most people would consider a real “cheat day”…my idea of a cheat day is actually skipping breakfast because I’m not usually hungry in the morning. On most days, I make myself eat breakfast because I know I need it for fuel and recovery, especially when I am training. On these days, I usually go for yogurt with a banana, apple, blueberries and granola on top. I also like peanut butter/banana toast or a healthy smoothie.

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AN: What are your favorite restaurants…when you are being super good…when you are indulging?

Blunk: My favorite restaurants when I am being super good and healthy would be your basic Subway, Panera Bread or fancy places like the Spaghetti Factory. My favorite restaurants for indulging always tend to be Chinese, Thai or Japanese. My top of the list favorite is Hunan Gardens, a Chinese restaurant I worked at as my first real job when I was 16 or PF Chang’s! 

AN on Self-care: What are some of your greatest indulgences?

Blunk: Some of my greatest indulgences when it comes to self-care, which do not happen often because they can be pricey, are deep tissue massages, a micro needling facial, a yoga class, and a good haircut. 

When it comes to more affordable indulgences, I like a nice Epsom salt bubble bath, a homemade facial and some good, hydrating body lotion and facial regimen. 

AN: Do you meditate? Do you use an App?

Blunk: I do meditate. I do not use a meditation app but I have been wanting to try a few that friends have been telling me about such as Headspace and Calm. My meditation for me consists of lighting candles, listening to calming music or a meditation playlist and either closing my eyes and quieting my mind, or I incorporate stretching/yoga movements into it.

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