Sylvain Longchambon is a successful French ice skater, with impressive career highlights such as winning bronze in the French Figure Skating Championships.
Originally from Lyon, the 39-year-old now lives near Manchester and spends half of the year as a personal trainer and the other half as a professional ice skater on ITV’s Dancing on Ice.
This summer, he’ll be using his professional expertise both on and off the ice rink to guide our very own global social media manager, Alice Dempsey, through an intense 8-week challenge.
We caught up with him to find out exactly where his passion for ice skating began and how it’s impacted his life beyond imagination.
Were you an active child?
As a child, I was always very good at PE — it was my favourite subject at school. I was very active, always out on my bike with my friends, playing football or basketball, climbing up trees and building cabins in the woods!
Video games, iPads, phones and TVs were not around at that time so I used to spend a lot of time outside.
Do you think this changed as you grew older?
Things haven’t changed as I have gotten older, I still love sports. I play 5-a-side football twice a week and work out in the gym 4/5 times a week. I train with my best friend, who’s also really into his fitness, so that makes it easier and more entertaining.
I also love messing around on the trampoline with my son or casually playing squash with my neighbour.
I like to be active, I get bored really quickly if I don’t do anything… my wife always says I can’t stay still for 5 minutes.
When did you first discover figure skating?
I went to an ice rink for the first time when I was 7. My mum, who used to skate a little bit herself as a teenager, took me and my brother there randomly one evening and that’s how we both started to skate twice a week.
Did you instantly take to figure skating, or did your passion for it develop over time?
As a 7-year-old, I just enjoyed the fun part of skating — the speed, throwing snowballs at my brother, and just generally messing around rather than being really passionate about the sport itself.
As an active child who loved sport, it came quite naturally to me and I was absolutely fearless.
At first, it was definitely more about the freedom that you get on the ice and the fun of being part of a group while training. I never thought at that stage that ice skating would become such a big part of my life.
What are your favourite things about figure skating?
What I love most about ice skating is the freedom you get on the ice. The moves, lifts, and spins are endless and it can be exhilarating when you start to master a new trick or some new steps. It requires a lot of discipline and tenacity though.
I think ice skating has definitely made me physically and mentally stronger, and also improved my coordination and spatial awareness. I also think that competing has helped me to deal better with stress and nerves.
When did you start competing?
After a couple of years of going to the ice rink twice a week, an ice dance coach noticed me during a training session. She went straight to my mum to ask her if I’d like to compete, as she thought I looked very confident and natural on the ice — and that’s how I started competing in 1989.
To begin with, I was training between 12-15 hours a week, but when I turned 12 this increased to 20-25 hours a week, with an intense 8-week summer camp every year too.
What’s the hardest part about competing?
The hardest part about competing is having the discipline to stick at it and invest all that time, all those hours to being on the ice.
I used to wake up every day at 4:45am to get ready to start training at 6am. Then I would go to school all day and go back to training after school until 7pm.
Also, being an artistic sport with human judgement, it can be very subjective. When the results are different to what you’re expecting, it can make you lose your motivation to train hard.
Is there anyone in the sport that you find especially inspiring/look up to?
Being on Dancing On Ice and working with Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean is, of course, very inspiring. They probably had one of the best careers in the history of ice dancing and what they’ve achieved is truly unbelievable.
They’re also the most hard working athletes and the humblest people I have had the pleasure to meet.
Can you imagine your life without figure skating?
I couldn’t imagine my life without ice skating now. It’s the reason I came to live in the UK, the reason I met my wife…. so yeah, my life would very different without ice skating.
Would you recommend that people try figure skating?
I would definitely encourage people to try ice skating as it’s a very complete sport — it’s good for your legs, your glutes, your core, and it’s also a really good cardio workout.
It can help improve your balance as you use deep stabilising muscles that you wouldn’t use when you go for a run or train at the gym, and it’s definitely very good for your coordination!
My advice for beginners would be to bend their knees and ankles, and not to be scared of falling over. Perseverance is the key.
Want to see the action as it happens? Make sure to follow @myprotein to stay up to date.
Everything you need to know about getting your skates on.
Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.