Finding Inspiration Together with... Riley Mercer Student Athlete
Updated: Jan 23
As part of the Alamo Heights champion Volleyball team that made it to the 5A State Semi-Finals at the end of 2019, 17-year-old Riley Mercer understands the importance of dedication, hard work, and a positive attitude when it comes to achieving your goals. Here, she serves up her advice for establishing healthy habits at a young age.
What does a typical week of practice during volleyball season look like? During the school season, we typically practice every day after school until 6 p.m. Some days we get lucky though, and finish at 5:30. We end every practice with some quick conditioning, but other than that we are expected to do our own conditioning throughout the season. During off-season, we usually keep to our schedule of weight training on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and cardio on Tuesday and Thursday. I also play club, so right after the school season finishes I jump into club season and I normally practice 2-3 times a week for around 2 hours. During club season our coaches also expect us to do our own conditioning along with our school off-season training. What is your favorite way to stay in shape? Swimming, cycling, yoga, and weights are my favorite ways, but honestly I just really love working out period. Running is definitely my least favorite, so I try not to do that too often. Why is fitness important to you? I always just feel good after a workout--strong and accomplished. Also staying active is just super important to a healthy life style. It isn't about being super model skinny-- it's about becoming the best version of you. Plus, fitness does more than just get you in shape. It builds confidence and perseverance. I honestly would not be the person I am today without being active and appreciating the benefits of fitness. You're a junior in high school. How do you juggle all your workouts and games with homework, a social life, and some downtime? Everything I do is about time management. I make a lot of lists and I always have my agenda. Is it hard for me to manage school, school volleyball, club volleyball, Young Life, Symphony Belles, Teens Give Back and all my other commitments? Only sometimes. Once I get everything written down and figure out my time, it's as easy as pie. I also try to always give myself at least one day a week to just relax and kinda be a bum. I will normally stretch on that day or go on a walk, but nothing extreme cause your body does need rest.
What advice would you give to someone your age who wants to get into a fitness routine or healthier habits? Honestly, when I first started working out I didn’t really enjoy it. I thought it was hard and I just wasn’t seeing the improvement I wanted. But then I fixed my diet and everything started falling into place. A healthy lifestyle can be challenging at first, but once you get into it, it just becomes a norm. Don’t get me wrong though-- I still enjoy a good piece of chocolate cake everyone in a while. But, for people my age, I would say go out and do something with your friends. Don’t go get a gym membership at the place with all the body builders. Find some friends and go to a spin class together, or go on bike rides, or to the pool. Make your workouts fun because then you will be more likely to do them.
I think fitness is meant to be fun. But it's really not about having a perfect body or bulging muscles. It's about becoming the best version of you and becoming happy with yourself. Today we live in a society where social media tries to tell us how to act and how to look, but I am here to say, screw that! Love yourself! It doesn’t matter if you're a size 2 or 22. It doesn’t matter if you're a girl or a boy. It doesn’t matter if you're gay or straight. You are your own person and that is beautiful. Health and fitness are designed to make you feel like the beautiful person you are.