It isn’t always easy being a child in an accomplished athletic family. For Olympian Aja Evans, she has a father who was the first Black national collegiate swimming champion. A brother who plays in the NFL. And an uncle who played in the Major Leagues who has a son who has successfully followed in his footsteps. But Aja Evans is representing for the women in her family in a major way. The 29-year-old brakeman won bronze in the bobsled at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, and she’s planning to take home gold with her team (including former Fitness Friday star Elana Meyers Taylor) when they start competing on Monday, February 19. She’s hoping to do that while looking and feeling her best. The athlete, who has teamed up with Proctor & Gamble while competing in Pyeongchang, South Korea, talked with us about maintaining a beauty regimen even while training and hitting the ice, how she went from running track and doing shot-put to doing bobsled, and how she’s trained to prepare to compete on the world stage.
MadameNoire: How did you decide to take your track and field talents to the ice tracks as a brakeman?
Aja Evans: My coach told me about bobsledding my senior year of college in 2010. I initially brushed it off because I just thought of Cool Runnings and I didn’t picture myself doing that. Then he told me all about Vonetta Flowers and why my track and field experience would help me to be competitive in this sport. A lot of the skills that you need for track and field transition over to bobsled really easily.
I know that you appreciate a great makeup beat. I also know people look at a lot of female athletes and don’t expect that side of them. Why is it so important for you to have fun painting your face and embracing a certain beauty regimen?
I am such a glam girl. I love hair and makeup and I feel like myself when my makeup looks good. But for me, all the hair and makeup is really just icing on the cake. Over time, I’ve become much more confident with my body and that came with maturity. I just love having fun with my look now and it makes me feel like me!
Do you ever take your look to the sled? I know certain track stars who will run with a full face of makeup or red lip because it’s their signature look.
Yes, I always take my look to the sled! I want to be the same person on and off the ice. You’ll see me many times with lashes and a winged eyeliner through the peephole of the helmet.
Your skin is fabulous! I know in one of your posts on Instagram you joked about how minding your business and drinking water works, but as someone who does enjoy makeup and works out often, what is your skin regimen to keep things clear and dewy?
Thank you! It’s all about cleansing and moisturizing. When I’m competing especially, I endure really cold temperatures with a lot of stressors on my skin between the sweat and taking my helmet on and off my face. Staying hydrated and removing all of those impurities is a must, and that’s why I love Olay Cleansing Infusions Body Wash. It keeps me moisturized all day long. I’m also really into essential oils and shea butters to lock in any extra moisture I need.
How did you have to train in preparation for an opportunity like this? Strength training seems like a huge piece of the puzzle.
Right now my workout routine is a lot of explosive movements, so plyometrics, jumping, box and tuck jumps, squats, dead lifts and core work.
You’re in your second Olympics. How important has it been for you to build your own sports legacy as a young woman coming from a family full of male athletic talents who’ve made their own mark?
My family has inspired me to be just as successful as them as a woman and as a younger athlete in the family. They’re so supportive and it gets them so excited to watch me compete. Even though they’ve had their own success, they feel like they’re competing right with me and get just as excited and anxious.
Again, this is your second Winter Games. How are you going about things differently than you did in Sochi in 2014? Are you less nervous and having more fun seeing the sights? Or is it all business as usual?
I think I’m more grounded. Last Olympics I was a deer in headlights and trying to do everything I could and it was all a shock to me. But now I’m grounded and I know what to expect so I can manage my time and stress to really have fun and enjoy the experience. I feel more level-headed now that I’m a veteran.
Is there a certain food you eat the night before you compete? A certain amount of sleep you get? A song you listen to in order to pump yourself up? What gets you “game day” ready as they would say?
Getting a full night’s rest is essential because I want to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go. I stay on a good nutrition plan the day before and eat the right amount of protein and carbs to give myself the fuel and energy I need to go after it the next day.
What’s the key to doing your best in competition?
Having confidence in everything you did to get to that point. Competition should be easy since you put so many hours and days into training for this one brief moment. So you have to trust that you did all of that for a reason and it will pay off.