Talking Kids With Kristi Yamaguchi

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In addition to winning Olympic gold, Kristi Yamaguchi is a Dancing with the Stars champion who’s been named in the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame, World Figure Skating Hall of Fame, and Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame. Born in Hayward and raised in Fremont, Kristi is also a proud mama of two daughters ages 5 and 7, whom she and her husband Bret are raising right here in the East Bay.

Kristi took time away from her charity work with the Always Dream Foundation to gossip with us about what she considers the role of a lifetime: being part of a family.

Where does a Dancing with the Stars champion get her dance on in the Bay Area?
At home. Outside of the show, it’s hard to fit dance practice in. Mark (my dance partner) lives in L.A.

“Always dream” is your personal motto. How do you encourage your kids to follow their dreams?
Hopefully, I am instilling the same values my parents gave me – if you find something you love, keep at it and give it 100%. It’s always going to take work and dedication. I try to give my kids confidence and encourage them to keep believing.

The Always Dream Foundation was created to increase opportunities for underprivileged kids. How do your daughters, Keara and Emma, get involved in the local community?
Right now, they’re still young but they help out with the things I do. They came with me to help create the Always Dream Play Park (which opened in January in Fremont), putting sand in the sand area and helping with the plantings.

Which Bay Area businesses do you love to support?
For a special night out, my favorite meals of all time are at the Waterbar and Epic Roasthouse in San Francisco. There’s always fun stuff at Alyssa Wen, a clothing store in Danville. We like to go to the local coffee shop in our neighborhood, Yellow Wood Café.

Where do you and Bret get away for date night?
We are so busy and since I’m away so often, when I’m home, I enjoy staying home with the kids most.

Staying active must be important to you. How do you and the kids stay healthy and in shape?
I like to do exercise videos and fitness programs on exercise TV. We also try to get outside as much as we can and stay active, going to the local parks in our area.

You were born and raised in the East Bay. Do you still find yourself most loyal to that part of the Bay?
As a place to live, it’s the East Bay for sure. I lived in the city for 5 years and I love visiting there, but as far as living and raising kids, definitely the East Bay. I like space, hot weather, and not paying for parking everywhere I go.

—Renee Rutledge

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