Professional volleyball athlete Gabrielle Reece may be known for her prowess on the court, but today, she's best described as a multi-hyphenate: the author, model, speaker, activist and mom is adding more titles to her plate every time we turn around.
Her latest endeavor, pioneering the HIGHX workout and developing accompanying community-based classes on her resident island of Kauai, is simply the most recent in a string of accomplishments for the 47-year-old. Reece is no stranger to balancing a never-ending list of priorities, but today, she finds that her busy schedule requires more moments of calm to keep things moving smoothly.
"I started getting up earlier each day and meditating for 10 minutes," she shared with PopCulture.com, "just to start the day by checking in with myself, [finding] a calm place versus hitting the road running and reacting."
For someone who isn't usually keen to slow down, this can feel like a challenge in and of itself: "I would rather attack everything, but am starting to learn that is not always in my best interest," she confessed.
Certainly, Reece has a reputation as someone who isn't easily intimidated. Starting her career as Nike's first female spokesperson, Reece has had a ringside view of how the athletic world has changed for women over the years. "Female athletes have always been 'respected'," she feels, "but what ends up influencing the perception of where woman's sports are, is more 'the business of sport.'"
Reece has done well for herself in both realms, parlaying her athletic skills into a modeling career, several TV hosting positions, a signature Nike shoe design, book deals and more. (She hints that "a parenting show" is in the works as well — another clever move for the multifaceted athlete.) With so much on her plate, one would be forgiven for thinking that her athleticism had taken a back seat — but it's as much a part of her DNA as ever.
"As an athlete, a partner, a parent, a business person and (hopefully) in an attempt to be a decent human, I try to eat real food, move my whole body and consider my spirit and mind along the way," she told us. "It is NOT a compartmentalized approach — All things must be trained, tested, and stretched with the hopes of continuing to grow."
In addition to casting a subtle side-eye at the "compartmentalized approach" that is sold to many people in the health and fitness space today, there's another wellness "trend" that Reece just isn't buying: the social media fitness fads.
"Fitness is not a fad, it is a lifestyle — and each person has to understand what they want to get out of it before they can begin the pursuit," she says. "There are social media fitness experts, and then there are [those who are]...helping an athlete not only improve performance but consider their training as it pertains to their professional longevity," she says.
The difference is an important one: while social media fitness tends to favor the fads, a truly valuable trainer will consider the big picture and ensure that long-term success is in the cards. "I'm not saying there aren't people who live in both, but to find a coach or trainer who can take the whole being into consideration as an individual is a great feat." (As for the trend she most wishes would disappear, she points to the prevalence of "any 'one size fits all' philosophy" as being harmful.)
For her own fitness, Reece says this holistic approach has made an impact, too. "I consider my food and my stress so much more now than when I first started out," she says, pointing to how the wellness landscape has changed. While she keeps both her hunger and stress in check by "eating pretty clean," she admits that nothing is truly off-limits in her household.
"I want [my daughters] to know what is food and what is fun. Beyond that, I realize that they will be making their own choices." As far as limitations go, she says she and her husband "try not to make anything taboo so that they gravitate towards it," which she admits is simply human nature. That being said, she does have one big no-no: "I would say avoid sugary drinks the best you can. I tell them to at least eat their sugar and not drink their sugar... It will get you!"
At the end of the day, however, Reece's parenting style also rejects that "one size fits all" philosophy. "My husband [big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton] and I do our best to be good examples and surround [our kids] with others who are good examples," she says. "As a family we're super active, so being busy is pretty normal to us...and like any parents, we are always looking to grow and transform to help us raise strong, confident kids." (If the extremely eloquent mother-daughter interview Gabby and her daughter Reece gave to Harper's Bazaar is any indication, they're doing a great job.)
But of course, the Reece-Hamilton house does tend to emphasize head-to-toe wellness. "Myself, Laird and our 13-year-old daughter Reece are all straightening our teeth with Invisalign clear aligners," she says, which has been a perfect way to emphasize dental health without slowing down their extremely active family.
Even with her emphasis on all-over health, that doesn't mean Reece is immune to the powers of junk food: "I'm a chocolate girl," she confesses, admitting to her guilty snacking pleasure. That being said, she's quick to mention she also has a soft spot for Kombucha... a smart replacement for those sugary sodas she warned us about.
Photo Credit: Phillip Dixon / C Magazine