Gabby Reece is a legend in two arenas. First, as a world-class volleyball player (fun fact: she was the first female athlete to design a shoe for Nike!). Second, as a lifelong wellness devotee, model (including the covers or Vogue, ELLE, Shape and Self!), author and speaker who plays an important role in the wellness lifestyle space.
Married to another sports legend, surf god Laird Hamilton, the couple are champions for athletic excellence and a peak performance lifestyle. Gabby and Laird are the definition of ‘living well’ in Malibu, where they surf, train and raise their family for most of the year.
We couldn’t wait to catch up with Gabby and hear her take on the ever-expanding (and low-key controversial) wellness space. From the spiritual aspects of sports to what’s next in wellness tech, here’s our interview with Gabby…
The Chalkboard: How would you describe your true wellness passion in a nutshell?
Gabby Reece: It’s all about lifestyle. I’ve been in wellness for such a long time from the performance side, but I really consider wellness to be a spiritual quest. It’s not necessarily about being able to do the splits or achieve a certain athletic benchmark, I’m looking for tools that can help me get to my true essence. I want my outer self to reflect my inner heart, my authentic self. That boils down to 3 things:
One, approaching it all through the lens of spirituality so that we’re coming to the work and to each other with love and compassion.
Two, personal accountability is what it’s all about. Part of this accountability comes through relationship. The truth is that learning from each other and becoming our best selves is a commitment to uncomfortable conversations. Life can be pretty brutal. Honest dialogue with our community helps us arm each other to be at our best.
Three, nothing important happens without a true practice. You have to have a practice. Some say that knowledge is ‘power in action’ and I agree. Putting our best ideas into action requires intentional daily practices.
TCM: Wow, I didn’t expect you to flag spirituality as such an essential, but it’s true that the wellness space is getting much deeper. These three tenets give us a lot to ponder…
GR: I think that the depth is in response to how complex the world is getting. We’re looking for less BS and to achieve true personal freedom for ourselves.
TCM: It’s been years since we featured you and Laird as guest editors — your influence as sources of cutting edge wellness advice has only grown since. I think people trust you guys because you’re such high-functioning humans. They know you’re putting your bodies to the test each day. What are your thoughts on why you guys resonate with so many?
GR: It’s really simple. Laird and I have been together 26 years and both of us have been incredibly consistent in our lifestyles. People have seen us doing this for a long time. The hardest thing in life is to be consistent. That said, we’re both still very curious and keep an open mind about how we approach wellness overall.
TCM: You guys famously host workouts for your community at your home in Malibu that include ice baths, weighted pool dives and more. In that sense, you’re leading the way in wellness for so many…
GB: Sure. We have a sauna, a pool and an ice maker, so we love stewarding those things and opening that up to our community of friends. Honestly, it’s not just because we’re nice, it keeps us accountable as well when we know we’ve got people joining our morning trainings!
TCM: What 3 wellness trends are peaking now that you find most significant?
GR: A lot of groups are now measuring biological results with technology which is interesting.
Gadgets keep it fun too.
Many of the ‘trends’ these days — bone broth, heat and cold therapy, breathwork — are a return to time-honored traditions. They are full circle.
We all think we’re so clever, but it’s not always so. We’re actually returning to things we’ve lost. Anything cultures have done for a long time interests me right now. What can we learn?
TCM: We talked about trends and I know that you also have a Somavedic at home. Where does the issue of EMF mediation and the Somavedic come in here? It’s still a new topic to so many people…
GR: For me personally, I consider the Somavedic to be functional art. I’m actually not a big trend chaser, but they make me feel good. I keep one in my daughter’s room. I’m often thinking about how everything in my life can support me, even the objects in my home. I have one red Somavedic in my bathroom and, at night, the glow is really soothing, while still potentially protecting me from any electronic devices I have near where I sleep.
The devices are a little expensive which is important to acknowledge, but they are hand-blown in the Czech Republic and, for me, while the science on EMF radiation is still pending, if the worst thing something can do to you is ‘nothing’ while the potential benefits are there, I consider it worth a try.
This is a space that’s emerging. We keep one in the living room. They are enjoyable. One more thing to support yourself.
When it comes to protecting ourselves from EMF radiation, the whole topic can get daunting and overwhelming for some of us. Tech is going to create an effect or response on our bodies and we still don’t know exactly what that is. First and foremost, it’s key to fortify yourself against any of these potential modern threats — get good sleep and boost the immune system.
TCM: Here we are talking about Somavedic and EMF mitigation. Wellness needs change with technology and the times. What other modern wellness issues are you addressing that wern’t a thing for you years ago?
GR: I recently saw John Tew for a facial that was actually more of fascia massage — and as intense as any sports massage I’ve ever received in my athletic career. It starts with your back and chest, then addresses your neck, mouth and jaw to address the effects of “tech neck” and all the time we spend hunched over our phones.
It’s key to elongate the frontline of the neck! All our screentime, especially on the phone, takes a toll on our posture that can lead to pain and a potentially unflattering shoulder hunch. The head actually doubles in weight the more forward it’s position.
TCM: How do you start your day most days? Which A.M. wellness habits are most important?
GR: I don’t always wake up ready to go. Some mornings, you may even say I was grumpy.
Before the day has a chance to get a hold of me, I spend those first moments re-orienting myself with my intentions. What have I mapped out for myself? By the time I brush my teeth, I try to shift my energy in the morning to match that plan. It’s a long-term discipline.
TCM: Who is inspiring you when it comes to wellness lately?
GR: I find myself drawn to people who have a mix of both science and spirituality.
Dr. Peter Attia has a smart and interesting take on longevity. Recently on my podcast, Dr. Dayan Goodenowe his take on Alzheimers was fascinating. I love the book Anxiety Rx by Dr Russ Kennedy, a neuroscientist who took a somewhat ‘woo-wo’ approach to his own anxiety. I also think Atomic Habits is also a book everyone should read.
TCM: As a female athlete in the spotlight for all of your adult life, you’ve seen so much change around body image in public discourse. What are you happy to see shifting?
GR: I think consumers feel they should shop brands that reflect themselves, whether with sizing or body type, but so many companies are latching on to a more size-inclusive trend in a ‘placating’ way. I have an allergic reaction to that. It bugs me.
When it comes to changing ideas about body image, it’s not for me to say what someone else’s body should look like, but I want people to feel good. It’s really about functionality. We’re going to be here a long time, our bodies need to help get us around. We need to empower ourselves to be functional into old age.
This story is brought to you in partnership with Somavedic . From time to time, TCM editors choose to partner with brands we believe in to bring our readers special offers. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs.