All photos by: Mary Carol Photography
Name: Bea Rodriguez
Location: Chicago, IL
What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
It’s a source of pride for me, and succinctly represents my journey, values, and mission in life.
How long have you been training?
I played basketball and soccer during my middle and high school years, became sedentary for a while, then started strength training and rock climbing in 2011. I discovered the power of kettlebells in 2012, fell completely in love with kettlebell sport (girevoy sport or GS) in 2013, and I have never looked back.
How did you get introduced to strength training?
My colleague gave me a 7-day pass to XSport Fitness as a reward for helping out with a Fitness Challenge he organized at work. I used that pass, tried a few personal training sessions, and gradually became stronger with the help of some really awesome trainers.
What does a sample workout look like for you?
Kettlebell Sport (Girevoy Sport) Lifts, particularly the Snatch and Long Cycle (clean and jerk).
Most memorable PR:
When I hit Candidate for Master of Sport (CMS) Ranking during a 10-minute Long Cycle competition set, becoming the first Filipina in the world to achieve that ranking; and my first 10-minute competition set with long cycle using two bells.
Top 5 songs on your training playlist:
No top songs, I let Spotify/Pandora surprise me. I love 90s music.
Top 3 things you must have with you at the gym or in your gym bag:
Do you prefer to train alone or with a training partner? Why?
Both. Having a training partner who can count my reps, give me that extra boost, give feedback, etc. Training alone helps keep my sets more meditative, and I am able to really concentrate.
Best compliment you’ve received lately:
A fellow female lifter called me a great ambassador for the sport!
Most recent compliment you gave someone else:
I told one of my athletes that she is one the grittiest people I know.
Most embarrassing gym moment:
During a competition set, I was wearing a tank top that I didn’t realize was too stretchy. Each time I dropped the bell from overhead to my rack position, the bell pulled my tank to the point that the audience can see my bra! That’s when I learned my lesson not to wear tank tops ever again during long cycle events! You really need a sleeved t-shirt for long cycle.
Chicken adobo, a Filipino dish (chicken in soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves). My fiancé also makes a mean bison burger. He serves it with baked sweet potato fries and mixed vegetables. And I love sushi!
Favorite way to treat yourself:
Good red wine and a spa day.
I have so many, but one of my favorites is by historian Howard Zinn:
“What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”
Too many to mention, but I’ll name a few writers I love: Toni Morrison, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Arundhati Roy, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, and Pablo Neruda. Watch out for my upcoming book, which will be published soon!
What inspires and motivates you?
Poetry. My fellow lifters in the kettlebell sport community. TED Talks. When I see people behaving magnificently.
What do you do?
I have two businesses: first, I am Founder & President of Chicago Kettlebell Club, where I serve as kettlebell sport coach, working hard to grow the sport. I train people at Phenomenal Fitness (1450 S. Michigan Ave), do online coaching, and will offer kettlebell workshops in 2016. Second, I created Bea Rodriguez Enterprises, Inc, where I provide grant writing and development services to nonprofit organizations.
What else do you do?
I write poetry for fun; one of these days I will finish my young adult fiction novel. I love traveling, learning different languages, and Skyping my nephews in Manila, Philippines.
What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve noticed from lifting heavy?
My glute development! My glutes used to be flat as a pancake. But really, the coolest part is meeting people who share the same passion and values; the ones who understand why I love to lift kettlebells.
What are you most grateful for in your life?
My family, fiancé, and true friends. At the end of the day, loving and being loved -- understanding and being understood — is what matters most in life.
What life accomplishment are you most proud of thus far?
I got my green card through my first job; I have worked incredibly hard to navigate myself in unfamiliar territories and situations since I started living independently, in a new country far away from family, at age 20.
Because of my sacrifices, I am now making a living out of my passions: writing, fitness, and philanthropy. All three are meaningful to me and aligned with my talents and values.
Also, I overcame depression after a tough period in my life–I felt unhappy with my career, suddenly lost my mom to asthma at age 27, and lost my brother to a freak accident three years later. I turned to food for comfort, became overweight/obese, and avoided my family and friends for months. Getting strong in the gym, losing 30 pounds, going to therapy, reading about grief work, writing, immersing myself in kettlebell sport, and appreciating the love and support of my family and friends–all of these helped me overcome the darkest period of my life. I am proud of bouncing back and sustaining a healthy lifestyle.
Three words that best describe you:
Mission-driven, Gritty, Creative
Tell us about a time when you overcame a fear or self-doubt, and what you learned from it.
At 20 years old, I was a little doubtful about leaving my family in the Philippines to study and live in the United States.
But my desire for adventure, broadening my horizons, and pursuing what I love overshadowed the fear.
Although it’s been challenging, I realize that every obstacle and setback have made me the resilient person I am today.
How has strength training changed your life?
It led me to the direction of kettlebell sport, which I love not just because it has made me stronger physically and mentally; it has also introduced me to an international community of lifters. They are some of the greatest minds and spirits I’ve ever encountered in my life. In fact, inspired by the Women's Fitness Summit, I am now collaborating with women in kettlebell sport — definitely some of the strongest women I know — to create the first-ever Women’s International Kettlebell Sport Summit! It will be on August 8-9, 2016, here in Chicago. More details will be announced on my website.
What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous to start strength training?
Be excited about getting strong! Trust me, you’re not gonna get bulky with strength training. I am at 115-120 pounds, petite, and people call me a badass. Plus, being strong or a badass helps you to be nicer; your new abilities will be useful not just for you, but for helping other people—in more ways than you can imagine. You’ll see!
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