Name: Tiffeny Parker
Location: Dallas, TX
What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
Being a Girl Gone Strong to me means digging in and finding that grit! Just because you wear pink and like manicures does not mean that you cannot be a strong girl in life, not just inside of a weight room.
How long have you been strength training, and how did you get started?
I have been strength training since high school. My track and field coaches introduced me to it while I was training for track and field. From there, I went on to have it be a major component of my college and professional career.
What do you do?
I am currently a USA heptathlete, and a USA bobsled Olympic hopeful. Strength, power and speed are incredibly important when it comes to competing in both sports. Without strength training, I wouldn’t be able to maintain the levels needed for competing in those two disciplines.
Outside of my own training, I’m a motivational speaker for young athletes, both children and adolescents. I’m also a personal trainer at Equinox in Dallas, as well as a remote online coach for nutrition and training programs.
Finally, I coach running mechanics to some of the best Crossfit athletes in the world, thanks to the workshops that I get to teach all over the country while I’m traveling.
What else do you do?
I’m a coffee junkie! I love local coffee bars around town or in the different places I visit. I’m a sucker for a dance floor and I also love cooking and hanging out with my friends. There’s nothing more perfect than being able to chill with quality people, good food, and great music.
I am a sporty girl, but I have a weakness for art and history! There’s a chance you’ll catch me in a museum when I’m traveling. If I’m not doing either of those things, my favorite thing to do is to go to Santa Monica, get a Turkish latte from Blue Daisy Cafe, and just chill on the beach.
What does your typical workout look like?
Monday, Wednesday and Friday sessions are all in the weight room. Depending on where I am in the season with track and field, my lifts will start with high sets of moderate weights, and progress to low sets of heavy weight. Olympic lifting is a major part of training for the heptathlon. You need speed and power to get through all seven events.
For bobsled, I had to increase my muscle mass from where I was as a heptathlete. My lifting for bobsled is at around 80-85% or my max, organized something like this:
Tuesday and Thursday are for auxiliary lifts like lat pull-downs, curls, bent-over rows, hip bridges and core work. I do a ton of heavy med ball throws and plyometric circuits for bobsled, because it is very difficult to push a sled that weighs over 300 pounds when you do not have a lot of power and speed.
Most memorable PR:
Competing in Germany last summer as a USA selected athlete with my college coach as the head coach of the USA team. I wanted to throw 50 meters in javelin which is a pretty big throw, to break the meet record. On my final attempt I hit 50.00m on the DOT! It was great to have someone that has seen and been such a major part of my journey there to help me get to that moment.
Top 5 songs on your training playlist:
Top 3 things you must have at the gym or in your gym bag:
(Disclaimer: I have way too hard of a time choosing what to put in a bag so I bring two and pack them full. Better to have it and not need it!)
Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
Both, some days I need to get lost in music — usually when I am in the weight room. On the track or doing plyo training, I love having people around.
One of the things that attracted me the most about bobsled was the team aspect. Even though some athletes are on different programs, they all train hard and bring the best out of each other.
I trained this past year as a heptathlete and it was very difficult but also very rewarding. My personality type feeds off positive energy so I try to surround myself with that when I can!
I was able to find out that I am better with a team of people, and it forced me to truly understand which things work for me and which don't.
Most embarrassing gym moment:
There are so many! I guess I can now share this story with the world. It happened when I competed in Fiji on an Athletes in Action mission trip. To make a long story short, we had some bad shawarma out of a mall for dinner the day before competing. The next morning, we were scheduled to compete against the Fijian national team. Every girl went to the restroom beforehand, but I decided to wait until I was in private to take care of business.
On your mark, get set, GO! I blazed through the hurdle race in the lead, until the 6th hurdle out of 10, when things took a turn for the worse. I slowed down dramatically, ending behind my teammate (who’d gone to the restroom, unlike myself). I ran to the restroom right after crossing the finish line, as I learned that there is no waiting game with mother nature. Thankfully, I had extra shorts, and the last night of that trip, I explained to my teammates the real reason behind what happened.
Most memorable compliment you’ve received lately:
Having a rough start with bobsled after coming from another sport where I was already a great athlete was really hard emotionally, and impacted what I could do mentally and physically. I think the best thing I’ve been told was not to give up, because I had all the parts of what it takes to be great.
Most recent compliment you gave someone else:
Well, if we’re being honest here, the most recent would be: “I adore your soul more than anything, I am so glad that I met you, I am really trying hard to understand all this but you really make me love this sport.”
Medium rare steak, tomato bisque soup and a Caesar salad.
Favorite way to treat yourself:
I am a tomboy with a diva flair! I get really happy when I can get my nails done and just chill for a bit. But I also love just being able to go out, let me hair down and chill with friends (while possibly throwing in some mint chocolate chip ice cream).
Don't be bitter... be BETTER
Does a cookbook count?
What inspires and motivates you?
Making someone see the best in themselves and what they want to accomplish. I love being able to show people that you do not have to start out being best to become the best.
You just need to have one person who believes in you more than you believe in yourself to show you that you can do anything you want to do.
Describe a typical day in your life:
A typical day in my life starts with coffee. I get to work around 6 a.m. and train clients until about 10 a.m. Then I head home or grab breakfast before my noon to 3 p.m. running session on the track. After that, I head to the weight room and I am there until about 6 or 7 p.m. I grab dinner with a friend then head home to shower, and I try to get in bed by 9:30 p.m. to start that all over again!
Your next training goal:
My next training goal is to complete my first bobsled season and transition into track and field. For track and field my goal is to score over 6000 for each heptathlon I complete in 2018 and work myself up to a personal best of 6300 points.
For what are you most grateful?
I am most grateful for the friends and family who sponsor my dreams. It is really hard to hold a job and train for one sport, let alone train for two sports. I would not be able to do it without help from other people.
Of what life accomplishment do you feel most proud?
Doing the one thing that my late mother asked me to do in a letter she wrote to me: not stop running until God takes it away.
I’ve learned to truly love myself, so that others can.
Which three words best describe you?
Laughter. Perseverance. Determination.
What’s a risk you've taken recently, and how did it turn out?
I took a chance at training for a sport I had never done. My goal for bobsled was to make a tour team. I thought I would pick it up fairly fast because it is a speed and power sport, but to be honest, I haven’t yet.
Each time I slide — there are usually two runs for each practice — I am learning how to do this. It’s frustrating at times, especially because I want to be able to just be an athlete. But I told myself that no matter what the outcome is, I would stick it out to completion even if my pride is hurt by not getting a chance to compete this year.
It’s been a learning experience: not all things come easy. As much as I had to work at track, I have to do that in bobsled as well.
How has lifting weights changed your life?
I weighed 100 pounds until my senior year of high school. I was fast and springy but I never really lifted to gain strength. I have developed into a very powerful athlete because of weight lifting. Bobsled especially has shown me that: I had to gain weight for bobsled after track season and the only way for me to do that and drop body fat was to increase my weight lifting routine.
What’s the coolest side effect you’ve experienced from strength training?
Hands down gaining 25 pounds and going from 14% to 11% body fat and still looking the same size from track season.
What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous or hesitant about strength training?
There are so many good things that come from strength training, like being able to feel great about yourself and the way your body looks! I love being able to go into a gym and get the same effect as I would doing long runs, with a quality weight lifting regimen. I like being a strong woman and I feel like there is something to be said about being able to commit to a process.
You do not have to lift super heavy, but strength training should be essential for every woman's life and fitness routine.
To learn more about Tiffeny, you can visit her website, or connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
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