Name: Julie Gohring Age: 41 Location: Tamarindo, Costa Rica
What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
Being a Girl Gone Strong means bucking traditional and conventional stereotypes of what it means to be a woman. It means defining myself by my own standards and creating space for other woman to do the same. We are all individuals, by owning our uniqueness and joining forces together we can achieve so much more!
How long have you been strength training, and how did you get started? I dabbled on and off for years, but didn’t get serious until 2010 when I realized how getting stronger could help improve my surfing. I’m a surf fanatic, so anything that increases my joy when I’m out in the ocean makes me say, “I’m all in.” I also wanted to be able to pull myself up the side of a rickety panga boat that has no ladder, when I am out in the middle of the ocean, without the assistance of anyone. It’s basically like doing a muscle up. Ha!
Once I started lifting with heavier weight I was amazed at how the shape of my body changed. It created curves and definition like nothing I had ever seen before. I also noticed how the strength I gained in my body overflowed into other areas of my life.
I started showing up in my life more fully, more focused, and more alive than ever.
What does your typical workout look like?
Even though upper body strength is what solidified my strength training practice, I love to train my glutes. I can never find an excuses not to. When I train glutes, I always focus on heavy deadlifts, single-leg deadlifts, hip thrusts, kettlebell swings, and Bulgarian split squats.
The Bulgarian Split Squat. Nothing gets the glutes to burn quite like this split squat.
Most memorable PR:
My most memorable PR was not with a bar, but rather from Mother Nature. I was on a surf trip in Indonesia three years ago, where I was faced with one of my biggest surf challenges to date. I had gotten up super early (dawn patrol!) to get out into the ocean before the line-up got crowded with other surfers.
The surf break was about one mile off the coast over a not-so-deep reef, so I had to be boated out to the line-up. I had looked at the surf report the night before and knew the waves were going to be big, but I would have never expected what I saw that morning.
When I arrived to the line-up, it was in between sets so it was hard to tell what the conditions were. I jumped out of the boat and started to paddle over to the line-up when I saw the biggest waves of my life. These massive walls of water were rolling in, some of the wave faces were up to 15 feet! Up until that point the biggest waves I had surfed were six feet.
Seeing waves that big, up close, with my very own eyes made me feel a wee bit scared, to say the least. Ha! It could have been very easy in that moment to panic, lose faith in my own ability, and turn right around and get back into the boat. But I didn’t. Somewhere inside me, I knew that I could catch one of those waves. (And this is one reason I believe the benefits of strength training overflow into other areas of our lives.) I not only had the physical strength but also the body confidence and internal belief to trust myself (and my mind and body), and say yes to pushing myself past my own limits. I truly believe my dedication to strength training gave me the physical and mental strength to stay in those conditions, when my gut reflex would have been to bolt.
On that day I caught one of the most memorable and biggest waves of my life at eight feet. I thank the iron for that!
Top 5 songs on your training playlist:
My House – FloRida
Treasure Chest – Bruno Mars
No Scrubs – TLC
Crash – Dave Mathews Band
Jane Says – Jane’s Addiction
Top 3 things you must have at the gym or in your gym bag:
Water bottle with BCAA’s, lifting gloves, and resistance bands (for those glutes).
Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why? I love to train alone because it allows me to concentrate deeply on the inner experience of training my body, and it also forces me to push my mental limits. However, I usually train with my boyfriend, which is awesome as well. We push each other, and since he is a personal trainer too, it’s nice to have someone check my form and give me constructive feedback.
Most memorable compliment you’ve received lately: A client recently told me, “ I came to you desperate to lose weight, but I have gained so much more than I could have ever imagined. Because of you, for the first time in my life I feel at peace with my body and proud of the skin I am in. I am no longer worried about the number on the scale because now I know it doesn’t even matter. It’s all about how I feel in my body.”
Most recent compliment you gave someone else:
“Hey you, I dig your shirt!” (that’s Nick, my boyfriend.)
Do wine and cheese or tortilla chips and guac count as meals?
Favorite way to treat yourself:
Sunset walks. The vibe in the air the five minutes before the sun goes down is like the most peaceful, serene, and perfect five minutes of my existence every time.
Favorite quotes: I have two faves…
“Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.” —Barack Obama
“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” —Joseph Campbell
Favorite books: Sapiens: A Brief History Of Mankind — Yuval Harari The Power Of Myth — Joseph Campbell & Bill Moyers The Beauty Myth — Naomi Wolf East Of Eden — John Steinbeck
What inspires and motivates you? A courageous woman. A woman who takes care of herself first — even in a world where she is told to put herself last. She does what’s best for her, nevertheless. She stands tall, she takes up space, and she uses her voice. Every time I see a woman do, act, or behave in a way that is aligned with her, regardless of if it aligns with what society has told her, my heart smiles.
What do you do? For a decade I worked in pharmaceutical/bio-tech sales, but once I relocated to Costa Rica I turned my passion for fitness into my full-time work. Now, I’m a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach and work with clients here in Costa Rica on the beach and also all over the world through Saltwater Fit, our online fitness and nutrition coaching. Technology is amazing!
Although I love living in Costa Rica and working for myself, I am so grateful for my time spent working in corporate america and the healthcare industry at large. Working within the healthcare system equipped me with an invaluable perspective that I would never have gained without that experience. I find it extremely useful in my work today as I wade through the endless amounts of health and fitness information.
Transitioning from working for someone else to working for myself has been a transformative experience. It truly has pushed me waaayyy out of my comfort zone and made me commit more fully to who I want to become. I am also very fortunate to have a business partner, my boyfriend, who is also a trainer and nutrition coach, and makes the entrepreneur lifestyle much more bearable. Together, we run our fitness and lifestyle blog Saltwater Fit.
… And when you’re not working? I guess it is obvious by now, I love to surf and basically operate my life around it. Sounds funny I know, but to be a dedicated surfer it is a requirement. You have to schedule your work and daily commitments around the tides and the specific environmental conditions that are changing from day to day.
It’s different from other sports where the conditions are always the same. For instance, take basketball. There is always a basketball, court, and a hoop to shoot. Those are constants and usually readily available for practice when you have time.
In surfing, there are so many variables outside of your control that must come together to make a surfable wave. You need swell, the right wind direction, the right tide and time of day, etc. So you aren’t guaranteed surfable conditions whenever you feel so inclined to go surf. Therefore you have to be able to react in real time with some spontaneity to take advantage of the current ideal conditions when they appear.
My schedule reflects this priority and allows for flexibility. Having a more fluid schedule can make creating structure in your day more difficult and require more energy and focus to get things done. But it’s totally worth it for me. Surfing always bring my mind to the present moment. It forces me into the here and now, which I find is where my best life is lived.
I also love to travel. Especially to faraway places and distant lands. I find traveling (especially international) one of the most educational and expansive experiences you can give yourself. It forces you to see how people from other cultures and countries see and experience the world and reflect back on your own. It gives you perspective and an appreciation for all that is.
Describe a typical day in your life: Since living in Costa Rica, my life has become much simpler. This is by design. These are the elements of my day, not always in equal proportion or order. Ha!
Wake up: not a morning person. Drink Coffee: necessary for function.
Hit the Surf: pure joy. Work: train clients, write emails and blogs, read articles and books. Eat: lots of cauliflower rice. Train: lift weights or yoga — or both. Sunset walk: mandatory. Sleep: eight hours. Repeat: yes, please.
Your next training goal: Getting barreled. For those of you who don’t know the term, a barrel is when the wave creates a tube that you can ride in. You are essentially riding the inside curl of the wave. It’s pretty magical. When you’re in the barrel, you are completely covered up by the lip of the wave. The reason getting barreled is difficult is because you must take off or drop into the wave in a much more consequential section. Often times you put yourself at risk for falling or a violent wipeout because the lip of the wave can smack you down. This is where confidence, focus, and technical skill intersect.
For what are you most grateful? My parents. They always prioritized my brother and I, making sacrifices so that we could have more opportunity and experience in the world. My mother emphasized the importance of education and travel, and my father raised me to believe I could do or be anything. As an adult, I see how the solid foundation they laid is fundamental to all that I am today. Forever humbled and blessed.
Of what life accomplishment do you feel most proud? Working on the presidential campaign for Barack Obama. From 2007-2008, I worked as a volunteer community organizer for what is now known as Obama for America. I knocked on doors, made thousands of calls, raised money, and organized others to do the same. It was an extraordinary experience that taught me two important learnings:
When you become part of something that is bigger than yourself, you can accomplish so much more than you ever thought possible.
We are so much moresimilar than we are different — no matter our age, race, sex, education, political party, or socioeconomic status — we all essentially want the same things. When we put ourselves out there honestly, we can powerfully connect with others who seem different from us. This is how we come together, make change, and progress.
Which three words best describe you? Passionate, intuitive, and loyal.
What’s a risk you’ve taken recently, and how did it turn out? The biggest risk I took was when I decided to leave my corporate job and move to Costa Rica. This happened a little over six years ago. It was the biggest mental and emotional challenge I had ever put myself through because it brought into question my entire belief system. I had to reexamine everything I had been conditioned to believe about a “successful and happy life.”
Although this process wasn’t easy and was definitely uncomfortable, it forced me to align the way I was living with what I truly believed in my heart. I am forever grateful for this experience and that I trusted myself to make the leap.
Sometimes we know what is best for us in our hearts, but in our heads it just doesn’t make sense. Fear of the unknown and rational, pragmatic thought can get the best of us. When I moved to Costa Rica, I didn’t know how it was all going to turn out, there were plenty of unknowns. But I trusted a little voice that I had been trying to quiet for a long time, and I have been better off ever since. As Joseph Campbell says: “Follow your bliss (or little voice) and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve experienced from strength training? I now have more autonomy and a deeper awareness of my own body. Knowing how to activate or turn on certain muscle groups so that I can improve my form in any activity that I do.
How has lifting weights changed your life? Lifting weights has grown my self confidence and ability to handle more challenging surfing situations. It has also reminded me what I can accomplish when I put my head down and put in the effort.
What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous or hesitant about strength training? Strength training will transform the way you look and feel in your body. You’ll be amazed! You’ll forge a new found sense of independence and respect for yourself that will resource you in every other area of your life. But don’t take my word for it, go try it for yourself.
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