Meet Olympian Kerri Walsh
When Kerri Walsh finds a pair of jeans long enough to flatter her 37 inch inseam, she buys out the store's stock. She's six feet of sunshine; a true California girl from her sun-bleached hair straight down to her flip-flop tanned feet. Her syntax, equal parts SoCal surf and Stanford grad - exuberant and sprinkled with "rad" and "right on" - makes it easier to believe that this Amazon-esque Olympic gold medalist is no different from any of the other moms in play group. But in addition to reading books before bedtime and breakfast everyday with her boys, she's chasing another horizon: London gold in 2012.
"It's a family goal," says Kerri of the upcoming London games. Today is Saturday, and she's home from training, feeding her youngest son, Sundance, 9 months, his lunch. She calls out goodbye to her husband, men's volleyball champion Casey Jennings, who is on his way to his workout. Having the same profession structures their family priorities: "My husband and I kind of plan around each other's schedules, so I can come home in the morning, high-five him, and then he goes and trains. Then when he comes back I go back to train. Our priorities are our family and our jobs, basically. We have a rotating door to the beach and the house." The couple, who married in 2005, met Kerri's first day of professional practice, when he was just some "blonde-hair blue-eyed kid running around on the beach." Almost six years later, the now family of four has made their home in Hermosa Beach, balancing the hum-drum of the everyday with their rigorous touring and training schedules. "This wouldn't be happening if we didn't have the same job," Kerri muses, "but we relate on every single level. And we're on the road together, which is priceless."
Today is just an normal day, though Kerri's "normal" days may seem frenetic for some. They start early between 5 and 6 o'clock, when the family gets up together to have breakfast before she heads to the sand or gym. Mornings always begin with protein - a tip from Kerri's trainer ("Why does everyone start their day off with a carb? It gets your sugars all out of whack!") - and then by eight she's at the beach. Casey stays home to hang with the boys until Kerri returns to be with their kids before her next workout. They're back and forth between the beach and boys all day, alternating between parenting and profession. And like for every family, it's all about preparations and routines. "We're on the go, nonstop, and our boys are so adaptable because of it," says Kerri. "We really stick to our routine on the road... the boys know what's going on, what the expect and not expect", like their favorite book, "Goodnight Gorilla," before bedtime, on-the-go snack options ("Our boys love those tuna snack packs!") and family time without distractions.
It helps to have such a solid partnership. Kerri went back to competing when her youngest was only six months old. Luckily, Casey was up to the infant care challenge. "He's an amazing father. He makes it okay to leave... I was heartbroken [to be away from my kids] but I had nothing to worry about." But the best moments are when everyone is home together. "They say that everything changes after you have kids, and it does. But the idea that we can't have fun anymore is totally untrue. I have the most fun with my kids," Kerri shares. A recent trip together to Disneyworld brought tears to her eyes: she might be made of steel on the volleyball court, but off she is pretty sentimental.
Keeping Things Simple
How do training and toddlers affect their marriage? "Sleeping is a great date!" Kerri laughs. "In pre-season and regular season, we're so tired at the end of the day. We have to keep it simple." Early dinners, early movies and the luxury of grandma nearby: "You have to reconnect on a couple level!" True to form, they try to stay relaxed. "I'm pretty laid back. I live in comfortable clothes - jeans, tanks, flip flops, Chuck Taylors." Like her wardrobe, she also keeps her beauty routines simple, and because she spends so much time outdoors, she's very conscious about the look and feel of her skin. "A lot of people don't know this," she shares, "but the serving size on sunscreen is huge! I used to put just a dollop on my face and my shoulders, but now I use much more than that." Her secret coverage trick is working from the outside of your face towards the center - "that way you won't miss anything!" Beyond sunscreen, Kerri prefers to keep her makeup natural, with Rosebud strawberry lip balm, a swipe of mascara (Yves Saint Laurent is her favorite) and a good moisturizer ("Laura Mercier's Illuminating Moisturizer with SPF 20 is my favorite thing in the world," she says. "I think everyw woman should have it. It makes you glow.").
And then there's the fitness. "When I was pregnant, it was the first time I wasn't really training for my profession." Even though she missed the intensity of her professional training routines, she learned to love lower impact workouts."I just plugged in the iPod and jogged. It's so good be be outside and really feel your body." Kerri, who is famous for her perfectly toned legs and core, shared one of her fitness secrets: "I think all body weight exercises are fun to do: push-ups or bridges or just squats against the wall. Your body has enough weight that you don't need to go to the weight room. Just use your body, and you'll be able to get results." And as for abs, her favorite exercise right now is windshield wipers. "You pretty much just have your legs straight up above your hips, and then you just go straight to the ground, all the way to one side and then the other, nice and slow. Really focus on your obliques and keeping your tummy tight. It's pretty all inclusive." Her final midsection tip? "Always keep your belly button tucked towards your spine. It helps to tone the deeper muscles in your stomach."
But even abtastic Olympians need to indulge their sweet tooth, and Kerri is no exception. "Nuts. Swiss chocolate - I'm addicted," she says, matter-of-factly and with zero hesitation. At the end of the day, she's still the mom next door - down to earth, full of love for her family, trying to keep up with her kids, career and physique. And all the while, she's going for the gold.