From the second she stepped onto the surfing pro circuit in 2007, winning her first world title in the process, Stephanie Gilmore has been a phenomenon. A self-confessed former tomboy, the Murwillumbah-born Aussie has been surfing since she was 10 years old. Now, at 27, Steph is ranked number seven, with six world titles to her name, a Roxy ambassadorship and a fearsome reputation as one of pro surfing's most successful and recognisable stars.
Despite her enviable gig - plane-hopping to the world's most stunning coastlines - the beach babe has touched down in Australia to prepare for the next round of events. "It's nice to be able to get into a routine," she says. "Whenever I come home it's more of a holiday than when [I'm away]." While we can hazard guess how she stays perpetually tanned year-round (hello, endless summer), we were keen to uncover how one maintains such a fit and strong physique while on tour. Read on to discover the surfing champion's fitness, diet and beauty secrets.
How do you keep your fitness and diet on track when you travel so much?
Obviously, discipline - everyone needs a little bit of that. I'm not crazy strict on anything, but I obviously know what feels good. And your body responds to what you do and what you eat. You really have to listen to that. When you're travelling, of course you want to experience the place - you know, the local food and culture - you can't say no to that stuff. But instead of going to the gym, I walk around the city and try to incorporate more physical adventure to make it fun. A lot of the travel we do is for competition anyway, so I've got to make sure that I'm eating fresh food and keeping it pretty light for when I compete.
How does your body cope with all the time zone changes? I always end up eating like, three dinners...
[laughs] Yeah, it's ok. I think if you're hungry then you should eat. You've got to keep your metabolism burning, so if you're eating lots of good little snacks then that's a good thing. Jet lag can be hard, you can get stuck in weird patterns that you have to break. I think the best thing you can do if you're feeling tired and jet lagged is exercise. Go for a jog, do a bunch of squats. I was just in Paris and it didn't get light until 8.30 in the morning, so I was awake really early, going, 'What do I do?' I didn't have a gym at the hotel, so I had to make do with what I had and ended up doing a little workout in my room and going for a jog around the city.
Do you have any diet guidelines?
Fresh and healthy. I eat all meats, vegetables, and fresh salads are always really good. When I wake up I like to have a super green smoothie - with maybe some protein in it. And I love coffee.
Is there anything you avoid?
Red meat can be kind of heavy if I'm competing, I always stick to fish and vegetables - that's my favourite. Dairy is not always the best, but I don't have any allergic reactions, so I don't say no. And obviously those intense carbs - I try and stay away from those. But it's hard to go to Italy and not eat pasta!
Do you have any big food weaknesses?
I'm definitely a dessert kid. My mum is the eldest of seven and her brother is a renowned chef. So all my aunties are the most amazing cooks and we're always cooking up the next best dessert. And I've got a sweet tooth for chocolate.
What does an average day look like for you?
If I'm at home, I'd get up and drink a big glass of water, then have a glass of supergrains (just mixed with fresh orange juice or something). Then I would go for a quick paddle in the surf for 30 minutes, catch a couple of waves to wake up. I'd come in and make a smoothie (a mix of protein powder and lots of berries), then meet up with my trainer to do one and a half to two hours in the gym. I'd have a pretty big lunch, then go surfing again, depending on what the surf is like. At night, if I'm watching TV, I always make sure I'm stretching. Everyone wants to sit and hang out watching TV, but I think if you can move yourself from the couch to the floor and do some stretching, you'll feel really good. Especially when you go to bed.
Do you do yoga?
Not really. I'll put in yoga-type poses to my stretching [regime] and I use one of those foam rollers, which are incredible. I feel like everyone should have one. Or if my hip flexors get really tight, I'll get a hard tennis ball, wrap it in duct tape and literally sit on a spot for ages. After a while, you feel your muscles let go and it's deeper than any masseuse could ever get.
Are you an early riser?
Not always, I'm pretty relaxed. There's this crazy idea that everyone thinks surfers are up super early all the time, but I think those are the surfers that have to go to work at 9 'o'clock. The real surfers are ones that just cruise. With forecasting now, you can tell if the waves are going to be really good. And if they're really good, we'll be up before the sun and definitely trying to figure out where to surf that day.
What about beauty and body treatments? I'm guessing your hair and skin would cop a beating. Do you have any favourite products?
For my hair, I love It's A 10 - it's a leave-in conditioner you get in the States. Evo is an Australian brand and they have a really good leave-in conditioner which saves my hair every time. And for my skin I use coconut oil. I also use an American sunscreen called Shade, it's about to launch in Australia. It's really good. I've found with sunscreen that a lot of them soak into your skin/face, and you feel like you're kind of taking them on. This one feels like it sits on top of your skin and it creates a film or barrier, which I really like. And it comes in a tan colour, so it looks like you've got make-up on.
And [I use] honey, actually. If you get really sunburnt, put a little bit of water on your face and get some regular honey, and smear it all over your face and let it sit for as long as you want. Honey is full of healing properties so it rejuvenates your skin and makes it really soft afterwards.
The 2016 Quiksilver and Roxy Pros kick off on March 11. Don't miss the upcoming #ROXYfitness event on March 12 on the Gold Coast. Registrations are open now - head to roxyaustralia.com.au.