She kinda just fell into the fitness world and now she competes in endurance mountain biking events all over the world as a professional athlete. She's a 2015 World Champion in a 24-hour race - that's enough right there to earn her a #WCW spot, amiright?! She loves talking plant based nutrition, mindset and conquering tough things.
We are excited to introduce you to this week's #wcw, Sonya Looney. And check out her crazy fun socks over at Moxy&Grit!
Get connected with Sonya!
What do you do?
I'm a Pro Mountain biker. I take on the hardest endurance challenges around the world and have raced in 25+ countries. I have won races around the world including the 2015 World Championship for 24-Hour racing. I also have a podcast where I interview health experts, psychologists, accomplished athletes, and more to tease out what mindsets and habits help people live high performance lives. I write for many publications about adventure travel, mindset, mountain biking, and plant based nutrition. I am the founder of a lifestyle apparel brand that is currently focused on fun athletic socks called Moxy & Grit. I manage myself as an athlete with 18 partners. I am a speaker where I talk about both mindset or plant-based nutrition at conferences around the US and Canada.
What else do you do?
Cook, go to yoga, play guitar, spend time with friends, sing, but mostly I just work. I'm currently trying to do less and find more time for leisure!
How do you define the word 'strength'?
Being brave enough to go for the thing that you really want to do and having the courage to stick with it, even when no one believes in you. Perseverance, feeling fear and pain - welcoming it and knowing how to cope with it. Being able to find the positives and turn setbacks into opportunities.
How did you discover your passion?
By accident! I started running at the end of high school as an outlet. I found confidence in myself that I never had before. It led me to spin class at the gym which led to someone inviting me to go mountain biking. I started blogging about my adventures because I love sharing my personal stories and I enjoy being open and vulnerable. Everything took off from there.
How do you incorporate movement into your daily lifestyle?
Cycling is the bulk of the movement I do. I'm trying to do more walks (I'm getting a dog so I will do other activities!). I try to do yoga 2x a week but honestly it goes in waves. I'll do it for a month and then not at all.
Where would be a good starting point for someone who is looking to add more movements into their life like what you do?
If you don't have a bike, spin class at the gym is a good place to start. Find someone that resonates with you. Or try running. I personally think that being outdoors is way better than being indoors. A lot of bike shops rent bicycles. Invite a friend and go explore. To find trails in your area, download the free Trailforks app - it has all the trails including how hard they are. It also is a live GPS so you can never get lost. Get started - even if it's 15 min a day. Creating daily habits make it easier to stick with it. It's our daily actions that define our outcomes in life.
Does movement increase your self-confidence? If yes, how?
Yes! It teaches you that you are more capable than you thought. Strength comes from the inside. You learn so much about yourself - who you are, how you deal with expectations, success, and failure the farther outside your comfort zone you push yourself. That deep self-awareness and learning to accept yourself and have self-compassion gives you confidence. Taking on one challenge after another also builds confidence.
What motivates the crap out of you?
Personal Growth. I love books and podcasts where you can learn more about how people work, how you work, how to be better in your life. I think self-reflection and being honest with yourself is one of the most important things in life.
How do you define 'fitness'?
This is an interesting question. As a cyclist, I'm one of the fittest endurance cyclists on the planet. However, in terms of overall fitness, I'm totally one dimensional. If I played any other sport, I'd be incredibly sore. Long walks are hard for me. When you become very accomplished in one area, you have to almost spend all your time doing that one thing. Fitness can either be narrow and deep or broad and shallow. It's whatever resonates with you. For me, I'm more narrow and deep with the one thing I focus on. I try to add in other activities, but it's always clear that my body functions as a cyclist! If you're trying to expand into other sports, don't force it and start slow. I went to an XC skiing camp last winter. I had the engine to push myself for many days but my form and body wasn't used to working in that way and I ended up injuring my knee! Lesson learned! I see people in yoga forcing themselves into these poses, but they are compromising the purpose of the pose in order to make it look like everyone else. Sometimes it's hard to know what you are supposed to be doing, but I usually modify poses to respect my limitations. I used to force myself into twists but would do them wrong because I didn't have the mobility.
Where do you see the future of the fitness?
Cycling is growing which is awesome to see! I think with how digital things are, it'll probably continue morphing using our phones, internet programs, and more. My hope is that it grows to build community and in a positive way to teach people that they are more capable than they think!
What advice do you wish you could have given your former self?
Be patient. It's okay if you aren't doing things the way everyone else is doing them. Love the process more than the outcome. Trust that if you work hard at something you're passionate about, it'll work out.
Anything else you'd like to share with us?
I would LOVE to connect with you. Connection and helping people is why I do what I do. Find me on instagram and send me a message. I'd love to hear from you and I personally respond to every message. Also- I think this interview I did would be really helpful. We got super vulnerable. https://www.innervoice.life/sonya-looney