Gabrielle Reece On STRONG, Making Fitness A Priority, And Her Afro-Trini Roots

April 12, 2016  |  

Corbis

Corbis

While attending the NBC Summer Press Day in Los Angeles earlier this month, I had the chance to chat with the former model, volleyball star and popular TV personality, Gabrielle Reece. After years of killing it (literally) on the court at Florida State University and while on professional volleyball tours, Reece modeled in many major magazines, hosted a variety of reality fitness competitions and became a health writer and fitness expert. After doing all of that in the prime of her career, Reece, now 46, married and a mother of three, still manages to look long, lean…and like a badass. And she’s back on television, hosting a new NBC reality fitness competition show called STRONG, which premieres this week and is executive produced by Sylvester Stallone. On the show, 10 women from around the country link up with 10 skilled male trainers of varying specialties to help them either get back in fighting shape or to finally lose weight, tone up and transform their lives.

But how has Reece managed to stay in such great shape for so many years while balancing a busy work schedule and three kids? By dedicating her life to fitness.

“I always say, women get their nails done, and they spend a lot of time online. So they do have the 30 minutes,” Reece said while speaking on making time for health and exercise. “So it’s about deciding and being ferocious about it, and having the discipline to say you’re going to go, and you’re going to go right now.”

Reece also said that half the battle is finding forms of exercise that you actually enjoy, as well as healthy foods that actually taste good. The more fun you have with exercising and eating healthy, of course, the less of a chore it feels like to get up and get moving to improve your lifestyle. Also, if you have someone supporting you as you make these changes, the more likely you are to meet your goals. Just like the 10 women being supported by the 10 expert trainers on STRONG. 

“I think it’s first about finding things you can actually tolerate doing so every day it’s not like ‘Oh, I hate that,’ Reece said. “I don’t go and lift and say, ‘I’m so excited!’ But I can deal with it. And as far as foods, if you hate certain foods, don’t make it like, ‘I have to eat that because it’s good for me.’ Find the foods you know you can deal with that you know serve your body. But you also need to have to have a teammate, which is what the show is about. So whether it’s a best girlfriend, or maybe not a best girlfriend, but she’s on the same page as you with this, get it done with her. But it’s about priority. There wouldn’t be a dilemma of, ‘Oh I’m busy, and I don’t really feel like making it to pick my kid up from school.’ You make it happen. So if you put this on the same docket as ‘This is a priority, I’m going to take care of myself,’ then it gets done.”

And Reece has been committing to her workout schedule for years. It hasn’t been easy juggling everything, but she makes time almost six days a week to get active.

“I do a circuit training that’s pretty rigorous, but it’s one that anyone can do,” Reece said. “And then I do in the pool holistic training. I have a very bad right knee, so there’s ways while I’m learning to train to move around and work with what I’m dealing with.”

And what she’s found out from her rigorous training and health journey is that while you should want to get active, sometimes it truly does pay off to sit down somewhere and give your body proper time to rest.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned is to take a day off when I’m genuinely tired,” Reece said. “To assign a day off is actually a mistake because you might be genuinely burned out and tired on a day that you go to train, and you do more harm to yourself. So I think it’s about people really being in tune with themselves.”

She’s also learned that food is 80 percent of the deal, as in, eating better and making proper choices. However, it’s most important to make a commitment to bettering yourself and sticking to it. Which is what Reece loves about STRONG, the contestants on the show, and their dedication.

“What these trainers and trainees were able to do, was to me pretty mindblowing,” Reece said. “It’s pretty amazing what these women took on. They were shifting their minds and then the body follows.”

Yes, Reece shared some fascinating and informative knowledge with reporters, but along with learning about her health regimen and how she balances everything as a busy mom, I also wanted to ask her about something she rarely talks about and that many people probably didn’t know of: her Afro-Trinidadian roots.

While walking around the garden after-party following the Press Day event, I tapped Reece on the shoulder and let it rip:

“I just wanted to know; I heard that you were Trinidadian. Is that true?”

Not knowing what response I was going to receive, Reece actually smiled and said, “Yes! Can you tell?” before laughing.

Reece continued, “My grandfather was Black, and my grandmother was White. A lot of my family are still in Trinidad.”

Reece would go on to joke with me about how the young White women she played volleyball with were always surprised when they would find out that she is, in fact, mixed. But she made it clear to me that there were always people who could tell she was different. Black women to be specific. She cited her stature (she’s 6’3″) as a dead giveaway.

“Women of color can always tell,” Reece laughed. “They’re the ones who ask me.”

Sorry, but inquiring minds (like moi), just wanted to know!

Now, if you want to see what STRONG is all about and get inspired, you can check out the show when its special 2-hour preview airs this Wednesday at 9/8c, and when it officially premieres Thursday, April 14 at 8/7c. Check out the trailer below:

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