The surfing champion has navigated setbacks, comebacks and injuries (including a shoulder fracture in 2018), all the while learning to give her mind the same TLC as the rest of her body. In fact, it’s this mindset shift that hints she’ll be conquering waves and capable of great things for a long time to come. It also helped her use the COVID-19 enforced shutdown of the World Surf League to make herself a more complete surfer ahead of this year's postponed Olympics.
Fitzgibbons, who secured her invitation to Australia’s surfing team for the sport’s Olympic debut with her performances on the world tour in 2019, has used the rare block of time at home to add to her aerial arsenal ahead of the rescheduled Tokyo Games this July. And that means keeping consistent with her approach to fitness.
"Being a surfer and on the road, you have to be so adaptable. Like right now, we can’t actually go into the gyms because of the Covid bubble [created] for us to compete, so it’s like ‘what can I use to throw some weight around?’ And you just fill up a bunch of water bottles in a bag, and you can get a 15kg weight right there. And then you might go for a walk or run and do some burpees, push-ups and a set using a tree," she told Women's Health's Alex Davies mid-last year.
The athlete explained that while on break she wanted to remain consistent with her daily routine, even in her home base of Gerroa, a small town on New South Wales' south coast.
"For me, I wake up and have a stretch or do sort-of yoga to ready the body; I do some bodyweight resistance sets; and then the surf sessions are scattered through the day. I use cardio, like going for a run or swim, to sometimes regulate my adrenalin, too, because your energy is so heightened [when you're surfing]. So, I might go for a run straight after a surf, just to find a rhythm again, so I don’t spread that anxiousness across the rest of my day or the people around me. I’m all about consistency and doing things that make me feel really good and agile. You know when everything just feels together and connected? I chase that sort of feeling, whether it’s the things I’m eating or drinking, how I’m exercising, the people I connect to. I want to feel in tune with the day and nature, so I pick activities that relate to that."
While the 30-year-old has said before that she avoids boxing herself into eating only certain foods and sacrificing things that she loves, there are some nutrition non-negotiables that she swears by.
"I just try and stay wholesome and healthy and get really good produce. If I can get it from someone’s farm, that’s the pinnacle. Just treat your body like you’re a world champion, even if you’re not an athlete," She tells Women's Health. "Cooking my own food is really important. You get a connection to and appreciation of [your meal] through that process. I love watching a good cooking show – it’s so soothing! And the sport version of cooking shows is watching golf. That’s like meditation."
To read Sally Fitzgibbon's full Women's Health cover story make sure to pick up our March 2021 issue, on sale Thursday February 11.