Athleta Athlete-Model Profile: Riding the Waves With Rochelle Ballard
Meet our Spring 2016 Model-Athlete, Rochelle Ballard, big wave master, tube specialist, and women’s surf pioneer!
You’re often referred to a “pioneer” and “icon” in women’s surfing. Did you ever imagine you would make such an impact on the surf community?
As a young teenager I dreamed of being a professional surfer. In the beginning, though, I was solely focused on being able to travel the world and surf the best waves on the planet. To me, this was living out my dream. As my career began to take off, I had strong hopes that, one day, the surf industry would recognize all of us. When this became a reality, it really was the greatest gift.
Are you an early riser or night owl?
I love getting up early. It energizes me. No matter where I am in the world, the first thing that wakes me is the first light of day! I just returned from Australia, where the sun rose around 5ish. Of course I was up and checking the waves!
What’s on your workout playlist?
I listen to The Weeknd, Tropical House Radio, and Wyclef Jean Radio (I have to play a little old school Tupac, Fergie, Rihanna, and Lutan Fyah)!
How have you seen women’s surfing change and evolve over the years?
I was the first woman to ride bigger barrels out at Backdoor, Pipeline, and Sunset Beach. Before doing so, I was told by many I couldn’t do it. Going into a challenge of that magnitude with negative energy was difficult for me, but it also gave me strength. Amidst all of this, we had little media coverage, and the internet was a new frontier. In the few years before I retired, you could for the first time watch live contests online. During that time, Blue Crush, the Hollywood film, was released, and soon we saw the rise of a multi-billion dollar surf industry, which was advertising our lifestyle in mainstream magazines. The reality of it all today, in both men’s and women’s surfing, is very inspiring and exciting to see.
I was the first woman to ride bigger barrels out at Backdoor, Pipeline, and Sunset Beach. Before doing so, I was told by many that I couldn’t do it. Going into a challenge of that magnitude with negative energy was difficult for me, but it also gave me strength.
What’s your favorite guilty pleasure snack?
Macadamia chocolate chip cookies!
What are your tips for beginner surfers?
Take a private lesson and learn safety, ocean awareness, and some of surfing’s ABCs before jumping in with two feet. It’s one of the most difficult and rewarding experiences in the world.
You’re a yogi and a massage therapist – and you run wellness retreats. What inspired this commitment to wellness?
When I graduated from high school, I really wanted to become a chiropractor. After incurring an injury while surfing, I recovered through massage and yoga therapy, which really inspired me to learn more. When I retired from the tour, weaving these practices was the natural thing for me to create livelihood from. I got together with some good friends in production, and we made Surf Into Yoga. It was a DVD for surfers who wanted an introduction on yoga sequencing for warm up and cool down. From there, it was a natural progression to do retreats focused on surf, yoga and wellness. Now I’m located on Kauai and Surf Into Yoga is focused on customized surf, yoga, wellness and adventure retreats. From time to time, I coach and mentor young surfers.
What are your gym bag essentials? What can’t you live without?
My yoga pants, yoga bra and tank top, light hoodie, bikini, running shoes, stretch band, and my tunes.
Photos by: Mike Coots, Tony Heff, Dave Bjorn
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