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11 Things with Surfer Kanoa Greene

11 Things with Surfer Kanoa Greene

by Nicole Phillips

The Wellness Expert Encourages Adventures in Health and Wellness Regardless of Size.

Born in Hawaii and raised in Orlando Florida, Kanoa Greene basically has ocean flowing through her blood. With a legendary surfer for an uncle it’s no surprise that she’s fallen in love with surfing herself and has made it a part of her everyday life, adding it to her own self-care routine. But surfing is not the only thing Greene incorporates into her wellness ritual. The outdoor-loving surfer is also a Yogi, avid hiker, diver and up for even the most daunting adventures that come her way.

Read on to find out more about how Greene makes her self-care and wellness a priority in her life and how she navigates a traditionally male dominated sport.

“I love challenging people’s disbelief, including my own. Being able to prove to myself that my body is strong and capable regardless of size.”

Q & A with Kanoa

What does self-care mean for you?

Self-care is making sure that I am pouring into myself consistently so that I can pour my best into others. I’ve met many women who feel guilty about carving out time to make their needs a priority, especially when trying to manage so many other pressing priorities in their lives, but I’ve found that when I make self-care not only a top priority, but a non-negotiable, I show up as my best self in everything else.

What do you do for self-care?

There are things that I do everyday for self-care like moving my body with some sort of physical activity, delving into a good book or podcast for personal development, and journaling. Then there are those days when a girl just needs a day out brunching and shopping with her gal pals.

What does wellness mean to you? How do you incorporate wellness and self-care into your everyday life?

Making sure that I’m taking small steps forward everyday towards a physically, mentally and emotionally healthier me while keeping my joy in the process. That requires me to be intentional about my progress so I have built disciplines into my lifestyle that help me take those steps forward no matter how small.

How did you get into surfing?

My uncle is a legendary surfer in Hawaii. There's even a local surf spot on Oahu that's named after him so I've always had a fascination with the sport, but growing up plus-size, I never saw girls like me out there catching waves. Believe me, it was a challenge those first few days out in the ocean, but once I got up on that board for the first time, I was hooked.

What do you love about surfing?

Honestly, I love the challenge. Partially because people don’t expect a 265 lbs woman to be out there with a surfboard. I love challenging people’s disbelief, including my own. Being able to prove to myself that my body is strong and capable regardless of size. I suppose it’s why I am constantly challenging myself through many outdoor activities even beyond surfing.

Tell us about being a plus sized woman in a sport that is generally dominated by men.

This is incredibly new territory for plus-size women because there has been such a stigma in the surf world. Women have been making tremendous strides over the past decade, but now we are in the era of paving the way for the plus-size woman and it is absolutely exciting!

What are some tips that you can give someone starting out surfing? Any tips specifically for larger bodies?

I am a big believer that you can conquer any adventure regardless of shape or size, but I am also an advocate of setting yourself up for success and gaining strength, flexibility or stamina your body may need to make your adventure as safe and enjoyable as possible. Paddling out in the ocean, doing a pop-up on your board and riding a wave are all physically intense activities so I always recommend adding some strength and agility training to your regimen before hitting the ocean. But at the end of the day, remember that even if you don't get up on your board after your first dozen tries, it doesn’t mean you aren't meant to do it. Just keep trying and don't give up!

Tell us more about yoga, diving, and other activities you do. How is yoga a part of your everyday life?

Since having made my wellness a priority, I have gained a tremendous amount of strength and confidence to push outside of my comfort zone. It’s allowed me to discover my love of paddleboarding, hiking, sailing, diving, rock-climbing and surfing.

Do you see any changes being made in these spaces? Are these sports becoming more inclusive?

As a plus-size woman, people are usually surprised to discover that I do these types of activities and honestly, breaking those barriers is part of my motivation for tackling new adventures. Plus-size women are still very much under represented within many facets of the wellness community, but I believe we are going to see more bodies of all shapes and sizes doing all the things.

I remember when I would go to the yoga studio classes and be the only plus-size woman in the room and yet today, I get to see so many of my fellow curvy sisters not only in class, but in the front teaching! It’s been one of the most exciting things I’ve been able to witness, especially since yoga has been such an important part of my life over the past decade.

What is some advice you have for people of size starting out in yoga?

My biggest piece of advice is believing that you can do it. I get so many messages from plus-size women who want to try yoga in a class or even at home, but they are scared that their bodies can’t do the moves because of their size. The reality is that the majority of bodies just starting out in yoga, regardless of shape or size, are going to have challenges doing these moves for the first time.

It’s ok if you need to move slower. It’s ok if you need to use props like a yoga block or pillow. It’s ok if your downward-facing dog doesn’t look like the person’s next to you. Be where you are, start where you are and know that it is absolutely perfect. It’s your journey so just do you...unapologetically.

Is there anything else you would like to share? What do we need to know about Kanoa?

One of the main reasons why I surf is to be the woman out there that I wish I would have seen growing up as a little girl. There are so few of us plus-size women out there and up until recently, none have been represented in any form of media. My hope is that someone can look at me and say to themselves, “If she can do it, then I can do it.” That’s what it’s all about for me...because my wish is that even 5-10 years from now we’ll start seeing plus-size athletes taking on the surfing competition world, we’ll see plus-size models gracing the pages of surf magazines. It’s the motivation that keeps me growing on my own journey.

In Spring 2020, we are hosting the world’s first Surf & Yoga Retreat for plus-size women and I can’t tell you how long overdue an event like this is. It was inspired by my experience in Costa Rica. I wanted to create a safe, supportive and fun experience for women of all shapes and sizes to surf together and just have a weekend of feeling truly encouraged and empowered. There’s already a lot of buzz happening around it so we’re hoping it will be the first of many.

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