Wednesday, 1 February 2012

inspiring people

I’ve met many interesting people from all over the world through blogging; the power of the internet still amazes me.

Today I'm talking to former Ironwoman Karla Gilbert otherwise known as       ‘Ironmum Karla’ - with an inspiring blog you may or may not be aware of. Definitely a beach lover, Karla is one of Australia’s most amazing athletes with a long list of achievements.

Some of our best lifesavers compete in the Ironwoman/ Ironman series - one of the most gruelling ocean events in the world. During Karla’s sporting career she won 2 world Ironwoman titles, 5 world silver medals, 2 national Ironwoman titles, and 7 straight Ironwoman series, to name a few!

The determination, physical and mental strength needed for this event is something to admire. 
Karla is now a mum of 2, living on the Gold Coast in Queensland, dedicated to giving back to Surf Lifesaving.

Now over to Karla herself…

Firstly what does an Ironwoman event involve?

An Ironwoman event involves firstly the ocean and not to get it confused with triathlon.  It is similar to what the rest of the world term 'lifeguarding'.  We complete courses in and out through the surf using the four disciplines - beach running, board paddling, surf ski paddling and surf swimming.  Races can take as little as 20 mins and range up to 2.5 hours.

Tell us about the physical and mental challenges you faced while training and competing?

 It is very much a physically and mentally demanding sport.  To be the best at anything you have to put in the time, and with our sport it is like trying to be strong at four different sports.  A typical training day entailed waking at 5am for a 6-km swim session, back to the beach at 10am or track for running and changeover work and ski or board paddling at 4pm.  Extras, like pilates, yoga, physio appointments, massages, media commitments and rest all made for a busy and tiring day. This was repeated 6 days a week. Some days were tougher than others and this is when all reserves were called on to be mentally tough and push through.

Do you feel women's sport gets the recognition it deserves?

There are not many sports where men and women can be on equal par and I consider our sport to be just that.  At the moment, our sport in Australia is given same day race air time on Channel 10 for both men and women.  There are some beautiful bodies in the women’s series so the media do like to use their images rather than their counterparts.  Our sport really is a true Aussie icon and travels to some of the best beaches Australia has to offer.

Who inspires you?

Who inspires me?  That is a tough one because I don’t look to one particular person for inspiration, rather than taking inspiration and advice from many.  I built up the ideal athlete in my head and worked towards achieving that.  Now, I love to be inspired by blogs, from other women who manage to juggle many balls, maintain a beautiful house and have time to share their ideas.  

Receiving an OAM (Medal of the Order of Australia) must have been a proud moment for you. I hear your grandfather also received an OAM…

The OAM was a very humbling experience, and usually something that is awarded a lot later in life.   Mine was for services to the sport of surf lifesaving through charity work and promoting the sport.  My grandfather did receive the award but sadly did not get recognised until after he passed.  He was a pioneer cinematographer and was awarded the honour for services to the Australian film industry. He was my biggest fan.  Australian Story on the ABC did a feature on him so it is nice to have something like that to remember him.  A lot of his old cameras are now housed in the national museum in Canberra. 

What’s tougher, being an Ironwoman, or being a mum?

I used to think it was hard being an Ironwoman but I now know being a mum is far tougher.  I am a person that likes their own solitude and with parenting that is non-existent.  Pre-kids if you needed a rest, you rested, now, with 2 little ones, it is like running a marathon everyday.  I go to bed exhausted.  Parenting takes a lot of effort, staying one step ahead all the time takes effort but I have never felt more fulfilled.  If I can somehow fit exercise or a surf into my day I can cope a lot better.

How do you maintain a healthy lifestyle now with 2 young kids?

One of the things sport taught me was to respect the body.  It really does respond to how well you treat it. Now, being a mum I also see myself as a role model to my kids so it is important they see me looking after myself.  I find that mornings are my best bet of getting in some exercise.  Before the family are up I like to go for a stand-up paddle, surf, run, bike ride, or something in our home gym.  It sets me up for the day.  The days get tiring so I find if it is not done in the mornings, it is hard to get motivated when all I want to do is put my feet up in the evenings.  As the girls get older I look forward to sharing a surf with them!

What are your top diet tips to help us keep fit and healthy?

Diet tips, or rather wellbeing tips is what I refer to them as. 
Keep your food simple, aim to eat as close to nature as possible.
Don't buy food that is going to tempt you, as strong as you are - it is just easier not having it in the house.
Let it be known that eating healthy isn't always easy - but nothing worthwhile is easy so expect that some days will be a struggle.
Make the time to exercise, no-one is going to set your alarm or force you out the door so it is your own responsibility.
Just one last thing and my most important fitness tip....
Find an exercise you love doing, it could be dancing, biking, boxing... Whatever!!! For me it is playing in the surf so it never feels like a chore.

thanks Karla!
feel more motivated? i do..visit karla's blog here 

like to hear from more inspiring people? 
you never know, i might ask you next ;)


  1. Yep, Karla is a legend! Love you Karla and thanks for the inspiration. Jx

  2. what an inspiration! congratulations to karla.

  3. Great interview! Karla sounds like an awesome athlete!

  4. What a great Australian. I love this post and I am trying to live by those wellbeing tips as they are spot on.

    Carolyn xx

  5. Love this interview. Karla is such an inspiration in every possible way. x

  6. She is amazing....feels like she's been in *our* lives in Australia forever...

    Inspiring & what a lovely woman!

    Melissa- Miss Sew & So

  7. yes she is so lovely !! & i love her attitude to life.

  8. Oh Karla is a wonderful inspiration, I admire her very much. AND she's a lovely blogger to boot :o) xo

  9. Ah, she is so involved with the sea. Inspiring to say the least!!

  10. What an inspiring interview. Thanks for sharing!!

  11. Wow, yes, great interview. I can relate to Karla, last year I trained for the world Mountain bike solo champs and bit off more than I could chew, having to work, look after the kids, housework etc and try to fit in 15-20hours of mountain biking a week leading up to the event. It was worth all the effort though, I managed to come 2nd in my age group after riding 24hrs strait. After a bit of a break, I'm getting back into exercise and eating well as I'm sick of feeling crummy and tiered all the time. The best thing I can do to motivate myself is having a goal, I'm going to try to run the Gold Coast marathon this year.
    Sar x


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