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Tehillah McGuinness Professional Surfer

by Alexandra Parren
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Tehillah McGuinness Professional Surfer Ohana Fitness Beach Sundried

Professional surfer Tehillah McGuinness has a busy lifestyle and trains hard to keep surf and contest ready, she tells Sundried her inspirational story.

How did you become a pro surfer?

I have always loved the sea, and salt water is very much in my entire family's veins. My mom surfed and she always made sure we lived near the sea. She signed us (my siblings and I) up to our local life saving club when I was 13 and we would spend every weekend training and practising sea rescues. We would spend hours in the sea and I still couldn't get enough. I would always see the older guys and girls surfing and it just looked like so much fun. My mom bought me a surfboard for my 13th birthday and that was it...all I wanted to do was surf. I was still very much committed to long distance running (cross country/1500m) and I had my eyes set on representing South Africa at the Olympics.

It wasn't until we moved to a house right on the beach at the age of 16 that it pretty much took over my life. I still competed in running events but the ocean had my heart! Naturally, my competitive side took over and it wasn't long before I started competing in national events around South Africa. My family and I relocated to the UK when I was 20 and I was pretty much studying and working full time, so it was really difficult to travel for surfing.

Surfing had opened up so many doors for me and completely changed my life in the best way possible and I wanted to share that with others and try to make a positive effect on their lives. As I was studying in the health and fitness industry, I decided to combine my two passions (surf and fitness) to do exactly that. 4 years after moving to the UK I knew I had to make some big decisions in order to follow my dreams. I made the (incredibly difficult) decision to move to Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands and split my time between the island (Fuerteventura) and the UK (where my family are) in order to pursue my dream of surfing, as well as from a business point of view. For anyone who knows me and knows how incredibly close my family and I are, this is something I would have never imagined doing and my mom has always supported and encouraged me in everything I have decided to do...I wouldn't be where I am if not for her.

She travelled over with me to make the move (along with my incredibly overweight baggage) and helped me get set up. The hardest part was saying goodbye to her for the first time, but as she always told me I am the master of my own destiny and I was hungry to be successful. One of the amazing things about where the Canary islands are situated is that it's only a 4 hours flight to the UK, so the McGuinness family have wracked up a few air miles in the last few years!

Fast forward a few years and I am so grateful I made the decision to follow my dreams. As cliche as it sounds, that one decision has literally changed the course of my entire life. Don't get me wrong, I have and still do work incredibly hard for what I have and want. Everything I have achieved has literally taken blood, sweat and many tears. Over the past few years I have gained sponsorship and endorsements with the most incredible and prestigious brands who have supported me in so many of my endeavours. I now travel and compete, while balancing my sponsor commitments, projects, shoots and my business Ohana Fitness & Surf.

Tehillah McGuinness Sundried Ambassador

What kind of training do you have to do to stay on top of your game?

I made the big mistake of mixing the coaching side of my job (surfing and personal training) which is very physical, along with my own personal training and surfing. I paid the price for this unfortunately and am now a lot more careful. I do a lot of swimming, cycling, stretching, Pilates, yoga (when I can) and surf specific exercises to keep me 'surf and contest ready'. Of course the best form of training is surfing as much as possible, so I try to get in the water most days but also understand that training is an incredibly important part of the equation, so I make sure I balance my surfing with my training...and not over do either one.

What are your top training tips?

  • Find a sport or exercise that you enjoy doing. You will be far more motivated to train when you enjoy what you are doing.
  • Set short term goals, review and reward yourself when you achieve them.
  • Make sure your diet reflects the amount of training you do. Your body needs to repair itself as much as it needs to be fuelled, so make sure your nutrition is on track.
  • Be careful of over training and using incorrect training techniques. These can both do more harm than good.
  • Make sure you have an EPIC training playlist!
  • Rest and Recovery...know the differences and implement them into your training regime!
  • Most of all HAVE FUN! You shouldn't be a slave to your training programme...we all have days when we fell a little flat and are maybe less motivated. Listen to your body!

 What’s your biggest challenge?

Honestly...time! haha. My days are absolutely jam packed and some days I honestly wish there were more hours in the day. Between coaching, surfing, training, business planning, media commitments and travel I sometimes find it difficult to balance everything. I know I spread myself too thin at times, but there is so much I want and need to do that I know I just need to keep powering through. When it all gets too much, I call my mom and she helps restore my time management balance!

Woman drinking water on a sunny beach

What are your training goals?

My training goals differ slightly between the competitive season and offseason but I always have common goals in mind. My training goals are not just contest driven but also personal.

  • Performance enhancing - making sure my dry land training compliments and improves my surfing performance.
  • Ensuring my surfs are constructive, whether or not I am surfing with my coach but that I am also having fun and enjoying just being in the water.
  • Injury Prevention - I have learned the hard way when it  comes to injuries, so I make sure the training I do strengthens my body in the right areas and of course to help prevent injuries. This is a daily commitment but it plays a huge role mentally when it comes to performance.
  • Mental training - Whether its during free surfs or training sessions, I try to focus on the task at hand, push myself and work on strengthening my mental game, so that I can apply this to contests or other areas of my life that need mental strength. 

We’ve read your big on morals, tell us more about your ethos and what surfing and your sponsors mean to you?

From a young age, my mom  taught me the importance of having good morals and the positive effects it will have on my life, whether in my dealings with people, sponsors, business or my own well being. I think it is a core value that forms the base of so many things in life. 'Your talent wont take you where your character cant keep you'...this is something that I believe is so true in life.

Surfing is part of me, it's my passion, part of my personality and something I love doing so much. Being in the ocean and surrounded by nature is just so inspiring and I really feel surfing puts my life into perspective.

I think so many sports, but surfing in particular lends itself to a type of marketing that can either put you in a position of being a role model and ambassador of the sport or just another 'bikini model' on social media. My job does involve a lot of promotional shoots for my sponsors as well as international commercials, campaigns and magazine shoots but I am very careful in which jobs I decide to take, and for this very reason I have been blessed enough to gain the incredible sponsors that I have. One in particular is with Deeside Mineral Water, who bottle the Royal Duchy range for Prince Charles. I have represented them as the ' face of the brand', along with their marketing for their prestigious sponsorship of the Scottish Fashion Awards for the last 3 years. I have also launched my very first signature range with my amazing clothing sponsors Urban Beach who have made so much possible for me and have been named as an ambassador for Womens Sport by Sport England. I believe my sponsors reflect who I am as a person and visa versa. I am truly grateful for all the help, support, promotion and experiences I have been so blessed with through surfing, my sponsors  and so many businesses along the way. I have been able meet so many inspiring people and still do on a daily basis. If I can even inspire just one person to follow their dreams, be unique, believe in themselves, their abilities and to be themselves no matter what then I will be one happy lady!

Tell us about your charity work?

I am a huge believer of giving back and after being given celebrity status I was asked to host a Celebrity Fitness Challenge in January with David LLoyd. We raised a good amount of money for the British heart Foundation and it was so rewarding to be able to give back to charity, especially one so close to my heart (no pun intended). I have some very exciting projects being planned with Help For Heroes and some more work with Hospices towards the end of the year(stay tuned). Seeing people who have fought for their lives, people with disabilities or those fighting heartbreaking illnesses just completely brings me 'back down to earth'. It really humbles me and actually helps to put my life into perspective. I am incredibly grateful for everything I have in my life but when you see people's eyes light up when they are lying in a hospital bed and asking you 'Wow, so you ride waves?'...I really have to fight back the tears.

Why work with Sundried?

Sundried embody what I stand for as an athlete and person. Their support of  Water for Kids, their EHOH initiative, Eco friendly approach and premium quality materials are just some of the reasons I am so excited to be working with Sundried. Their products fit like an absolute glove, are so lightweight and can easily be worn even when you're not training (oh that just me ). I am really so impressed with Sundried as a whole and am really grateful for their support!

Running on the beach happy sunshine

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