-- Dallas Friday was a stellar gymnast at a young age, but "every athlete has to have a passion for what they do," and for Friday, that was wakeboarding. She quit gymnastics when she was 12 and discovered wakeboarding through some not-so-gentle encouragement from her older brothers.
"When I first got out there it was like, 'Oh, you got up. OK, we're going to leave you in the middle of the lake with the alligators unless you try a backflip.' And I'm like 'What? No! Don't leave me out here!' And then of course I'd end up trying a backflip," Friday fondly remembers of her brothers Robin, 30, and Chad, 29. "I think that really pushed me to visualize this path that can I be really good at wakeboarding and that anything is possible if I'm willing to take that extra step outside of my comfort zone."
Visualization is a big part of the game for 28-year-old Friday, who has four X Games titles to her name. She talked about that practice and more in an interview for the 2015 Body Issue.
See It, Be It
Friday puts a lot of importance on taking time for mental preparation before she leaves for a contest. "I feel like if I don't have that time, I feel like I'm potentially already losing."
She visualizes everything about the competition: the moves in her contest pass and what they'll be like, to where she sees herself on the podium.
Friday considers cardio and endurance her biggest hurdles. "I've trained my whole life to just go out there and do two passes and give it my all - that's definitely what I'm built to do. What it comes down to is, could I do it again? A few minutes later? Yeah, but not as good." Here are two ways she works to improve her endurance:
1. Friday Night Fights
Friday's into boxing as a training method, particularly one-on-one work. "It kind of really pushes me to the point where I'm not going to let myself back down, I'm going to keep my defense up and protect myself. It brings out the competitiveness in me."
For solo work, Friday likes this boxing bag workout:
Set up stations at different bags, with different punch combinations mixed with cardio. For example, combine jab cross, hook, hook, approximately 30 times, then do five burpees. Spend three minutes at each station before moving on to the next one. Total workout time: 45 minutes.
2. Running Down The Dream
"I like stuff that doesn't seem like going to the gym and lifting weights, so jump rope, outside work -- I would do 5 a.m. beach runs."
She tries to do this 30-minute beach run with interval work, three times a week: a 10 minute jog warm-up, then a 30-second sprint at 100 percent, then a 30-second jog at 50 percent, repeating for 20 minutes.
Sticking The Landing
Friday credits her gymnastics background with her discipline, air awareness, strength and flexibility. "All of it really came together, and really inspired me to know that I could do whatever it is that I wanted if I put my mind to it. I had the training ethic and now I had a direction and a path."
She's a quick study: Friday claimed X Games gold the year after she learned the sport.
Give Her A Hand
"I'm a handstand fanatic and can pretty much do anything on my hands. I can walk on my hands, anywhere, everywhere all day long."
To this day, she'll play Simon Says with her family at the beach, and perform every command while in a handstand.
Amazing Feats Of Strength
Despite the vertical challenge in her quote above, Friday says "God blessed me with my body for a reason and I know that, so I'm grateful." Here are some of her more impressive physical abilities:
"I did 26 pullups last year. That's pretty impressive. I always like to brag around the boys because I know most of the boys can't do that. Maybe they can do 20. Yup, 26. I definitely have an upper-body strength that is a lot louder than some of the boys.
"I did pole vaulting my freshman year, and then it became a lot with competitions. I did short-track sprinting, also. But kind of let that go once wakeboard season started.
I used to do this tumbling pass in gymnastics where instead of going from your feet to a back handspring, I instead would bounce off my knees into a backflip into a back handspring. That was always something I was known to do, and I think that's probably why I've had so many knees injuries. (Laughs.) That was my impressive youngster thing.
All About Balance
"My balance is pretty on-key, especially through all the rehab and therapy I've been through and stabilization work that we've put in," Friday says of her multiple injuries, including one in 2010 in which she tore several ligaments in her right knee. "I feel pretty confident with my balance on either side."
Want proof? "This going to sound really lame, but ... I can wakesurf -- you can surf behind a boat -- and hula hoop at the same time. That kind of shows off my balance and coordination."