Q and A with Iain Campbell

This weeks blog post is awesome. Very different, but awesome.

I sent some questions to World Champion Bodyboarder, Iain Campbell, and got him to shed a little bit of light on his training, diet and mental approach to stress (like competing on the biggest stage in his sport.)

I’ve known Iain for many years and it’s been really cool to see his evolution as an athlete and as a person. He is someone who is completely committed to his craft and over the last few years I’ve seen him become completely committed to his health. After all, your health is the foundation of everything you do.

I’ll never repeat this but he is someone I respect immensely. The experiences he’s had and the way he’s managed them means he has lessons and insights I think a lot of people can learn from.


How did you get into bodyboarding and give us a quick run-through of your career so far?

I started bodyboarding when I was much younger. I started to do life-saving and one of the events was a bodyboard race. I ended up enjoying it so much and stuck to it. Ended up doing it through school all the way until I turned professional after I finished my studies in 2012.

My career has been really good. I started with a win during my first international event in Venezuela at the end of 2012. Then went onto the tour full time. Since 2015 I have made 20 podiums, 7 event wins, a world title in 2017 and runner up in 2018.

You work really hard on your physical fitness. When did you start taking it seriously and what brought it on?

So for a while I have been training in the gym. What brought it about was a sponsor and mentor, Billy Thiel, said if we wanted to be the best in the world we should train like athletes. I looked into diet, spoke with you about nutrition and also started doing more exercises that were geared towards getting to a really good physical condition when it started to work that got me more excited. I started with a trainer (Philip Nel) in 2017 in Somerset West and that was the year I won my World Title.

From your training, what benefits have you felt in the water? And have you felt benefits in other areas of your life?

For sure I have felt a lot of benefits. The strength I have to surf big waves, take the beating from the ocean and withstand the elements for long periods of time. In the contests, I know when I go into the events super-fit that I can paddle faster than anyone and getting to the back first is important to have priority on waves. Not only has that helped me in my competitive life but also just to be mentally strong. I know that if I can push myself in the gym, I can push my limits in other aspects and be OK.

What does your training look like?

For me it’s light weights and high reps with a fair amount of cardio. More bodyweight exercises than anything but I love to push myself too. So when I get a chance I throw on a bit of extra weight or stronger resistance bands and put my body through its paces. My girlfriend, Rosie, is also super active so she helps push us in a leg set every now and then!

You’re also quite specific about your diet. What does that look like?

My diet is very different. My girlfriend is doing a full carnivore diet so I would say my diet has become more meat based/keto. I had a few issues with my gut so I changed from eating a mostly high fibre diet to a more ketogenic based diet. I try to eat mostly complex carbs if I eat them at all.

Competing on the World Tour must be stressful. What do you do to deal with stress? And how do you mentally prepare for events?

So I have really struggled with my stress levels and I just never spoke about it. I kept it to myself and it slowly started to take over my life…and then I had a flare up with my gut. This got so bad that I had to see a specialist for that. Long story short, I ended up seeing a sport psychologist who helped put my life in perspective. It was strange because it wasn’t the stress about the tour but my own mental battles I was playing with myself. Every time I have gone to an event since this meeting I go through the motions we spoke and try and have a good time.

I guess with stress it depends how you want that to really affect you. Sometimes a bit of stress is a good catalyst to push you provided you don’t let it overcome you. Talking and having the people to share stuff with would be my best advice with mental preparations.

Iain is really active on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/iaincampbell_/) and YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/user/iamiain514) so if you’re into social media, give him a follow.

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