“I don't care about steps. I'm not interested in calories. I want to know my ability to perform. And I know my ability to perform is based off my ability to recover.”
Kirsty Godso likes early mornings, cold showers, and avocados. When you first meet her, you wonder how so much energy and liveliness can exude from such a petite, sprite-like person. Then you watch her climb ropes, do 20 burpees in a row, and flip upside down on the gymnastics rings without breaking a sweat (seriously, she doesn’t sweat much). At that moment you realize she’s incredibly strong, disciplined, and aware of her body.
Born in Auckland, New Zealand, Kirsty was raised in a competitive household by parents who were professional golfers. She was always intrigued by the States; it seemed like a faraway land where all the movies were made and where all the excitement happened. Her first visit to the US was when she attended the Coachella music festival at the age of 22. Not one for partying much, she tried her first HIIT class (high-intensity interval training) while on the trip and was instantly hooked.
“I’d spent four years getting a double business degree in finance and marketing. My dream was to work with Nike, but I thought I’d work in the marketing department or something. The HIIT class was a pivotal moment in my life where I was like, this is more than just a hobby.” Her passion for high-energy, explosive fitness regimens eventually did lead her to Nike, but instead as a trainer in New Zealand, and later on a Master Trainer Australia. Later on she made the jump to NYC.
Kirsty started wearing WHOOP when she noticed best friend and fellow trainer Joe Holder religiously wearing it on his wrist. The two began comparing data and making it a competition to have better Recoveries. She describes her experience with WHOOP as a love story or a best friend--it might call you on the bad stuff, but at the end of the day it always wants what’s best for you. In her words, “you can’t lie because it’s telling you accurately what’s going on in your body.”
“Your body is the most expensive thing you’re ever going to own.”
It’s easy to peg Kirsty as just another Instagram influencer/model/personality. With over 150,000 Instagram followers, a Women’s Health cover, and an international Clinique campaign in the books, Kirsty is undoubtedly part of a network of influential people. What many don’t understand, however, is that her following didn’t happen overnight and her journey certainly wasn’t without failures, injuries, and sacrifice. She’s far from the stock personalities you see online these days; she’s honest, makes no excuses, and doesn’t even refer to herself as a trainer. Rather, she’s in “the business of bodies,” and she recognizes her constant need for self-improvement.
“I’ve sacrificed a lot, and I don’t think people really understand that. Being a personality and sharing so much of your life, motivating people all the time--95% of the work we do is never really seen.” For Kirsty, uprooting her life from New Zealand was a huge transition with a lot of ups and downs.
“You don’t see the emotion and the illnesses and all these hardships that happen along the way. Last year I suffered more injury than I ever had in my life. I’m not bulletproof, and that was a confronting realization for me to make.”
Despite her injuries, you’ll rarely hear Kirsty ever complain. Perhaps that’s why she’s been so successful; her electric personality and endless source of energy are contagious. She makes you feel like every moment you spend with her is the most exciting part of her day. Her ability to connect with people and ignite a flame, whether she’s training them or encouraging them to work through personal struggles that may be inhibiting their progress, is undeniable.
“You only get one body. Don’t mess it up.”
In a place like New York City, overtraining and burnout are almost inevitable. Giving up sleep can be seen as a badge of honor to show you’re working hard enough, and thus prove your worth. Kirsty sees the effects of burnout around her on a regular basis, and has neared the edge herself. “We’re so arrogant that we don’t think we have 10 minutes to exercise, but we’re on our phones all day? You have time. You need to enforce the discipline.”
Her honest, no-bullshit attitude is effervescent. When speaking with her, you’re forced to reflect, and you’re motivated to start taking better care of yourself. “If things aren’t working for you, just make a different choice. I always find it funny when people say ‘oh but I just love pizza!’ I’m like, maybe pizza doesn’t like you. Get over it. Just because you love something doesn’t mean it’s reciprocal.”
Similar to Joe’s methods of self-experimentation, Kirsty has found ways to optimize her life that keep her in the green. Because she’s so extroverted and her job involves constantly motivating others, she realizes that she has to find balance to avoid burnout.
Here’s how Kirsty maintains a high-energy, high-performance lifestyle:
1. Ketogenic Diet, Gluten-Free Diet: Kirsty was diagnosed with Celiac disease when she was younger, so following a ketogenic diet is actually quite easy for her and gives her sustained energy. The keto diet follows a high-fat, high-protein, low-carb plan. She regularly eats avocados, fish, meat, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.
2. HIIT Training: For Kirsty, long endurance workouts were never her thing. Her body responds well to circuits, intervals, plyometrics, and fast-paced movements.
3. Cold showers, Cryotherapy, and Cold Brew: “If I had the option to be in a hot pool or cold pool, I’d always choose cold. I even take cold showers during the winter. My alarm will go off at 5 am and I hop out of bed and straight to the shower.” Kirsty also regularly does Cryotherapy, and prefers her coffee cold brewed.
4. Reduce Sugar Intake: Kirsty jokes that she had an unhealthy obsession with gummy candy at one point in her life, but she truly sees how cutting it out has made a difference. “If I've had too much sugar in a day, I see it trash my sleep. It will trash my sleep faster than anything else, even alcohol.”
5. Get Married...To Yourself: One of the most important lessons Kirsty’s learned over the years is to prioritize self-care. “I’m going to show up for myself for better or for worse. I'm in this. So that means I'm gonna have to come back from some losses. But can I make it a project? Can I make it kind of fun? Can I be in it for the journey? And actually that's what's so beautiful about getting older. Because you get so much more respectful and dialed into your body. And you start to speak this very very fine language to yourself.”
Get to know Kirsty even more next week on the WHOOP Podcast, followed by an AMA where she’ll answer your top fitness and recovery questions. You can find her at @kirstygodso on Instagram to learn more.