When Mia Hamm raced on to the soccer field center stage in the ’90s, she inspired tons of girls—and women—to break into sports and become champions of fitness. She was a poster child of a generation (in fact, if you were an 11-year-old girl during Hamm’s prime you probably had a literal poster of her pinned to your bedroom wall, or at least a friend with one).
She defied male/female sports stereotypes through record-breaking wins (she was a forward on the U.S. women’s national soccer team, is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and won the FIFA world player of the year twice) and did really cool things like this famous commercial with Michael Jordan.
And while she’s not living life on the soccer field any more, Hamm continues to inspire: She started The Mia Hamm Foundation, in 1999, which supports marrow or cord blood transplant, and makes sure more people think about their workouts—even those with three kids like Hamm or when traveling for work. In fact, she created at-home workouts for Residence Inn by Marriott when she was named their 2014 Resident Mom of the Year.
Even with accolades like these, Hamm plays in the real world we all do, and when you talk to her you can’t help but come away with some down-to-earth tips for everyday life.
Find out how she’s become a champion of balance, fitting in workouts, and still finding time for a manicure. Because who says you can’t do all that—and still beat the guy next to you in spin class? —Molly Gallagher
1. What’s your workout schedule like? I try to do something every day. A lot of times for me, it’s working out in the garage. We have videos and weights. Or I’ll go for a run and do sprints down at the park and come back and do core work. My husband [former professional baseball player Nomar Garciaparra] and I alternate who works out first…we have a two-year-old son and seven-year-old twin girls.
2. What’s the biggest difference in your lifestyle between when you were playing on a team and now? When I played on a team, before I had kids, my life was very structured—I was working out from 10 o’clock to noon, eating lunch that was provided for me… Now for me, it’s all about balance and being flexible, without a strict routine.
3. So what about fitness classes? Are you into those? The first time I went to yoga, I was like ‘Oh my God, this is hard.’ I loved the fact that I was so focused on what I was doing. With classes, it’s nice because it’s mindless—you go in, someone is telling you what to do. It’s about you focusing your energy on your intensity.
4. That’s so true. Other than getting sweaty, how do you make time for yourself? Today, champion league soccer is on. I usually try to watch some of that. After this call, I’m going to go get my nails done. That allows me to not just get my nails done, but it gives me time to read in a quiet place.
5. Do you ever get nostalgic for your soccer career—and how do you deal with that? I miss seeing my friends on a daily basis. I miss that camaraderie of people coming together to work extremely hard for a common goal. That’s invigorating. I miss being that fit. At the same time, those experiences have helped me appreciate what I have. I wouldn’t trade my life where it is now.