Name: Barbara Karafokas
Involved in: Swimming, Walking/Running, Rock climbing
Fitness: A life's calling
Looking back I can remember being a very active child. I was born and raised in Zambia where we had a huge garden to play in. I was a bit of a tomboy - I loved climbing trees and cycling in our garden. I even made ramps out of bricks and planks of wood to do little cycling stunts. I don’t think I ever stayed still!
At school I took part in 100 meter sprints and high jump competitions and always placed in the top three. At the age of ten I started swimming competitively. I love the water and continue swimming today.
I now live in Nicosia, Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean. I am fortunate enough to be able to swim in the sea nine months out of the year. I also swim in a 50 meter training pool twice a week, and I recently took up rock climbing, which I've been doing for 18 months.
There was one point in my life when I didn't exercise as much - it was after I gave birth to my daughter. Walking ended up being my savior. I would put my daughter in her ‘off-road’ stroller, and off we would go, walking with our dog through olive groves and other less-traveled routes near our home.
I can’t honestly say that there was a major turning point in my life that helped change my attitudes towards fitness or activity… It has always been a part of my life in some form and to some extent, although of course there have been high and low points.
Staying motivated and challenged
GirlsGoneSporty (GGS): What is your motivation for staying active?
Barbara Karafokas (BK): My motivation for staying active comes from many things. First, I love nature and being outside. The scents of trees, flowers, earth, the colors of spring, birds chirping, insects buzzing…all of it! Second, it’s about being fit and healthy. The fitter and healthier you are, the more things you can do, which allows you to live life to the fullest.
GGS: What sports or fitness accomplishments are you most proud of?
BK: I broke two Zambian swimming records (butterfly and crawl) at the ages of 12 – 13. I trained very hard and it paid off.
GGS: How do you keep challenging yourself to improve?
BK: I listen to motivational speakers, my favorite is Tony Robbins. Celestine Shepherd is also amazing… she's the oldest body builder. She inspires me.
Rock climbing is a sport which is mentally and physically challenging, and you're always pushing your limits to climb higher scale routes. I write inspirational quotes on Post-it notes and stick them in places where I can see them often: bedroom, bathroom mirror, fridge. My main motto is: “In Pursuit Of Excellence.”
Tools of the trade
GGS: What’s your favorite healthy food or dish?
BK: I love smoothies…fruits are my favorite foods.
GGS: What's your typical training schedule look like?
BK: My workout schedule is seasonal. During the winter months I walk and do some running - about 40 minutes a day. I also climb once a week at an indoor rock climbing wall. When spring comes I start swimming and continue walking/running. Then, usually every second Sunday I go out and do some outdoor rock climbing or cycling with my daughter. Year-round I also incorporate sit ups and other toning exercises into my routine.
GGS: What’s in your gym bag?
BK: I only use organic cosmetics without any chemicals in them. The brand I use is called GreenPeople Organic Cosmetics. If I go rock climbing or to the beach to swim, I usually take water or hot Rooibos tea, fruit and power bars along with my rock climbing gear or swimming gear (towel, goggles).
Live the sporty life
GGS: What does the phrase “live the sporty life” mean to you?
BK: What comes to mind is being able to live life to the fullest…It means making fitness a permanent part of your lifestyle… whether it be a daily walk, run, or white water rafting in Costa Rica, or trekking Machu Pichu!