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On Assignment: Gabby Reece on tackling motherhood, marriage and fitness

By Kate Snow
Rock center Correspondent

If you’re going to spend a couple of days in paradise with a six-foot-three woman who used to hold the record for spiking volleyballs down the throats of her competitors, you have to expect you’re going to sweat a little.

Kate Snow

Kate Snow and Gabby Reece paddle boarding in Hawaii

Here’s what two days of filming with former beach volleyball star, model and fitness advocate Gabby Reece look like: 

Day one. Learn how to go stand-up paddle boarding on the Hanalei River in Hawaii.  It’s like a surf board but you stand on it and use a long paddle. And if you’re me, your toes clench the board in a desperate attempt to not lose your balance and go into the drink on national television. Cap that off with a ride on a crazy-looking combination of elliptical machine and bicycle. Make sure not to fall down. Take a photo standing next to Gabby and receive the following text from your sister: “Are you standing in a pothole?”

Kate Snow

Gabby Reece and Kate Snow

Day two. Eat a healthy egg white wrap for breakfast because you feel like Gabby might be watching even though you’re miles away from her. Then join her for her three-times-a-week workout class. No, she doesn’t take the class -- she’s the instructor. It started out as just a few friends following Gabby’s weight training and cardio circuit.  Now it’s at least 60 people crammed inside a dirty old warehouse, rotating through different stations. For example, you sit with your back against the wall as if you’re in a chair. Now, wait for your thighs to start screaming. Or grab these thick ropes and whip them up and down until you feel like you might just throw up. Do push-ups while also lifting arm weights. It goes on and on for a whole hour.

Here’s the truth. I liked all that working out. I liked getting out in the Hawaiian sunshine and really moving. I even liked the dingy warehouse. It feels good to be alive after you do a class like that. You feel like you could conquer anything. And that, of course, is Gabby’s point. Exercise, healthy eating, having sex with your husband more than once a month—it all matters. 

She writes about it all in her new book, “My Foot is Too Big for the Glass Slipper.” I have a feeling it will be a big beach read this summer. Women will pass it around and laugh about the story of actor Owen Wilson invading her home on the day she went into labor.

Kate Snow

Gabby Reece leading her fitness class.

“Gabby, do you have any sour cream to go with that chili?” he asked, as she was bent over in a contraction. Or the story of her girlfriend sending her an email that said, “Sorry about the magazine” -- that’s how she found out someone had photoshopped a photo of her butt to make it look as though she had a lot of cellulite. (She countered by posting her own real, unvarnished butt photo.)

Click here to read an excerpt of Gabby Reece's book, "My Foot is Too Big for the Glass Slipper"

There may also be a lot of talk about parts of the book where Gabby writes about gender roles and what works in her marriage. She and her husband have, shall we say, a rather old-fashioned arrangement. Her use of the word “submissive” is sure to cause an intense conversation. It already has in our newsroom.


I happen to agree with Gabby’s philosophy on parenting. She encourages politeness and good manners but also allows her girls to roam free and explore. She rolls her eyes at the helicopter parenting crowd. And she swears like a sailor.  “Are you [expletive] kidding me?” is how she describes over-the-top kids’ birthday parties.

Gabby was willing to show us her family and her life, warts and all. She lays it all out in her book and she laid it all out on camera.

No, she says, her life isn’t perfect. But she’s learned to—as she says—accept the “what is.” Deal with your life as it is. Take a moment to appreciate what you do have. 

I, for one, have a body that is just a little more fit than it was last week. Now, if only I could walk up the stairs.

Gabby Reece and Kate Snow during Reece's fitness class