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California Questionnaire: Gabrielle Reece

The former volleyball champion and model—now an author and fitness guru—shares her California favorites

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After retiring from a successful beach volleyball career, Gabrielle Reece didn’t slow down—instead, she kept adding to her résumé: mother, sports announcer, model, actress, shoe designer, and motivational speaker are just a few of the roles she’s taken on since. Reece, her professional big-wave surfer husband, Laird Hamilton, and their three daughters divide their time between Hawaii and the celebrity-filled beach town of Malibu, where access to the outdoors allows them to balance their thriving careers with an active lifestyle. Reece shares the reasons she loves California.

1. Where do you live? I live with my family part-time in Malibu, California.  

2. Why there? When I met my husband, Laird Hamilton, I was living in Los Angeles and he was living in Hawaii. Malibu was a compromise for him to get the nature he needed, but I could be close to a major city for work. At the time I was playing professional beach volleyball, and Southern California is really one of the places you need to live if you want to pursue that career.

3. Who or what is your greatest California love? My husband and one of my daughters were born in California so that takes care of the who. The what would have to be the diverse nature all around you.

4. What is the biggest misperception about Californians? That it is only a good-time state. In essence, whatever you want to do in California you can—whether it’s big business, luxury travel, nature adventures, raising a family, or yes, having big fun.

5. What is the stereotype that most holds true? That dreams can come true, and at every turn there is all kinds of natural beauty. If you like the mountains or the sea, there truly is something here for everyone.

6. What is your favorite Golden State splurge? Just living here is a splurge. I am grateful for the access to really healthy food and forward-thinking ideas about health, wellness, and fitness.

7. Time for a road trip—where are you going? My family would do something totally different for us and go to the mountains—head north to Mammoth.

8. If you could decree an official state culinary experience, what would it be? Simple, fresh, clean, and tasty. There is a restaurant near me called Malibu Farms on the pier in Malibu itself. It doesn't feel any more California than that unless you were going to go with really fresh Mexican, which is deeply rooted within the culture. 

9. Best California songs? California Dreamin’” by the Mamas and the Papas; “California Love” by Tupac; “Hotel California” by the Eagles; and “California Stars” by Wilco and Billy Bragg.

10. How would your California dream day unfold? Given it’s not a school or workday, get up and pool-train with a little cloud coverage. Then at about 10 a.m., when the sun peeks out, go have an outside lunch with my family. Take a small hike up one of the Santa Monica Mountains trails, then head to the beach for some sand bocce with the family and barbecue with friends. Get to bed early.

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