Lauren Fendrick competed in beach volleyball at the 2016 Summer Olympics and was one half of the second-place team at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships.
What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
I don’t do the same thing every morning, but my best days start with taking a moment to scan my body and see how I’m feeling—I’ll check if there is any mood or emotion there too. Sometimes this is only a few breaths, other times 10 minutes, whatever I have time for.
Personally, I love data – so I have a pulse oximeter by Masimo by my bed that measures my pulse rate, blood oxygenation, respiration rate and more. So usually, I throw this on before my body scan and these numbers can help give me some objective data to add to how I’m feeling subjectively. Ideally, my next actions would reflect this check-in. It’s never a bad idea for me to then move into 10-20 minutes of movement – usually very slow, simple, deliberate movements. Then breakfast/the rest of the day.
Would you consider yourself a morning person?
I’m definitely a morning person. One of my favorite things is getting home from Europe or China and being totally jet-lagged and falling asleep early and then waking up at 4am. Nobody is up and you have the world to yourself.
What do you like to eat for breakfast?
I’m a dinner for breakfast person, so I love having leftovers. This morning I made a lamb steak and salad. I feel my best when I’m getting a ton of vegetables in my diet and lunch and dinner provide way more options and variety for that.
Eggs are great and I love bacon, but you can’t have that every single morning or even a majority of mornings. I also pay attention to where my food comes from (when I can afford to/when it’s available). I support regenerative local farms as much as possible!
You sleep on the Tranquility mattress and you also have our Vitality topper. What do you think?
I adore it. I didn’t really know what I was missing before. I had heard that you’re supposed to sleep on a very firm mattress and that it’s good for your back but I found out that that’s not the case. I’m pretty broad through my shoulders and I sleep on my side and my back so having a mattress that allows my shoulders to sink in but still supports my mid and lower back when I’m on my side was life-changing.
I was used to waking up sore and tired I don’t think I even realized before because that was the norm. Being a data person, one of the things I track daily is my sleep and sleep quality and now after switching to Savvy Rest, I sleep deeper and better and I wake up feeling more rested.
Professional beach volleyball player Lauren Fendrick talks about how her Savvy Rest organic mattress has improved her sleep—and her game.
And you have our body pillow too, right?
Yes! I love the body pillow! When I’m on my side I like to put it between my legs and arms. My husband doesn’t like it because he thinks I’m trying to block him out, but it’s so comfy to have my hips and shoulder supported in that position. And it’s totally customizable, so I can take out some of the filler if needed!
I’m super picky and particular about sleep so having the body pillow, the Tranquility mattress, and the Vitality topper…I just can’t say enough good things about them.
And you also have the Afton platform bed. Was that easy to put together?
That is a piece of engineering genius. I looked at it and I was like, “okay, this is going to take a while to assemble,” and literally it took us five minutes. We didn’t even need instructions–it was built to just go together. It was very, very cool. We don’t have another piece of furniture like that.
Why did you want to go organic with your mattress and bedding?
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m big on health and performance and part of that is trying to limit the amount of toxins I’m exposed to and chemicals I use. Most of the products that I use for cleaning, “beauty,” showering, etc. are natural or homemade. I have water filters, air purifiers—anything I can do to try to eliminate the toxins I’m exposed to.
I didn’t even realize it until I started looking into mattresses about the amount of chemicals used to make them fire retardant, the off-gassing—that was something that was really important for me to avoid.
Also, the fact that Savvy Rest is so environmentally-friendly and community-conscious with their process of harvesting and creating the mattresses—that was very important to me as well. Working conditions, environmental impact, and support of community are the things are going to shape our future, so I feel a duty to contribute and support businesses that feel the same.
People are becoming more and more aware of the dangers of these chemicals. I think there has been this inherent belief that if it’s on the market, it must be safe, and that’s not true.
I spend between 9-10 hours every night on my mattress so it’s pretty important that my mattress be safe. I remember when I was reading articles, they’d say “oh, there’s chemicals but it’s really, really small,” or they’d say, “you only notice it for the first couple of months.”
I’m super thankful that you guys are sticking to your values. I imagine it isn’t easy since it’s not cheap and you can’t streamline some of the processes. As people become more and more educated, I think they will understand how important it is for your health.
You’re an Olympic beach volleyball player. When did you first start playing and when did you know that this was what you wanted to do with your life?
I played a ton of sports growing up: five different sports in high school, two sports in college. I really didn’t start playing volleyball until my sophomore year of high school and that was indoor volleyball.
My senior season in college, I was living by the beach and there are a bunch of volleyball courts lining Manhattan Beach. I would ride my bike up and down the strand and play pickup games with anyone who would let me. One day, Makalani Hovey asked me to play in an AVP qualifier in Arizona and we flew out there and got smashed in the qualifier, but it was eye-opening for me. I knew immediately that wanted to try to do this. It took me a couple years and some part-time jobs to get to where I am now, but that was the beginning.
How were the Olympics? I imagine it was an incredible experience.
Going to the Olympics is an experience I will never forget. It was wild because the tournament in some ways is the exact same as any other tournament and then in other ways, it’s unlike any tournament I’ve ever been to, even World Championships, which are really special.
Obviously, I wish we would have done better, but now that is my fuel and motivation for Tokyo—to try to not only get there but do well and medal—to walk away feeling like I did everything I could.
What has been the proudest moment in your career?
I think it would be the silver medal at World Championships last season. I had been playing for over 10 years and the last three World Championships I had gotten a fifth so I hadn’t been able to break past that.
To get to play final for the World Championships (the toughest tournament for our sport that happens once every two years) was really crazy and surreal. More than the result was the process to get to that point—it didn’t look the way I thought it would look. My partner had broken her toe about eight weeks before that so we didn’t have a lot of practice together. We didn’t do well in the tournament before that. There were some things that I knew I needed to change in my game. Some of it was visualizing it and some was believing that it would happen, and when we stepped out there it all came together. Through that tournament, I learned that things can happen that are greater than you can imagine them. In other words, don’t be limited by only what you can imagine – leave space for even greater things to happen.
How do you stay healthy?
I’m super passionate about health and wellness. I think the most important thing I do is I surround myself with really smart people who keep me accountable physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. I try to pay equal attention to each one, but the spiritual and emotional ones are the hardest for me.
I love reading articles, listening to podcasts and diving into different topics.
I have a lot of habits that have built up over time, that now seem like second nature. I eat whole foods, cook at home and minimize processed food as much as possible. If I travel somewhere where this is less accessible, then I pack food that I know will fuel me and keep me healthy.
Staying hydrated is overlooked sometimes. Stretching, rolling, breathing–making sure your body gets back to a parasympathetic state is important.
I do all the typical recovery type stuff: ice, heat exposure, red light. I have this giant red/near-infrared light panel by Joovv on the back of my bedroom door, that I use every day for 20 minutes when I’m not on the road. I’ve been using a class four laser on my knee which has been awesome.
And I think the most impactful thing I do is the work I do at Apiros gym, with two amazing movement coaches, Austin Einhorn and Aaron Quinn. Aaron does this method, called Anat Baniel, that’s all about moving really, really slow and creating, or recreating, awareness in your body so you move efficiently. You’ll relax things in your body that you didn’t realize were tense. It connects your brain to your body–it’s the coolest thing ever. And Austin does some stuff that I don’t even know how to describe – the way he sees movement and the way he uses the environment to teach your body that it can move in a more optimal way is really cutting edge. I’m so lucky to get to work with these two amazing people.
Also, not to be overlooked are connecting socially with family and friends. Finding a feeling of purpose in the world and pursuing that. And having downtime to mentally shut off the noise.
At the beginning of the interview, we talked about your morning routine so now I want to ask: what helps you fall asleep and wind down at the end of the day?
I don’t usually have trouble sleeping. I usually can close my eyes and fall asleep quickly, but when I do have trouble I like to think about relaxing each body part: I’ll start at my toes and then my ankles and work my way up my body. Then I’ll go through my day in my head in a fast forward motion for about a minute. And then I’ll just focus on my breath after that. And if I still can’t fall asleep then, I’ll just lay there and relax and rest, knowing that I’m still getting the benefits of rest. I try not to worry about it.