Name: Neghar Fonooni
Location: Santa Monica, CA
What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
There was a time in my life when I allowed myself to be a victim. I allowed my physique to define my worth, I allowed other people’s opinions to poison me, and I didn’t treat myself very well. Sure, on the outside I looked fit, but on the inside I was broken. Years of deep-rooted body image issues and bottled up pain rose to the surface and led me to redefine what it meant to be fit, strong, and healthy.
For me, being a Girl Gone Strong means overcoming shame, self-loathing, and obsessive fitness and diet behaviors. It means facing my demons, and coming out on top. It means loving my body for what it can do and how it serves me. It’s the strength that is rooted within me and isn’t in any way dependent upon a number on a scale or a body fat caliper.
Being a Girl Gone Strong means that we support each other, lift each other up, and never body shame one another—or ourselves. Because I honor, love, and accept my bod, because I lift enthusiastically and find joy and purpose through strength—that’s what makes me a Girl Gone Strong.
Why are you so passionate about sharing information with the Girls Gone Strong audience?
I’m passionate about empowering women through strength—both internally and externally. I love sharing my story with other women and helping them find the courage to show up, just as they are.
Often the strength that we find in the gym translates to strength everywhere else in our lives, and helps us face challenges and obstacles with a renewed sense of freedom and power. If I can help even just one woman realize how radiant, powerful, and capable she is, then my life has meaning.
That’s why I write, film, and share my story—in the hopes that by doing so I can encourage other women to embark on a fitness journey that enhances their life and never detracts from it.
What excites you most about being a member of the Girls Gone Strong Advisory Board?
Having been one of the original founders of the GGS movement, I’m excited to bring my energy, perspective, and experience to the table. There are so many extraordinary women on this board with different backgrounds and personalities—all united in one purpose.
Being a part of something like that, something so much bigger than myself, is really empowering.
What’s your athletic background?
I played softball for several years as a teenager and young adult, and later went on to join the United States Air Force, where physical fitness was certainly a huge part of my daily life. I’ve always been active, whether it was snowboarding, running, playing softball, lifting weights, dancing, or doing yoga.
What are you currently doing for your own training?
My training varies based on the season. During Winter (which here in Cali just means 60 degrees) I lift a lot more, and during the Summer I tend to play a lot more.
Typically I lift 3x a week, do yoga at home or at the studio 3x a week, and hike once per week. I walk my dogs 2-3 miles every single day, and sometimes I’ll run 2 miles or do HIIT on the stairmill. During the Summer I’ll ride my bike on the beach and go Stand Up Paddle Boarding.
What does a sample workout look like for you?
A2-Mini band walks
A3-Bottom Up Press
B2-Single Leg Squat
x 5 sets
A workout like this will usually take about 40 minutes. If I am short on time I will cut out either the A or C sections.
What’s your favorite exercise or movement?
I love love love Turkish Get-ups and Bent Presses. Chin-ups are a close second for me as well, and when it comes to yoga I love arm balances and inversions. Anything that makes me feel both strong and mobile is high on my list.
Top 5 songs on your training playlist:
Ooooh, this is a tough one! I love music, and I make a new Spotify playlist every month for my Lean & Lovely tribe. Some of my current faves:
- The Illest by Far East Movement
- Feelin’ Myself by Will.i.am
- 7/11 by Beyoncè
- As the Rush Comes (Gabriel & Dresden Sweeping Strings Remix) by Motorcyle
- New Booty by Bubba Sparxxx
Top 3 things you must have with you at the gym/in your gym bag:
- Kleen Kanteen—the only kind of water bottle I’ve used for 10 years
- Wireless Power Beats by Dre—I can’t be bothered with wires! Wireless allows me to move freely.
- Alba Botanica 3-in-1 towlettes—I don’t always have time to wash my face post workout and these allow me to care for my skin immediately.
Do you prefer to train alone or with a training partner? Why?
Most of the time I prefer to train alone because I’m an introvert and my training is my zen time. Every once in awhile, I like training with someone for fun, energy, and motivation. My favorite person to train with is my bestie Jen Sinkler.
Most hilarious pick-up line you’ve heard at the gym:
Ummmm. I don’t think I’ve ever been hit on at the gym! Might have something to do with my “training bitch face” that I have spent years cultivating. I usually have headphones on as well, so people mostly leave me alone.
Most embarrassing gym moment:
Just before my knee surgery in 2008 I was training a client while sitting on a stability ball. My knee was in a lot of pain, so it was difficult to stand for hours at a time. I stood up to help adjust her during an exercise, and when I went to sit back down, the stability ball had rolled away—and I fell flat on my ass. It was pretty hilarious.
Pork chop and Brussels sprouts
Favorite way to treat yourself:
A glass bottle of wine (rosè all day!), dark chocolate covered caramels, or Jackson’s Honest Chips (sweet potato are my favorite!)
“The World breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places.” –Ernest Hemingway
There is absolutely no possible way I could pick just one! I am an avid reader and am usually reading 4 books at once, depending on my mood throughout the day.
- The Catcher in the Rye
- The Name of The Wind
- The Alchemist
Non Fiction Favorites
- The Four Agreements
- The Gifts of Imperfection
- Before Happiness
- In Defense of Food
What inspires and motivates you?
My son. I want him to grow up seeing how strong, capable, and independent a woman can be. I also want him to learn empathy and compassion, so everything I do is an effort to set a good example for him.
What does a typical day look like for you? (From waking up to bedtime)
0530-0600 — Wake up and brew coffee/While coffee is brewing, I mix up lemon water with apple cider vinegar, and drink it while reading and journaling.
0645 — Take my coffee to go and walk my dogs on the beach
0815 — Take my son to school
0830-1200 — This is my most important work block. I usually write during this time and do more creative tasks. I’ll break around 10 am to have breakfast—usually a giant protein shake with avocado, or eggs with veggies.
12 — Training time. Depending on the day, I’ll train in my garage gym or ride my bike to yoga class. After I train I have a #BAS (big ass salad) full of literally whatever is in the fridge.
1400-1600 — Second working block. Usually I do more reactive tasks like email or I’ll film videos.
1630 — Pick up my son from school, take him to his martial arts class.
1900 — Make dinner for the family
2030/2100 — Put my son to bed, watch a show with my husband
2130/2200 — In bed! I usually read for about 15 minutes before passing out.
What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve noticed from your training?
Everything in life just feels easier when I’m physically strong. I have no trouble carrying, moving, and hoisting things. I also have a lot of stamina, so I never run out of breath or feel fatigued doing normal day to day activities.
Next training goal:
I would love to finally master a handstand! Right now, I can nail one out of ten attempts and it’s not something I feel confident attempting in the middle of the room in yoga class. I just practice a little every chance I get, and I’m pleased with my progress even though it goes up and down.
What’s your biggest accomplishment in the fitness industry thus far?
I would say writing Lean & Lovely was a huge accomplishment for me. It took me the better part of a year, and it was so incredible to be able to share all my fitness and nutrition insights with the world in one, concise book.
What’s your biggest accomplishment outside the fitness industry thus far?
Obviously my son, who I am so proud to have created. He is so funny, curious, compassionate, and kind.
As far as personal accomplishments outside of motherhood, I was awarded an Army Achievement Medal while in the Air Force (I was stationed at an Army base at the time, studying Arabic), and I graduated at the top of my military Arabic class with Highest Honors.
If you had to choose 3 words to describe yourself, what would they be?
Goofy, Empathetic, Determined
How has training changed your life?
Training has helped me feel as though I have control over my choices and my actions. I can’t control my environment, other people, or what happens to me—but I can control whether I go to the gym, how hard I work, and whether or not I listen to my body.
What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous to start working out?
Start small and just do what you’re comfortable with. There’s a lot of fitspo out there of the “go hard or go home” variety and I think that’s really detrimental and counter productive. Ease into working out by doing something that you enjoy, something fun and doable. Then little by little, allow yourself to try new things and challenge yourself more and more.
If something challenges you and brings you joy, keep doing it. If it doesn’t, move on!
What would you like to be remembered for in regards to your impact on the health and wellness industry?
I want to be remembered for empowering women to own and appreciate their unique bodies, despite what the mainstream media wants us to believe. So much of the fitness industry is revolved around preying on women’s insecurities, and I’d like to be remembered as being a part of the movement to demolish that.