If you’re looking for workout tips, it’s hard to go wrong with
an Olympic gold medal winner. Eric Fonoimoana, a 47-year-old Hermosa Beach
resident, who won a gold medal as part of the two-man U.S. beach volleyball
team at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, is still in great
shape even though he has long retired from the sport. Born at Torrance
Memorial Medical Center and raised in Manhattan Beach, Fonoimoana earned
a volleyball scholarship to the University of California, Santa Barbara
and played on the pro volleyball circuit for 15 years as part of the Association
of Volleyball Professionals. He was named the group’s Most Valuable
Player in 2002.These days, Fonoimoana, whose father is from Samoa, is
himself the father of an 11-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter and a
realtor with Vista/Sotheby’s International Realty, specializing
in residential real estate in the South Bay. (He notes that inventory
is increasing and it is becoming a buyer’s market.) He and several
other Olympians founded the South Bay-based Elite Beach Volleyball club,
which coaches teenage girls to improve their game and so far has helped
52 women get NCAA-division college commitments.
You’re the youngest of six children. Did you play sports as a kid?
Growing up, we were exposed to virtually every sport, but mainly we were
a swimming family. In fact my sister Melia was an Olympic swimmer. I played
baseball, soccer, water polo, and I surfed a lot, but I gravitated toward
volleyball because we lived by the beach.
What was it like being a part of the Olympics?
It was a dream come true. It’s a lot of hard work to get there,
given the amount of time you put in and the amount of money you put in.
So it was exciting when I finally was there.
And you keep active now?
I still play volleyball. I do yoga and do strength training in the gym
and on the beach. And I surf. I probably surf more than I play volleyball.
I surf at least one or two times a week. My schedule is fairly flexible,
so I can rearrange things if the waves are good. Living at the beach,
it’s easy to just put on my wet suit and go out there.
Tell us about your workout.
My workout is mostly body weights. For the most part, you’re using
your own body weight and not bulking up. I like a combination where you’re
always moving—doing push-ups, planks, abs, a full body workout.
I work out at least an hour twice a week and do a combination of the gym
and the beach. I jog on the beach. My knees aren’t very good, so
I can only jog about two miles in the sand. Sand is a forgiving surface,
so it’s much easier on the knees. When I had bad tendinitis, I did
workouts in the pool.
What about your eating habits?
I eat fairly well. I eat vegetables, chicken, steak, rice, and I just
make healthy choices. The big thing is I don’t eat as much anymore.
Since I’m not playing, I don’t need all those calories. It’s
very simple—calories in, calories out. If I eat a meal, then I better
be burning those calories. It’s a conscious decision with the basic
formula to eat healthy and not eat that much junk. You can have those
days [where you eat junk food],but just keep it under control. For the
most part, I know when I’m not eating well and when to get back
on the wagon. If I don’t get a workout in, that’s probably
not a good cheat day, but if I am working out hard, then I can probably
get away with a cheat day.
What wisdom would you share with readers regarding their workouts?
If you’re looking to improve your workout, it’s more about
doing a variety of activities. I surf, swim, play beach volleyball, go
to the gym, do yoga. I think that’s a good way to do it just so
you don’t get stagnant or bored with the same old same old. Try
and increase your heart rate. Increase your intensity. Do something a
You minored in coaching at UC Santa Barbara. Why do you enjoy coaching
the girls at Elite Beach Volleyball?
I enjoy coaching because it gives me the chance to influence the girls
on how to play beach volleyball the most efficient way. I was self-taught
and now I can help them learn how to do skills properly so they can improve faster.
You also coach girls’ volleyball at Manhattan Beach’s Mira
Costa High School. What’s that like?
I have been coaching the Costa girls for four years. We have won the Interscholastic
Beach Volleyball League (IBVL) title four years in a row and we remain
undefeated for four years.