Kerri Walsh Jennings launches new volleyball event series p1440

Kerri Walsh Jennings has launched an event series called p1440. Photo courtesy p1440

 

Add Kerri Walsh Jennings to the list of celebs who landed in Austin this week during South by Southwest.

The professional beach volleyball player, who has three gold and one bronze Olympic medal to her name, came to launch her new p1440 beach volleyball event series. The organization was a title sponsor of day parties at Waterloo Records.

We intended to catch up with her Thursday morning at Aussie’s Grill & Beach Bar, where she and her coach had planned a training session, but Jennings had to catch an early flight back to California to deal with a family matter. We talked by phone instead.

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Jennings was at Waterloo Records to promote her new event series, p1440. Photo courtesy p1440

 

First things first. Yes, Jennings, a 6-foot 3-inch California native and Stanford graduate, is still competing. She hopes to add to her Olympic medal haul in the 2020 with teammate Nicole Branagh, but that will depend on how they play during the next two years. (Jennings won those three golds with Misty May-Treanor in 2004, 2008 and 2012, and the bronze with April Ross in 2016.)

In the meantime, Jennings, 39, and husband Casey Jennings want to expose more people to the growing sport of beach volleyball, which isn’t just played on the coast anymore. Here in Austin, you can knock volleyballs around a sand court at Aussie’s, 306 Barton Springs Road, and Wooly’s, 440 East St. Elmo Road at The Yard.

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That’s where the new organization – p1440, named to inspire people “to live every minute of the day with purpose, all 1,440 of them” – comes in.

“My husband and I were talking to our sports psychologist about the importance of quality time,” Jennings said. “He said, ‘Did you know there are 1,440 minutes in a day? Be mindful of them.’ That’s a slap in the face, isn’t it? I thought, ‘That’s it? Just 1,440?’”

Now the Jennings are planning a series of volleyball-a-palooza-style festivals, complete with top-level competition, a health and wellness village, personal development experiences and a music festival. Eight events are planned for the 2018-19 season, starting with a festival in Chicago in September and followed by events in the San Jose Bay Area, San Diego and Huntington Beach. A Texas event may take place next spring, but probably not in Austin.

Jennings hopes to compete in the 2020 Olympics. Photo courtesy p1440

“Texas in general is a very big volleyball state, and it’s always been near and dear to my heart. I wanted to honor that community,” Jennings said. “Austin knows how to have fun, they’re a sports town. Beach volleyball suits the lifestyle there.”

A digital component of p1440, where users can get training tips, stream volleyball matches and workouts, get recipes from nutritionists, discover new meditation practices, find athlete’s curated music playlists and chat with others, will launch this summer, too.

Jennings says she wants p1440 to be bigger than just sports. “It’s community and character and so many beautiful things,” she said. “We really want to honor and cherish everyone’s time.”

“Everybody is super busy, overburdened, and ill-equipped to handle the load we’re carrying. We want to give people the resources to handle the load they carry, from physical training to personal development. We all want to feel good while we’re alive.”

It’s something she and her husband, who have three children, try to do every day.

“None of this works without my husband,” she said. “We both like to chase very big dreams and we like to kick butt. He has been amazing unconditional support system for me, not just in volleyball but in life. He’s also an athlete and he’s leading this charge.”

The goal is to attract between 20,000 and 30,000 people to each three-day event and 4 million to the online platform by 2021. Currently, at least 25 million Americans play volleyball, she said.

“Currently in beach volleyball, people show up, watch the games and leave,” Jennings said. “We want them to show up in the morning, stay engaged all day, listen to live music and come back the next day.

“We believe we will attract new eyeballs to sport. We’re not a small undertaking. We’re a big deal.”

As for that bikini she wears while competing? People ask about it all the time. It’s functional, she says.

“It’s my uniform. I take my uniform very seriously. It’s a very sports performance specific choice I made. I’m allowed to wear pants or tights, but when it’s 90 degrees I work really hard to get something I’m comfortable in,” she said.

She pays equal attention to sunglasses and a visor, which provide sun protection while she plays. She encourages youth picking up the sport to learn to play early on in shades and a hat, too.

“They’ll stay more youthful longer,” she said.

Other tips for staying healthy?

Stay mindful of what you fuel yourself with – from the food you eat and drink to the social media you ingest and the books you read.

“All of these things make an impact on my mental and physical state,” she said. “Staying mindful of what we’re putting into our systems is important.”

For more information about p1440, go here.

Keep fitness a priority with these healthy SXSW events

SXSW isn’t all about music or technology. Participants enjoyed yoga on the lawn outside the Four Seasons during last year’s festival. HANDOUT

 

Just because you’re probably going to stay up late, drink too much and ruin your feet standing around at bars next week, your South by Southwest festival experience doesn’t have to mean your fitness gets tossed out with the contents of the nearest ashtray.

For the first time, this year’s festival gets its own Wellness Expo at the Palmer Events Center, where fitness-centric people can watch demonstrations, attend workshops and listen to speakers.

To mark the SXSW World Premiere of “Walk With Me,” Thich Nhat Hanh’s monks and nuns featured in the movie held a series of walking meditations and mindfulness sessions. HANDOUT

The expo, open to badge holders and the general public, is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 10-11 at the center, 900 Barton Springs Road. Besides an array of folks eager to talk about supplements, fitness gear, clean eating, exercise and wellness retreats, it will include a bookstore area where authors will sign their works, plus a lounge where attendees can take a break or catch up on emails.

Wellness innovators will give talks and participate in panel discussions at the SXSW Wellness Expo Stage. Fitness and healthy living companies will showcase their brands and host demos and workshops on the expo floor. And outside at the Fitness Stage, attendees can join in all kinds of classes, from yoga to high intensity interval training, dance and strength training. (Look for Lauren Ash of Black Girl in Om, Derek Flanzraich of Greatist, former Longhorn football players Vince Young and Jeremy Hills, and Youtube influencer Adriene Mishler of Yoga With Adriene.)

This year’s SXSW Festival includes a Fitness Expo at the Long Center. HANDOUT

The expo is free to the public, but you’ll need a guest pass to get in. Register for a free pass here or sign up for a newsletter here.

A few other South by Southwest tidbits of note to fitness junkies…

  • The Trail Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to maintain and enhance the Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail around Lady Bird Lake, will receive all the proceeds from this year’s KUTX Live at The Four Seasons, 98 San Jacinto Boulevard. Entry to the early morning broadcasts are scheduled for 7-11 a.m. March 14-16 and 8 a.m.-noon March 17. Admission is $15 for adults and $5 for children under 12 and includes coffee and breakfast tacos. All donations will be used to beautify the portion of the trail in front of the Four Seasons hotel.
  • Cyclists and foodies Lentine Alexis, Kate Powlison, Alaina Sullivan and Tom Vanderbilt will talk about how motion impacts the way we crave what we crave, how it shapes our sense of taste, and how using a bike to get around or exercise impacts what we choose to eat at the “Pedaler’s Palate: Food, Cycling + How They Collide” session from 11 a.m. to noon March 13 at the JW Marriott, Salon C. Entry with music badge, platinum badge, film badge or interactive badge.
  • Head to the Clive Bar, 609 Davis Street, for plenty of workout options. On Friday, HEAT Bootcamp will lead sessions at noon and 2 p.m.; and Wanderlust yoga will lead a class at 3:30 p.m. On Saturday, Wanderlust will lead a yoga session at 8 a.m., Ro Fitness and ThriveOnLife will lead sessions at 9:30 and 10:30, 45 (POWA’d by Sphere) with ThriveOnLife will hold sessions at noon and 2 p.m. DJs will spin music both nights.