HANAH Heroes: Q&A with Nicole Duke
Friends of HANAH know that cycling and sports played key roles in the founding of the company. So we are particularly happy to introduce one of the newest members of the HANAH family, Nicole Duke.
Nicole has had a long, distinguished career in mountain biking and cyclocross racing, and now she runs her own company. We'll let her tell the story in her own words:
For those readers who don’t know you, give us a quick background:
I grew up an only child on the beaches for Florida, surfing, skateboarding, playing soccer, and riding motorcycles. Not your average upbringing for a little girl. I eventually earned a soccer and leadership scholarship to my college of choice.
When I was 19, I decided that I wanted to be a professional athlete. I chose mountain biking, not because I had done it before but because I thought it "looked cool" and that my motorcycle skills would apply. After walking into a bike shop and announcing that I was going to be "pro" and needed a bike (yes, there was laughter behind my back) the story of myself and the bike has never ended.
I've had a long and successful career on the bike, 21 years to be exact. My career started with downhill mountain biking and ended on the cyclocross bike. Titles and wins on the bike at this point are not what I look back at, it's the full experience. My career has enabled me to travel the world, make lots of friends, and it has given me the opportunity to learn a lot about myself, my mind and my body. The memories I have stored from this alternative lifestyle are beyond measure. Along the way, I had two beautiful children. They are a grounding force in all I do.
I've also competed professionally in downriver stand-up paddle boarding and standing wave surf contests. I was part of the early movement of downriver SUPing here in Colorado. I have such a symbiotic relationship with water that I am constantly drawn to it. Surfing is my soul sport, and I yearn for it daily.
Recently, I retired from bike racing. My body has had enough after 20 years of intensity and injury. It hasn't been an easy transition. My new business has helped to redirect my passion for sport.
Tell us about Soul▼ Sport▼ Athlete..
Soul▼Sport▼Athlete was born from the idea that coaching and learning new sports doesn't have to be so analytical. The numbers count, yes, but the intelligence in our own bodies can be even more powerful. Learning to play again, going back to basics, purity and relearning our body/mind connection to sport is what we believe makes a successful, fulfilled, and powerful athlete. Getting lost in self discovery, empowerment, and nature/mind/body connection can create power beyond what any number is telling us on a computer screen. It's time to truly fulfill the reason we do what we do, and rediscover why.
We've seen it in many disciplines and sport. We all watched shoe brands go to extremes with technical and then back to basics with barefoot technology. The pendulum swings and eventually settles in the middle. It's in us to explore limits especially as athletes. I now feel its my mission to spread the message of what it means to be a well rounded human being through athletics. I'm trying to incorporate spirituality and connectedness into what we do.
There are probably both some big changes and some similarities between being a full-time athlete and a full-time entrepreneur.
Yes, there are absolutely. Focus is a big part of the matrix. As an athlete, you know what you need to do each day and you need to be able to make time to do it and also have supreme focus while doing it. It's all for a goal. Putting the pieces together on a daily basis to realize that goal is not always easy. I have a lot going on in my life beyond just making a living. My life can be very complex and juggling everything as a single mother can be overwhelming. It's easy to lose focus because daily tasks of just living can take over. I have to always tell myself, "one foot in front of the other, and you will eventually get there."
Between being an athlete, a mother and a entrepreneur, you must be running full speed all the time. How do you take care of your body to maintain your energy and your focus?
I know that if I physically break down, then everything else follows. I have some patterns or rituals that I try to follow to stay healthy. I take very few supplements, but there are three that I truly believe make a difference: Probiotics, Omega 3's/fish oil, and HANAH ONE. I also start my day with lemon water to create an alkaline base.
I have had a lot of broken bones and structural damage to my body from all the years as a downhill mountain bike racer, so I also need to make sure I get consistent massage and chiropractic work. Yoga, when I practice, always keeps me aligned. Checking in through meditation of some sort is the key I believe. Most of us get lost in hustle and bustle and forget to simply check in to see what is truly needed to realign and center. Trust me, I'm not perfect and I often miss some of these rituals, but I try to get back on track as soon as I can.
What attracted you to HANAH?
HANAH found me. A dear friend of mine introduced me to it one day, and before I even really knew what it was, I felt it was magic. As soon as I read the ingredients and heard Joel's story and business practices, I was hooked.
At this point in my life I am very conscious of what I put into my body and believe in karma carried through products I bring into my life. HANAH ONE aligns perfectly with my beliefs and what I feel my body needs and wants. After taking it for the past months, I'm beginning to feel a more consistent energy in my body. Every time HANAH ONE touches my lips I feel I'm ingesting some sort of magic potion specially curated to bring more abundancy and life into my being. When I give it away to clients and friends, it truly makes me feel proud that I can share such a beautiful and special product. Two of my hashtags I use for S▼S▼A are #tapintomagic and #doitwithlove and HANAH ONE epitomizes this.
One of the founding principals of HANAH is that healthy diet and prevention trump medical fixes after you’re injured or worn down. After so many years as an athlete, you must have thoughts on this.
I also share this principle with HANAH. I very rarely visit a Western practice doctor. I try to do everything in my power to keep a balance so that I don't have to. All too often people are looking for the quick fix. We can get it, but it's just that, a quick fix, never really addressing the root problem. It takes discipline to stay healthy, it takes awareness, and balance. Inviting life force into our daily rhythm is key.
How are you using HANAH ONE these days?
I either take a spoonful from the jar in the morning or if I know I'm going to exercise Ii will take a sport pack with me and use it as an energy booster during a my effort.
I love using HANAH ONE when I exercise versus a traditional gel. The sugar, fat, and botanical combination gives me such a steady energy boost. It gives me a deeper base than most products. I also love the savory taste.
How can we find out more about you and your company?
Photo credits from top to bottom: Ben Duke/Duke Media Solutions, Terri Irsik Shutter Sport Photography, Dejan Smaic Photography
- Patrick Crawford