I’ll be honest: When I was asked to name five women that inspire me, I had a hard time. Not because I couldn’t think of any, but because there have been SO many. The truth is, I meet tons of incredible women every time I’m at a Spartan race. I’m consistently impressed with their commitment to getting uncomfortable, their willingness to push beyond their limits, and their dedication to the competition. It makes me smile each time I watch these mud-caked women cross the finish line. What badasses!
Spartan is what it is today because of extraordinary women. From Amelia Boone, the queen of pain, to Marion Abrams, the producer of the Spartan Up! Podcast, to Erin Sutton, our VP of Global People Operations who helped keep us afloat when s*** got bad last year, these women are some of the greatest warriors I've encountered in business and life. There’s a long list of them, but the following five are the tip of my inspirational-women iceberg.
5 Female Powerhouses That Inspire Me Daily
1. My Wife, Courtney
You know the saying, "Behind every strong man is a stronger woman." My wife is the living, breathing, ass-kicking example of this every single day. Being married to me isn’t easy. I’ve been called a maniac by many, who would also say that my parenting antics exemplify this perfectly. I wake the kids up before dawn, make them carry heavy stuff up the mountain, and demand that their math and Mandarin get done daily. Courtney tolerates my craziness, and let’s me be the only version of myself that I know to be. More than that, she is her own version of strong, stable, and secure. On any given day she makes a thousand decisions thoughtfully, juggles the madness of the De Sena home, and has more than enough energy at the end of the day to kiss, hug, and love the whole family. She is more than my rock – she is the foundation of the whole mountain.
2. My Mom
I talk about my mom a lot, and for good reason. When I reflect on many of the characteristics that make me successful, they often lead back to her. My mom was doing yoga before it was trending on Twitter, she was eating vegan before it became a status symbol, and she was seeking self-improvement before it grew to a million-dollar industry. Some of her choices weren’t easy ones and, though I may have resisted them at the time, I see now that she was a true pioneer in her thinking. It blows me away. I strive to be more like my mom whenever I can. I try to take the road less traveled, choose to be uncomfortable, and constantly focus on health and longevity. She truly was the first modern-day Spartan, and I remain inspired by her intentional way of living every day.
Related: What It Means to Be a Spartan Mom
Fun fact: Amelia’s mother was not interested in raising her daughter to be like the other kids. She was resistant to the idea of “good little girls” and preferred that Amelia get dirty and gritty. I have no doubt that she’d be drawn to the Spartan way of life if she were here today. Amelia’s commitment to flying is an inspirational story in and of itself. She was the first female pilot to fly across the Atlantic and the first woman to fly solo across North America. But more important to me was her unwavering commitment to her craft. She worked multiple jobs to earn money to pay for flying lessons and walked four miles every day just to get to the airfield. She truly embodies what it means to work hard for what you want, and stop at NOTHING to break new ground. Her accolades and records are truly earned.
4. Gabby Reece
I often get to meet many important, well-known people. From Olympians to celebrity entrepreneurs to popular motivational figures, these people become accessible through the success of Spartan. But the truth is, few truly blow me away. Gabby is unique in that she lives and breathes her own credo. What she teaches, preaches, and pronounces runs through her as if it’s just part of her DNA, and you can’t help but be inspired. She holds opposing truths often, which is super cool to see. As a parent, she’s flexible but firm. As a business owner, she’s unrelenting but unattached. And as an athlete, she’s tough but tolerant. In this way she’s like Yoda, and I’m a better person because of her.
Last year was a s*** show. COVID wreaked havoc on people and their lives across the globe. But guess what? It wasn’t a complete s*** show everywhere. Look at New Zealand. Jacinda Ardern, the country's prime minister, has been praised for her proactive approach to the pandemic, and deservedly so. Back in June 2020 – a mere three months after the virus hit hard – many of us were still on lockdown, furloughing employees, and masking up every time we stepped out of the house. New Zealanders, however, were enjoying a nearly COVID-free country and basking in a near-total lack of restrictions. Ardern’s ability to act fast, perform under pressure, and communicate clearly and effectively to her people was undoubtedly behind this success. She faced down the obstacle in front of her and kicked its ass. True Spartan in my book.