Celebrating strong women is part of our DNA. This International Women’s Day, we’re sharing the stories of the women in our Ryderwear community who continue to subvert gender stereotypes in the fitness industry, challenge misconceptions and lift other women around them through their self-confidence & strength.
Tawna McCoy: I Am Limitless
TRAIN LIKE TAWNA
I don’t want other people to decide who I am. I want to decide that myself
Q: How did you get started on your fitness journey?
A: I’ve been on stage since the age of 3, competing in everything from tap, jazz, ballet, gymnastics, cheerleading, sports and beauty pageants. When I graduated high school and moved to Dallas I wanted to keep performing, I loved it so much. I did bikini competitions around town and that's where I met my now husband Greg. He owned a gym and he said I’d be great for the new NPC fitness bikini division. We started training for my first show in 2010 and 8 weeks later I won the overall. From there, I was hooked. My career took off very fast and months later I was an IFBB Pro!
I went on to become a 4 x IFBB champ, 5 x Olympian, 3 x cover model and an athlete for various companies within the industry. My husband Greg and I have been together for 11 years now, married 5 and own 3 gyms. Health and fitness is our life!
Q: Are there any misconceptions about being a woman in the fitness industry?
A: I believe there’s a lot of misconceptions unfortunately. When I started on my fitness journey, I feel like everyone’s response was either ’don’t get too bulky’, ‘you don’t want to look manly’ or the worst one - ‘so you take steroids?’.
I’ve been going at this whole ‘bulky’ thing for about 11 years now and I’m still on the gains struggle bus. It takes such a long time to get ‘bulky’ and completely depends on the individual. It’s not about looking like a man, it’s about looking like an athlete. That’s my goal and there’s nothing manly about that. If I start growing a beard then maybe let’s talk. Steroid comments are my biggest pet peeve! I’m a very proud natural athlete from the beginning. I’ve worked my booty ON, to get where I’m at today. Just because you build muscle, lift weights and are strong in the gym doesn’t mean you’re on steroids. Sure it’s a little harder for us as women with our testosterone levels but it can be done and is done by many.
Q: What are the positive changes you’ve seen in the fitness industry when it comes to female representation?
A: I’ve seen the biggest shifts in the sports nutrition segment of the fitness industry. When I entered the industry in 2010, female fitness models were used purely for ‘sex appeal’. Now I think the industry as a whole does a better job of showing healthy women and their stories, and showing their strengths instead of using them as sex symbols.
Q: Do you have any advice for women who are experiencing inequality or gender bias in the fitness world or beyond?
A: I’m never a fan of the victim mentality. Even if things are stacked against you, I always like to look back at how we portray ourselves? Are we communicating and presenting ourselves in a way that helps us move equality forward? In a world of social media, we have the capability to let the world see us for who we really are, not just what anyone thinks we should be. So at the end of the day, just be yourself!
Q: Is there a message you’d like to share with the women in our Ryderwear community?
A: Remember that as women we have to stick together and support one another. If you don’t respect yourself or other women, how can we expect anyone else to? You are limitless! No one can hold you back but yourself. No one can get in your way but yourself. You are strong, beautiful and capable. We are more powerful when we empower each other.