I’m interested in the integration of high performance and well-being through psychology, contemplative practices, and sport. I’ve been able to explore topics like grit, mindset, self-worth, purpose, success, happiness, and healthy striving through my life journeys of becoming mountain bike World Champion, racing internationally, getting my Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering, moving to a new country, having children, and continuing to carve my own path in my business. I’m motivated by curiosity, love of learning, gratitude, and helping others. I am currently a Professional Athlete, Podcast Host, Health and Mental Performance Coach, Writer, Speaker, and student of life!
I’m just a normal person, but through hard work, consistency, self-belief, determination, optimism, and a willingness to fail, I’ve been able to achieve extraordinary things. I’m an outdoor adventure athlete and American Pro Mountain Biker. I’ve raced my mountain bike across the world in 25+ countries at the hardest endurance races in places like the Sahara Desert, Himalayas of Nepal, tropical jungles in Asia, steppes of Mongolia, and mountain ranges in Poland. I even became a World Champion in 2015. My passion is taking on the hardest and/or longest races in the world because it’s enabled me to learn more about myself and life so that I can help others.
“My goal is to help people live better and feel more alive
How did it happen?
I was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I’m passionate about cycling, adventure travel, personal growth, plant-based nutrition, and am generally very curious about life. I grew up playing tennis, soccer, and was a band nerd for 6 years and focused on school. I didn’t self-identify as an “athlete” growing up. I first rode a bike for cross training for marathon running in early college. I started cycling in 2003, stemming from spin classes at the gym! Once I found the mountain bike, I was totally addicted. After finishing my BS in Electrical Engineering from UNM in 2005, I moved to Boulder, CO for graduate school and I feel like that is where my life really began to take shape. I raced my first full season as a pro mountain biker in 2006, focusing on XC.
In 2007, I finished my Master’s Degree in Electrical & Biomedical Engineering with a focus in Neuroscience and went to work as a solar design engineer for a start-up in Boulder, CO. I realized that I loved the culture of start-ups and loved that I could wear multiple hats. However, I wasn’t passionate about engineering. I was passionate about mountain biking and marketing so I got a marketing job in the bike industry for a small brand, and never looked back! My interests continued to evolve as I helped build a brand and I discovered that I was passionate about business, creating inspiring content, and connecting with others. I quit my marketing job in 2014 and started my own business managing, myself as an athlete and from that, a stream of small businesses have evolved. I love learning how to grow and scale and feel that this is just the beginning of the entrepreneur side of my life. Learning how to be a racer was the first challenge, and now learning how to grow and scale a business is my next big challenge!
I’m the host of my podcast, The Sonya Looney Show. It’s about how to live a high performance life and I get to interview experts in psychology, sociology, nutrition, physiology, authors, highly accomplished athletes, and more. It has regularly hits the Top 50 in the Fitness & Nutrition Category and is in the top 500 in the large category of Health. I’ve been doing the show for over 2.5 years and personally, I’ve learned so much. The show has also really helped me spread important messages and have impacted lives- that’s what matters most!
I’ve been a freelance writer for over a decade, contributing to magazines like Outside, Bicycling, Mountain Bike Action, Mountain Flyer, Dirt Rag, Elevation Outdoors, Good Life Magazine and also written online for many tourism boards around the USA, Headspace, Active.com, and more! I am currently working on my first non-fiction book.
I started my own apparel brand, Moxy & Grit about 1.5 years ago. I was collaborating with my sponsors and giving them fun ideas to create co-branded products. They were doing so well I decided to do it on my own. It’s been fun to see my ideas come to life and get people more stoked to get outside!
Last, I founded my own plant-based community called the Plant Powered Academy. We have an active facebook group with over 2,300 members, an instagram with tips and recipes, and I also published my first cookbook. My goal with this is to be inclusive. Anyone is welcome- you don’t have to eat plant-based. Simply adding a plant-slant to your diet will help you live longer, help your brain work better, and improve your performance. Community is important, and I wanted to personally be a resource and create an environment where people can come with questions or share their victories. I also have a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from eCornell.
Back to the bike! My favorite distances are the 75-100 mile days and 7 day races. I love the adventure and the mental aspect of endurance racing. I found stage racing in 2011 and since then, I seek out races that provide the strongest element of adventure in places that might push me outside my comfort zone. Those are the experiences that you remember! The type of people that travel and endure the challenge of a stage race are special, and I love to call that my international community.
Personally, racing is about testing my personal limits, expanding my global frame of reference, and seeing the world. I have learned more about life and myself from racing and the relationships I’ve built through racing. I’ve met some of the most courageous, inspiring people at races and even met my husband at a bike race! I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if I hadn’t picked up a mountain bike just before my 20th birthday.
Cycling has taught me
How to deal with failure
The value of patience
The ability to be honest with myself and take responsibly for myself
To laugh at myself
To feel the fear and do it anyway
How to be more confident
Anything is possible but you have to be brave enough to try
Realistic optimism and perseverance are the keys to success in any situation
the most important things in life are personal relationships and a growth mindset
and there is only person responsible for living the life you want; YOU.
My slogan “Be Brave. Do Epic Shit” is about breaking outside your comfort zone and trying on new challenges and experiences that you’ve always wanted to do. Along the journey, there are always ups and downs, but being curious about our mindset is what makes it interesting. There are times I’ve been frustrated and wanted to give up, but that’s where the real opportunity to dig a little deeper has given me strength and shown me what I’m capable of.
I’m currently working on becoming a Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC) through Vanderbilt University’s Medical School.
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All the best!