#ThisIsActive Q&A with Claire Psarouthakis, triathlete and former US Peace Corps rockstar

Our #ThisIsActive Q+As are part of an ongoing series to show how plus size women live their active lives. Share your active life with us on social media by using #ThisIsActive on Instagram or send your story to social @ junoactive.com for a chance to be featured.

Claire Psarouthakis was born and raised in Ann Arbor, MI and comes from a family of active people. She received her BA in Comparative Cultures and Politics at Michigan State University, where she was also a member of their club rowing team for three years. After graduating Claire became a Clinic and Health Team Volunteer in the US Peace Corps in Botswana where she worked on public health initiatives, youth empowerment, LGBTQ issues, and disposable income projects. Upon returning state side Claire moved to Minneapolis with her partner and two cats to pursue a Masters of Public Policy at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and started doing triathlons after a chronic back injury prevented her from rowing. Her goals are to continue doing longer distance triathlons, and possibly rehabilitate her back into rowing shape.

1. How long have you been competing in triathlons? Or, if this was your first, what inspired you to compete in a triathlon?

This was my second triathlon, my first one was last year in White Bear Lake, MN. I decided to sign up for that one because I was told by a doctor that I wouldn’t be able to row any more due to a lower back injury, and I really enjoy biking and swimming. Though my generally philosophy on running has always been “why would I do that if something isn’t chasing me?” I figured 2/3 wasn’t bad and that ultimately increasing training around running would have positive outcomes for the other two disciplines. As someone who likes pushing my boundaries, triathlons offered both endurance and a multiple disciplines which was really appealing.

Two women wearing plus size aquatards by JunoActive during a triathlon.
Claire (right) and her friend competing in the 2017 YWCA Women’s Triathlon in Minneapolis, MN.

2. Have you always lived an active life, or have you recently jumped into it?

I have always been a pretty active person. In high school I played softball, and swam in a summer league. I was a DIII rower at Michigan State University for three years, completed two 200mi+ bike rides, and did a decent amount of hiking and camping while serving in the US Peace Corps. Being active and adventurous and plus size have always been firm realities in my life, and though there has been a lot of external pressure that those things are opposed to one another, I like that my existence challenges that concept.

3. What is the next active goal you have for yourself after competing in this Triathlon? 

Generally my goal is to work up to an Olympic distance Triathlon (for the YWCA that is a 500m swim, 15.5mi bike, and a 5k run.) I have an chronic ankle issue that I believe would prevent me from running much longer than that, but I would be open to more if possible! I’m also trying to get my back to the point where I can start rowing again; I come from a rowing family and there is something about being on the water that is absolutely intoxicating. A long term goal is to summit Kilimanjaro; I lived in Botswana for two years as a US Peace Corps Volunteer, and almost did it after my service was done, but didn’t have a large enough group of people that wanted to come along (it is expensive!) I would love to go to Tanzania and do a 6-day trek to the top.

A woman wears a JunoActive plus size aquatard while competing in a triathlon.

4. What would you like to see more of when it comes to fitness/activewear for curvy and plus-size women?

The big thing for me as a biker and a rower, is finding the right length spandex short! I used to hate my thighs and have done a lot of work to appreciate them for all they do for me, including an awesome tattoo that I like showing off. The problems I run into are that shorts are too short, and turn into rolled up panty looking things by the end of a work out, or are made of material that wears quickly when the awesome power of my thunder thighs come together. I need sturdy shorts that can hang with me through the tough workouts, and stay where I want them to stay.

5. What is your favorite JunoActive piece and why?

My aquatard!!!! I did my first triathlon in an old rowing uni I had, and it was just really clear that triathlons where not what the suit was made for. I had resigned myself to shorts and a sports bra for my next one when I saw the pictures of plus sized models at the JunoActive store at the Mall of America. I hadn’t heard of the brand previously, and walked in and found a suit in less than 15mins. The suit handled wonderfully throughout both training and the race itself. I’m looking forward to continue to use it, and am absolutely in LOVE with the JunoActive brand now