Summer Beach Body: Monica Braun, 29

At 5-foot-10-inches and 150-pounds, this sunbathed beauty is sweating on and off the sand to stay in peak form for the summer. Monica Braun is a part of 901 Volleyball, which hosts sand volleyball tournaments throughout the summer. You can find her digging and diving on the court at least three times a week.

OCCUPATION: Executive Assistant at the Workforce Investment Network

HOMETOWN: Santa Ana, California. But I’ve called Memphis my home for 5 years.

FUR FAMILY: Two rescues—Sally the Chihuahua and Winnie the Pit.

WHY VOLLEYBALL? I competed in indoor volleyball in high school and college at Lambuth University in Jackson, Tenn. When I moved to Memphis, I was looking for a way to add fun cardio into my routine and got connected with the local sand volleyball family. From there I was hooked!

WHAT MAKES IT A WORKOUT? People do not realize this, but volleyball really works all your muscles. After some hard playing, you find that your legs, arms, back, and even your ribs and abs are sore. The constant movement creates amazing cardio, as well as muscle and body shaping.

INDOOR VS OUTDOOR: Playing two-on-two volleyball guarantees a good cardio work out, while allowing me to work on individual skills— something more difficult to accomplish with traditional six-on-six volleyball. I jokingly say that I have retired from indoor because you have to adjust to the larger court size, different rules, and lighter volleyball. Yet, I find myself playing in a six-on-six indoor league in Millington every winter to get through the cold months.

PREGAME RITUAL: I like to visualize my play while I throw a volleyball against the net to warm up my shoulder.

WORST TEAMMATE MOMENT: My partner decided to have a few adult beverages before a match in a tournament and fell repeatedly on the court.

TIPS TO OTHER VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS: The advice I share with newcomers is to imagine a giant circle in the middle of the court. As long as you keep the ball in the circle, you can control the play better, and make it easier on your partner.

WHAT WORKOUTS DO YOU DO TO STAY TWO-PIECE READY? When I am not playing volleyball, I work out in my living room with Kayla Itsines’s Bikini Body Workout plan. It’s a combination of cardio and bodyweight circuit training that I do while I watch TV.

TYPICAL DIET: I mainly eat plant based food with no meat and rarely any dairy. This means a lot of beans, rice, tofu, nuts, and vegetables. I love to eat and feel satisfied, so cutting meat and dairy from my diet allows me to get full from eating more vegetables, feeling lighter and more energetic throughout the day. It has also helped my skin tremendously.

HOW DO YOU STAY CONFIDENT IN A BIKINI? I realize and acknowledge that even the fittest have a bit of jiggle. So, I remember that I do the best that I can for my body and embrace any jiggle and imperfections that come with being a real, non-photoshopped human being.

FAVORITE BIKINI BRANDS: Athleta and Roxy because they design fashionable suits that you can wear while being active or just lounging around by the pool.

By Amy Goode. Photo by Sarah McAlexander.

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