It's hard to fathom that nearly 10 years ago the vibrant woman you see on the cover of this month's issue of SHAPE was clinging for her life as one of the world's deadliest natural disasters swelled around her. Then 24 years old, Petra Nemcova was preparing to leave Thailand after a weeklong vacation with her boyfriend when the first wave of a tsunami swept her away.
Trapped in debris, wood, and tree branches, her pelvis was broken in four places before the second wave hit, nearly killing her and trapping her in a tree. Though she’d never see her boyfriend again, she miraculously survived and was walking again within four months.
While some would have easily given up, she persevered and returned to Thailand to create the Happy Hearts Fund, a nonprofit fundraising organization dedicated to rebuilding schools in regions struck by natural disasters, including Haiti, the Philippines, and five other countries where they have built 84 schools. Petra’s health has been her biggest personal concern since the tsunami, but she has also cultivated a thriving career, studying at both Cambridge and London Business School. Since healing, she has returned to exercising regularly to keep her lean muscles toned. Her diet consists of primarily fish or plant proteins, plus plentiful servings of fruits and vegetables. And her go-to workout is Physique 57, a favorite of many celebs that includes high reps of dance-inspired strength moves.
For Petra’s exclusive workout and to find out more about how you can get involved in the Happy Hearts Fund, pick up the new issue of SHAPE, on newsstands and iPads nationwide January 3rd.