All photos courtesy of Columbia Athletics

If sabre fencing has taught Juliana Weber ’25 anything, it’s that she needs to feel well to perform well. A hectic schedule — packed with classes, practice, and competitive tournaments — does not stop her from allocating time to focus on her health, which is what she credits to her success. 

Born and raised on Long Island, New York, Weber began her fencing career at age 9 with the help of a special coach — her father, who competed in foil in college and was an alternate for the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team. Between the countless duel meets and many awards that she has won over the decade, such as the bronze medal at the 2019 North American Cup, the most valuable gift that fencing has given Weber is a better understanding of herself, her needs, and her limitations. 

Juliana Weber posing with her sabre

“A crucial part of building that understanding is to remember not to overwhelm myself,” said the political science and human rights double major, who is also a peer academic coach for Beyond Barnard. If Weber ever does feel overwhelmed, she regularly turns to yoga and music to rejuvenate. 

These are helpful outlets, as Weber competes on Columbia’s Women’s Fencing Team through the Columbia-Barnard Athletic Consortium. This athletics partnership distinguishes Barnard as the only women’s college whose students participate in the Ivy League Athletic Conference and NCAA Division I athletics. 

Read more about Weber’s commitment to cultivating healthy habits as she balances a rigorous training schedule and academic responsibilities.

Weber in a fencing duel at Columbia’s Blue Gym in the Dodge Fitness Center, November 2022
Weber in a fencing duel at Columbia’s Blue Gym in the Dodge Fitness Center, November 2022

How do you plan to approach fencing this season?

A team-wide approach to fencing [means] improving focus on tactics and strategy. Since we’re currently in the preseason, the team is doing a lot of conditioning and footwork in preparation for competitions. I also find it important to stay connected with teammates, and I’m excited to get to know the first-year fencers and support them with any helpful guidance. 

As for personal records, I want to match or beat my winning record from last season of 8-1 in a duel meet. This begins with getting myself into competitive shape, working closely with my teammates, and learning how to be open to criticism or sometimes even asking for it.

How do you set and meet wellness goals during a busy semester?

 An inspirational quote written on the walls inside the fencing team room in Dodge Hall at Columbia.
An inspirational quote written on the walls inside the fencing team room in Dodge Hall at Columbia

Goals begin with a routine. I have a fairly strict routine for fencing — I participate in three sports-specific training sessions a week: two weightlifting sessions and one sports psychology session. I also like to do yoga in my dorm to manage anxiety, stress, or even muscle soreness and tension. My favorite stretches include cactus arms, low lunges, and flying sphinx. Each of these are great for muscle opening.

I’m also working on maximizing my sleep schedule as best as I can. I’m someone who works efficiently with eight hours of sleep, which can be difficult to achieve while balancing academics and athletics. I’ve found it helpful to have a visual schedule and a task tracker to organize my commitments while also making time for myself. Dividing a big goal into specific tasks allows for a manageable time frame. For example, if I want to improve my GPA or fitness levels, I start with feasible, incremental tasks, like completing one reading or one workout for the day. 

When I’m not in a particular mood to spend time studying or training, I ask my friends to join me at the library or the gym. Being in a group is great motivation; it’s also a way to be held accountable for getting through a workout or a study session.

WATCH: Juliana Weber ’25 welcomes the day with her wellness routine.

@barnard.college Today is National Women’s Health and Fitness Day! To celebrate, student athlete Juliana Weber shows us her wellness routine at Barnard. Visit barnard.edu for an interview with Juliana about her life as a student athlete! #barnard #barnardcollege #barnardstudent #studentathlete #nationalwomenshealthandfitnessday #womenshealth #fencing #womensfitness #wellness #womenswellness ♬ original sound - Barnard College

Do you have any health tips to share with the Barnard community?

Hydration! I drink a lot of water. I try to be mindful of my caffeine intake by limiting myself to one cup of coffee a day. When I’m in the mood for something else, I like to order the Ruby Red Surge smoothie at the Diana Center. It includes beets, carrots, blueberries, and strawberries. I also like the Protein Punch smoothie at Columbia’s Café East

Another easy way to feel good is to use music to raise energy levels. As my playlist shows, I love some classic songs by Jay-Z and Beyoncé. The high-energy tenor and confident lyricism in their music helps me prime myself to be confident while fencing. 

Weber in her favorite crewneck
Weber in her favorite crewneck

What is your favorite piece of activewear? 

The fencing team is very lucky to receive Nike training clothes and athleisure every year. The one I wear the most often is an embroidered navy blue crewneck with the Ivy League logo on one of the sleeves. I wear it in class, at the library, at practice, on airplanes — almost everywhere! 

How has Barnard supported your health-focused lifestyle?

The College community has a great awareness and understanding of emotional and mental health. I think everyone here seeks wellness, which can be difficult when in a highly competitive environment, but on-campus resources like the Rosemary Furman Counseling Center offer support to help us make sure that we are prioritizing ourselves during a hectic semester.


Francine Lefrak Foundation Center for Well-being