By Melody Birkett
April Gould of Gilbert, known as the “Goat Whisperer,” and her best friend, Sarah Williams of Mesa, known as the “Goat Yogi,” participated in the 30th season of The Amazing Race on CBS TV.
The reality television game show showcases about 11 teams of two who race around the world in various modes of transportation including cars, planes, hot air balloons, taxis and bicycles. The goal is to arrive first at “Pit Stops” after each leg of the race.
Whichever team comes in last usually gets eliminated or at least suffers a huge disadvantage in the following leg. The final leg of the race is run by the three remaining teams to determine who wins the grand prize of $1 million.
The original series has aired in the United States since 2001 and is hosted by New Zealand TV personality Phil Keoghan. All aspects of the show must be kept confidential while filming.
This season of The Amazing Race was made up of semi-famous people or people who are the best in their field.
“And we’re the best at goat yoga,” Gould said.
“I think that helped us get on Amazing Race, along with our stellar personalities,” Williams added.
The friends have the only goat yoga business in Arizona, but they’re popping up around the country.
“We inspire other people to open their own goat yoga,” Gould said.
Team Goat Yoga wasn’t able to bring any of their goats with them on the show that aired in January, and there was no opportunity to talk about their particular brand of exercise, either.
Contestants get from one destination to the next through clues given in each leg. Sometimes, teams must perform a task or participate in a challenge that’s usually related to the country they’re in.
It’s definitely a challenge for producers, who must scout out locations, design tasks, select teams and plan logistics for the course. It’s also challenging for the camera crews to keep up with the teams and host as they race around.
“It’s a very stressful environment, and you’re constantly doing challenges and racing to the next thing,” Williams said.
To have their goats in spirit, the pair had a stuffed goat attached to their backpacks.
“We left in October, and we put on our website that the goats were on maternity leave because we couldn’t tell anyone where we were or we’d have to give CBS $10 million,” said Williams.
Twenty-one shows were filmed in 12 days.
The first episode started in Washington Square Park in New York City. It ended with Team Goat Yoga breathing down the back of the boxing models team as they raced through the streets of Reykjavik, Iceland.
“That’s been one of my dreams to go to Iceland, so it was a really cool experience,” said Williams. “But it was cloudy, so we couldn’t see the Northern Lights.”
The race was so close video had to be used to determine which team advanced to the next round. Gould and Williams squeaked by.
“It was really fun to just meet the different people,” said Williams. “Watching Phil on TV is so cool, and then to meet him in person. The whole experience is way harder than you’d think it would be when you watch on TV.”
Gould said: “When you watch on TV you’re always yelling at it: ‘Why didn’t you go there? The clues are so obvious!’ But in real life, it is a lot harder, and you just don’t know where you are in position or what place you’re at. So, it’s pretty stressful, but it was also an amazing experience to get to travel around and… meet all the people we’ve been watching on TV.”
“They did a lot of new stuff on this season that they’ve never done before,” Williams added. “So, there was stuff we weren’t prepared for.”
“What’s kind of neat, though, is Phil at the end of every location has some pretty girl, either like Miss Iceland or someone that very much represents that country. So the goal of the show is to teach people about the countries that we visit,” she said.
The goat yoga moms traveled to Belgium for the second episode, where the pair did “challenges that involved a lot of thinking.”
One member of each team had to climb a 100-foot rope ladder to grab their next clue. Then it was on to an old-fashioned printing press where teams had to create a printing press template to replicate their next clue, which had to do with diamond appraising.
Then it was off to the determining race where one person from each team dressed up in a frites (French fries) costume had to wheel a dolly piled with eight large sacks of frites around a track. Gould went up against Henry from Team Yale and came last to the Pit Stop mat. Team Yoga was eliminated.
This wasn’t the first brush with fame for the goat yoga moms. They’ve made appearances on American Ninja Warrior in 2013, 2015 and 2017.
So, just how did they get into goat yoga?
Williams taught paddleboard yoga, which was not popular in the winter. So she had an idea to do goat yoga.
“We put together the goats and the yoga, and we put a little video on Facebook, and all of the news stations started picking it up, and it’s just been crazy ever since,” she said.
“It was just a no-brainer since Sarah was doing yoga, and I was already training with my goats for American Ninja Warrior,” said Gould. “I put them on my back, do squats and push-ups with them, so they were already trained to jump on our backs, so there was a pretty easy transition for them.”
The pair has been teaching it for one and a half years. Their goats are emotional support animals, so the class combines animal therapy with yoga.
Classes are held at the Welcome Home Ranch in Gilbert. It’s $15 a class, and a session lasts about two hours. Typically there are about 100 people per class with 25 goats jumping around.
“There are no mirrors,” said Gould. “It’s just a relaxed environment. Goats don’t judge, goats just love.”