Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

I was, indeed, born to burpee 😀

Interview with ViewSPORT – Home of Sweat-Activated Fitness Apparel

*Enter the code “viewsport” to save 15% on most of their gear. The code “freeshipping” eliminates your shipping cost when you buy two or more shirts/tanks!*

Strength & Sweat: I’m here with Ben Wood, ViewSPORT CEO and Head Coach of ViewSPORT fitness apparel. Welcome! Thanks so much for contacting me about your company. Tell me a little about your company, Chris—how and why it came to be.

BEN WOOD: It’s a great story. I was actually a medical student a few years back and I was exercising one day and thought, “how cool would it be to be able to control your sweat patterns?”  I was able to come up with a way to do that and thus – ViewSPORT was created. We create fitness apparel that motivates athletes to sweat more and perform at their absolute best.

S&S: The technology for this is crazy-cool. How in the heck was it discovered!?

BW: I discovered it while in med-school. It took a ton of work and it’s taken even more work to learn what textiles and colors it works best on – but we’ve developed it at a place that we’re able to give every customer a great sweat-activated experience.

S&S: So who would you say is your target audience? I see references to WODs (Workout of the Day) on the shirts, which is a CrossFit term.

BW: We’ve had great success in the CrossFit and running markets but we’re focused on anyone and everyone who wants to live a healthy, active life. We believe ViewSPORT is more than a fitness apparel company – it’s a motivation company. We’ll do whatever we can to help people take control of their lives, beat obesity, live fit and be awesome.

S&S: Any recommendations for making the shirt work to its full potential?

BW: Like I said, we’ve worked hard to make sure the technology always performs. It’s up to everyone who buys one to sweat, work hard and give everything they have to maximize the experience. We’re here to help them with motivation if they need it!

S&S: Any goals you guys are striving to achieve in the next year or two?

BW: We want to motivate everyone and anyone to live a healthy active life. We believe people and fitness are awesome – and when you combine the two, incredible things happen. We want to grow and be a company that motivates millions across the world to be their best.

*S&S REVIEW: I wore the burpee tank top while I sweated through a few intense Spinning classes, but it didn’t activate well. Don’t worry, ViewSPORT wear isn’t a hoax, I just had bad luck for two reasons: 1) the sweat activation technology was on the low back of the shirt and I don’t sweat much there, which brings us to point 2) I didn’t sweat enough. ViewSPORT is awesome and sending me another shirt with front activation technology (where I sweat a heck of a lot more!), so I’ll be trying that one next!*


If you want to read more about Amanda, find her on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and her website.

Kelsey: Hey hey! I’m with Amanda Russell today, and this is something of a dream come true for me—I get to talk to someone who is making a difference through fitness and being recognized for it. Amanda, thank you so very much for joining me.

Amanda Russell: Aw, you’re so sweet! Well thank you! I’m such a big fan of you! When I came across your website I was so excited because you speak in just a no-BS, this-is-what-I-think kind of way.

K: Well thank you! I really try to be real with everyone. Okay, so first, I want to tell everyone how and why we’re doing this talk. I need to apologize to you, Amanda, because in the first review I did of your workouts, I said you were “too skinny for my taste,” which was out of line, completely rude, and a straight-up judgment call. I am truly sorry about that.

AR: It was actually a good thing that happened. It brought attention to the subject and resonated. It’s something I’ve often been criticized for and deal with on a daily basis, especially now that I’m on YouTube. You put yourself out there and people love to go crazy with the judgments as they sit behind their anonymous computer screens, it’s very sad. Some people even take the liberty of diagnosing me!

K: Holy cow! How do you deal with that?

AR: I’ve heard it all my life. It used to really bother me. I’ve always been very small. When I got into high school and everyone was growing and filling out, I would wear two pairs of jeans. It wasn’t until the high school running coach told me that I had a runner’s body and that I should use it did I start to feel more comfortable. That’s how I got into running. And I did so well that I got a scholarship and went really far all because of that. I got to college and the training was SERIOUS, we were running twice a day, 60-80-mile weeks, and the weight proceeded to fall as the negative comments soared. I was really self-conscious about it. I felt like I always had to prove that I ate. I would order tons of food. It was a vicious cycle. Finally, I started to own the fact that I was healthy and strong and what other girl was capable of running 6-minute mile after mile for over an hour!?

It was when I finally accepted my body for what it was and what it was capable of doing that I knew I was onto something. My production company warned me about the comments I would get once I went on YouTube—the YouTube audience can be cruel, but my core following has become my community, they are loyal and they actually defend me, it’s incredible. I know I’m not the average-size girl. I’m not the BodyRock girl. Do I sometimes wish I had a C-cup and some curvy hips? Hell YES!  But at the end of the day I love my body, I accept it, and embrace it, if we were all the same it would be so boring!

K: It’s sad, though, because I said something based on appearance when I had no reason to. My mom is about 5’1” and 92 pounds. In fact, she’s looking to gain weight!

AR: Yes, just as there is a struggle to lose weight, there is a minority out there who deals with the struggle to maintain or gain weight. Everyone has something and nobody is perfect!

K: That is so true! How do balance activity and nutrition to stay at a healthy weight or even gain weight?

AR: I have to take my cardio level way down. I use protein powder and supplements and smoothies. High-calorie liquids all day long. You don’t feel like you’re eating as much and they don’t make you as bloated, but usually add up calorie-wise. I eat dried fruit. Whole-wheat bagels. A lot of nut butters. I have a major sweet tooth! And I think that sometimes because I know I can, I seriously indulge.

K: Due to your size, what have people said about or to you?

AR: That I could use a sandwich, assuming I have an eating disorder, too skinny to look at, you name it, they’ve probably said it!

K: One thing people don’t often take into account when they look at someone is how hard they truly work in and out of the gym. What was your training schedule like when you were competing to be an Olympian? Were you pressured to look a certain way then?

AR: I used to practice 3-4 hours a morning. Running, drills, and strength training on certain days. And again another hour in the afternoon, but all the hours in between are training too; it was my life. All the mental aspects, physical therapy…. It’s pretty much a full-time job. So when people called me anorexic, it wasn’t physically possible for me to do what I did on nothing. If nothing’s going in, nothing’s coming out.

I knew there was pressure to stay within a certain weight range. For me that wasn’t as big of a deal, but we used to get weighed in weekly. It’s funny how every girl can do everything the same—training and eating—and how each girl’s weight and shape can vary so much. It really is a testament to how every woman needs to find her own beautiful and happy weight. We need to embrace our own differences and not focus on looking so big or so small.

Yes, Amanda does have a great body, but her confidence and strength is what really makes her strong and sexy!

K: Very true. And it often feels so hard to find that happy place, especially as a woman. What’s your training schedule like now?

AR: I don’t run anymore. Maybe one or two miles a week, but it’ll set me back for a week. It causes too much stress on my back and hips. That’s why I developed my program. I know my body better than anyone else. Bodyweight training is amazing. Before I did that, I tried everything. It was too boring, too time-consuming, or didn’t work. So I experimented with all of the cross-training I did when I ran and modified them a bit and was able to get into amazing shape. Your body is your best tool.

K: Your body really is an amazing machine! So, how does nutrition play into all of this?

AR: EVERYONE asks me this, so I created a 14-Day Plan. This is more about what I do to get into serious shape for an event. Most people lose between 6 and 10 pounds in 14 days, but what’s more is that they tighten up!

K: Your workouts—from YouTube to your website to the ones for the 14-Day Shape-Up Plan—I’ve done most of them and have been impressed as to how tough some of them are even for me, and I’m a personal trainer and group exercise instructor! How did you get started with this and who would you say your workout videos are for?

AR:  It started with me experimenting on how to get into running shape with my physical limitations and then people started asking me about it so I put people on my own program I was following. The feedback I was getting from the results people were getting was INCREDIBLE! I knew I was onto something. Everyone sees me and wants to know what they need to do to get seriously fit, lose weight, or tone up, so I designed this program and point them to it. I work with everyone from overweight teenagers to unmotivated non-exercisers to recovering cancer patients, and I’m so proud of it.

The workouts are intense, but it’s really for anyone from the person who doesn’t exercise much to the average exerciser to the elite exerciser.

K: The 14-Day Shape-Up Plan—I’ve been trying it and love it, but don’t find it to be a long-term sustainable program. But you didn’t design it that way, did you?

AR: No, it’s not a long-term program, but it’s a long enough time to gain serious results and learn how to fuel your body and build an exercise regimen long-term. Plus, 14 days is a realistic goal for people to set their minds to—baby steps equal long-term success! When creating this plan I talked to my girlfriends a lot, but also asked myself, what would I do? What could I do? Bottom line, if you want to make a change or need a kick-start, you don’t want to spend 90 days figuring out how to do it!

K: True that! I commend people who can stick with something hardcore for 90 days! If you don’t mind, I’d like to circle back to what we were talking about…. How do you think society is playing a role in all of this, from comments about you being too thin to others being too heavy? It’s so complicated and crazy. Do you ever see it ending?

AR: As long as we have the society we have, it’s like talking about world peace. We can try and everyone needs to do their part. It’s just about being open-minded and not judging. And having people stand up for the right thing.

K: Do you think there’s any way to at least curb it? Do you have any personal goals to try to achieve an end to this skinny and fat talk?

AR: First, every time you catch yourself making a judgment based on appearances, stop yourself. When you hear others making these types of comments, online or in-person, be assertive and stand up for what’s right. Taking action starts small, but it starts with an action. And yes, I do have a plan myself to raise awareness, so stay tuned in by subscribing to my YouTube channel: AmandaRussellTV 🙂

K: One last question—how and why did you get started doing everything in the fitness realm? To me it was like you sprang up out of nowhere and now it seems like you’re dipping your fit fingers in everything! In a good way, of course 🙂

AR: After my injury, I thought my life as a “fit person” was over, not only had I lost my career and my passion, but I lost my ability to move my body and push it, I was beyond devastated, it was a loss of identity in a way…. I had all these physical limitations and I couldn’t RUN! How would I ever get into shape like a runner without being able to run? That was all I knew and the lack of exercise took its toll on me, mentally and physically!

But, as all things happen for reasons you can’t always see at the time, that “career ending injury” ended up being a gift. It was in having it all taken away that I realized the power it had over my life. I realized that fitness is about SO MUCH MORE than EXERCISE—it’s a catalyst for positive change in your life. I knew it was my passion, my calling, and I had to share it with others.

I managed to find a way back to fitness, a way that truly works without ever having to run one step. Although, for all of those runners out there, these types of workouts will drastically improve your running! But above that, I found a way to connect with others, to share my knowledge, motivate, and inspire change! To me, that is what life’s all about—we don’t go through this world alone, we go through it together, and in my work I’ve felt the positive trickling effect and it gives me chills.

I love the ARfit community! I’ve met some incredible people through it and I sincerely wish I could meet every viewer in person and have a good coffee chat 🙂

*Thanks again, Amanda! Stay tuned for my review of Amanda’s 14-Day Shape-Up Plan in the next few days.

Loves this cover! Yes, I am in the publishing industry, and yes, I do judge a book by its cover.

Interview with Charlotte Andersen, author of the The Great Fitness Experiment blog and book

Today it is my great (and guilty) pleasure to share with you the interview I had with the author of my favorite fitness blog and the book based on that blog, Charlotte of The Great Fitness Experiment! Seriously, I love this woman. I don’t know her personally, but I feel like I do between reading her blog, book, and getting to interview her. Basically, she’s awesome. She has the most real, down-to-earth, hey-this-is-me-and-this-what-I-think voice that’s addicting. She tells you straight-up about stuff without being all high-and-mighty, and is the kind of woman you wish you had sitting in the cubicle across from you.

Without going into too much detail, Charlotte started a blog that’s all about doing different fitness experiments and explaining the ins and outs, goods and bads, dos and don’ts of her actually doing each workout. It’s awesome. And hilarious. So of course, such a good idea was turned into a book! Charlotte graciously sent me a copy to read and review for my blog, AND agreed to let me talk to her about my readings after. What a woman J

Let’s start with the review. Please answer each of the following:

  • Do you like to read about fitness but get a little bogged down by all of the photographs, technical speak, meal plans, and awkward side-bar motivational word bubbles and tips?
  • Do you get sick of reading about the same workout plans, same moves, and same step-by-step guides that promise results only to realize that you already know how to do all of that and they didn’t get you results?
  • Do you get annoyed when fitness writers make it sound so easy, like all you have to do are these three moves, run for this long, and cook these meals in order to have your dream body?
  • Do you dislike not hearing the downsides to workouts or how and why certain workouts work better than others?
  • Do you ever think, “Hm, are these people who write and demonstrate in this book real people or athletically-inclined-people-like robots?”

If you answered yes to any or all of the above, then Charlotte’s book is for you! She’s got a little bit of everything without overloading you: workout tips, tricks, and how-tos; specific workout plans for every chapter/experiment; real-life quips about what life was like both in and out of the gym; the trials of sticking to a plan; the funnies and the failures accompanying each workout; and some technical hardcore speak, but she’s just too cool to make it sound boring or scary.

Charlotte’s book is broken into 12 chapters—one for each month of the year. The premise is that she finds specific workouts and does each plan for a month with her gym buddies. (“Meeting” her gym buddies totally makes me want gym buddies now, even though I’m not a big workout-with-people person. Hers just sound awesome and game for anything!) Charlotte breaks down the workout—where she found each, how to do them, and gets into some talk about food, soreness, her personal life outside of the gym, and the final results.

It’s a perfect mix of memoir, exploration, and nonfiction, and works because in her case, they’re all tied together. One of Charlotte’s running themes is the fact that she battled a string of eating disorders that aren’t your everyday anorexia and bulimia. This is where and why I liked the book. MY CONFESSION: I have been battling an eating disorder for six years myself, and Charlotte’s the first one to write about the kind that I have. Charlotte and I have both suffered from overexercise. Charlotte had it way worse than I did (I’m so sorry, Charlotte L), but it’s rough nonetheless. She talks about how she would do hours of exercise in the morning and fit in more (as much as possible really) throughout the day, often working out for 3-6 hours a day. That used to be me, too, and sometimes still is. People don’t realize that this is a serious kind of eating disorder and it needs to be brought to light. Charlotte’s book starts to do that, not only through her journeys, but also by touching on it in the chapter about Jillian Michaels and the Biggest Loser (see below for more). I could go on and on, but will save that rant for another day.

To conclude, if you’re looking for a light-hearted, funny (I genuinely laughed out loud several times while reading this), and real look at a range of different workouts, then you should read this book. I’m a huge fan and have been recommending it to my friends and family. (One of my sisters just finished it and liked it too!)

Get it, got it, good? Good. Now, on to the interview!

*Disclaimer from Charlotte: Her publisher rearranged the order of the chapters in the book right before publication. This took the chapters out of chronological order—she actually lived them October 2007-September 2008. This is important to know because the way the chapters are in the book now makes it look like she had a major backslide at the end when, in fact, she was getting better.

In Ch. 1 (Functional Fitness), was there a meal plan you stuck to? How many days a week did you work out? Were there ever any WOD (workout of the day) that you didn’t or couldn’t do? What were your favorite moves?

A: At that point in my life I was a vegetarian and I was still counting calories and macronutrients but as for a specific meal plan, no. I worked out 6 days a week. We never skipped a WOD but there were some moves – like “gorilla ups” (a plyo pull up where you slap your chest in the air) – that we just couldn’t do. While I enjoyed a lot of the moves, the thing that I loved the most was the creative way in which they were put together. If you’d have told me to do 200 burpees I would have whined and complained but if you put them into a “prison” workout and make it a competition I’m all over it!

Ch. 2 (Double Cardio), wow… I feel like I could’ve written this chapter! I’m an overexerciser and many of the things you discussed I feel or have felt. Thank you for being honest! So… What did you do/have you done to quiet your overexercising mind?

A: Oh girl, I could write a whole book on this one! First, I’m so sorry to hear that you suffer from this compulsion as well – it’s a miserable feeling. Second, I have done a lot of therapy. As I explained in the book, I had a health breakdown where my thyroid stopped functioning because of too much exercise and too little food, which infuriatingly caused me to gain 10 pounds. I lost my freaking mind. Seriously it was not pretty. My family encouraged me to get help soon after. I did both individual therapy and outpatient eating disorder therapy. The things that helped me the most were CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and ERP (exposure response prevention) because they taught me alternatives to exercise for dealing with all the bad emotions in my life. Any time I felt sad or anxious or afraid, instead of dealing with those feelings and recognizing where they were coming from, I’d just go for a run. The problem with compulsive over-exercise (and eating disorders/OCD in general) is that they don’t stay static. You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse and at that point in my life I was definitely getting worse. I haven’t been in therapy in about two years although I still use the techniques they taught me. The things that help the most now are 1) to be accountable. My husband and Gym Buddies know exactly how much I exercise and they know I need to keep it to an hour a day. 2) to set limits. Now I am able to recognize my anxiety and realize that another workout may temporarily ameliorate it but in the long run will only make it worse. 3) to meditate/do yoga.

Ch. 3 (CrossFit) – All I could think about was, “Wow, how sore were you after those exercises!?” So, dish: How sore were you!? What was your favorite exercise? How hard was it to stay on the diet plan?

A: At first we were ridiculously sore every single day. We call it “toilet sore” meaning that you hurt so bad that you can’t even sit on the toilet – you have to fall those last few inches because you can’t hold yourself up. But our bodies acclimated pretty quickly. By far my fave exercise was the pull-ups because CrossFit is what finally got me strong enough to do one! It was such a rush! As for the diet – CrossFit doesn’t come with a specific diet plan although adherents are pretty evenly split between Zone proportion diets (40-30-30) and Paleo/Primal diets.

In Ch. 4 (Celeb Workout), did you have to Google the moves you mention? And how many days/week did you do these?

A: Yes! Figuring out what Tracey Anderson meant with all those moves was really tricky. Because I like to keep my Experiments cheap or free, I was determined to not buy her crazy expensive program but that meant I had to spend a lot of hours researching. As for frequency, Tracey recommends you do them every day… so we did. We wanted to poke our eyes out with scissors we were so bored by the end of the month! Counting to 100 for 2 hours a day sucks.

In Ch. 5 (Action Hero Workout), you talk about mediation. I’ve never tried it myself… what exactly did you do and for how long and how many times a week?

A: Meditation is one of the most powerful tools I’ve discovered through my Experiments. And the best part is that it’s free, anyone can do it and requires no equipment! There are lots of different types out there but since I was a newbie and not good at sitting still, I went with a guided meditation that I downloaded off of iTunes. Basically you just sit with your eyes closed and do what the voice tells you (hahah -that sounds like a cult!). The voice pretty much just tells you when to breathe and what to focus on. It takes practice but it’s so worth it!

I was so excited when you pointed out the obvious in Ch. 6 (Jillian Michaels)! Jillian is totally ripped, but her fitness/health/food approaches are a bit disordered themselves… Do you think that will ever be highlighted though? How would you like to see her tweak her approach?

A: I think there is so much that is disordered in the Biggest Loser machine, Jillian Michaels being one part of that. I don’t think anyone will call the franchise out in any meaningful way because it’s so popular and lucrative. Until Americans change their desire for a quick fix and their vilification of obesity, what she does will continue to look “normal.”

Ch. 7 (Primal Blueprint): Do you do Aikido still? Do you still talk to Mark Sisson? What kinds of reactions did you get when you “failed” this experiment? What were your feelings about those responses?

A: This is probably the most controversial chapter in the book. At the time I did take a lot of flack for quitting early – so much so that I repeated the Experiment a year later only to fail at it again. The Primal Blueprint works so very well for some people that they take it very personally when it doesn’t work for others. And I freely admit that I don’t think it was a flaw in the program, but rather a fault in myself. Really restrictive diets make me psycho. Period. Intuitive eating may not make me as healthy as the Primal folk but I have such peace with my food now that I wouldn’t trade that for anything – even six-pack abs. And yes, Mark and I still talk. We get along quite well – he was very supportive of me both during the Experiments and afterward when the book came out. I have nothing but great things to say about him – he is one of the smartest guys in the fitness world and I love his blog!

Okay, I’m totally curious, in Ch. 8 (Suspension Training), did you get any more nasty comments or signs from the management when you tried to go the TRX around the gym? 🙂

A: Oh yes. I still don’t think they’ve forgiven me for that one! Our workouts are generally quite the circus show but this one was even more so. We try and be really respectful of the rules and of people’s space but we still need to get our workout in. The really funny part is the Y now has about 8 TRXs installed… and they still won’t let us use any of them! They’re for personal training use only. So we still bring mine into the gym and hang it from the chin-up bar on occasion!

Ch. 9 (Kettlebells): Do you still use kettlebells? Do you prefer them to dumbbells? And on a different note… have you ever considered a tummy tuck? You talk about it, but don’t never really answer it.

A: We absolutely do use them – they are one of my favorite pieces of exercise equipment! They are very effective for training both cardio and strength and we use them in almost every Experiment in some aspect. As for a tummy tuck, no absolutely not. While there are things about my body I wish I could change I could never justify the expense and risk to my health from plastic surgery. My husband loves me just the way I am and my stomach looks flat in jeans so I call that good 🙂

So… did you ever get sick doing the Ch. 10 HIIT experiment? That Zoomer* looks so intense. My coworker and I may or may not be trying it soon!

A: DO IT! We do a HIIT workout twice a week, always. They are amazingly effective, albeit horribly painful in the moment. Even after 4 years of doing them, we still dread them every time. But we are always glad we’ve done them.

Vegan. It’s like this awesome/taboo word when it comes to training. In Ch. 11 you dive into veganism – what was the best part about going vegan? Do you have a favorite food or recipe you found? Also, your orthorexic diet sounds like the 80/10/10 Diet (a fruitarian/low-fat-raw-vegan diet) – have you ever heard or read about it? Thoughts? What was a typical eating day like for you on that “diet”?

A: Veganism is like its own religion! My favorite part was knowing that I was doing my best to not kill other living beings and reducing my ecological footprint. I still eat a lot of vegan foods and have tons of raw/vegan recipes that I use weekly. My current favorite is raw, vegan coconut balls made with shredded coconut, almond flour, agave or stevia and coconut oil. I add all kinds of things to them and they’ve never failed me! I also have a vegan recipe for peppermint patty bars that all my friends beg me to bring to every party (although they’re not in the least bit healthy!). I think the best thing I learned from being vegan was how to make my own chocolate – it’s super easy and I still do it as it’s cheaper and I can control the sugar content better than chocolate I buy in the stores. And no, I haven’t ever heard of the 80/10/10 diet although I do know a couple of fruitarians. A typical day of eating when I was orthorexic was very limited – a lot of salads that were mostly just lettuce, some fruits, nuts and at the beginning oatmeal although I later cut that out because it wasn’t perfectly gluten-free. It pains me to remember now how restricted my eating was. I had absolutely no joy in my food.

And last but not least, Ch. 12 was about karate. Do you still practice it?

A: I still do martial arts, most notably Muay Thai kickboxing but I stopped taking karate lessons when I was about 6 months pregnant with my daughter. I’d love to start back up again but the time is an issue. Due to my 1-hour-per-day-only exercise rule, it would require me to take out some of my Experiment workouts and I’m just having too much fun with those to give them up right now. Thankfully Sensei Don (since he’s married to Gym Buddy Megan) is still in my life so I still get a dose of his sage wisdom when I need it!

In theory, this is how one works:

    1. While straddling the treadmill, set it to level 12 (5:30-minute miles).
    2. Jump on and run like mad for 10 sec.
    3. Increase the incline to 5. Run for 10 sec.
    4. Increase the incline again to 10. Run for 10 sec.
    5. Drop down to 0 incline and level 6 (10-min. miles). Run for 10 sec.
    6. That’s one Zoomer. Repeat.

Charlotte, thank you again! It was such a pleasure reading your book and getting to “talk” with you about it. I will be spreading the word about your book and blog!

Another week gone… I don’t know about you, but it always starts out okay: Monday isn’t terrible, it goes by quickly, but then Tuesday comes and it’s painful. The day is slow, I’m always overwhelmed, and there’s too much to do. Thankfully it’s only one day and I move on happily. Now it’s Friday and I can breathe knowing I have the weekend to do what I told myself I’d do earlier in the week :)Doing something a little different today. No Foodalicious Friday. Instead, my friend Alex finished the triathlon that I told you guys about a while ago ! And he kicked butt! I told you I’d interview him and TA-DAA! here is it. I was really excited to learn what it was like to train for a triathlon… especially because I knew Alex would be blunt with me. Take a read! 


-What was the tri called!?
LavaMan 2011 (in Waikola, Hawaii) they have a few out there, given the weather and water temperature its a great place to do it.

-Who did you partner/train with and why?
Team in Training. They are a fantastic organization that helps you raise money for charity, whilst receiving coaching and support. Highly recommended. They have “chapters” around the US and will help you with walks, runs, tris, iron mans… you name it.

-What was the most you had ever done training-wise before this? You were pretty much a newbie, yes?
I had previously “half-trained” for a marathon and ran the Paris Marathon in 2008. I say half-trained because I really did not take it seriously and suffered from mile 21 as a result. Since then, I’ve done a few half marathons, most recently Big Sur (which is a beautiful run). But in terms of consistent, dedicated, and focused training, this was the most, by some distance.

-How long did you train beforehand? How many days/week did you train? Did you ever do more than just biking, running, and swimming?
I started training in November (I think) which gave plenty of time, although given that we had Christmas and New Year’s in between its probably safe to say it was closer to 3 months of intensive training. It was 6 days a week rotating swimming, running, biking and core. I had to give up football (soccer), which was sad and tried to hit the gym for weight training a few times, but it was just hard to maintain.

-How many people did you train with?
I took part with Team in Training, so there must have been around 300 in total from around the US but from San Francisco specifically, 30-50.

-Did you watch what you ate and/or eat with a more specific diet and structure?
This is really where I think I failed. I didn’t change my diet at all. I ate more, but for the most part I was just making sure I was eating before exercising (porridge) and afterwards.

-Favorite training song?
Annoyingly the triathlon itself was regulated by USA Triathlon and so there was no music in the event. But for training there was a fair spread between Foo Fighters (“Pretender”), Dizzee Rascal (“Bonkers”), and songs from my youth like “Hyperspeed Prodigy”.

-Favorite after-training meal?
Shepherds Pie. Just BIG food.

-Favorite during-training snack?
The peanut butter PowerBar. It’s thick and filling whilst not being too hard to digest.

-What was the hardest part of the tri?
The run. It was just so hot, and in spite of what I wanted them to do, my legs simply wouldn’t go faster than they were going. Around mile four, it felt like my head was on fire it was so warm.

-Most memorable part?
Getting close to the end of the bike ride and glancing at my watch and realizing that if I ran 10 minute miles I would get in just under 3 hours.

-Will you do another tri?
Not sure just yet. I’ll be honest, the amount of time the training takes out of your life together with a hectic day job means I’m enjoying getting to spend some time with my girlfriend again.

-Will you continue any of the training regimes?
I’m back in the gym and trying to focus on putting on weight again and doing a bit of all body stuff.

-Advice for tri newbies?
Coach Ted said something on one long (HUGE) bike ride. “Don’t freak out, don’t fight it, just put your shoulders back, relax and accept it’s going to happen.” Honestly it’s such a long way from the first training session to the event that you need to take it one step at a time. Nothing more.

-Notice any body transformations?
Lost a little weight (annoying to hear I’m sure) but I just couldn’t keep up with the calorie burn. I love food but nutrition is the hard part for me.

-What did your friends, fam, and Lara think about everything? Did it ever impact you’re life too dramatically?
Lara’s over the moon that we regained 2-3 hours 6 days a week (as am I) but everyone was really proud and supportive.

Alex, you rock. Thanks for the interview! Anyone else have any questions for Alex? Ask away!

Have a great weekend—don’t forget to get outside and smile 🙂