Last week, in an effort to mix up my workouts a bit, I signed up for some classes at the new Nashville location of Barry’s Bootcamp and am looking forward to getting my ass handed to me by some of their amazing trainers. Last week I actually met THE Barry of Barry’s Bootcamp out in Nashville and let me tell you, he is fit. Like, absurdly fit and better yet, was super nice. It just so happens that my friend Megan will be starting her tenure as an instructor at Barry’s Nashville in July.
Megan and I met 5 years ago when her boyfriend at the time played in a songwriter’s round with me. We started writing together and something clicked; more with our friendship than our songs in the beginning, but as our friendship has grown, we’ve found our writing groove and its pop, baby! I mean get yourself out on the floor, POP! (I may just share one or two of those little gems on here at some point.) Recently, I asked her if she would be willing to share some insight into her experience with all things fitness, including the art of training for a triathlon.
First, a little background into Megan’s creds:
In addition to being a songwriter, (check out “Save Water, Drink Beer” on Chris Young’s album Neon) she taught at some of the best gyms in New York City: Equinox, Sports Club LA, Reebok, Crunch, NY Athletic Club, Athletic and Swim Club and NY Sports Club. It Nashville she has trained at Vanderbilt, the YMCA and starting in July, Barry’s Bootcamp.
Here we go!
“I feel so honored as Robin’s self-proclaimed bestie, fellow triathlete and full-fledged supporter of all that Robin gets involved in, to be guest-writing this blog. I thought I’d go ahead and just leave the questions that she asked me to cover because they alone are pretty freakin’ hilarious.
Everyone’s experience with this amazing sport is so different and unique, and I’m blessed to be able to share my own!”
Question 1: Why did you get into the fitness industry, girl?
Oh, this is a loaded question, but one that I will gladly answer… I never grew up playing sports. My parents preferred to watch TV, eat hot dogs and macaroni and cheese oh, and steaks – a lot of steaks…mmmm. So, I was never introduced to sports and ended up falling into choir and drama instead.
In high school, I dated the all-state baseball, football, best-looking, class president prom king who was basically built of steel, and he introduced me to running in the hot Texas heat, and then I fell in love…with running. From there I ran more in college and eventually started teaching kickboxing at Baylor. I was studying theater and decided to move to NYC after I graduated, so I figured teaching fitness would be a good source of income and keep me fit while I was out auditioning to be the next Meryl Streep. Long story short – I ended up staying in Daytona Beach 2 months before leaving for NYC where I had nothing to do but workout, lay on the beach and workout some more. When I left for NYC, I was in the best shape of my life, tan and blonder than blonde. I marched myself into Equinox in midtown 5 days after moving to the city and landed a job as a personal trainer. The rest was history. I never did one audition in New York, instead I lived, ate, and breathed the fitness industry. I ended up teaching all over the city – spin, weight-training and bootcamp classes as well as managing a gym and starting a triathlon training club. I was a busy girl, but I learned and still believe that there is no better industry out there – it’s nothing but positive!
Question 2: What inspires and motivates you to live an active lifestyle and to be awesome in general?
Haha! I don’t know about being awesome, but after being involved in this amazing industry for over 12 years, it has become a HUGE part of my life. I’m constantly inspired by others and motivated to become the best that I can through being active. From teaching bootcamp classes to doing a daily workout of my own…it is a lifestyle. The thing I think that mostly attracts me to being active is that there is nothing negative about being active (well, besides a slight risk of injury, but hey – you can twist your ankle walking down the street!) – it’s all good! I used to tell people when instructing spin classes…seeing them pouring sweat and giving their all, I said, “THIS moment is making you better. THIS moment is going to cause you to become better from the inside out. You’re going to sleep better, eat better and grow as a person because of THIS moment.” And I believe it to be true. Being active only improves your life in every way – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. You’ll see things, feel things and learn things that you would have never known if you hadn’t been in THAT moment – whether it’s running around your neighborhood or hiking a mountain – every experience, every workout is unique, amazing and makes you better.
Question 3: When did you do your first tri and why did you do it?
I started out racing biathlon or duathlon as some people say – run/bike/run in NYC. A lot of them were held in Central Park and right outside the city. After competing in a couple of these, I realized 2 things. Uno – I was kind of fast and dos – I was super competitive. After doing a few of the biathlons and placing in my age group, the next natural thing seemed to be to try a triathlon! I did my first triathlon outside of NYC in my mid-20’s and found the sport to be amazing. Instead of focusing on just one of the sports – like running all of the time and battling constant injuries – all three of the sports complement each other. They work perfectly together and there is way less risk of injury. This really seemed to make sense.
Question 4: Why did you start the triathlon club and why? Did you ever swim in the Hudson and did it turn your hair green? I’m just curious.
I worked as the Group Fitness Manager/Program director of the Athletic and Swim Club in midtown, NYC for 3 years. I discovered triathlon during this time and wanted to share it with others out there. The joy, the work, the pain and the sheer accomplishment is unlike any other sport! I knew there were a lot of people interested and intrigued by the sport – people who mainly focused on one of the 3 elements but didn’t quite know how to put them together…so – ta-da – Megan to the rescue!! I was no seasoned triathlete but felt like I could help them enough to not die in their first triathlon. Because I was so inspired by triathlon, I decided to offer and implement a training program at my gym. We had 17 people at a time in the program and it was a BLAST! We would meet weekly to workout together as well on weekends and then the members would follow a training program – a combo of cardio and lifting for triathletes. We then went and did a tri together! It was really amazing watching some people train and finish their first tri – no one will ever forget that moment!
As for the Hudson River…. that would be a YES. I did the NYC Triathlon and swam a mile in the Hudson… It was…well…ummm…interesting. Although my hair didn’t turn green, I did smell gasoline, rotten fish and my leg touched something……………..to this day I wonder if it was a dead body?? But overall, it was worth it – it’s a really well-run race, and you can say you lived through swimming in the Hudson!!
Question 5: You know me and you’ve seen me and my formerly fat ass struggle with my fitness endeavors in the past, so what would your advice be to other people in the world who are like me?
I never looked at Robin and thought “What a lardass!!” But I do remember us doing a 5k together and it being a complete struggle for her. I look at her now at think – “What a BADASS!!” I’m so proud of her, seeing how far she’s come just in her cardiovascular abilities (not to mention the weight-loss!!) – it’s amazing. I think that speaks wonders… ANYONE can do this sport – anyone. It’s a sport that is well-rounded, and each individual piece of the race supports the next. You don’t have to be “athletic” to do one either. It’s not as hard on your body as it is focusing on one sport alone like solely running or biking, and each element of a tri works different muscle groups which truly complement the other elements. If you train correctly and find a good program and support system – ANYONE can do this!
One thing that Robin did that I think is a great thing to do before you jump into a tri is to familiarize yourself with running, biking and swimming separately. Once you have confidence in those sports (and you don’t have to master them – you don’t even have to be able to run a 5k without stopping!) – I’d say give a tri a try!! It’s such a great sport, but one fore-warning – you might get hooked.
Question 6: Any other thoughts you want to share that we didn’t cover?
One piece of advice that no one ever told me before my first triathlon happens to be in the swimming portion of the race… I found myself in a wetsuit outside of NYC open water swimming with what seemed to be like 1,000 people but in all actuality was probably more like 150, having a panic attack in the middle of the swim. I suddenly realized that I was out in the middle of this lake and I was going to have to SWIM to shore – ahhhhhhh!!! I was so close to flagging a boat down and DNFing. Instead – I just rolled over on my back and caught my breath. I think this is something to remember in the open water swim portion as well as the whole race – heck, in life in general! Just BREATHE and if you find yourself not being able to breathe, flip over and re-group your mind. Focus on the end result and envision yourself crossing that finish line – there’s no better feeling! Be in the moment and think of what you’re doing right then and there. YOU ARE CAPABLE of anything and if you trained YOU ARE READY!! Don’t doubt your abilities, and don’t give up. I’ll leave you with a quote that I always find strength in:
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
- Andre Gide
Thank you, Megan!
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