It’s common knowledge that the health craze has hit Texas and there are gyms on many corners. However, there is one group of dedicated Sugar Land men and women taking work-outs to a new level and building friendships and health benefits expected to last a lifetime.
This group of professionals from diverse fields and age groups are training at Lifetime Fitness, Sugar Land, for Ironman Triathlon competitions in the area.
An Ironman Triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a marathon 26.2-mile run, raced in that order and without a break. Most Ironman events have a strict time limit of 17 hours to complete the race.
“Training for the Ironman Triathlon has changed my life. I have more energy, I go to bed earlier, I’m eating better, I’ve lost over 40 pounds, and I’ve learned many life skills along the way, such as managing my time,” said Randy Broines, 38, health care professional.
Managing time for most of the group has been a benefit, as they are at the gym by 3:30 – 4:00 every morning Monday through Friday and after a rugged work out till close to 6:00 a.m., they head off to their respective offices.
For Broines, working out early in the morning does not take time away from his family and allows him to return home to help his children get ready for school.
“It is not just the morning workouts that work, it is also the comradely that has become important. Plus, we do not just work out together, we do other things such as a holiday luncheon, and other activities,” Broines said.
Mike Hafey, 54, and an executive with Macy’s, has been at the gym every morning for the past three years, and is enjoying the benefits.
“I really enjoy the workouts, it’s motivating and pushes all of us to improve. Twice a week we work out in the gym with weights and training exercises, one day a week we run, twice a week we swim, Saturdays we bike and Sundays we run. Some in the group workout five days a week, but there are also many of us who work out seven, and I’m one of those,” Hafey said.
Hafey noted when he started training he could not run a half-a- mile and last year he finished a full Ironman Triathlon, which he said was gratifying and rewarding.
Judy Tang, 44, self-employed massage therapist, has been training since 2004, seven days a week.
“I train for endurance and I enjoy the challenge, plus I like the group, they keep me coming back,” Tang said.
The adopted-mother of the group, Ellen Wong Chu, 60, has completed one full Ironman and now her two adult sons, Tony and Gary, have both joined the class.
Chu works out seven days a week, and noted her improved health and mobility.
“After my kids were grown, I was looking for a hobby and so I joined Lifetime Fitness. I was here twice a week, just working in the gym. Then I saw the Ironman class training and tried it. It was intense, but I liked it. Before, I had knee problems and other health issues, but not now my joint pains are gone. I am in better shape than I have ever been in my life and feel great. I will continue training and competing in the Ironman Triathlon for as long as I can,” Chu said.
Also, Chu noted that her sons completed a full Ironman competition with her.
“My sons kept encouraging me throughout the course, which kept me motivated,” Chu said.
The group’s leader and trainer Triet Hoang, 41, has completed six Ironman Triathlons, and many in the group say Triet is the reason for their commitment and dedication to the class.
“Triet keeps up with everyone in the group, he reminds us of best practices, teaches us to be more efficient, encourages us to eat and stay healthy, and most of all, he believes in all of us. If we miss a class he calls to check on us, and has become a good friend to all in the group. He is our inspiration and much of the time our motivation,” Briones said.
All in the group, which consists of 15 core members, with others joining daily, all noted the workout helps them to feel better, have mmore energy, more mental clarity and emotionally are more stable and relaxed.
The Ironman Triathlon is only one of many classes hosted at Lifetime Fitness, yet it is one of the most, if not the most grueling and demanding, yet carries the most rewards.
“If someone would have told me I would be training for an Ironman competition a year ago, I would not have believed them, but now, seeing the benefits in so many areas of my life, I’m really glad I found this class,” Briones said.
Ironman Triathlons are held throughout the year, all over Texas and the world, leading up to the Ironman Triathlon Championship in to be held in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, October 13, 2012.
For more information on the Ironman Triathlon training, please visit Lifetime Fitness’ website, http://clubs.lifetimefitness.com/Sugar-Land/26839/ or www.ironman.com/worldchampionship.