Professional athlete Meredith Kessler isn’t your typical California girl. For one thing, she originally hails from Columbus, Ohio. For another, she totally kicks butt as an Ironman triathlon champion and has come in first place six times each year at events in each of the last three years. She has definitely become the one to watch at the Ironman events and even big brands, like sponsor Red Bull have taken notice. That’s not a bad turn of events for the woman who worked four jobs so she could follow her passions. It’s may not have been an easy journey to the top (you know carrying all those gold medals can be heavy), but Kessler is loving every minute of it.
I caught up with Kessler recently to find out more about her exciting journey, her side hustles and her best fitness tips for busy entrepreneurs. Check out the interview below:
So, you are a professional athlete. What inspired you to start down that career path? And, why Ironman?
I always knew I wanted to be a professional athlete but in what sport, I did not know. I played field hockey, lacrosse, track, and swimming in high school and field hockey and track at Syracuse University. After college, I used the graduation money I received to purchase my first triathlon bike. I knew nothing about the sport of triathlon or Ironman but decided to enter my first race at the full Ironman distance. I somehow finished and caught the triathlon bug. Fifty plus full distance Ironmans later, I am still learning and enjoying the journey!
You quit your job as an investment banker to go pro in 2009. How did you work up the courage to do that?
In reality, I turned pro and still worked at RBC Capital Markets for another year. Leaving RBC was a long thought out, calculated plan. There was a time when I was working four jobs to build that foundation so I could turn pro and be prepared for every scenario, good or bad. I was a triathlon coach, instructor at a cycling studio, professional triathlete, and working at an investment bank. When I finally did cut the cord from the ‘day’ job, I promptly went out and DNF’d (did not finish) my next two big races.
Without the proper preparation, these blows would have derailed my career as a professional (athlete) before it even had time to marinate. However, my husband and I approached the sport like a business and we were able to weather the ups and downs that are inevitable.
You’re husband sounds like a great partner. How long have you guys been been married?
Aaron and I are high school sweethearts. My mom was his first grade teacher so I always make the joke she had picked him out for me! We dated all through high school and college and when he made the move to San Francisco for a job, I followed and the rest is history! We continue to enjoy each other’s company as we navigate through the journey of life, business, and triathlon!
Speaking of business – I know you are working on a few entrepreneurial endeavors as well.
Yes, my husband Aaron and I collaborated on a site and training manual, Life of a Triathlete in 2013, and now we’re working on a new endeavor, Core Elementz, a collection of inspiring and educational training videos and advice for aspiring athletes. This is in collaboration with top athletes from MLB, NFL, NBA and the MLS including: Derek Jeter, Maria Sharapova, Trey Burton, Ryan Zimmerman, and Tyler Clippard.
One of my goals coming into triathlon was to help try to leave the sport in a much better place than when I started which is one of the main reasons for Life of a Triathlete and Core Elementz. If we can help athletes shave hours, weeks, and or years off their journey to reach their athletic goals, then we have done our job! We are also involved with the Professional Triathlon Union, which will help to unify the professional triathletes so we can work for ways to improve the sport we all love.
So, you understand the hectic life of entrepreneurs better than anyone. What 3 tips would you give busy entrepreneurs to stay in shape?
Get Organized: Time is our most valuable commodity as an athlete and a busy entrepreneur. My most important piece of advice is to eliminate the time drags in your day. You need to take a bird’s eye view of your life, locate where you are inefficient, and take steps to improve on these areas. For instance, partners would ask me for media (pictures, articles, videos) and I would have to search high and low to get them what they needed. Taking the time to clean up my virtual world allowed me to become better organized and save thirty minutes a week or twenty-six hours a year – it all adds up!
Be Efficient: I also saw that my workouts were taking place all over the bay area so I looked to figure out ways to get might work done within a couple miles so my drive time was reduced. This meant swimming in a local pool, doing treadmill and strength at a gym not far from the pool, and having my cycling classes right around the corner. I know not everyone has the luxury of living in a city but it is worthwhile to explore (time saving) options, so you have more time for things that are important to you like family and friends.
A Little Can Add Up: The last tip is to say it is not easy to stay on top of your workouts but it can be done. If the day gets away from you, this is fine but take a few minutes to try to move your heart a little – as with anything, every little bit counts!
How often should a person work out to maintain a healthy lifestyle?
A healthy lifestyle means different things to different people. For instance, I tell my parents all the time to walk on the treadmill for a half an hour to get the blood flowing. If they do this 3-5 times a week, their overall health will improve tremendously. This may sound like a cliché but our goal with initiatives like Core Elementz is to get people off the couch; the benefits of a healthy populace and society are felt by all.
What was the best business advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice in business and athletics I ever received was from my parents. They told me at a very young age, as long as you know in your heart you gave it your all and tried your best, this is all that matters.
– à bientôt
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