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How To Get Your Coworker to Tri With Home Economics Co-Stars Karla Souza and Jimmy Tatro

Whether you work in an office or on an ABC television set, convincing your coworker to do their first triathlon is a fine art—triathlete (and TV star) Karla Souza can help.

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Sometimes the best way to convince people to do something for the first time is to trick them into it—or at least that’s what worked with Home Economics co-stars Karla Souza and Jimmy Tatro.

Souza, who will race the Malibu Triathlon for the fifth time on Saturday, says she was first lured into multisport by a previous coworker (Jack Falahee, her costar on ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder). “He did it one year and I watched from a distance and heard all his stories,” Souza says. “And then he tricked me into trying it the next year in relay form. My competitive nature kicked in, and I thought, ‘If I’m going to wake up at 4 a.m. for anything, I might as well do the whole thing.’”

Even though she had never done an ocean swim or been on a road bike, the following year she raced the entire 1/2-mile swim, 17-mile bike and 4-mile run and was hooked. She’s now done it in various stages of her life, including while three months pregnant and three months postpartum. “Hands down postpartum was the hardest of them all, especially the run,” she says. “I felt like my pelvis was coming undone. As I was running, I was thinking, ‘This is not a great idea.’ Talk to your doctor before you do it—like I didn’t. The postpartum was also difficult because I was breastfeeding and pumping in between legs.”

Karla Souza and Jack Falahee at a triathlon
Karla Souza (L) and Jack Falahee (R) head to the swim start of the 2018 Malibu Triathlon. Souza credits Falahee with getting her started in triathlon. (Photo: Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)

Souza’s kids are now two and four years old, and this will be her first time back racing as a mother of two. She and her husband have found creative ways to make training work together. “I put my youngest kid in the stroller, and he loves coming on jogs with me,” she says. “We go to the beach with the kids, and my husband goes in for a swim while I have the kids, and then we switch. We bought one of those buoys that’s attached to you [for safety].” She’s also figured out a system to train with other people on Saturdays. “Get some friends, maybe a couple, and you take turns watching the kids. It can be a fun tag-team of parenting and figuring it out.”

The camaraderie and the motivation to stay fit is a big reason Souza has returned to the event, but “on top of it all, they’ve raised millions of dollars for pediatric cancer research—it’s such an iconic race.” (Also: “The brunch they have afterwards is so worth it.”)

RELATED: Tri 101: How to Get Started in Triathlon

How to Trick Your Coworker into Doing a Triathlon

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Souza’s positive experience racing the Malibu Triathlon led her to “inspire” her co-star Tatro to join her this year—but she had to be a little sneaky to rope him in. “Do it little by little,” she advises. “They don’t know what’s happening so there’s no way out by then. It’s very casual—you just start putting it in his head.” She shared her tips for how to convince your work friend to join you in your next race:

  • Drop a compliment. “One day, casually mention how fit they are or how fit they look.”
  • Plant a seed. “Mention you had a great weekend training with friends and how you got to train in the ocean and how nice it was.”
  • Incorporate the ask in a casual manner. “Hey Jimmy, I hear you want to do the triathlon with me this year?”
  • Set the bait. “I sent an email to the tri team coordinator and Jimmy to say he’s thinking about doing it, but could you give him more details about all the swag he’ll get? The super expensive new bike, the top-of-the-line wetsuit, a beautiful helmet? I really hit home with that.”
  • Buy a small gift. “I bought him a pair of goggles, which committed him a bit more.”
  • Pull out any last stops. “Hey Jimmy, it sounds like a triathlon magazine wants to do a feature on you and me…”

Souza’s six-step approach worked, and Tatro will join her on the start line this weekend. “I don’t know if I officially committed to doing this, it was more so that I expressed some type of interest—asking Karla how long the swim and bike and run were—and next thing I know I looped in over email and the coordinator is asking me to send over my sizes,” he says. “So I said, ‘I guess I’m doing a triathlon. I should probably try to go for a jog or something.’ There was obviously part of me that did want to do this, and when it came up, it seemed like a fun thing to do and for a good cause—so why not?”

With a short time to prepare, Tatro first tried to make sure he could run three miles (it didn’t go well), but then he slowed his pace and got through five miles a few days later. Although he has some swimming experience, the first leg is his biggest worry. “The swim is the one I am the most concerned about because I haven’t done it in the ocean before, but I’m hoping to get in one day of ocean swimming before the real thing.”

As far as the biking goes, “I was informed I shouldn’t race on a beach cruiser, so I’m looking into securing a more professional bike,” says Tatro, in classic comedic deadpan. “Karla told me that I’m not allowed to have a basket on the front of the bike—which I thought would be necessary to carry all my snacks and sunscreen and everything—but I found out that’s not the norm.”

Training While Shooting a T.V. Show

Acting on a sitcom often requires 12-plus-hour days on set, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for training. “It’s definitely hard to train while we’re working,” Tatro says. “I’m not one of those maniacs like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson who can shoot for 14 hours and go straight to the gym. If I’m shooting all day, I’m usually not working out that day. If there’s a day I don’t need to be on set until 11 a.m., I’ll try to work out in the morning.”

Souza says she knows a lot of triathletes train every day for this race, but she’s in it to survive it—she also has asthma and “despises” running—and fit training in where she can. “There’s a gym 10 minutes away from work, and once I literally went into the pool for 20 minutes, onto the bike for 20 minutes, and ran for 20 minutes, just to get used to that,” she says. “I didn’t realize I was leaving a trail of water at the gym, it was pretty funny.”

The cast was recently shooting at Disneyland Resort on a night schedule and stayed at a hotel with a pool. “It was not a lap pool—I repeat it was NOT a lap pool,” Souza says. “My castmates were all sipping on drinks and they came down and saw me swimming with full-on goggles on and said, ‘What is happening?’”

In addition to shooting Home Economics, Tatro has also been working on a promo video for his YouTube show, which has taken up a lot of his free time. “When I told my assistant I was doing this triathlon, she thought I was absolutely insane. But it’s a great way to force yourself to get out there, get active, and be competitive.”

When asked who would finish fastest, Tatro says “as much as I would like to say myself, I can’t say that with confidence. I think Karla will probably win. She’s going for time here, I’m just hoping to finish. But if I’m out there, and I’m running and I see Karla up ahead, you better believe I’ll turn on the jets.”

RELATED: The 5 Training Buddies Every Triathlete Needs