In the opening shot of TRIBS, the camera pans from the sidewalk to an entryway covered in race medals. As the front door opens, Adam Hill stands proudly, wearing nothing but a black Speedo and a smile:
“Hello, and welcome to TRIBS! I’m Adam Hill, and this is my Trib. I wanna welcome you to my home.”
In the ensuing seven minutes, Hill walks you through his triathlete’s lair, complete with a pain cave, selfie room, chill room, sport nutrition room, and an open-water simulation fish tank. His fridge is stocked with all the grub to fuel his intermittent ketocarnevegan lifestyle (“I’m plant-based, but I supplement with, like, meat…and fish…and Doritos. But only on Tuesdays and Saturdays.”). Randomly, medals pop out of drawers and around corners, so Hill can “find them at random times and just, like, be reminded of how awesome I was at one point.”
In case you haven’t figured out by now, Hill isn’t serious. At all. His video, a parody of MTV’s Cribs, is one of many videos Hill has created poking fun at triathletes—not out of malice, but love.
“Let’s face it, triathlon is an inherently silly thing,” said Hill. “We put on skimpy clothes and do three sports consecutively that many people would not want to do one of. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an amazing sport and it’s changed my life, but it’s also very important that we appreciate the silliness about it and not take ourselves too seriously, especially when our uniform is a Speedo.”
Hill, 41, described his athletic pedigree as “second-string benchwarmer on a baseball team that went 0-10.” His unathletic childhood was followed by a string of health complications in adulthood, including a severe anxiety disorder he self-medicated with alcohol, cigarettes, and junk food. When he finally got sober in 2013, he wondered what else he could do with a bit of focus and effort. The answer: Ironman. Since 2014, Hill has finished six Ironman races, including qualifying for and racing the Ironman World Championship.
Hill began making his parody videos in 2016. His first was a spoof of a popular Under Armour commercial featuring Michael Phelps. “I thought it would be fun to do a parody of that commercial from the perspective of a very average human athlete, and I called it ‘Embrace the Suck.’”
“People seemed to enjoy it, and I saw it was a way to bring some levity to social media during a time where it was starting to get very negative. Since then, my wife and I have made videos off and on,” said Hill. As COVID restrictions have kept his family in their San Clemente home, the frequency—and creativity —of the videos have increased. “Tribs” was his wife’s idea, and his children appear in the film, all named “Kona” and sleeping on a mattress in the training room because, as the video explained, “with the selfie room and the chill room, unfortunately we don’t have any room to give them, like their own rooms, so they sleep out here.”
“We had a lot of fun with that video,” said Hill.
Other popular videos include “How to Trick or Treat Like a World Champion,” inspired by Patrick Lange leaving a trail of destruction at every aid station on the way to his world championship victory in 2018. “I wondered what it would be like if he went trick or treating,” said Hill. “The resulting video was the most watched video we’ve done. Patrick Lange even commented that he thought it was funny, though I’m not sure if he was being sarcastic or not.”
In addition to his inherently silly videos on YouTube, Hill posts what he calls “stupid daily puns” on his Facebook page. He’s a living, breathing, Speedo-wearing Dad Joke, and he relishes the role. “It’s a modest and self-deprecating attempt at bringing some joy (and facepalms) to the world,” said Hill. “It’s pretty powerful that we can participate in a sport that not only empowers us, but also makes us laugh.”