Our sport requires dedication and resilience—it challenges your mental and physical abilities. And yet structured training plans leave little room for experimentation or fun. In between seasons is the perfect time to work on other parts of your form while enjoying the release and endorphin rush that both cutting-edge and traditional exercises promise. Think beyond the track, pool, and bike: There are a myriad of fun new ways to improve strength, endurance, and speed.
Paul O’Reilly Hyland, triathlete and founder of the Zeamo fitness app, swears by Pound—a “cardio-jam session” that takes stamina and dance abilities to a new level while giving athletes a mental and physical break. But this isn’t your mom’s Zumba class: Created in 2011, the full-body workout uses 1⁄4-pound drumsticks to ramp up the intensity. Don’t be fooled by their weight—by simulating the motion of drumming energetically to beat-pumping music for the entire workout, every part of your arm is engaged, resulting in sculpted, stronger, and leaner muscles. Pound is currently taught by over 17,000 instructors in 70+ countries and is also available to stream online, making it accessible for everyone.
LA-based Pilates instructor Justin Cook’s big off-season advice doesn’t involve weighted implements—he suggests triathletes should focus on stretching and coordination. “A triathlon is about endurance, and flexibility promotes a body that has maximum efficiency,” he says. Cook recommends spine stretches, single leg stretches, and the Pilates “swimming” move to guarantee a strong and supple center. Ready to up the ante and blast into the future? The latest out of New York City is Flex Studios, a gym that offers a challenging Pilates workout with the added detoxifying boost of infrared heat— purported to offer a feel-good rush of serotonin and help with cell repair and circulation. Cook agrees: “Trying traditional moves in a hot class is a lot to focus on, it keeps both mental and physical stamina sharp.” Can’t make it to the Big Apple? Hot yoga classes can be found almost everywhere.
Are StairMasters the new spin? Katie Lunger, a personal trainer with a master’s degree in Exercise Science, explains that strengthening the butt muscles is key for triathletes, as it helps prevent injury to the lower back and knees. She believes that the StairMaster is the ideal cardio machine for triathletes because “the foot never leaves the ground, making it as metabolic as jumping or running while still being low impact.” In L.A. or Cleveland? Try Rise Nation, a 30-minute fast-paced climbing workout loved by LeBron James. Even if you’re hitting the steps on your own, be sure to move in all three planes of motion (sideways, forward, backward) as Lunger says this is key to stabilizing joints.
Cryotherapy is having a moment, but would you complete a workout in an icebox? Participants are encouraged to wear hats and gloves at New York’s Brrrn—the world’s only cool-temp fitness concept—which focuses on conditioning, strength-building, and endurance. The chill classes on offer include HIIT, cardio slide-boarding, and yoga; purported benefits include increased fat and calorie burning. But if you’re not in Manhattan (or even if you are), you can still do cryo-workouts the old-fashioned way—out in the cold.