Many friends and Seac members often ask why I built Seac Studio. There is no facility like it in Sydney and I haven’t really seen it anywhere else around the world. So if the product doesn’t exist why create it?
To answer the question we need to step back in time a little.
My partner Natalie had a three year plan to qualify for the Hawaii Ironman. Natalie had a background in strength training and she enjoyed running but was new to both cycling and swimming. Nat also worked hard in an executive role with a large blue chip firm in the city.
I had previously qualified for Hawaii but was finding my time to train being reduced with increased work and family commitments. I was also marching quickly past the age of 45 and was struggling with a few old-man/low-back/sciatica-style injuries.
At the same time it seemed that every second triathlete friend I spoke to was struggling to find the time to train and maintain a life balance. While every other triathlete buddy was suffering an overuse injury of some sort. There was/is a definite theme here?
This may come as a bit of a surprise, but I have never enjoyed indoor cycling at home. I have bought mag trainers and the like over the decades, only to ride them once or twice and then let them become dust collectors. A Brat buddy, Ivan Abrahams brought Spin biking to Australia when he opened Spin City in Bondi Junction in the early 90’s. I enjoyed the structure and comradery of the spin classes and they taught me to spin, but they lacked the road feel and they lacked the true hill climbing strength endurance value.
So, when I started to read the reports and reviews about the new Wahoo Kickr being released I had to try it. First ride I was hooked! Now we had to couple it with the best software available. We tested everything – software, apps, anything. We very quickly settled on Perfpro as the perfect partner for the Studio Kickrs. Add a few big screens and fans and that’s the cycle studio was built and ready to rock.
The specificity of the Kickr-Perfpro combination means that quite literally you can do 90mins of cycle training in 60 minutes. A 2.30hr Studio ride can replace a 4 hour long ride on the road. These are huge time gains if you are trying to work hard and enjoy your family and social time as well.
Nat’s confidence on the bike was lacking, as she had really only learnt
to ride a bike the year before. She quite literally would not change gears for an entire ride because she didn’t know how and didn’t want to take her hands off the handle bars. This lack of skill wasn’t going to stop her become an uber-cyclists. Those that know her will know what I mean. On the road she had to focus too much on the task of bike riding, which would take away from the fitness specific aspects of her cycling. So the Studio was where she did the bulk of her cycling. As well as general bike fitness she was able to work on strength and speed, all indoors. We were also able to add technique specific drills like single-leg drills and super-high cadence drills.
Then came the key component – the strength studio or gym. I started strength training in my early 30’s when injuries were getting in the way of my run training. Now in my mid-40s I had a few injury concerns and I knew the answer was strength. Most athletes I talk to these days know that strength is a key component but they lack the ability to integrate it into their already busy training schedule. ‘How to "fit" strength into your training week’ offers a few ideas on the topic.
Many triathletes feel a little uncomfortable in big gyms. So the idea of
a triathlete specific space to weight train was the ideal mix with the cycle studio. Strength should be done in conjunction with your endurance and sport specific training. So having them in the same space makes sense. Plus we all know you will probably not do your strength at home – at least not correctly with focus and purpose.
The location was perfect 1.6k from Nats work in Barangaroo. It was close to Olympic swimming pools at ITAC (250m) and PAP (1200m) plus it had its own 25m indoor pool. Nat and I now had the perfect space for us to train. We could train together with our friends, get the session done quickly and get to work or home as needed.
The Studio was working great. Nat and I were training well but we wanted a little more structure and specificity to our training. Nat went to work researching coaches. Again, if you know Nat you know how thorough her research is. We tried a few coaches from around the world like Purple Patch out of San Francisco. All had some real positives and of course a few negatives. I have always found that US based coaches just don’t get ‘something’ about triathletes in Australia. We eventually found Ironman legend Jason Shortis (yes, he is hard to find). More on the legend that is ‘Shorto’ in future articles.
Shorto immediately understood how the Studio worked and designed our sessions to work in the Studio and to extract maximum benefit. He understood we both worked hard and had family and social lives that were more important than training. We trained in the Studio with Shorto’s tutelage for about 4 months before we tackled Ironman NZ.
Nat came from nowhere. She had done a two Ironman’s before with the goal of just finishing. However, in NZ she had composure and as Shorto would say strength-endurance. She finished 2nd in her AG and an automatic Hawaii qualification. This was a full two years ahead of the 3 year plan! I tried a few new things on the day which didn’t exactly work and I walked the run to finish a smidge over 10hrs. The pressure was now on for Port Mac 8 weeks later.
I barely trained outside for those 8 weeks. The training was super easy and in the Studio under a controlled environment I was not able to stuff it up like an ‘easy’ ride to Waterfall (read: hammer-n-tong!).
I swam, rode and ran my way around Port like it was just another training day in the Studio. I finished 5th in 9.52 (yes, another 9.50something and my 3rd 9.52). It was a qualification time and Nat and I were both off to Hawaii and Seac Studio was born.
Fast-forward two babies and Nat is on the comeback trail. Look out Beth Gerdes, Mirinda Carfrae, Caroline Steffens, Liz Blatchford, Meredith Kessler, Rachel Joyce et al. I dare say Nat will be a little more cautious than most but I know that she will get it done (and efficiently)!