Greatist Journeys explore amazing stories from extraordinary people.
We may not all have sculpted muscles and run a 5:30 mile, but this couple proves that even the fittest among us struggle with balance. (In life, that is— not on a BOSU ball.) While trainer, triathlete, and triathlon coach Andrew Kalley competes at the highest level, he and his fiancée, Kelly Dooley (one of his triathlon trainees and the designer of fitness line Body Rock Sport), still find ways to stay active together.
Tell me a little bit about each of your personal experiences with fitness.
AK: Well, I've been pretty active my entire life. I grew up playing ice hockey and roller hockey, I wrestled in high school, I kind of got into a little bit of body building in college, which started my personal training career. A few years later when I moved back to New York, I got into triathlons. It's just been a continuous evolution of moving on to the next thing or the next phase. [Fitness] has always been a part of my life, it's always been something that's made me feel better. And over time I've realized, in terms of relationships, it's definitely key. And Kelly has been one of the first people I've been with where I don't have to worry about whether she's going to work out, which is so important to me. I've been with people in the past who don't really work out or they do, kind of, and they don't like it.
So, Kelly, how did you get into fitness?
KD: Similar to Andrew, I've always been a really active person. I grew up in southern California, I have a [very testosterone-filled] older brother…. So I grew up playing baseball, softball, basketball, soccer, I've competed as a skier. I've always been super-active, but I didn't start going to the gym until high school, [when] I started… getting totally obsessed and continued to be through college. Then I moved to New York and, like Andrew, had quite a few relationships where working out wasn't really a priority for them. That wasn't good for me, because I feel like you have to be on the same page when it comes to that sort of thing.
As for where I am now in fitness, I decided to train for a marathon in 2008, and then the day before the marathon, I was searching for a sports bra that was fashionable and had a pocket and I couldn't find one. That's when I had the idea for my company, Body Rock Sport, and Andrew and I met in May of 2009, just a few months after that race. And when we met, we realized within 10 minutes of meeting each other, we both had a race scheduled for the same day, September 22. I was doing the Maui Marathon and he was doing Team National Triathlon in Oklahoma. So right off the bat I was like 'Oh, I can date this guy, he's into fitness, too.' Because really, that was the impetus— it made it much more appealing that he was the same when it came to training and goal-setting and all that. Fitness as a lifestyle, not an accessory.
And that naturally brings us to today. On a daily basis, what are your fitness goals now? Would you say that they overlap or go in different directions?
AK: I don't know that our goals really overlap. The sport of triathlon is both a career and a very strong hobby/passion, and I race at a very high level, so my goals are very different. I'm always trying to stay on the podium, always trying to place in— if not win— [my] races…. I just started training again so I'm very much dialed in for this next season. And that's just sort of how it goes— at the beginning of every year I sort of refocus on what races I'm doing and where I want to place and how I want to improve in each sport. So those are very, very specific goals for me. As far as Kelly goes…
KD: For me, my goal— I like doing races… mainly because I like to stay fit and it's good to have something scheduled so I continue to train…. But for me, fitness is now my life, partly because of my company. The nature of what I do— selling sports bras, being a designer, and trying to spread this empowering ethos— it's what my company stands for. I can't be 200 pounds. I need to be my brand. That's a big motivator. But aside from that, I love that Andrew and I can race together. He's the triathlon coach and I'm on the team and I live for going to practices and doing everything that all the other athletes do on the team. And I don't really get any special treatment, in case you were wondering. It's just a lot of fun for me and it makes me feel better. I can always tell the difference when I don't work out. Most of the time I wake up with Andrew and go to the gym first thing in the morning because I know if I don't go in the morning, it's not going to happen. My schedule's way too busy.
Seeing as fitness is so intertwined into both of your careers, your personal lives, and your time together, how do you balance that with also having time for yourselves?
KD: I don't have any balance. I don't. If there's something I'm trying to work on, it's to be more balanced. For me, working out is kind of a drug— it's one of the only things I have that keeps me sane. I don't have a balanced career at all. I'm completely over-extended…. Thankfully, I love what I do, so I keep going and going like an Energizer bunny. But most people wouldn't want my life. It's a lot of work and, thankfully, I'm up to it. But there's zero balance. Zero.
AK: That's definitely a constant struggle. I come home and my day's over, and she's still working. So that's one thing we're constantly working through. This year I revamped my schedule and really worked out how I was going to fit my [own] training in [between] my clients and breaks— things I wasn't quite doing before. Getting all my clients into a set schedule each week so every one has a spot, instead of just trying to see what my availability is each week. It's definitely added a lot of balance into my schedule because I know exactly when I'm going to get a break… exactly when I'm going to train… exactly when I have clients. That's really helped me and now we're trying to get the same thing for Kelly. Right now she has no real 'off time' or 'break time' and it's just go, go, go until the battery runs out— which is not the most efficient way to function.
You guys sound like you have a lot of really serious training that you do together, is there anything active you do together just for fun?
KD: I would say— we haven't done it lately— but one thing we started doing together a few months ago was hot yoga. Neither one of us has really had too much time for it lately… but I love going to hot yoga with Andrew, it's the best. Other than that, we’re just like every active couple. We'll go on jogs. We're not always pushing the envelope like, 'Oh God, I need to run a six-minute mile right now.'
AK: It's very easy for us to just go run. Even though I'm a faster runner and a stronger athlete, I can easily go out and just run and get a conversation and just talk and enjoy it... Or just walk or ride or things like that. We get out quite a bit. It just happens to fit very comfortably with everything else that we're doing.
KD: We'll choose a workout over, like, shopping or— I don't know what other couples do. We're not going… museum-hopping. We'd rather go gym-hopping.
Andrew, I liked what you said about trying to work with Kelly on her schedule. Are there any other tricks you two have for encouraging each other or staying motivated both in your professional or personal lives.
AK: Most people [have a hard time] taking a step back and really looking [at their lives]. And that was me last year. I was trying to squeeze everything in, trying to work as much as I could, but I was sacrificing too much of myself. When I hit the point that I was really burning out, I tried to take a step back and think about what I needed for myself to function as a better athlete, as a better trainer, as a better fiancé and future husband. In a way, it's thinking about what you're going to do for you to make yourself feel better. Because if you feel better, you're not as tired, you're not as stressed, and you're going to be able to give more at work, give more at home…. Most good, decent people are always thinking about putting everyone else ahead of them, and you end up burning out and feeling stressed and resenting those people you're putting first. You have to think about what you really need and how you can make that work for you. Chances are you are going to be working out more, you'll have more energy, you'll be more productive at work, and then ideally you'll be more productive at home with your family.
KD: One thing I've tried to do to be more balanced, especially for the sake of my family and friends, is if I'm out to dinner or at lunch, I have to make a conscious effort to put my phone in my purse and just ignore it until whatever meal we're having is over, because then I'm not present. And I could work 24 hours a day. Unless someone keeps me in check and tells me 'Right now, you need to just focus.'
In terms of my relationship with Andrew, both with fitness and even with eating, we're totally on the same page. When it's season— which is right now, it just started up again— we're not going to be ordering pizza. I cook much cleaner. I'll make quinoa and chicken— just really clean eating. And that's important, too, because most couples don't have the luxury of both being in fitness so we're really blessed that way. But also, I know we wouldn’t be together if that weren't the case.
AK: 100 percent
KD: We totally make each other better. But also, you don't have to both be in fitness, but I think it's important to respect each other's goals and expectations for themselves. And to not belittle and berate each other if they're not as fast as you or not as fit as you. I think that's a problem in a lot of relationships. People go to the gym together, then Joe's telling his girlfriend Kate, 'You don't know how to do a bicep curl, you're such a wimp.' Then they end up just resenting each other. That's the worst dynamic you could possibly create, and that creates a bigger rift between the couple. It's much better if you're just really patient. And just like anything, be kind but still push each other to be better.