Erin Carson is known for accomplishing and being good at many things. In the triathlon world, she may be most famous for being Tim O’Donnell and Miranda Carfrae’s strength coach, or for owning Rally Sport where some of the biggest names in multisport train. But that is just a small part of her story.
In this podcast you will hear how she built the culture to attract the best of the best while keeping Rally Sport a very approachable and welcoming fitness center. She talks about how legendary runner Frank Shorter, 1972 gold medalists and the last American to win the gold in the marathon, really helped Rally Sport create that atmosphere.
You will also learn of her love of golf, basketball and learning. In addition to training endurance athletes, she is also a certified Titliest swing coach. If you have ever heard her coach, it’s easy to imagine her ability to instruct one of the hardest skills in sports–to hit a golf ball.
This love of functional movement really began on the basketball court growing up in Vancouver, Canada where she eventually played for the Canadian National Team. She was also Hall of Fame coach Ceal Barry’s first recruit at the University of Colorado and remains friends with her today–and plays golf with her.
Have a listen and hear the stories and motivation that makes Erin one of the most revered coaches and business owners anywhere.
Last week the Timex Multisport Team had its annual camp in Boulder. We caught up with team member and USA Triathlon Board Chair Barry Siff about the camp.
Q: You’ve been on the Timex Multisport Team for a long time. How did this annual camp rate for you?
Barry: The camp had a positive impact on me. I didn’t know where I was in terms of athleticism and my goals. I might have gone back to ultra-running or duathlon, but I got very motivated to get back into triathlon by being around all these terrific people.
At my age (60-64) my greatest opportunity to improve is in nutrition and strength and flexibility. I’m kicking my sugar habit—I have an excessive sugar habit. And I got enormously motivated by teammate Wendy Mader and tips she gave us on strength and conditioning. We had a class with Erin Carson at her awesome club RallySport and it blew my socks off.
Q: What is the purpose of the team? Barry: To promote and support the Timex products and the products of the sponsoring partners. Trek, Shimano, Blue Seventy and Bolle. Castelli makes all of our clothing; it’s crazy good. Wiivv is a new partner that makes extremely sophisticated custom insoles for running shoes by taking a picture of your foot and computer driven manufacturing the insole. Simon Whitfield (Olympic gold medalist and investor in Wiivv) was at the camp, with Greg and Laura Bennett, also Olympians, who gave a great talk about achieving high performance.
Q: Where is Timex taking their products for multisport athletes?
Barry: The new $99 Timex Ironman GPS watch is aimed at the mid masses. It’s aimed at getting people into running and triathlon. It does have all that sophistication, but it has a simple appearance. The larger focus is getting people fit and moving. It does not have heart rate but easily and quickly gives you pace and distance, and it’s extremely light weight and good looking.
The new Timex IQ Plus is a good looking dress watch and an activity tracker that synchs to an app on your phone. It tracks your day as you walk and sleep. I walked over 2.5 miles on a rest day, just going about my day, and that was interesting to know that.
Q: Back to the team, what makes this such a special group?
Barry: I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s like going to summer camp when you are a kid, where everyone has a very common bond of athletic dedication. The Timex family put us together so well. These 45 athletes do so much more for the sport of triathlon. Sure there are several national and world champions, but they all do volunteer work and other things for the sport. They guide blind athletes, they help inspire young girls to pursue their dreams. Many coaches are in this group, just really good people who inspire other people. No nasty people in this group at all. We are all very active on social media. A constant connection, every day for most of us, keeping up and inspiring each other.
Q: That kind of camaraderie sounds really appealing. But, I’m not an uber triathlete or anybody special, so how do I find some kind of connection like you have in the Timex Multisport Team?
Barry: The Timex Multisport Team was getting more than 300 applications for five spots every year. So they started the Timex Factory Team to expand the availability of experience and about 350 athletes are on the Factory Team. They have similar benefits for partners on clothing and discounts. There is potential for some of those folks to get on to the Timex Multisport Team from the Factory Team. And for many Factory Team members, there is an opportunity to be associated with Timex and spread the word.
The biggest opportunity for most athletes is to get involved with a local club. In the US there are 1000 USA Triathlon-sanctioned clubs. In the 303 area code, the Rocky Mountain Triathlon Club, Castle Creek Triathlon Club and Boulder Triathlon Club all provide training opportunities as well as social activities—good times, good friends. They emphasize welcoming and helping people into the sport. We at USA Triathlon are growing the sport and we need to welcome athletes and provide that social connection. Even those athletes who are doing most of their training alone can enjoy the social opportunities.
Q: How was it for you to be back in Boulder for a few days since your move to Tucson?
Barry: The camp was very busy and I didn’t get around as much as I’d like, but with the Without Limits 5430 Sports triathlon series here in Boulder, I’ll be back a lot this summer and looking forward to spending time here and seeing lots of folks.
Information about Timex Multisport Team and Timex Factory Team here
“I was always from the school of thought that the harder you worked, the better you’d have a chance of being successful,” said Erin Carson, the co-owner of RallySport Health and Fitness Club in Boulder, Colorado.
Over the years, this mindset has served Carson well.
As a teenager, she was recognized as one of the best young basketball players in Canada, and joined the Canadian National Team, which grooms the country’s next Olympic athletes.
In her late teens, she landed a basketball scholarship to the University of Colorado, where she became one of the university’s top scorers of all time during her four-year tenure.
Most recently, she placed sixth in her age group in the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia.
Whatever Carson puts her mind to, she typically succeeds at. “I’ve always been known for my work ethic,” she said.
RallySport, which Carson co-owns with a private investor group, has benefited from this mindset. It has been recognized as one of the leading personal and group training clubs in the country.
But, Carson’s journey to RallySport had its ups and downs. .. And the journey begins with a basketball, a lightbulb and a hoop.
Climbing the Ladder at RallySport
At an early age, Carson fell in love with basketball. At 5 feet 11 inches tall and with natural athletic ability, she had the basic requirements to be good at the sport. But she didn’t want to just be good at it — she wanted to be great.
So she practiced. Day after day, night after night, she’d practice her shot. Eventually, her dad conceded to putting a light outside next to the basketball hoop so Carson could continue practicing once the sun went down.
Explaining her thought process, she said, “If I stay up later, if I shoot more than my competitor shoots, I’ll be better at it and then we’ll win — or at least we’ll have a better chance to win.”
But as Carson’s basketball career progressed beyond college and into a career on the sidelines as a coach, Carson realized that sometimes, there can be such a thing as working too hard.
“I got really sick,” recalled Carson. “I got ulcers and I had to take some time off, because you can just work 24 hours a day as a coach. You’re traveling and recruiting kids, you’re traveling and scouting games, and then you come back and have practices, and I just worked myself into a pretty good illness.”
Fortunately, in addition to having a passion for basketball, Carson had a deep love for health, fitness and performance. While playing at the University of Colorado she earned a degree in kinesiology and became a certified NSCA Strength and Conditioning Specialist. She also worked on and off at various health clubs in both membership sales, front desk management and as a personal trainer.
After leaving as assistant coach at the University of Nebraska, she leaned on those experiences in the health club industry and took a job at RallySport in Boulder, Colorado.
At first, Carson intended her break from coaching to be temporary. But the longer she was there, the less appealing coaching became. “I ended up really loving [RallySport] and became pretty disillusioned with the idea of having to travel so much with coaching and the politics of it all, and I was just happy,” explained Carson. “I was happy in Boulder and doing what I was doing. Working 12, 13 hour days was no big deal, because I loved it.”
Jeremy Steen, a personal trainer at RallySport who has been with the club for more than 13 years, said it was pretty clear Carson was in her element at the facility from the moment he met her.
“She just has unbelievable enthusiasm about her job, RallySport, the health and fitness industry and the people she works with,” said Steen. “She made it really easy for me to decide very quickly that this was the place I wanted to work. It was just like wow, how could I not want to go to this club, work in this environment and work for her?”
From the get-go at RallySport, Carson hit the ground running, bringing her signature work ethic to the club. This was a huge help during the mid 90s, when personal training was becoming a larger trend in the health and fitness industry. “We started to realize it was going to be part of the deal in the future, and since I was in the trenches doing it, I could see that the customers liked it,” recalled Carson.