Written by Lisa Turner, editorial intern
Blessed with beauty, brains and athletic ability, undefeated boxer Laila Ali is a woman who knows how to stay fit and inspire others. She makes the most of her gifts by giving back to others – this summer, she’s taking part in Stars Earn Stripes, a reality show series that helps raise money for military charities. She also heads up the Women’s Sports Foundation, which helps girls and women from all backgrounds get involved in sports.
With her undefeated boxing record behind her since 2007, Ali was ready to face her next challenge, so she teamed up with Aquaphor to participate in the Aquaphor NYC Triathlon (in between a busy filming schedule!) and finished in 3:06! After all of the swimming, biking and running, Ali sat down with FITNESS to share her training secrets and what surprised her most about the race.
Why did you decide to do the triathlon?
Aquaphor asked me to be an ambassador for the brand and participate in the race, and I’m always looking for a challenge so I had to say yes!
How did you fit training into your schedule?
I’m always looking for new ways to stay fit, but it’s harder and harder with two kids and a busy schedule. With boxing, I had to stay fit because it was my job, but now I have to make the choice to take the time to do it. Usually, exercise is the first thing to go when life gets in the way, but with the triathlon, it became a priority again, as boxing used to be. And I’m doing it publicly, too, so I couldn’t just go out there and do it any old kind of way. As an athlete, I pushed through the pain, kept going, and always had that inner coach telling me to keep working hard.
What surprised you most about training?
I learned a lot more about myself. Before, I was kind of ignorant about triathlons and wondered why anyone would do them. But then I realized, “Wow, this is fun.” Just biking in my neighborhood, finding new roads that I never knew were there, or riding past a new restaurant I’d never seen before. It feels good to just get out there on the bike, relax and get away from the cell phone.
Did you swim beforehand?
No. I knew how to swim but I wasn’t a swimmer. I didn’t realize how much of a swimmer I wasn’t until I had to go do laps. I knew how not to drown, that’s what I knew about swimming! I had to learn all the techniques. It was encouraging to see how my endurance increased day to day, and it happened quickly.