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written by: Jim Panagas
posted: 2/27/03

To prepare for "Iron Man" triathlon

Newburyport, MA – Like many of us, Gene Metto had gotten busy in his personal and professional life.  By the time he celebrated his 30th birthday, he found that he was neglecting his physical condition.  In his own words, “I had gotten severely out of shape.”  But rather than take things lying down, he decided to take the bull by the horns and focus his energies on improving his conditioning.  He started biking and running on a regular basis, and even started running in some marathons.  By the time he had reached age 40, he was looking and feeling much better, but Metto set his sights even higher.  “Marathons were fun, but everyone around me seemed to be doing them.  They didn’t mean as much as they used to.  That’s when I decided that I wanted to do an Iron Man triathlon.”

For the uninitiated, an Iron Man triathlon is a physically grueling experience and something not to be taken lightly.  It begins with a 2.4-mile swim, progresses to a 112-mile bike race, and concludes with a 26.2-mile run – and it all has to be completed in a single day.  “The event I was interested in was based in Lake Placid, New York,” says Metto.  “It started at 7am in the morning and they closed the course at midnight.”

Begins working with Wellness Works, Inc. to reach his goal

Despite his exercise physiology background, the fact that he had gotten himself into pretty good shape on his own, and was now working as a physical education teacher, Metto confesses, “I wasn’t sure I could do it.  An Iron Man triathlon is not a leisurely event.  You’re under tremendous physical and psychological pressure to get it all done inside 17 hours.  Once you start, there’s no turning back.”  Metto decided to hire Wellness Works, Inc., a personal training business based in Newton, Mass., to help him reach his goal.  “I had met Karen Ghiron, the company’s owner, while running in some marathons,” explains Metto, “and I was impressed not only with her own physical conditioning, but also with her positive attitude.  So I decided to hire her as my personal coach.”

Coaching on exercise, nutrition, and mental attitude

Over a six-month period, Ghiron coached Metto on his exercise regimen, his nutrition, and his mental attitude.  The bulk of the time was spent working out in the pool, as Metto felt the least confident of his swimming ability.  “Karen introduced me to the ‘Total Immersion’ program, which is specifically designed to make adults feel more comfortable and confident in the water.”  Following a regimen of lessons and drills, Metto slowly began to swim longer distances at greater speeds and with greater efficiency.  Ghiron also worked with Metto on improving his endurance and speed in both biking and running.

Iron Man competition “absolutely” do-able

“Karen didn’t just tell me what to do,” says Metto, “she showed me.  She would often swim, bike, or run right alongside me.  Her approach is to show you by doing, and she has a positive attitude that’s contagious.  For example, when I first asked her, ‘Can I really do an Iron Man triathlon?, she replied without hesitation, ‘absolutely!’”

Works with Wellness Works trainer for six months

Metto had a number of sessions with Wellness Works over a six-month period, but the professional association was about much more than drills and training sessions alone.  “Karen wrote up a whole fitness plan for me.  She developed training schedules for swimming, biking, and running.  She monitored my progress and continued to make suggestions and recommendations via email and over the phone.  I felt like I truly had a coach behind me.”

Mission accomplished; completes “Iron Man” triathlon in 14:26

At Ghiron’s advice, Metto worked towards his ultimate goal by first participating in a half Iron Man in (month) of 2000.  He completed that event without incident, and one year later, in (month) of 2001 realized his goal by finishing a full Iron Man triathlon at Lake Placid, New York in 14 hours and 26 minutes.

“Wellness Works made the difference”

“Wellness Works, Inc. definitely made the difference for me,” concludes Metto.  They’ve taught me that with the proper training, discipline, and attitude, you can accomplish just about anything. They help you set very high standards for yourself.”

“My trainer, Karen Ghiron, has a remarkably well-rounded background, and I would recommend her without hesitation, whether you’re interested in training for an Iron Man triathlon, a marathon, or just interested in getting in better shape.”

Looking towards the future

Has Metto continued to set his sights high since working with Wellness Works? “Absolutely,” he concludes. “This past summer [2002] I completed my second full Iron Man triathlon in just 13 hours and 20 minutes!”