By: Toni Dominique Josue, Photos by: Angelo Barretto
Cited by Swim Bike Run (SBR), as one of the top triathlon coaches in 2012, Kaye Lopez, a former dancer turned national triathlete, shares with us her journey in the famous sport and how her personal experiences led to the birth of Fit+ Academy, her school of over 40 multi-sport athletes to date.
Dancing was the original background of the petite Katherine Kaye Lopez, before she moved into triathlons. “When it became clear that I had no chance of becoming a prima ballerina someday, thanks to my flat feet and natural turn-in, plus hearing the painful truth from one of my dance instructors, I made the life-changing decision to try sports instead,” she shares. Prior to this decision, she had been doing sports only for fun. Upon trying triathlons, she found a sport she was truly passionate about. With the support and encouragement of her family, she and her cousins trained for their very first triathlon in 1998 at the Ateneo de Manila University. She then concludes, “The rest, as they say, is history.” From the age of 15, Kaye continued to compete and became a national athlete.
Following her competitive career, Kaye moved on to establishing her very on school called Fit+ Academy. She began as a running coach then worked on her Intrnational Triathlon Union (ITU) Level-1 Coaching and American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor certifications. Her first students came from word-of-mouth referrals and inquiries in the triathlon community. It was upon meeting Jennifer Arce, a blogger, that the Fit+ Academy website was formed. Students under her tutelage grew reaching a total of over 40 athletes.
Kaye leading the DMCI Homes Multisport Team , women’s group, during the Clark Cycling Classic TTT in Pampanga.
Much of what Coach Kaye, as her students call her, learned throughout her competitive career she now applies in the training and coaching style for her students. “My approach to coaching can be compared to a lock-and-key method wherein an effective athlete-coach relationship will ultimately lead to a positive experience for the athlete, both in training and racing. I believe that compatibility between athlete and coach with regards to ideology, coaching style, and training method is most likely the single most important consideration when finding a coach who will be successful in helping an athlete reach his or her goals.”
Because she believes that there is no single work-out program and style that fits all athletes, Kaye asks all the relevant questions relating to work, studies and family commitments, personal goals and targets, as well as medical history in order to make flexible programs that will best fit the needs of her students. Kaye elaborates, “As a former triathlete myself, I never responded well to old-school, boot-camp style coaching. Now that I am a coach, I practice a relentlessly positive attitude towards my students while still instilling the value of discipline and honesty when it comes to training and performance. I also appreciate regular and honest feedback about training and racing and encourage students to ask questions that will help them understand the purpose behind their workouts. Athletes who respond well to this type of coaching will not only benefit from my instruction and guidance, but they are most likely to enjoy longevity in the sport of triathlon as well.”
This combination between flexibility, positivity, and honesty, partnered with the personal touch of being a confidant on non-training related matters makes Kaye an effective and trusted coach by her students. “My job as a coach doesn’t end after each training session”, she explains. ”It’s more like a parent-child relationship when you’re on call 24/7. If they (her students) trust me enough with their personal problems, then I know they can trust me with their training.” Once this student-coach trust is established, Kaye is able to channel positivity and self-confidence into her students. “Most of my students trust me more than themselves. If I believe that they can do it, it gives them the confidence they need to face their fears and go for it.”
It may seem that running farther or beating your personal record every time is the path to being a great traithlete and the key to getting stronger or getting that podium finish. Kaye tells us that while this helps, she believes in another way of reaching your goals. “If there is one training philosophy that I’ve learned through my own experience and would like to pass on to my students, it is that less is more and applying this rule will help them reach their maximum potential in triathlon. A common misconception is that running more miles will make you a better runner. While this strategy will improve your performance, it also raises your risk for injury and illness. Instead of focusing on the number of kilometers, you should prioritize the quality of each training session. Find the least amount of training that produces the greatest results.”
Today, the semi-retired triathlete is less competitive as she prioritizes her time for her students. When her busy schedule permits, she still races occasionally for DMCI Homes Multisport Team or alongside her students in select races they compete in.
Coach Kaye’s message for all runners for the MAPFRE Insular Run for Road Safety:
When the going gets though, remember why you love running. It puts things in perspective and keeps you going.
Find out more about the MAPFRE Insular Run for Road Safety 2014 here.
For more details on Kaye Lopez and Fit+ Academy, you may visit the Fit + Academy official website.