San Ramon native Eileen Swanson is lucky enough to make a career out of her passion.
A professional triathlete and coach, Swanson was tapped to coach a group of previous contestants of the hit show "The Biggest Loser" last July to prepare them to race in the San Francisco Triathlon at Treasure Island.
"After leaving the show, they had gained a bit of the weight back," says Swanson. "But we coached them for eight weeks before [the race] and it was so exciting to see their transformation in that short time."
Swanson still coaches six of the sixteen contestants to this day. "They decided to make this their lifestyle and I couldn't be happier to help them."
Swanson discovered triathlons–multi-sport races consisting of swimming, cycling and running–after graduating from UCLA and ending her competitive gymnastics career in 1997. She competed for Team USA in the Triathlon World Championships in 1999.
But she found that balancing competing in triathlons with a full-time career in the corporate world was a tough tightrope walk.
"Training for only ten to twelve hours for races on top of working full time wasn't enough for me," says Swanson. "I found the job took away from my training and sports has always been my true passion."
Even with that limited training schedule, she placed high enough in races to gain pro status. So Swanson decided to take the leap as a full-time athlete and coach in 2008.
Swanson now coaches clients all over the world, mostly online and by phone, in a variety of sports. Besides her Swanson Coaching business, Swanson teaches spin classes and master level swimming at Club Sport in San Ramon and coaches competitive gymnasts at Edge in Dublin. And, with her husband Reid, she coaches through Tri-California, an organization that produces major triathlons in the area and hosts local camps and clinics, where she hooked up with "The Biggest Loser."
When she's not coaching, Swanson races with the Wells Fargo Racing Team as a CAT 3 cyclist and even finds time to model for triathlon companies and appear in Triathlete Magazine with her beloved golden retriever, Belle.
Are you exhausted yet? Eileen Swanson certainly isn't.
"Fun to me is sport," says Swanson. "How much can you push your body and challenge yourself? It carries over into all aspects of your life—your career, your family. You aren't living a happy, fulfilled life if you aren't happy with the condition of your body."
That outlook carries over to her coaching. Swanson's clients can expect a ton of communication by text, email and phone. She draws up a personalized training plan and really works on the mental aspects of the sport. There's a six month minimum commitment to the program to encourage the athletes to follow through with their goals.
"I want to promote multi-sport to everyone," says Swanson. "A lot of people, especially women, are intimidated. Anyone who wants to be an athlete can do this. I think there's an athlete in all of us."