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Photography by Michael Pisarri

Going the Distance

by Rebecca Kleinman | Miami magazine | January 3, 2013

Lee Zohlman was on the fast track to a hot career in national sports broadcasting when he discovered his true calling in the most random of ways.

“Someone at my running shoe store just offered to train me for a triathlon in the mid-’90s,” says Zohlman, a fitness buff who knew his way around a gym. “When I crossed that first finish line all I could think about was, ‘How can I do this for a living?’”

He did it by founding BodyZen, a boutique coaching firm for endurance sports. Zohlman’s field of expertise is in devising comprehensive plans for anyone interested in competing in a triathlon (swimming, cycling and running in immediate succession with varying distances for each)—whether it’s at the level of seasoned athletes like Andrew Johns and Matty Reed (two of his clients) or executive types with the urge to challenge themselves.

“I’ll work with anyone except smokers,” says Zohlman, a certified personal trainer who’s reached the USA Triathlon sanctioning authority’s elite Level III status, a classification few ever attain. “People don’t come to me to lose weight. They come because they want to compete in the world’s most grueling sport.”

And that takes discipline. As in a customized training schedule of 12 to 15 workouts per week ranging from 30 minutes to eight hours over the course of six months. That means training sessions, pacing strategies and consultations on everything from diet to form. Zohlman’s success record speaks for itself: Nearly every one of his clients finishes the big race and they tend to better their time with each new triathlon.

“The only time we run into trouble is when they don’t listen to me,” says Zohlman. “I’ve been doing this a long time. It’s my way. End of story.”

Zohlman’s Hots
Juice bars, charity bike rides, roasted Brussels sprouts

Zohlman’s Nots
Traffic, cigarette smoke, CrossFit, cyclists without helmets