As trainer Ryon Talbot works with Lin Hughes, the two sound more like coffee buddies than coach and client. Celebrating her 1,000th training session this month, Hughes, a 70-year-old retired attorney, says working with Talbot has not only boosted her physical health, but forged a deep friendship. We sat down with Hughes and Talbot to discuss the journey to this milestone.
AFM: When did you start training?
Lin Hughes: 2005 is when I started training with Ryon here at Pure Austin. I’d been in one of his spin classes and I knew he was a triathlete and an outstanding cyclist. I was doing a lot of cycling at the time and I specifically wanted to do weight training exercises that would improve my cycling. My plan was to do a sequence of 10 sessions, but when it came to the end, I thought well, let’s do another 10 sessions. The next thing you know, here we are!
Have you been training anyone longer than Lin?
Ryon Talbot: Nobody! In fact…I’m pretty confident in saying she’s probably the longest running client of any trainer at both [Pure Austin] locations.
How has training impacted Lin’s physical health?
LH: When I first moved to Austin, I was 40—it was 1987—and I did a program at UT and they measured your body mass. I’ve actually increased my lean body mass by four pounds since then. That’s 30 years.
RT: Flexibility, strength and balance are all things that deteriorate with age. So instead of deteriorating, all these things have actually improved over time.
Why do you train with Ryon every week?
LH: Ryon and I have gotten to be such great friends. You know how people have their coffee buddies, where they go and drink coffee and shoot the breeze—it’s kind of like that. Except I’m not drinking coffee, I’m working out. We talk about everything from politics to personalities.
When I look at my calendar, I have Ryon booked till infinity. That’s just what I do on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.
How has your relationship developed over 12 years?
RT: She probably knows more about me than anybody, other than my wife.
LH: The same is true the other way. I had worked out with another trainer once upon a time at a different gym and I didn’t click with him.
RT: We have a lot in common, too. There’s a lot of private things we share with each other which are quite similar in a lot of ways….I’m her physical coach, and she’s my mental coach. I’m able to get a lot of good, objective feedback from her.
What’s an example of advice Lin has given you?
RT: I have some personal problems with my own upbringing, and I think she’s helped me navigate through that. It’s kind of like a therapy session…I know that sounds kind of weird during training.
How do you talk while training?
LH: Between breaks. You know, you do an exercise and then take a 30 second break—sometimes it’s longer than 30 seconds if we get to talking!
What was it like training before and after Lin’s injuries?
LH: Every time I’ve been injured—in the time I’ve been working out with Ryon, I’ve had a badly sprained ankle, meniscus surgery in my right knee, and two back surgeries—we’ve always modified what we did, dropped down on the weights, and always worked back up.
RT: Regardless of what’s going on in life, she stays the course and continues on.
What was the most challenging season of training?
LH: I think the most challenging time was not when I was injured, but when I was taking care of my mother who had cancer, and my brother, who was in a terminal stage of multiple sclerosis. That was a really stressful time. For the first year, they were 70 miles away. I never knew when I was going to get a call and someone was going to the emergency room.
Being able to come to the gym, leave my phone in my locker, and just be present in the moment—that was just extraordinarily helpful in that time. It wasn’t so much a physical thing, but a mental thing.
Did you ever consider stopping?
LH: Early on, every time I had to write that check it was like ‘Ooh, this is hard!’
But, I want to live a long time and die quickly. I don’t want to spend 10–15 years pushing around a walker or taking seven medications a day…I want to be able to travel abroad, to go on a bicycle trip if I want to, and walk my dogs on the golf course. That’s what I’m paying for.
What should people look for in a longtime trainer?
LH: It’s kind of like any long-term relationship. If you’re working out with somebody, and for whatever reason, you’re not enjoying it or you don’t look forward to it, try someone else.
RT: I like to think of training like finding a therapist. Sometimes you have to go through a lot of different therapists to find one that you click with.
LH: I would think relatively few people are going to develop the kind of relationship Ryon and I have. But the goal is to be physically fit and to be able to live your life, be happy, and be healthy. So to that end, what I would say to people is just start. Start, and don’t stop.