Over the past few weeks we’ve covered both personal triathlon coaching and group based training, each having a host of benefits to help you reach your training goals.  But if you’re a woman and looking for a more specialized training environment, your best match for finding fitness success might just be in a female-only training group.

For this article, we asked Tough Cookie Fitness’ founder and head coach, Tzatzil LeMair, to give us an inside look at what it’s like training with a female training group and specifically with Tough Cookies.  Coach Tzatzil describes the approach to coaching at Tough Cookie Fitness as different than if we were coaching men, as she believes that women participate in sports for different reasons than men.  Coach Tzatzil explains that “in addition to getting fit, women are seeking support, camaraderie, and social interaction.  For many of our members, Tough Cookies is their social life. It is a safe, supportive environment where members feel comfortable asking questions about women specific issues such as training while nursing, pregnant, or recovering from childbirth or issues of an even more personal nature. Many women in our group meet training partners and make lasting friendships.”

How It Works

What can a new athlete expect when training with a group like Tough Cookies? At Tough Cookies, Coach Tzatzil explains that “there is no minimum fitness level for anyone joining our group, and as long as they show up to our training sessions, they can expect to be fully prepared to cross the finish line feeling great at the end of our training program”. With a professionally managed group like Tough Cookies, you can be sure that all the details that go into preparing for a race will be covered. From teaching you how to swim, bike, and run to changing a flat tire, setting up your transition area, what to eat and more!

Tough Cookies meets three times a week for coached group training. These sessions include a: run day, swim day and a bike day. Coach Tzatzil notes that an important part of their program is the swim since it can be very scary for a first time triathlete. Tough Cookie Athletes spend the first 5 weeks working on swim technique in the pool and the last 5 weeks they swim in the lake. With this specific focus on the swim, Coach Tzatzil sees her athletes ready to go by race day and the idea of swimming in open water “…is no longer a mystery, it is not a big scary deal anymore, they have been doing it for 5 weeks”.

Athlete Profile

So what’s the typical profile of the female athletes who train with a group like Tough Cookie Fitness? Coach Tzatzil says she sees women of all ages, shapes, sizes, and fitness levels joining the group, all very dedicated and interested in being a part of a team.

To give you a better sense of the type of athlete you would find as a member of a female-only training group like Tough Cookies, we wanted to post a testimonial from one of Coach Tzatzil’s athletes:

How can setting one goal change not only your body making it leaner and stronger, but your whole perspective in life?  If that goal is finishing a triathlon, be ready for a best life makeover!  As I rang in the 2010 New Year, it was time to set a new goal.  My friend and I had been throwing around ideas of new things to try in life, and triathlons came up in conversation.  From that conversation to researching a women’s training group, I found a welcoming collection of women who were experienced, encouraging, and just plain fun to be around; Tough Cookies.  Tzatzil LeMair, founder and coach, gave me and the rest of the newbies along with the vets, a rundown of everything we would need to know.  Tzatzil and the other coaches trained us in allaspects of a triathlon.  From how to properly swim and be confident in the open water of Lake Travis, to riding a bike properly all around Austin (and stopping without falling over), to having the stamina to run smoothly and with a fast finish, we trained hard and took every piece of advice they had to offer.  Not only did every person that season finish their goal triathlons, but we finished with smiles on our faces and injury free!  I’ve come a long way from that first sprint triathlon the summer of 2010.  I gradually challenged myself in 2011 and completed two Olympic distance triathlons, and this past November completed my first 70.3 triathlon!  All of the hard work and determination translated into my personal and work life as well.  My relationships with friends grew stronger and my productivity at work soared.  With the support of Tough Cookies and the belief that it doesn’t matter what your body looks like, but what it can do, I found the inner strength and beauty that changed my view on my body’s limits and am proud to be one Tough Cookie!  - Dawn

Wise Words From The Coach

Coach Tzatzil: I always tell our athletes not to forget this is for FUN. Sometimes women get nervous about racing or take it too seriously to the point where it is not fun any more. I always remind them to relax, have fun and ENJOY the race! Be grateful that you are healthy enough and fit enough to be out there.

Coach Tzatzil’s Top 3 Training/Racing Tips

1. Having an event to train for keeps you motivated. Plan three or four big events a year to train for and you’ll never have to workout for the sake of working out. You will have a specific goal and specific workouts and you’ll stay motivated and driven by your ultimate goal. Before you know it your lifestyle will have changed and you’ll be leading a healthier, fitter life.

2. Plan at least one destination race a year and get your friends to join you! Everyone can use a weekend getaway and nothing beats a post-race celebration with your buddies.

3. Mix it up and keep it fun. Variety is the spice of life also applies to fitness. Cross-training is not only good for you body but also your mind. Adding yoga, pilates or bootcamp classes can help keep you fit and avoid overuse injuries.

Learn more about Tough Cookie Fitness

Visit Tough Cookie Fitness online at MyFitList and on their website. You can also follow Tough Cookies on Facebook, and Twitter!


Perk alert! MyFitCard holders get $25 off Tough Cookie Fitness Triathlon Training Programs!
MyFitCard gives you deals and discounts, like this, at fitness businesses all over town. Get your MyFitCard today!


brings together the latest information on hundreds of local fitness businesses in Austin. We’re your resource for inspiration and information for getting and staying fit. Search hundreds of Austin fitness groups and services like running, triathlon, bootcamps, yoga studios, gyms and more all in one place! Check us out at www.myfitlist.com