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Fostering Fitness

Try It For Life founder Alyse Kelly Jones helps women of all fitness levels meet their training goals.

By Michelle Boudin

Alyse Kelly Jones is all about empowering women. The 54-year-old managing partner at Novant Health Mintview OB/GYN is known for helping women improve their sex lives — her TedX Talk Charlotte was called “Shedding Sexual Shame (and Some of Your Clothes Along the Way).” But Jones says one of her proudest accomplishments was founding Tri It For Life. a nonprofit that trains women of all fitness levels — many who have never exercised before — to run a triathlon. Now in its 13th season, more than 3,500 women have crossed the finish line thanks to TIFL. The organization is now in four cities and looking to expand nationwide.

What made you start TIFL?

I went to Chapel Hill, and I did a women’s only race — I was really inspired by all these women racing together and supporting each other. It was pouring rain and freezing cold, and I left that race and I thought, wouldn’t it be cool to get 100 women to do the same race when it came to Huntersville? I don’t even think I knew what I was creating when I was creating it. It was just about the power behind women helping each other. We did the first season and had more than 100 women do it. All of them said we had to keep doing this. I thought it was a crazy idea, but I said OK, let’s see if we can make it happen.

How does it work?

It’s a 12-week training program. Women sign up, and we train them in all their sports. Mentors work with them on every aspect. Then we take them through a mock tri and then the actual race.

What’s it all about?

Women putting themselves first and taking care of themselves. We’re often last on the list, then once you do put yourself first, it gives you this feeling of what can you do now? Now that you’re putting yourself on the list, what else can you accomplish in your life? You’re probably going to take better care of yourself and everyone else in your life.

What’s been the impact?

There’s a different individual impact for every woman. For some women, it’s just about checking a triathlon off their bucket list, but for many women its life-changing: Their health is impacted in such a high quality way that it then impacts those they’re connected to — partners, family, children, co-workers. It ends up touching so many lives.

What is it like to know you started this?

For me it’s almost miraculous. I just I never thought in my wildest dreams it would get to where it is, and when you believe in your heart and soul that it’s something that needs to be in the world, and then it comes to fruition despite the difficulties in everyday life . . . You see the impact, and the continued impact. It’s very moving for me. SP

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