Karl Lehmann aims to become an Ironman.
Hailing from Lafayette, Louisiana, fitness instructor Karl Lehmann has always been athletic. “My background in exercise and competition is in swimming,” he says. “I swam competitively as a young kid and through college. After that, I started doing triathlons, half-marathons, marathons.”
Running soon became a treasured outlet for Lehmann. “Even though I grew up a swimmer, I prefer running over swimming,” he says. “The most enjoyable aspect of running is that it allows me to just throw on a pair of running shoes; [I’m able] to run anywhere at any time and just let my mind wander. It’s my therapy.”
For more than five years, Lehmann has worked at East Jefferson General Hospital’s Wellness Center, where he often works with patients recovering from surgery or hospital stays. “We specialize in training special populations,” Lehmann says. “We do group fitness, one-on-one fitness and exercise prescription. It’s an extension of physical therapy-slash-cardiac rehab.” Clients can learn to manage chronic diseases, or regain their strength post-surgical procedure or cardiac event. Located in a spacious 38,000-square-foot facility packed with exercise equipment and two pools, the Wellness Center is open to public membership.
Lehmann enjoys seeing his clients’ progress, even if it means they might someday stop coming back to the gym. “The best part of my job is the fact that I get to help people reach their fitness and wellness goals every day, and be a positive influence in their lives — no matter how small or big it may be,” he says.
On Staying Motivated:
“My number one motivation is to stay healthy and stay in shape,” Lehmann says. “It’s my job to practice what I preach.” He also sets personal goals, like running a race in a certain time or taking part in a new competition.
“I’ve completed a number of half-marathons, 10Ks and races of different distances, as well as quite a few different triathlons,” he says. “The biggest triathlon I’ve done is the Half Ironman.” Next up, he’s aiming for a Full Ironman; he also hopes to run the Boston Marathon.
His Fuel: Lehmann doesn’t overthink it. He focuses on eating “as healthy as can be” and staying hydrated. “It’s hard to be able to train effectively if you don’t eat right,” he says. “I try to keep it balanced — healthy carbs, vegetables and fruits, and a lot of water. I try to drink as much water as I can throughout the day.”
His one weakness? “Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream,” he confesses. “I try not to eat it too much, but I let myself indulge. Besides the ice cream, I’m not a big sweets person.”
Success Story: Recently, Lehmann trained a friend and fellow runner to complete his first full marathon. “We were training for a half-marathon together, and he brought it up that he was interested in trying a full,” Lehmann says. “He had been someone who was kind of injury-stricken before.”
Lehmann worked with his friend on best practices to avoid injury, and he helped create his workouts for several months before the race. “He sat down and refocused, and I taught him the techniques to get through these longer races,” he says. “He did really well.”
Wise Words: Lehmann says that along with starting slowly, working with a coach is the best investment someone who’s new to exercise can make. “Definitely meet with someone who is either certified, or has a degree in or knowledge of exercise and wellness, and will help you set goals within reach,” he says. “Invest that time and effort into someone who knows a lot about exercise.”