Meet the woman who inspired 15+ people to compete in a Half Ironman Triathlon. Monica Helmstetter, seasoned triathlete and event director for SpaTec, has inspired over 15 individuals to compete in the June 2017 Half Ironman Triathlon in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. As members of Monica’s #SpasPushingLimits group, participants are joining forces as relay teams or competing as individuals. The group has set a collective goal to raise $10,000 for the Eminence Kids Foundation – sponsoring an entire year for a new location! We are so grateful for this support and wanted to learn more about why Monica was inspired to challenge this diverse group of athletes.
Q&A With Monica From SpaTec
What was the journey like to get where you are – involved with the spa industry and triathlons?
It was a simple road to take. Spa is just one aspect of healthy living and taking good care of yourself. Exercise has always been a big part of my life, running being my main mode of exercise for most of my adult life. As I began to get more serious about training and competing in triathlons, I also became more focused on recovery. It was a natural connection: Spa and exercise training = a content mind.
In one word, describe yourself.
Tell us about your first triathlon.
It was an Olympic distance 5 years ago at Jekyll Island, a quaint little island off the coast of Georgia. I needed a change in my workout routines, and a triathlon sounded like a good challenge. Starting out, I could barely make it across one length of the 25 yard pool, but after a few lessons I could get through it without feeling like I was drowning. After a few months of training, I was ready for my first open water swim. The race course was awesome and I ended up placing first in my age-group!
What has surprised you the most about training for a triathlon?
That it’s not so much about the sport, but more about what I have learned about myself, the human spirit and what an individual can accomplish simply by visualizing a specific outcome. It has pushed me to places I never thought possible.
When did you first hear about the Eminence Kids Foundation?
I had heard of the Eminence Kids Foundation before and knew that the charity was supporting children; however, it wasn’t until about 9 months ago that I learned more specifics about the program and how much of an impact this charity makes on so many children recovering from serious illness!
What about the Eminence Kids Foundation inspired you to start the #SpasPushingLimits group?
The Eminence Kids Foundation has allowed me to reflect on lessons learned from training and running races. I cannot imagine the amount of mental toughness a child must go through to fight and survive serious illness. Finishing an Ironman pales in comparison. Starting #SpasPushingLimits opened up a door that enabled me to start giving back, do what I love and unite like-minded people in our industry.
Training for a triathlon, fundraising and organizing an international group of 15 busy spa professionals is no easy task – all while maintaining a full-time career and family. What keeps you going? Any secrets to balance?
I have a very supportive husband (who is also signed up to do his first ever Half Ironman in Victoria with us). The training is my medicine. It makes me a better wife and mother, more productive in my job and gives me the extra energy I need to pay it forward. No secrets, except for never allowing myself to make excuses.
What’s the best thing or proudest moment that’s happened to you since you became involved with training and fundraising?
I have run many races and raised money for different charities over the years, but the thought of being able to make a small difference for kids who are undergoing cancer treatment and serious illness makes me feel very honored and proud to help. It has also been nice to hear from many people in our industry who have been inspired by #SpasPushingLimits and are now working out after many years of inactivity.
Tell us about some of the people you’ve met along the way.
Everyone has a personal story. One of our group members is racing in honor of his brother who lost his life in a tragic car accident last year. Another member of our group has lost over 40 pounds in just a few months while training, completely turning his life around. Donors to the Foundation have shared their personal stories on how they went through treatments as children themselves. The triathlon community attracts people from all walks of life (elite and novice athletes alike, disabled military veterans and cancer survivors) and it is truly inspiring to watch everyone cross that finish line.
What’s your personal wellness philosophy?
A workout every day, a balanced diet, a little bit of spa and a glass of wine at the end of the day!
Run, bike, or swim?
All three, bike being my favorite!
What are your hopes for the future of the Eminence Kids Foundation?
My goal is to raise enough money to open up additional Eminence Kids locations, the first being in my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. I would love to be an Eminence Kids Foundation ambassador for Charleston, continue the work, and get my children, family and friends involved.
Follow along with the #SpasPushingLimits group on Facebook and find out how close the athletes are to their $10,000 Fundraising Goal. Have you ever trained for a triathlon? Do you have a personal reason for supporting the Eminence Kids Foundation? Let us know in the comments below or share with us on social media on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.