TCO 157 | Paralympic Swimmer

157: Peloton Sues NordicTrack plus our interview with Tammy Cunnington

TCO 157 | Paralympic Swimmer


Peloton has a new instructor – Adrian Williams

Peloton sues NordicTrack

What’s with all the Peloton giveaways on Instagram?

Peloton stock continues to climb.

NBC News asks if Peloton has a cultural appropriation issue.

Jezebel talks about the demise of the boutique studio.

More details on the new Quest Badge.

Zach Bitter sets a new treadmill world record.

Run Across NY has a new virtual challenge.

Alex Toussaint has a new collaboration.

Alex Toussaint discusses the impact of Michael Jordan with Sports Illustrated.

Donald Faizon has a Peloton.

Robin Arzon is featured on the House Party app.

The boutique has a new collection from No Equipment Necessary.

Tom and Crystal continue to battle it out on Best Fiends.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Peloton Sues NordicTrack plus our interview with Tammy Cunnington

That was a fun afternoon. We’re recording later than usual. Not that it will affect you guys, but I got a flat tire on the way home from work. I don’t know what happened but that tire is blown out. There is a hole in the tire. I know if you get a flat tire, you’ve got a hole in it.

Also the tires are old. A lot of times, when people have a blow out, it sounds like their tire was worn. The car is three years old.

It’s got 30,000 miles on it.

It was odd that it happened.

I got to sit in a McDonald’s parking lot and wait for Verizon Roadside Assistance because it’s built into the phone thing. I did that and it worked though. That’s all that counts. I made it home safe. If we sound cranky, that’s why.

That’s why you’re cranky.

Then me being cranky made you cranky.

I had my own set of stuff we haven’t even discussed.

With that out of the way, what do you have in store for people?

We’re going to talk about the surprise new instructor that we got for Peloton. We’re going to talk about another lawsuit in the works, some interesting stuff happening on Instagram regarding Peloton and what’s going on with the market and some interesting badges that Peloton has in the works.

Before we get to all of that, shameless plugs, don’t forget we’re available on Apple Podcasts. Be sure and go there and rate, review, subscribe. Wherever you get your podcasts, be sure and subscribe so you never miss an episode. We have a new review. This one’s short and sweet. It’s from BalancedBridge. Leaderboard name is PDXBridgette. The leaderboard name is almost longer than the review. The title of the review is, “Favorite podcast of all time.”

That’s an excellent title.

Then the actual body of the review says, “Read title.”

That is succinct. I like that.

It’s to the point.

Bridgette, you get it done very efficiently. I like it. There’s no beating around the Bush. It’s very nice. Thank you so much for the very kind review.

Also don’t forget you can find us on Facebook, While you’re there, like the page and join the group. You can also subscribe to our newsletter, which comes out weekly. When you’re on your Bike or your Tread, don’t forget to use #TheClipOut, so people know you listen. Let’s dig in, shall we?

Everyone was surprised, even Peloton, by the announcement of their new instructor.

It was so weird. They did it so backwards from their usual process because the class was up before anything else, at least maybe it was up on their end. People could see the class on the Tread before they could see it on the blog, before there was an official announcement, or any of that. It was very unusual, not the typical process. We now have a new instructor, Adrian Williams. Welcome to Peloton. Welcome to the family. I’m reaching. Apparently, this guy is quite the bad-ass.

It’s Peloton, so it stands to reason.

No, more than other bad-asses. I don’t know all the details. I haven’t gotten to dig into his background but apparently, he was featured in a podcast. It’s called Welcome to The Breakdown Podcast with Joe and Ryan. My understanding is it doesn’t quite have the sound quality that we do, so you might be spoiled. If you’re going to go and listen to it, it talks about Adrian Williams. He is considered to be New York City’s fastest man. At age 36, he completed the 40-yard dash in 4.18 seconds.

To put it in perspective, he finished it faster than it took you to tell us he finished it.

It is the fastest time posted by anyone in the NFL Combine. I have no idea what that means, but it sounds really impressive.

The NFL combine, I know this one. It’s like they’ll have everybody come out and they’ll have them do different things like do a 50-yard dash and do jumping jacks. They do tasks and then that way they can compare people apples to apples like, “This guy can do a 50-yard dash and this, but this guy can lift that and this guy.”

This makes their scorecard of sorts. He’s the fastest posted by anyone in the NFL Combine. That’s pretty freaking amazing. I know we have attractive instructors, and I’m not going to make this awkward or anything, but the man does not appear to have an inch of body fat anywhere. It’s all just muscles from head to toe. He’s got a big smile, lights up the room. From what I’m hearing, I’m getting rave reviews. Everyone who’s taken his class, I have not gotten to because I’ve been doing Strength the last few days, I’m going to be taking one of his classes tomorrow, but I’m hearing nothing but excellent things about his energy, how he teaches.

To show you how he came out of the gate hot from a popularity standpoint, he was announced 36 hours as of this recording and he already has almost 1,000 members in his fan club, his Peloton-base fan page. I’m not talking on his Instagram. It’s 1,000 people in his official Facebook Peloton tribe. It’s the tribe that the members created for him. I’m pretty sure that’s the fastest that’s ever happened. Apparently, he’s got good mojo people. People are very impressed. I cannot wait to take a class. It’s a little weird. This is our first instructor in the United States where there hasn’t been a brand-new class like here’s a class and all the instructors are going to go and work on him. I wonder if they’ll do that when all this insanity is over. It’s just interesting. Adrian Williams, brand new.

It’s good to know. Peloton has launched another lawsuit. They are on the war path and they need to be.

They do because all of these people completely copied everything they did. Interestingly, nobody has seemed to have a problem with the other lawsuits that they put out there. People are getting a little crabby about this NordicTrack one.

Why do you think that is?

I think it’s a little bit of fatigue like, “Okay, Peloton. We get it.” I don’t think that they should stop what they’re doing because once you’re on a roll and you’ve started winning these things, you have to make a point that you have to finish this out, so that you can make the statement so that companies stop trying to take you for granted and take advantage of you.

That’s an important one to go after because they already have such a strong foothold in the marketplace. They’ve been doing it for so long that I’m sure there are people that’ll be like, “It looks like it’s doing the Peloton stuff, but it’s been around a lot longer. Therefore, it must be better or safer or more stable as a company.”

I know that if my parents were going to buy a machine, they would feel more comfortable buying a NordicTrack than a Peloton just because that’s a name they recognize. That’s not necessarily a good thing, but I’m just saying there are people that feel that way. I don’t know if everybody knows this, but ICON Health is actually the maker of NordicTrack. NordicTrack is owned by ICON Health. Peloton is actually suing ICON Health. The reason I point that out is because people may not know who ICON Health is, but you recognize NordicTrack. Peloton is claiming that NordicTrack/ICON Health copied its interactive fitness programs and lied in advertising to undercut a more popular rival. “That they have attempted to free ride off of Peloton’s innovative technology by integrating patented features that make archive classes seem live to users and a way to let two people in two different locations access the archive class and compete against each other in real time,” Peloton claims. It’s very interesting because the thing that I saw that people were complaining about this particular lawsuit was like, “You can’t just sue everybody that has a leaderboard.” This isn’t about the leaderboard. This is about other things that they’ve done that have come from. Honestly, they’ve been inspired by the community that Peloton put into place to now there are other companies using them.

The other thing I think is really funny is there’s a quote from the actual court filing that Peloton had. This is from an official court document. Peloton says, “Consumers were tired of the same, boring at-home fitness equipment that had languished in basement for decades like the ICON products.”

I know people are frustrated with yet another lawsuit, but I get why Peloton is doing it and I think it’s for the best.

The funding for athletes is based on the main competition of the summer. Share on X

You’ve got to defend your intellectual property like that. If you don’t, if you let any of it go by, that’s like Disney will sue a daycare for painting Mickey Mouse on the wall. If they let that slide, then the next place is going to say, “Will you let them get away with it?” You’ve got to.

We’ll keep an eye on this one and the one that they already have filed with Echelon. We’ll see how it all pans out.

If you’ve been on Instagram lately or as the cool kids call it, the Gram, there have been all sorts of contests on there with people giving away Pelotons. Yeah.

I know in one week I had twenty of these contests in my feed. My feed is Peloton-heavy, so it’s shocking. I can understand. Apparently, they have a name for these contests. It’s called the Loop Contest. What you do is you say, “You have to follow all of these people, XYZ,” it can be any number of people that they require you to follow. By following them and any other steps they tell you to take any other requirements, then you get entered into a drawing to win the grand prize, which in this case is a Peloton. In theory, sometimes these people have a third party they farm it out to. To pay for the Peloton, they get some deal for it and the third party also gets a cut, or sometimes it’s the influencers themselves who pool their money together and they each pay for a portion of the Peloton.

You said some of these you have to follow as many as 50 people? That’s crazy.

Yeah. There are some high numbers because all these people are pitching in.

If you get 50 people, you’re all thrown in $50. Following 50 people, that’s not a contest, that’s a part-time job. You’re going to get carpal tunnel syndrome.

There are a couple of problems people have with it. On the one hand, they don’t feel like it’s a following that you’re growing that is real and sustained. Are you going to keep following this person? That’s part of it. It seems fake. The other part of it is that you don’t know where these people are from, who these Instagram influencers are. It can be anybody. We could pick three people and be like, “We’re doing a contest,” so there’s no process in place and there’s a lot of them.

I’m of two minds because 50 people is a lot. If you’re getting inundated with them, I’m sure that’s exhausting. At the same time, that’s how any contest works. If radio stations have given away tickets to Foghat, that’s an ad for the Foghat show. The Foghat people paid for that to happen.

It’s not an ad for Peloton. That’s just it.

On the flip side of that, the radio stations used the Foghat tickets to get you to listen longer and hope that you like the station and keep listening, which is similar in that regard. To remove the cross promotion out of the equation, if radio stations want to give away a car or a trip to Jamaica, a lot of times that’s a prize that they went out and purchased so they could give it away because they want to draw you in to listen and hopefully you like what you listen and you keep listening when the price is no longer there.

The difference is you were already there listening to that station. This is coming from like you just happened to see this random person in your feed, and you don’t necessarily know anything about them. You don’t have to choose to click on it. It’s not like somebody’s tying your hands and forcing you to do it.

Back to the radio station analogy, if they’re giving away a car, then they probably got billboards all over town saying, “Listen to our station, we’re giving away a car.”

It’s more mass appeal in my opinion than Instagram. I certainly don’t spend a lot of money advertising my Instagram because that doesn’t feel real to me. I don’t know how to explain it. There’s a difference if it’s tied to something. That’s what hashtags are for. People should find me organically. This doesn’t feel organic.

It is certainly not organic, and I’m not suggesting that you do it. I’m saying that there’s a lot of stuff like that, that grows audiences inorganically. They put out a new movie there, they buy ads on television. They don’t just wait for people to discover it.

That’s all true. I’m just telling you that people get an icky feeling about it.

I get that and I think some of that too is because social media is so new compared to other medias.

When it’s a radio station, you know that radio station is real. They can’t get away with not giving you the car after they put it up there. They’re going to get really bad press if they try. What are you going to do with this Instagram person? You don’t even know who they are.

It seems like the best people can suss out these have all been legitimate.

I didn’t read any stories about these being fake at all. That’s absolutely true. I think that’s part of why it feels a little off because if you’re talking about a radio station, you have a lot more comfort level of this is real. If somebody called you up on the phone, they got your number but do you believe them when they’re like, “You have an opportunity to win this prize?” No, I hang up on them.

Those are always scams.

I think that’s what people feel like. I’m not saying they are scams by any stretch of the imagination. I’m just saying I think the number of them available combined with the fact that it’s not people they already know and trust, that tends to be why you have this feeling.

We should probably address the fact that we just gave away a Tonal. I’ll say it for people yelling at their radio right now on their podcast delivery device, “You just did this.” We did have an element of the contest where for extra entries, you could follow Crystal on Instagram or on Twitter or whatnot.

I feel like that’s different because it’s not like we do have billboards. People wouldn’t know about the contest if they’re not listening to the show, or they don’t see us on social media in some way, shape or form or see Tonal. I feel like that’s a little bit different. They’re related, they’re tied together. Having this third party in there that you don’t know anything about, I feel like that’s the other piece that’s missing. I also would not just be giving away random things with people that I don’t know. If I were personally going to do something like this, it would be a group of companies that I felt that were long-term and that they had shown themselves to be reliable to me.

I also feel like we’re a little bit more concrete than just a random Instagram account. If we didn’t actually give away the Tonal, at some point, people would figure that out and call us on our BS and rightly so. Anyway, if you’re seeing these all over your Instagram feed, that’s what’s going on. You’ll probably see more of them until Instagram shuts it down or it gets so overrun that people get bored and they stop being effective. Peloton stock continues to surge.

Last week, it was up to $49 a share. It’s back down to $45, it’s still doing great.

It’s well-above its IPO.

There have been a couple of reasons why. It went up based on who bought it and then it went down based on who bought it. I thought about that or who sold it, I don’t know. I think it was who bought it. The day that it went up, there was a big chunk bought by somebody important in the stock market. The day it went down was the day that the vaccine company said it was promising. It dropped quite a bit like $5.

John Mills on his page actually had two screen grabs of showing the stock graph in real time. The stock price for the company that makes the vaccine shoots up at the exact moment that Peloton starts to drop.

It’s so crazy. I’m not going to get into the stock market with my opinion on it. I’ll say that makes no sense to me.

I think it makes sense in so much as there are still a lot of investors that think it’s popular as long as you’re stuck at home. Once you’re not stuck at home, it will cease to be popular. I disagree wholeheartedly. I think that ship has sailed. Even if they come up with a vaccine and things start to return to normal, I still think a lot of people are going to be very skittish about going to sweaty places where there are lots of spit and stuff. They don’t have to, and this is the way that they don’t have to.

I agree and it’s a no-brainer.

Jezebel had a story about the struggle and perhaps soon demise of the boutique fitness studio.

This article is actually about SoulCycle. Jezebel and I have a mixed history because they’ve written things about Peloton that are very unfair. I want to say that in all fairness, because this is about SoulCycle and could also be unfair. Supposedly, not only did SoulCycle back a couple months ago, lay off a bunch of people. Most recently, they laid off a whole bunch of employees with zero severance, zero warning, zero anything. This whole article is about how they walk around chanting, “One this, one that.” Then they completely got rid of these people. They either had a choice of three months of health insurance coverage or a onetime payment of $1,500.

Which if you’ve ever tried to get Cobra, $1,500 probably won’t even cover a month at Cobra.

TCO 157 | Paralympic Swimmer


This is further proof. If you want to add to the evidence, the growing pile that SoulCycle is not coming back. They’re still saying everything’s good though. All their emails are coming out, “We’re fine.”

We have a little bit more information about the Quest Badge.

I did the second quest. Remember I was talking about how will the badge be different? There should be like a big thing. It’s the same badge. It’s a leaf, but now it has two circles that are linked together. I can only assume that my third one will give me three circles and my fourth one will give me four, or maybe there’s a special big leaf. I thought it was pretty cool though. It’s nice that it’s not just the same thing. It recognizes that you have moved forward in the said quest, instead of just another leaf. I should’ve known, Peloton always thinks these things through. I guess their marketing department doesn’t need us after all, Tom. Also, I got a note from Sandra McKittrick and she wanted me to point out to everyone that you only have a week to do this. She did not make the cutoff. You cannot go back and get the badge. For the first quest, it’s done. If you try to go back and take that musical artist right now, you don’t get anything. You only get a week to complete these. Be timely. If you see that clue, get out there and get that badge.

While we’re talking about the quest badges, there is a new challenge.

You might remember a few months ago I told you that there was a pop-up challenge and I don’t remember even what the challenge was. It was very short and sweet. It’s four weeks and you’re done. They have a new pop-up challenge where you work on your cardio strength with running classes. It’s going to be four running classes that are either speed or intervals over four weeks. You have to do all the workouts between May 20th and June 16th, then you get your pop-up challenge badge for that specifically. If you’re not sure what classes count, you can go to the classes tab on your Tread, filter by class type, find speed or intervals.

Zach Bitter did 100-mile Ultra marathon and set a new world record.

He finished it in 12 hours, 9 minutes and 15 seconds on a treadmill. Can you imagine running for 12 twelve on a treadmill?

No, not me.

I can’t imagine that. I have to say it’s a little sad. It was a NordicTrack treadmill. NordicTrack has been touting this all over the Gram. I thought it was cool though that he not only broke a world record with his time, but he broke it on a treadmill. He did the whole thing on a treadmill.

Bad Boys III had Peloton treadmill, so they win. There’s also a new fundraiser from Race Across New York.

There’s a Peloton group and it’s called For The Frontline. It’s a whole group of people that are literally running across New York from May to August. You have to do 500 miles. Our good friend, Carol, you met Carol when we were in Atlantic City, she’s part of the Atlantic City crew. She has put together this group. A lot of the Atlantic City crew is in this crew of course because they travel in packs. I love these people. They’re all running and you too can run with them. It’s not too late. You go in and log your own miles based on the honor system. You either do it or you don’t. If you started back on May 15th, it’s about 3 miles a day. Last I checked, they were 25th on the leaderboard, which is not too shabby. I thought it was pretty cool.

Alex Toussaint has a new collaboration.

It was really cool. It was with ESPN and it took place last week over the weekend. For some reason, it was in the studio, even though none of the other classes are taking place in the studio. It was a collaboration with ESPN that he being Alex put together a special playlist from the Michael Jordan documentary that everybody’s been talking, Last Dance. This ride is called The Last Dance ride, which by the way freaked a lot of people out because everyone thought Alex was quitting. Alex isn’t quitting. He is going to stay at Peloton for a long time.

If you’re not aware of that documentary, that title is going to make you think that.

I guess he also talked about it during class and even though he talked about it, that was still the takeaway for some folks. Regardless, he is not leaving. He’s not going anywhere. It was pretty cool from what I hear. I didn’t get to take it this weekend, but I heard so many great things about this. I want to watch the documentary before I take the ride. I don’t know that the songs would be as powerful to me if I didn’t hear them in tandem with the actual watching of the documentary. Does that make sense?

I get that. It’s funny I don’t like sports, but I do like a good sports documentary. It’s like it takes all the boring parts of sports away. They put a narrative on it, so now you know what’s going on behind the scenes. I do like a good sports documentary.

We should check that out and then maybe I can finally take the class. It was pretty cool that he got to do that very special. Alex is becoming known for being the guy around all the sports.

He was on Sports Illustrated website too.

He had a whole interview in which he discussed the Michael Jordan collaboration that he did with ESPN. He had that special ride that he did with Cam Newton. He had the special ride he did with LeBron. Now, he’s doing Ladder, which he’s representing for Ladder, which is also fronted by LeBron James. It might even be LeBron James’ company. It’s a line of supplements that you take before or after a workout that help you with your performance.

We have another celebrity sighting, Donald Faison.

He is one of the doctors from Scrubs. There’s Zach Braff and then the other guy.

I didn’t watch Scrubs.

It was really good and you should go back and watch it. The kids would love that.

If I go back and watch it, you’re going to go back and watch it.

Apparently, during the first five minutes of this podcast, fake doctors, real friends, it goes back and rehashes past Scrubs episodes.

That’s the new thing in podcasting. People who have sitcoms and stuff or popular shows, they can’t make money off of using the show name, but they can do these podcasts and they can’t stop them from that. It’s like Angela from The Office and St. Louis’ own, Jenna Fischer who played Pam. They have a podcast together called the Office Ladies that do something like this as well. Anyway, I just find it fascinating that’s the gimmick of the moment.

During this episode, they talked about Donald Faison. He talks about his Peloton during the first five minutes also. We now know he has a Peloton.

Robin Arzon is featured on the Houseparty app.

I felt really old when I saw this because I was like, “What is Houseparty app?” Basically, it’s like a Zoom call that exists all the time and you can pop in and out of. If you’re on and one of your friends pops in, you can immediately hang out and be in the same room. You can play games like Heads Up and stuff like that together. Max of eight people in a room in a given time. For whatever reason, this past weekend they had all these celebrities on, a huge gigantic list of celebrities including Neil Patrick Harris by the way, who was on right whenever I checked. He had just finished. Right. One of the celebrities was Robin Arzon.

They’re rattling off celebrity names and she’s in there like a regular old celebrity.

It’s like it’s a household name, which I guess at this point, she is.

It’s like remember the first time when Google did the announcement and they mentioned Peloton without explaining what Peloton was. It’s just kind like that. I feel like this might be the first time we’ve seen a Peloton instructor mentioned without having to qualify that they’re a Peloton instructor. They’re just like, “Robin Arzon.” You don’t say, “Neil Patrick Harris of How I Met Your Mother,” you just say, “Neil Patrick Harris.” There’s also a new collection in the boutique?


I misunderstood it?


All you wrote in the notes was, “No equipment necessary collection.”

It’s like a workout with no equipment necessary.

I thought it was a brand name.

I totally get why you thought that. That should be the name of a clothing line. We should start, “No equipment necessary.”

It’s for gender neutral clothing.

It should just be hoodies and matching tennis shoes that you wear.

There’s no equipment necessary.

Peloton has filmed many classes and they put together a collection of classes that you do not need any workout equipment. It’s all body weight exercises. You don’t need a treadmill, you don’t need weights, you can do these classes anywhere. I can’t access it because I only have Android, but everybody else can in the iOS. If they have iOS, they can find it under Collections on their phone and it’s also on the Bike and it’s also on the Treadmill.

Joining us is not just a swimmer, triathlon, but a Paralympian, Tammy Cunnington. Tammy, how are you doing?

I’m well. How are you, guys?

Good as anybody can be.

Feeling like quite the underachiever.

You are an accomplished athlete. As we start off the interview, do you mind telling people how you became paraplegic?

I was injured. My accident is different than most. Most people assume I was in a car accident or something when they meet me, but I was hit by an airplane at an air show when I was six years old.

That’s stunning. I read about this and I was trying even to picture what that was like. Do you remember anything?

I remember bits and pieces. I remember going there in the morning. We were there because my figure skating club at the time was doing a fundraiser. My parents were in one of the airplane hangars cooking breakfast. Fortunately, they were away from everything. It was small planes, 2 or 3 passenger planes. It wasn’t big jets. They were flying around and doing stunts in the air and putting on a little show and then they’d land and come and have pancake breakfast. I was walking around with my siblings. I remember walking around and then I remember lying on the ground. I don’t remember a whole lot in between. One of the planes was being flown by a new pilot and he didn’t know how to manage the wind. When he went to land, the wind caught him and took him off course and he hit into some planes and then hit me.

Did he make it?

He was fine. I was the only one severely injured. My brother had his leg broken but he recovered after a few weeks with a cast. Everybody else was fine. It was myself that took the brunt of it.

You were an ice skater at that time. You were always athletic. Your family was athletic.

My family is athletic and competitive and into sports. From the time I was able to walk, I was well on skates. My brothers played hockey and we played lots of yard hockey outside and things like that. We had always been competitive. By the time that I was injured, when I was six, I was already a provincially-ranked figure skater. It was in my blood.

You went from 0 to 60 right out of the gate. You were an amazing athlete when you were born.

I don’t think I had a choice. In my family, I had an older sister and then two big brothers that I idolized. I wanted to do everything they did. I was already active outside and trying to keep up with everybody else. I’m not a big person. I’m little. I was trying to keep up with them even then with my size.

What was the road back to sports like for you?

It was a lot of years. The first year following my accident was almost entirely in the hospital. From one hospital to another, a little bit back and forth depending on what kind of care that I needed. When I did return home and move back, it was like getting back into school and getting used to being in a wheelchair and doing things differently. Maybe I’d been home for about two years. My family heard about a wheelchair sports camp in a city close to us because we lived in a small town and they decided to put me in. I went for two weeks and played all different kinds of parasports, everything from floor hockey to sledge hockey to tennis to wheelchair basketball. That was my first taste of parasports as well as my first chance to be around other kids who had disabilities because in a small town, I was the only person. I must’ve been close to nine at the time we did that. From that point on I played wheelchair basketball and it continued on from there.

What’s it like to navigate the world in general and Canada? In America, there was a law passed years ago to mandate a lot of provisions become commonplace. Was Canada ahead of the game in that or behind the game? How’s that work?

We’re probably a little bit behind. Most places, any new buildings or things like that have become fully accessible. I know that the laws are still in the works to make things more and more. When you’re dealing with disabilities, there’s such a broad range. Maybe a curb cut is not enough. They need something for blind people, something for deaf people, things like that. There are many facets to cover. We’re still working at that and pushing that all the time.

When you started playing sports again, you were in wheelchair basketball. How did you end up transitioning into the sports that you play now?

It’s such a long story and it spans over many years. I played wheelchair basketball until I was eighteen or so. It was my first life of sport and high-level sport. I competed on the national team and competed in a tournament in England when I was seventeen. The tournament was called Gold Cup. That was my first big travel experience. I retired after that summer or the following year. I can’t remember but I retired right around there. It was prior to the Atlanta Olympics and Paralympics. At that time, I had enough. A lot of girls quit sports for the same reasons.

I’m part of an organization here in Alberta called Fast and Female that’s trying to keep girls in sport for the reasons that I left sports. I retired from basketball and lived a life away from sports. I was out of shape. Things that should be easy for me were not as easy as I thought like getting in and out of my vehicle with my chair, putting my chair in and out, and getting in and out of my chair from the floor off the couch. Things that are commonplace were more difficult. I decided that I needed to get back into shape. I joined a gym in the city that I live in. The first year was fun and fitness. One of the instructors decided, “Try your first triathlon club.” I thought that sounded a lot of fun. I joined that. Little did I know, that was going to lead me on the path to Rio in the end.

I’m struggling to understand how you went from an athlete to an Olympian athlete. That’s not feasible for most of us.

Fortunately and unfortunately, it goes both ways for me and my competitive nature. It worked well for me in sports but at the same time, nobody wants to play trivia or card games with me or board games. We used to have a Nintendo Wii. My husband and I had to put it away because we couldn’t play it. It’s a double-edged sword.

Paralympic swimming has athletes compete in classifications based on the different abilities of swimmers. Share on X

I’ll play Trivia with you.

You’re on, anytime. Since you don’t want to ride the bike maybe we can compete in another way.

Trivia I can do, unless all the TV questions are about Canadian shows.

She’s going to have you beat on sports. I’m curious, what does your training schedule look like? I picture you have to train nonstop.

I train about 3 hours a day, broken up into different segments depending on where I’m at in my training plan and how close I am to the competition. Most of my time is spent in the pool when I have a pool that I can swim in. I do a lot of weight training. I ride my hand bike mostly for recovery up until this point having no pool. It’s two workouts a day that averages between 1 hour and 1.5 hours, then some stretching and rehab and recovery. The rest of the time is spent either eating food or making food or getting food to eat.

I’m curious how many calories you can safely consume in a day. I want to live vicariously through you.

It depends on the time. At my peak, I’ve been in 2,000 to 2,200 calories. I’m only 4’10” and 100 pounds. When you put all my food on the table for the day, most people would be shocked at how much I can eat.

You can also be a competitive eater.

How did your training lead you to Peloton?

I love my bike, first and foremost. My handcycle is where my passion is. I’m not good enough at it to be a Paralympian in cycling. That’s why I’m a swimmer. I love being on my bike whether it’s on the trainer or outside. My plan had been to retire after I competed in Tokyo. I’d been looking at ways to continue my fitness and find things that I still love to do after I’ve retired from swimming. When you don’t have quite that same routine or push, you still need something. I’ve seen the Peloton on TV and on the internet, and it looked like a lot of fun because you still get the competitiveness with the leaderboard and things like that.

When the pool is closed in my city due to COVID, I decided to try the app and see if I could make it work with my hand bike and how it felt and things like that. I started it up and got a few classes under my belt and then fell in love with it. Originally, it was a plan to keep me in shape until I got back in the pool because they still hadn’t postponed the Olympics or the Paralympics yet so I was like, “I’ll keep my cardio up, keep my lungs up. Work hard.” Have a coach as a Peloton instructor so that I don’t have to think because that’s the best part of being in a training situation with the coaches doing what you’re told and not having to plan it. That’s why I wound up there. The games have been postponed to 2021. At the moment, I’m all-in into Peloton. I’ve done 47 rides in less than four weeks and loving it.

Do you have a favorite instructor or did you try all of the instructors? What route did you go?

I haven’t tried all of them yet, but I have extended my range a little bit. I love Hannah Frankson. I’ve also ridden quite a few of Jess King’s classes.

That’s a pairing I have not heard before. Hannah is new to Peloton. I keep track of people’s favorite. They tend to be groupings. If you like X, you’ll like Y. That’s a pairing I have not heard before. I’m excited about this.

I’m trying to match my bike training to how my pool training would be. Some days in the pool I do short sprints and some days I do long endurance. I’m testing the waters with different instructors to get those different days of training still.

She’s literally testing the waters.

I wish it were real water.

For sure you’re still going to do it in 2021.

I will be honest, I haven’t completely decided. I had a rough go in Rio after all it took me to get there. I had these amazing trials in 2016 that got me on the team, then things went all kinds of wrong in Rio. I got sick. I got pneumonia in the village. I didn’t reach the achievements that I wanted there. After that, it took me some time to decide because I had always intended to retire after Rio. I was like, “I want one shot at it, one time.” When it didn’t go how I wanted, I thought, “I’m not sure I’m ready.”

I was still hemmed and hawed and I finally came to a peaceful decision about Tokyo. I’m in for Tokyo. I’m also happy and ready to retire in September. It’s finding that new piece to continuing one more year and then retiring in September 2021. Things have changed. We don’t know about the funding to get us Canadian athletes from the government. They haven’t determined how they’ll determine that because that’s usually done based on the results of the biggest competition of the summer, which would have been Tokyo. There are a lot of factors.

I did not realize that. The Canadian government, they decide based on where you ranked. I honestly have no idea if that’s how all countries do it if that’s how the US does it. I have no idea.

The American system is similar to ours. I’m not sure exactly what their rankings are because they have more athletes who are getting funding than we do. Ours is determined by the main competition of the summer. Also, there are a lot of next-gen kids who are up and coming but wouldn’t have made Tokyo. We would have already been named to the team. At my age, my improvements are small and incremental but they’re making big gains still. It could be a lot of different types of trials than it would have been.

I didn’t think about that. You don’t necessarily hold your place in line. They would start the process all over again.

For us, it’s because we hadn’t had trials yet when everything was postponed or everything blew up. Some of the sports had their trials under the wire and those spots are secured, but we have not had trials.

How do you feel about all of this? I’m upset with you.

I wish we could have had trials and that had been postponed because our spots would have been secured. I fully believe I would have made the team. I was on a good track. Everything was right on point to make the team. I fully understand all the decisions and I know that it had to be made, but it’s still heartbreaking and disappointing at the same time.

It can be both. It sucks and you get, “Why?” I was reading about what you went through in Rio. I put all of this together. This is frustrating. You want to finish what you started. You’ve been hanging on. I can’t even imagine what you’re going through.

I was excited to go to Tokyo in a different way. I went into Rio feeling the pressure because I’d been performing well, which is another double-edged sword. I wanted to go into Tokyo with a different mindset and take it in a little bit more because I only had a few, what I would call, Paralympic moments in Rio that had nothing to do with the pool but experiencing the Paralympics. I wanted to expand on that in Tokyo and have that be my focus because my performance would have followed rather than the opposite way. I wanted to get in there and have a great time and a great performance and then have a big bang celebration of retirement. I didn’t want to retire this way or by not making the team, either one.

Because you’re competitive, I would think that you’re going to have a lot of pressure to keep your fitness up that whole time. Until the following year, that seems like a long time. You keep moving that goalpost out.

TCO 157 | Paralympic Swimmer


We train in cycles. I was only days off from starting my taper for trials. I’d already been in the heaviest cycle of training for almost three months. Every little milestone, I was like, “I never have to do that again. I have to start over if I want to do it again.”

I’ve never been happier not to be athletic.

I picture this carousel of emotions that you must be going through like, “I don’t ever have to do it again but I want to prove that I can. I like being in shape but that was so much work.” I picture this constant up and down.

There are even little things. Our race suits are hard to put on because they’re tight-fitting. For most of us, particularly those of us in chairs, they take close to half an hour to get on. Every time I went to meet this winter getting ready, I was like, “I’m counting down the times that I have to put this race suit on.” When I get to Tokyo, that’s all I could think of. My last race was a Friday and I’m like, “After that, I never have to put a race suit on again.”

I’m curious about what you’re going to decide. We’re going to have to follow you closely so that we know how this all turns out.

It will be hard. I won’t make the decision until things start to resolve and I get back in the water and see how I feel. Maybe I’ll be strong because of all my biking that I’ve been able to do and the water will feel good. For sure, I’ll want to continue. I’m not going to rush the decision, so that I can make it with my heart and not with my head.

What is your swimming style? What adjustments are made for swimming with your condition?

I start in the water. I don’t go off the diving block. We compete in classification so that we’re racing people who are most like us because disabilities are different in ability. I’m a class four for most strokes, an SB3 for breaststroke. Most of the fours, almost all of us are water starts. That’s the one difference. There are some changes in rules. I only have partial use of my left arm. I only have to touch the wall with one hand, whereas in some strokes you need to touch it with both and things like that. They’ve made adjustments.

That’s helpful. Thank you. Do you mind sharing what exactly happened in Rio?

About four days out before the competition, I had an ear infection and then I got a frog in my throat. Unfortunately, many people got ear infections from the pool. Unfortunately, for me, the ear infection traveled. As my ears and my sinuses drained it went into my lungs and that’s when I developed a chest infection and pneumonia. I was in such denial because about four days out, someone asked me if I was getting sick and I don’t get sick. I’m fit. I’m strong. I don’t tend to get a lot of colds, flu and things. I was like, “I’m fine.”

The next day I was on my back in the room and I thought, “I am definitely sick.” It went down from there. My first race was the 50 butterfly. It was my best shot for making the final and getting a good ranking in it. I didn’t go the best time and I missed the finals and then it continued. The worst I felt was when I had 50 breaststrokes, which isn’t my best event. I still wanted to do my best in everything. I raced 50 breaststroke and my coaches and the team doctor kept suggesting that I don’t race it and I was like, “This may be my only Paralympic game. I don’t care. You can pick me up off the bottom of the pool but I’m getting off the block.”

I only remember the first 25 of the breaststrokes and it was the fastest 25 I’d done but I couldn’t hold on because my lung capacity was bad. I had my longest race, which is the 150 IM. In my classification, we don’t do the butterfly in the IM. We do the backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. Even on a good day, that’s my most difficult race because it’s the longest. It’s not a straight swim. It was hard without the lungs. I had a 2 or 3-day break before I swam 50 free. I managed to save things a little bit. I had started to feel slightly better and I went under my best time, still not enough to make a final but at least enough to feel like I had accomplished a little bit of what I wanted to.

To be sick, even if you’re feeling better and to still have one of your best times, you must have been determined.

I knew it was my last shot and I knew I needed to salvage something to have it still be a good experience. I put everything I had into that last race.

With this whole thing with COVID, what a shocker, nobody expected any of this to get to where it is. How did you feel at the end of Rio compared to how you’re feeling about Tokyo not happening at all?

I still felt better about Tokyo because it’s very much out of my control. I know getting sick in Rio was technically also out of my control, but it didn’t feel like that at that moment. This being such a worldwide thing, it’s simpler to accept because we’re all in the same position.

It’s not just you.

Every swimmer that I know or speak to from any country is out of the water and is going through the same thing so it’s a little bit easier.

As you talk to them, are you encountering the same thought process that you’re going through, like, “Will I even compete?”

Yeah. It’s mostly the most difficult for the group of us who are retiring. I’m already married and my husband and I chose not to have children, but there are some who are like, “We’ve been putting off our wedding because we wanted to do it after Tokyo and we were going to start a family after Tokyo.” For some people, one more year doesn’t seem like a big deal but when you’ve been putting however many years most of us have into it already, it’s a long time.

Especially when you only get a bite at that apple once every four years, if you were ready, but after the last one you’re like, “I’ll do one more cycle.” Now, you kicked it off 5 years instead of 4 years.

The Paralympic year is the hardest year anyways. We have the most competitions to get ready. We have the most training, the most pressure. To be close and then to have to redo it all, it is a mentally challenging aspect for a lot of us that were planning to be finished.

While all of this is going on in your life, the training and the Olympics and all that, do you have a day job?

How does that work?

I’m fortunate. I get to train full-time. I get to be jock and train.

I wouldn’t think you would have enough time if you had a full-time job to train.

A lot of Canadian athletes do have to have both as our funding isn’t that much. I’m fortunate I own a company with my husband and I have some other income, so I haven’t had to worry about it. It is challenging. I couldn’t imagine having a job and training full-time.

I can’t either. It was too much whenever I was training for my half marathon.

She’s like, “Half marathon? Do you know what I call that? Breakfast.”

I only do short things. I haven’t done an endurance event for years.

They’re big events. When exactly did you end up getting your Peloton?

I have the app. Not the bike at first because I’ve done the handcycle. It must have been March 16th. It was the first ride I did.

You’re coming up on your first full month.

I’m almost a month. I love it so much. I should hit my 50 rides because I’ll do one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

I know you said you did the 47 rides in that many weeks, but I didn’t realize that was also the start date. I thought that you counted that much. I didn’t realize that it was the first day.

That was the first day that I’ve downloaded the app and started from there.

I hope you get a shout out. You won’t get a shout out because they’re not filming live classes.

I’ll have to wait until my 100 or 250 or something.

I don’t know if we’ll be doing live classes by your 100th.

Sometimes I have to put three classes together to get my full-time. I’ll do a twenty-minute class for a warm-up and then a 45-minute class and then I’ll do a cool down class.

You’ll be to 100 in no time. Hopefully, they’ll be back soon.

You use a hand bike. Do they have special stationary hand bikes? Did you have to modify a road hand bike? How does that work?

We need to keep our quality of life up and do what we can do to stay motivated and stay happy. Share on X

It’s my road bike. It’s my racing bike when I was in triathlon. They have made a special roller for the front wheel. It’s a little different than a trainer for a two-wheel bike, but it’s the same concept. I ride with a heart rate monitor. I can adjust the resistance. The trainer I use doesn’t have resistance but I change my gears to make it harder.

That’s a form of resistance. You can’t necessarily apples it.

She’s got it under control.

I try and judge my zone by my heart rate. If I take a Power Zone class or a Heart Rate Zone class, then I can fit right in the rest of them. If they talk about levels, then I try to work whatever I’m supposed to work that day based on my swim plan anyway.

Do you feel comfortable sharing your leaderboard name and how you came up with it?

I’m ParalympianTJ. It’s simply because I’m a Paralympian and then TJ is my initials. That’s my name.

It’s simple. Hopefully you’ll pick up some followers if you want them.

I would love them.

I have no doubt.

Any support and high fives. I know we’re riding on-demand classes but there is still that little piece that tells you who’s riding during that same time. To me, it’s the same.

I guarantee you, people are going to be like, “How do I stack up again a Paralympian who’s amazing?” You’re going to smoke everybody.

I know you’re fairly new to the world of Peloton but you’re not new to the world of athletics. Do you have any advice for people that are starting their Peloton journey?

It’s the same advice that I give when I do speaking presentations. There’s a lot of expectation once we start something that everything has to be rah-rah, happy, positive and wonderful. There are going to be days where the Bike is great. There are going to be days where it’s not great. You still do it regardless. It’s important to let the bad days be bad days. During this difficult time too, people need to know that we need to keep our quality of life up and do what we can do to stay motivated and stay happy. If there’s a day where you’re going to be on the couch or stay in bed for a couple of hours, that’s okay too. You try not to let it extend into more days. Have that day and then move on.

That’s great advice.

I always think about it in terms of if I’m trying to eat appropriately.

You’re trying not to eat ten donuts in only one a day.

You have five donuts and you’re like, “Might as well have five more now.” I was like, “You shouldn’t.”

How do you take that advice and also make sure that you’re getting the proper rest? I feel like I’m comfortable at this point in my journey because I’m not trying to be an Olympian. Whenever I first started working out all the time, I felt guilty when I would take a rest day. How do you balance that? There’s going to be days you don’t feel like it. How do you tell the difference between a day you don’t feel like it because your body needs a rest or because you are in a blah place?

You learn the difference in your body as you go through. As you train, you learn, whether you’re being whiny, pouty and don’t want to do it or you genuinely need a day. Those differences come in. As athletes, whether you’re high level or not, it can be hard to embrace the rest and that’s the hardest part for me. I would be more likely to over train every day than to undertrain. Embracing the rest and looking forward to it, scheduling it, planning it, and then planning something exciting for that rest time. For example, I had planned to ride twice and I was tired. I’ve been doing a lot of different Zoom calls and business calls and all this stuff. My husband is still working but he’d been around a little bit too much. I was like, “I’m tired. I’ve been working hard. I haven’t been slacking. I’m going to lay on the couch with my dog and watch a movie.” When I made the decision, I fully embrace it. Then I was like, “Friday, you’re back to doubles on the Bike.” I did a Bike in a weight session, so back to doubles. It’s taking those breaks and embracing them but not letting them be too common or more common.

That’s good advice. It’s helpful.

Before we go, where can people find you on the interwebs if you would like to be found?

Mostly I’m on Twitter, @TJ_Cunnington. I also have my own webpage, I just got that up and going in the last while to continue to build my speaking business. That’s what I love to do next to sports, to share my story and try and share some funny stories of the path that brought me here as well as emotional stories and to bring some brightness to people that way hopefully. Those are the two main ways you can get in touch with me.

I’m going to throw you a curveball. What’s your favorite funny story?

The story that I share the most often is I’ve been in a chair going on 38 years. Most of the time it’s second nature, nothing happens, nothing goes wrong. A couple of years ago, I was at Costco and it was snowy, miserable, icy on the ground and I fell getting out of my vehicle. I was mad and I had to take my own advice and feel the feelings and accept the moment. I sat in the snow and cried a little bit in the middle of the Costco parking lot. Finally I was like, “Screw it. I still have to get up and go to Costco.” I drag myself up, brush the snow off and went and got the food that I needed to fuel the training that I was doing at that time.

You’re awesome. That’s a fabulous story. I am the person to sit in the middle of the Costco parking lot.

Many people are like, “Get up and go.” I was like, “I’m going to be pissed off and frustrated for a few minutes, and then I’ll get back up.”

You’ve earned it. Here’s my takeaway. Here’s my glass-half-full mentality. That sucks, but it could have been worse. You could’ve been at Sam’s. Do they even have Sam’s in Canada? My joke might make no sense.

In the east, but not where I live.

Sam’s is the Walmart version of Costco.

They’re not as nice, bright and happy as Costco.

TCO 157 | Paralympic Swimmer


They definitely have a lot more of a warehouse vibe. I love Costco. I talk about Costco the way other people talk about their religion. I’m like, “Have you heard the good news?”

He’s into Costco almost as much as I’m into Peloton.

I love me some coffee.

There’s a lot of oversized junk food at Costco for you.

There are salted caramel things they have.

Those are like crack.

They have the pretzel crisps which I like, but then they had chocolate-covered pretzel crisps.

I have not seen those.

At Christmas time, they have peppermint candy cane-covered pretzel crisps. Those are delightful.

You need to get on the Bike.

I’m going to be following closely to see what decision you make. Maybe you could come back to the show and tell us whatever you decide.

We’d love to get some updates.

That would be awesome. I’d love that.

Either way, if you decide not to go, we can hear all the decision why. If you do go, you can come back and tell us about how it was.

That sounds great.

Thank you for taking the time out of your day to join us.

Thank you for having me. I appreciate it a lot.

Thank you. You be safe and healthy. We will be in touch.

That sounds great. Take care.

You too.

That brings another one to a close. What pray tell do you have in store for people next episode?

I am so excited about this one. This might be one of my favorite conversations to watch that I’ve ever had. That is you and Brandie Posey, who is a comedian talking about comedy, going toe to toe. Guys, you need to make sure you read this.

I got to nerd out.

It was in a good way. You’re going to learn a lot and it’s not going to be boring. I swear, it’s absolutely fascinating. Some of the weird stuff Tom does, she does too. I had no idea. I thought it was just Tom. You’ve got to read this.

I guess that’s what they can brace themselves for. Until then, where can people find you?

The Bike, the Tread, Instagram, Twitter, all on @ClipOutCrystal. If you want to find me on Facebook, I’m there at

You can find me on Twitter, @RogerQBert or on Facebook at You can find the show online at While you’re there, like the page, join the group. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. That’s it for this one. Thanks for tuning in. Until next time, keep pedaling and running.

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