My light bulb moment:

This article was first published on 13th February 2018 by Emma Rowley

My light bulb moment: Triathlon company founder says she wanted to help train mature athletes after hearing people say they were ‘too old for this’

  • Jo Lewis, 62, is co-founder of Tri50, which trains mature athletes for triathlons
  • She said she’s always used exercise to give her the energy she wants in life
  • Her light bulb moment came when she was away at a training camp in 2010 

Jo Lewis, 62, is the co-founder of Tri50, which trains mature athletes for triathlons. 

She lives in Buckinghamshire with her partner, Ted, who is retired from the RAF, and has two adult sons.

I’d always said to myself, I hope I stay fit. When I was growing up, my mum was always so unwell.

She had various health problems and became an alcoholic, while my father, a doctor, tried to keep the family together. When she died at 60 of a cerebral haemorrhage, she was about to start kidney dialysis and had very high blood pressure.

I vowed that I would never follow her into hospital — and I never have, apart from when I had my two boys. When they were young, I played squash and tennis, as well as swimming and running, and worked as a swimming coach. I’ve always used exercise to give me the energy I want in life.

Jo Lewis, 62, is co-founder of company Tri50, which trains mature athletes for triathlons

Aged 47, I had my fastest times as a runner, but my father told me: ‘It’s not so good for those joints.’

I got a bike, and started dabbling in triathlons. I loved it. With triathlon’s three sports (swimming, cycling and running), you can’t be bored.


This article was first published on 2nd February 2018 by Tabatha Fabray

Are you passionate about health and fitness? Not sure how and where to start? Do you fancy a new and exciting physical challenge for 2018? Or do you simply want the opportunity to broaden your horizons and make new friends?

Triathlons are set to be a massive fitness trend this year, with a surge in mature athletes signing up to push themselves to their limits. If you’re 50+ and thinking this might not be for you, we’re here to tell you otherwise.

A standard distance triathlon consists of three disciplines; swimming, cycling and running. Designed to test your endurance, physical fitness and mental strength, taking part in a triathlon is no light undertaking. However, the rewards and sense of achievement on completion are apparently unrivalled.

I spoke to Jo Lewis, co-founder of Tri50, which offers triathlon training days, camps and workshops specifically designed for mature male and female aspiring athletes, to see what the attraction is. I met up with Jo last week, and this is what she had to say:

Hi Jo, let’s start at the beginning – what gave you the idea for Tri50?
“It was a pure lightbulb moment. I was away on a Level 3 triathlon coaching course weekend in 2010 when I sat up in bed and realised there must be a niche market for mature athletes in triathlon.

“I’d witnessed first-hand enthusiastic athletes over 50 becoming demoralised when training with their younger counterparts, and wished to create a safe, welcoming and caring environment in which to train and become healthier at their pace, which also met their specific needs as more mature athletes. Tri50 was born.”

There are many elements of this sport that appeal to the mature individual; it’s a multi-discipline sport that embraces all the different muscle groups

What’s the attraction of a triathlon for over-50s?
“There are many elements of this sport that appeal to the mature individual; it’s a multi-discipline sport that embraces all the different muscle groups. This means you’re not constantly overloading the same joints and muscles, thereby reducing the risk of injury compared to a single sport. Also, don’t forget the opportunity to meet new people with similar interests to your own and, most importantly, the variety makes it fabulous fun!”

Can you tell us a bit about what you offer at Tri50?
“My fellow coach and co-founder Sandra and I offer a wide variety of services, including swim camps, triathlon camps, and coaching. There’s something for all age groups and the camps take place in some amazing locations.”

(Details of these below)

All we ask is that athletes are willing and have passion, motivation and an enthusiasm to try something new

Some of our readers may be thinking, ‘Can I do this? I have limited or no experience’. What would you say to them?
“One doesn’t need to be an amazing athlete, have previous experience with the sport, or be in peak physical condition; all we ask is that athletes are willing and have passion, motivation and an enthusiasm to try something new.

“Tri50’s current most mature athlete is 75 years old and thriving. Many 50 and 60-year-olds continue to pass through our hands, and firm friendships have been made, which is wonderful to witness.

“Both mature ourselves, Sandra and I will nurture you as you learn, and are relentlessly patient in helping you set and achieve your goals, whatever they may be. I coached Theresa May (and her husband) as a total beginner for many years (nine, to be exact!). Theresa even managed to complete an underwater handstand!”

Jo Lewis and Sandra Barden – L3 Triathlon Coaches, Coach Educators and GB current Age-Group Competitors

How can our readers get involved in this sport?
“Join a local leisure centre (try and find one you enjoy attending) where you know you’ll feel comfortable and welcome.

“Seek the advice of a qualified triathlon coach – not only will they be able to pass on years of experience, but they’ll ensure that individuals don’t overstretch their body’s capabilities, and will know how to take them at their own pace, alongside taking them out of their comfort zone, one step at a time.

“Try aqua jogging or swimming first – these activities are a great way to build up your fitness and endurance levels, while being low-impact and putting less strain on your body.

“Dust off one’s old shopping bike, sitting in the garage, and just enjoy cycling, which is another great way to increase your fitness while being low impact. Ladies can join ‘Breeze’, a free organisation sponsored by HSBC, which runs novice group rides. The benefits of cycling outdoors cannot be over-emphasised – it’s invigorating, exciting, surprisingly fun and sociable.

Sport is the ideal outlet to get your mojo back

“Sign up for a training camp such as Tri50’s triathlon and/or swimming camps – they offer expertise, encouragement, support and great camaraderie. What are you waiting for?”

Any final words of encouragement?
“If you’ve lost confidence and find yourself stuck in a rut after years of putting others’ health and wellbeing ahead of yours, through sport and exercise, you can get a renewed positivity and confidence for life. Sport is the ideal outlet to get your mojo back.”



Swim Camp – Sands Beach Resort, Lanzarote, 23rd April to 28th April 2018
This is geared to all age groups and ability levels (100m continuous swim is our minimum joining requirement). Our fully-coached swim camp takes place in beautiful Lanzarote at the end of April, and offers daily coached pool and sea swims, underwater filming to improve technique and awareness, and a personalised six-week swim training programme to take home. Ideal for those wanting to improve their general swim ability and/or prepare for the upcoming race season.

Triathlon Camp – Sands Beach Resort, Lanzarote, 29th April to 6th May 2018
For those wanting to develop skills in all elements of a triathlon, this camp offers swimming, running and cycling coaching, delivered by experienced and professional coaches. Mature athletes will also receive endurance and interval training across all the disciplines together, with general conditioning and strength exercises, nutrition and heart rate training principles, which are must-haves for injury-free success in this challenging sport.

Company Team Coaching – available all year round, on request
Want to inject some positivity into your workforce? Our corporate triathlon training days are inspiring, fun and a great way to encourage employees to lead a healthier lifestyle, and therefore become more productive in the workplace.

Bespoke coaching – available all year round, on request
Tri50 offers a personalised service to suit individual needs, be it help overcoming an injury, or fear of a particular element of the sport. Sandra and I focus on fulfilling individual requirements as a mature athlete.

Why not register your interest today? You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain! Visit for further information on how to get started.

Tri50’s own, Jo Lewis, takes 1st place in the European Aquathlon Championships in Bratislava!

Joanna Lewis GBR, racing in the 60-64 category, led home the British trio in the women’s race. Her opening swim gave her almost three minutes to play with. A closing run that was enough to win but not faster than one of her opponents, gave her the title once more. She has been World Aquathlon Champion before, back in 2006. She took the title in Pontevedra in 2011 in the Sprint and just to show it was not a fluke, won in 2012 in Eilat. The 2015 title was hers in 2015 in Köln and this weekend, the European title is once again in her hands. Silver went to Gina Coulson and bronze to Karen Hames.

Why train with power?

So, you have a bike, and you want to get fit – whether that’s for sportives, racing, weight loss or some other reason. At first, getting fitter seems relatively simple – just riding slightly longer, harder, or both, than you’ve done previously. However, after a while, using this simple method you’re likely to plateau quite quickly. Having a power meter takes the guesswork out of what you’re doing and will help you (and/or your coach if you’re lucky enough to have one) – you’ll be able to drill down and see exactly what’s happening. But, how do you use one to start getting improved results? This brief guide will help you decide the way forward.
No doubt about it, a power meter is an expensive piece of kit. So, they’re just for the pros, right? Wrong. Absolutely wrong. In all the years I’ve been coaching, there is one thing I’m certain of: using a power meter is just as important for less lofty aspirations as it is for the pros. In fact, the less time you have available to train, the more important it is to train correctly (if you want to see improvements in your fitness).

Having a power meter will enable you to see where you got dropped on your group ride, or race, see how well you paced a solo effort, and allow you to calculate your energy expenditure while riding, along with many other things.

What you need to get started?

There are a variety of power meters that are available. Some power meters are based in the cranks (Pioneer, Stages, 4iiii), some in the pedals (Garmin and Power Tap Pedals) and some in the hub (Power Tap Hubs).

Crank-based power meters work by ascertaining the power you develop on your left leg and then doubling it up for overall power. This enables the power meter to be less expensive than a unit that measures total power and is good if both legs produce power equally.

Stages Shimano Ultegra Power Meter

Stages Shimano Ultegra Power Meter

Depending on the model, the pedal system ascertains power from one or both legs…

Garmin Vector 2 double-sided power meter system

Garmin Vector 2 double-sided power meter system

…while the hub based power meter ascertains total power arriving at the hub.

Powertap G3 Shimano Hub

Powertap G3 Shimano Hub

Accuracy is highest from power meters that ascertain both legs’ power or total power, but these are also more expensive.

The pedals and cranks are easy to swap between bikes as long as you have a similar set up on both bikes, while the Power Tap hub, which is built into a wheel is less easy to swap if you have different set ups (e.g. if you had Shimano equipment on one bike and Campagnolo equipment on another; or if one bike is a road bike and the other is a mountain bike, etc).

With the pedal set up this would be easy to swap between bikes with different groupsets or to a different style bike.

Additionally, there are also smart turbo trainers available which have built-in (accurate) power meters such as the Tacx Neo, Flux, Cycleops Hammer, BKOOL, etc. However, the downside with these units is that you can only see your power when riding indoors on them.

Donations for our chosen charity; YoungMinds

Over a 10 day period in August Jo Lewis accompanied by her two sons, Anthony and Graham, cycled 1,019 gruelling miles from Lands End to John O’Groats in aid of the YoungMinds Charity.  You can read more about their epic journey in the blog posts below.

YoungMinds is the UK’s leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people. Driven by their experiences they campaign, research and influence policy and practice.

Donations can still be made at the following link:

Fuerteventura Tri50 Training Camp – Day 7
by Dee Philpott

Friday 29th.
Grumpy Mare to Flying Filly
After sun salutations on the plaza, my knees were complaining during a short run. I greeted the prospect of a close formation social cycle without enthusiasm. Sev​eral​ squalks and complaints as I was pushed out of my comfort zone. Things looked up after coffee and I began drafting better. At the end ​I​ was leading the group into Gran Tarajal singing.

Saturday 30th
Departure day
We planned a swim and run before breakfast. As I left my apartment the wind was already rustling the palm trees. Down on the beach a heavy sea was running, but we skipped and stre​t​ched and plunged in. Despite the swell​,​ I achieved two circuits to the near buoy, bilateral breathing and some sighting. No panics. What a difference.

Thanks Jo and Beate, you have made a swimmer of me.​


Fuerteventura Tri50 Training Camp – Day 6
by Vanessa Glyn Jones

This morning was our mini triathlon. Mini in distance but mega in race procedure, concentrating on t1 and t2 and all those extra skills learnt during the previous five days. We opted for a pre breakfast start as it would be cooler and the sea calm. A practice “running start” to begin with, phew, I needed to warm the water. Then we were off running down the beach into the water. A few sighting problems on the way out to the big yellow buoy due to the rising sun, a spectacular sight when not racing, technical turn around the buoy and swift return. Run up the beach wet suit half off and into T1. The cycle course two laps, Jo checking we went round the turnaround roundabout correctly. Managed to get feet out of my shoes in good time before dismount line but then forgot how to dismount, which leg where… not sure what I did but I didn’t fall. Helmet off, quick drink and change of shoes and off for the run, one lap of the complex and I managed a speedy finish…but it was downhill! Breakfast, well deserved by all. Mixture of activities until 5pm coached pool session, cycle plus coffee stop, mountain walk, cycle/walk to local town or feet up by the pool with a good book, sun cream and bottle of water.

The swim session was intense, concentrating on the scull drills, one, two and three and after each drill incorporating them into a full stroke. Finally single arm strokes with paddles and fins, this took me some time to get my head around, breathing to the opposite side, very confusing but was I the only one confused, I don’t think so. The hour was soon over, quick shower and change for our group social dinner at local fish restaurant.


Fuerteventura Tri50 Training Camp – Day 5, Part 2
by Gill Irvine

The afternoon was free time, a chance to sit and read by the pool or to go sightseeing. I had booked a sports massage at the spa. Dee had also booked for the same time. We were shown in to adjoining rooms and for the second time that day I lay on a bed listening to groaning coming from the next room as Dee’s deceptively petite masseuse got to work on the knots in her legs!  

After the massage I lay a bit more by the pool, listened to the radio and dozed. A group of us made dinner plans for later that evening and strolled back to El Podril for some serious steaks. The bottle of red wine might not have been the best pre race preparation for the mini triathlon the next day, but by now we had bought into the Spanish way of eating and enjoying life and the conversation flowed, it was a lovely evening. 

After a beachfront stroll back to the apartments, I did a last minute sort of my kit for tomorrow, prepared my mental mind map as recommended by Beate and so to bed. I put my earplugs in, just in case ….

Fuerteventura Tri50 Training Camp – Day 5, Part 1
by Gill Irvine

Was woken up before six by groans of pleasure coming from the next room. “Can’t be any of us” I thought. “Wrong direction and we’re all too tired!” Luckily my swimming ear plugs were to hand and I drifted back to sleep. Note for next year, the apartments at Las Playitas are lovely, but the walls are thin.

Woke up again at eight having already decided to skip the early morning swim to mark Zoe’s last day. She was very happy at breakfast having done two laps between buoys and clocked up in excess of 3.5 km, good preparation for her 10km swim later in the year. After breakfast was a photo shoot in our Tri50 t-shirts with our very own man from the BBC lining us up beside the pool for a group shot. Half thought he might make us all take a step back, maybe he’s saving that for the last day….

Tri50-CyclingAfter breakfast it was back on the bikes for a group ride to the lighthouse, around 20km there and back with a stiff climb for the last 800m. Running part or all was optional, so I packed running shoes and bike lock in my rucksack. The cycle in was lovely, quiet roads, gentle hills and sunshine. When the road started to climb, Beate and I stopped, changed shoes and locked the bikes to a railing. We debated if we should take our bike shoes with us on the run but reasoned that no one would want two pairs of old cycling shoes, so we attached them to the bike frames, Beate by the Velcro straps and me by the ratchets.

The run up was not elegant, but we made a steady pace with Ted running alongside and talking away. The reception from the crowds (ie the rest of the group) when we reached the top made it all worthwhile, as did the views. After a few more photos (natch!), we set off down again to the bikes, much easier.

We all regrouped as Beate and I unlocked our bikes and made ready for the off. It was then that I realised I couldn’t release the ratchets to get my shoes off the frame. There were plenty of offers of help, but all we managed to do was tighten them even more. In the end I had a bow-legged cycle in my trainers to get back to Las Playitas, luckily it was downhill most of the way.

We stopped for a coffee at the fish restaurant in the village where Jo tackled the owner about closing the other night when we had a reservation. She was very apologetic, might be good for a bottle of wine on the house next time we visit. I waded into the sea to cool off my legs and watched the fish swimming around in the clear water. There are worse ways to spend the day…

Fuerteventura Tri50 Training Camp – Day 4
by Zoe Wheeler

As my alarm went off at 6:30 on Tuesday morning I DID NOT want to get up and swim.  A million excuses (“I’m tired”, “I deserve a lie in”, “the water will be cold”, “I’m not a training athlete”) run through my head. But I am here in Fuerteventura to swim and swim I must so I drag myself down to the beach to rendezvous with the group.  Their gently encouragement, words of wisdom and some training pointers from Jo quickly give me some focus and quieten those voices in my head and for an hour I swim further and faster in open water than I have ever done before. Result!

Unlike the others in the group, I am here to train for an endurance swim rather than triathlon, Jo and Beate have adapted the schedule so that I can fit in my swimming while the others are running or cycling and it’s really paying off. A technical 1-2-1 session in the pool on Monday, the group open water swims and nutritional advice are all giving me a lot to think about, and my swimming feels easier and more fluid.

After breakfast the rest of the group head off for some cycle training and I head back to my room for a rest. I’m looking forward to my interval session in the pool, some feedback from Jo and Beate on the swim videos they took of us all and a session on mental strength this afternoon. Wouldn’t it be great if I could start to wrangle those thoughts?  The ones the say “You can’t do this!”, “You’re not a distance swimmer!”, “Hello, Hola, Hello, Help!” OMG this is not a voice in my head but a dear Swedish lady stuck in the lift in my apartment block.  Her cries for help are heard and Tri50 to the rescue….we plucked the lady from the lift which had got stuck between floors. Phew. 

Some newly learned training techniques with the tempo trainer pushed me harder than ever in the pool and then we sat down to watch the swimming videos.  As I watched myself on the screen the voices creep back; not the encouraging coaching points from Jo but mean self criticism. The next session with Beate could not have been better timed, she talked us through visualisation, positive anchoring, motivation and mind maps amongst other things.  And boy did they work! At 6:30 this morning my alarm went off and I’m out of bed in a flash, on the beach and prepped for a long swim, my last of the week.  My mantra is “Calm, Strong, Confident” and I’ve visualised how this is going to play out… 1.5hrs later, a pb for 4k (ish) and I feel on top of the world.  I may not have stopped the voices in my head but I’ve definitely changed the conversation.