General Beginner Program FAQs

What do I need to bring to the beginner program info session?
Just yourself!  Feel free to come in casual clothes or straight from work – no workout gear required!  This will be a chance to meet the team, meet the coaches, pick up your gear and learn important details about what to expect over the course throughout the program.

Can I attend the info session if I’m not yet signed up for the program?
Absolutely!  There is no obligation to sign up, but if you decide you want to join, you’re welcome to at the event.

Are the race entry fees included in the cost of the program?
Most of the time, no.  Sometimes, yes.  All athletes that participate in our first beginner program receive a free race entry into the ITU World Triathlon Bermuda (a $220 value).   Most other club races offer a discount (10-50%) for all program participants.  Athletes will receive a discount code to use upon registering for the program.  Races like the NYC Triathlon do not offer a discount but we do have a number of guaranteed entries set aside for program participants even after the race is sold out.

I’m an experienced (runner/cyclist/swimmer) but I’ve never done a tri before.  Am I going to be held back?
No.  Many athletes in this program have run a half or full marathon, biked over 50 miles, or swam competitively at some point in their life!  Every athlete has different strengths and weaknesses.  You might be a GREAT runner, but have no experience swimming or biking.  At all of our workouts, pace groups are formed and we offer modifications to accommodate athletes of different ability levels.  The beginner program and tri club meet at the same time and place most of the time.  Therefore, more advanced athletes may run/bike with the club if they are looking for a more advanced workout.

How fit do I need to be to enter the program?
Session 1 builds up to a sprint distance triathlon.  We recommend athletes be able to run (or run/walk) 1.7 miles, bike 5-6 miles, and swim 200m at the start of the program.  Sessions 2 & 3 build up to an Olympic distance triathlon, so we recommend athletes be able to run (or run/walk) 3 miles, bike 15 miles and swim 800m.  If you’re not quite up to those distances, we recommend building a base before the program begins so that you’re comfortable with those distances at the start of the program.  If you can’t get outdoors, we recommend taking spin classes and running on a treadmill.  There are many public pools in NYC which are reasonably priced (such as Riverbank State Park – $3/swim).  We offer private coaching and personal training as well, as well as an extra support package which comes with a consultation and 3 personal training sessions.

I’m ready to get started NOW!  Do I have to wait until the next program begins!?
The Empire Tri Club hosts a variety of group classes and training camps year round, so check here to get a jump start on your training and build a strong fitness base for the season!

What equipment will I need to do this program?
We know that many of you are NEW to triathlon, and don’t have most of the gear.  That’s why we want to ensure you that you can do this program on minimal equipment, and we will offer discounts & shopping nights for you to save as much as possible as you stock up on gear. Here is a list of the basic equipment that you will need for the program:

•  Bike
•  Helmet
•  Flat repair kit & lights for your bike
•  Hydration (Can bring water bottles in cages mounted to your bike, a Camelbak, etc.)
(for safety reasons, a helmet and lights are required for attending our group rides)
•  Bike Pump (pump your tires before EVERY ride!)
•  Comfortable bike & run apparel
•  Running Shoes
•  Swim Goggles
•  Swim Cap (optional but required at some pools and recommended especially if you have long hair)
•  Swimsuit (for training)

Optional gear for race day:
•  Wetsuit
•  Tri Suit (one or 2 piece – optional for race day)
•  Race Number Belt
•  Clip in bike shoes (optional – sneakers are ok for this program!)

A full race day checklist can be found here.  We are listing the most basic equipment needed to do a tri above.  Visit the Empire Tri Club website for all of our team apparel.  We don’t sell online (it’s only a look book), but you can stock up on gear at any of our team uniform events.

I’m already signed up for a different triathlon.  Can I do that race instead?
Yes, no problem.  If your race is more than a few weeks apart from our final team event, you may need to make slight modifications to the plan to ensure you’re properly trained & recovered for race day.

I Want to do Beginner Program Session 2 or 3, but I prefer to race a Sprint instead of the Olympic. Will this program be too advanced for me?
No, you will be just fine!  The lessons and workouts are all basic and instructional to teach you the fundamentals you need to know to prepare for your first triathlon.  Consult one of the coaches about how to best modify the training plan and cut back some of the mileage if you are training for a shorter race. 

I have a conflict and can’t do any of the team races.  Can I still do the program?
Yes, no problem.  We encourage athletes to do the team races if you can, but understand that not every athlete will be able to make it.

What happens after the program ends?  Is there an option to continue training with the club?
Yes.  We will provide a discounted membership offer to athletes who wish to continue training with Empire Tri Club.  Each year 60-80% of the athletes in our program continue training with Empire for the remainder of the season!

Do you offer make up sessions for missed classes?
No.  We understand that everyone leads busy lives, and hope you can make it to as many sessions as possible!  We do our best to keep workouts on rain or shine, but may need to cancel select sessions due to inclimate weather or unforeseen circumstances.  On those days, we will do our best to provide athletes with an alternative workout.  In the event that our pool or open water swim sessions gets cancelled, we will reschedule those classes.

Can you recommend a pool?
Many gyms in NYC have pools including New York Health & Racquet Club, Equinox, New York Athletic Club, New York Sports Club, West End Fitness, Asphalt Green and Chelsea Piers.  Some additional resources include:

NYC Park and Rec Centers
Riverbank State Park
Lasker Pool in Central Park
Free Outdoor Pools in NYC
Coney Island Beach for open water swimming

I don’t have a bike yet.  What kind of bike do you recommend I get?
We recommend getting an entry level road bike.  You can also do this program on a hybrid, mountain or tri bike.  However, tri bikes are typically for more advanced cyclists and we don’t expect many athletes in this program to have one (or get one) if you’re new to cycling.  A mountain bike or hybrid will do just fine, but are generally heavier and a little more challenging to maneuver, so we find that a road bike is best!  We DON’T recommend using a fold up bike, fixed gear, single speed, beach cruiser, Citibike, or “friends bike” that doesn’t fit you properly.

Should I buy all my equipment before joining the program?
No!  Empire athletes get discounts on TONS of gear!  Wait until you join and you’ll have access to our member discount page which offers you discounts online and at local shops. Additionally, we set up a number of team shopping nights so you can save even more on gear at these events!  Plus, club members are always looking to sell, give away and swap gear, so you may even be able to get something used or handed down instead of having to buy it new!

I have never clipped in to a bike before.  Do I need to for this program?
No.  Sneakers and flat pedals are ok for this program!  However, if you’re looking to get into cycling more seriously, we strongly recommend you consider getting shoes and pedals that allow you to clip in.  You will find that they make you a much stronger and more efficient rider!  If you’ve never used clips before, don’t feel pressure to use them on day 1.  Feel free to attend the first (few weeks) or workouts using what’s comfortable to you, and switch when you feel ready.

Can I do my bike training by taking spin classes or on my own indoor trainer?
Yes!  Especially in the winter and early spring, many athletes choose to train on an indoor trainer and follow the posted workouts in Training Peaks.  You may also use apps like Trainer Road, Flywheel (Fly Anywhere) or Peleton to follow coached bike sessions.

You may also take indoor cycling classes at facilities such as Tailwind Endurance, Swerve, Flywheel, Equinox, Ride Brooklyn, Asphalt Green and Chelsea Piers (some of these facilities require you to bring your own bike.  Others are on stationary indoor bikes)  Find out if you need to BYO shoes or if they provide them. And try to attend classes that most simulate outdoor cycling.  While taking a class, ask yourself “is this something I would do on a bike outdoors”.  There is a wide range of classes and some are more “dance party” while others are more “cycling” focused!

What is the beginner program group training schedule?

Session 1 (Jan – April): The program includes 1 group workout EVERY WEEK which includes:

  • Coached Thursday Night Run, Meet at 6:45pm on the SW corner of Central Park at Columbus Circle / Run starts at 7pm

Session 2 (April – July): The program includes 3 group workouts EVERY WEEK which include:

  • Coached Monday Night Bike Ride, Meet at 6:45pm on the SW corner of Central Park at Columbus Circle / Ride starts at 7pm
  • Coached Tuesday Night Core + 4 Workout, Meet at 6:45pm on the SW corner of Central Park at Columbus Circle / Workout starts at 7pm
  • Coached Thursday Night Run, Meet at 6:45pm on the SW corner of Central Park at Columbus Circle / Run starts at 7pm

Additionally, both programs include 4 hours of coached swim instruction, a number of pop-up classes both outdoors and at various facilities around NYC, clinics, info sessions and guest speakers.  Bag drop is available at the NY Running Co. by Jackrabbit (2nd Floor) of the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle.  There are changing rooms, bathrooms and lockers available. BYO lock if you want to secure your belongings. Wear comfortable workout attire. Pace groups will be formed. All abilities are welcome. We try to keep workouts on rain or shine but in the event of a cancellation you will receive an email by 5:30pm on workout days. 

How do I communicate with the coaches and other athletes in the program?
All program participants are added to our Google Group communication forum.  We use the Google Group to communicate with athletes in the program, share helpful articles, and send updates about workout changes or cancellations.  We encourage you to use this group to communicate with each other, sell/swap gear, and plan meet ups outside of our group workouts, and coordinate house shares and carpooling for the team race!

What is Training Peaks?
At the start of the program, all athletes are connected to our training plan by way of a program called Training Peaks.  Training Peaks allows you to view workouts (that we do as a group and on your own), as well as track your progress.  Athletes receive electronic delivery of their workouts daily. Additionally, you can view your workout calendar by logging into the Training Peaks website or downloading the free app on your phone.  If you want to utilize advanced features, you may choose to upgrade your account to Premium (although it is not required for this program).

How do you recommend getting my bike to Bermuda for the Team Race?
Athletes have 2 options – Rent a bike down there or transport your bike to the race. Here are some helpful resources:

Taking your bike on the plane – You can take your bike on the plane with you. You will need a bike travel case which you can buy or rent!  Typically the cost is $150 to check your bike on the plane, each direction (please check with your airline). Plus you will need to disassemble and reassemble it on either side.
Bike Transport Company (TBD) – A little pricier, but eliminates must of the hassle.  Your bike will be picked up in NYC and transported to the race site fully assembled and ready to ride. After the race, drop it off at the race site and it will be transported back to NYC.
Shipping your bike: Details to Come!
Renting a bike: Details to Come!

Hopefully this answers all of your questions you have, but if we missed anything, please email us at