Freestyling With Champion Swimmer and Peloton Member Kathleen Baker
Name: Kathleen Baker
Life motto: “Trust the process and have faith.”
Favorite hype music: Hip hop … or country!
Did you know? A true water-lover, Kathleen also enjoys a good surfing session.
Fun fact: The act of swimming recruits every major muscle group in the body. Regardless of stroke or style, the sheer power of slicing through water against its tremendous resistance leaves no fiber untouched. It goes without saying, then, that the athleticism required to be a swimmer is top tier, and the lifestyle that accompanies it demands a high degree of precision. But ask Kathleen Baker, former world record-holder and two-time Olympic medalist, and the central undercurrent she’ll point out to you about being a champion swimmer is respect. Respect for the sport, respect for the water, respect for the body. Inspired from her youth by Michael Phelps and having dedicated her life thus far to swimming, Kathleen knows better than most what it takes to find success in the pool—and much of it stems from what happens outside of it.
The former world record-holder in the 100-meter backstroke, Kathleen medaled twice at the 2016 Rio Olympics—a silver and a gold to her name. “But overall,” she tells us when speaking of her greatest accomplishments in the sport, “I'm grateful to be able to make a living as a professional swimmer, doing what I love.” This, to be sure, is a labor of love. Between intense training blocks in the pool and Sundays dedicated to recharging her batteries, there isn’t a day that goes by that isn't in service of chasing her biggest goals. All of this, though, manifests as steadfast self-assurance come meet day. “Before I compete, I repeat this to calm my nerves: ‘Relax, you’ve done the work.’ I am able to trust that I can relax, because I know that I’ve done everything I can to prepare.”
Professional athlete or not, preparation is key, and Peloton is one of Kathleen’s major keys to preparation. After becoming a Member in April 2020 in search of a fun way to stay in shape while pools were closed, Kathleen has become an expert at finding just the right classes on her Bike and the app to fit every scenario. When she needs to build aerobic capacity? HIIT rides. On rest days? Stretching. For cross-training? Core strength. Let go and break a sweat with friends? Dance cardio. And about that Leaderboard ... “I use it as competition! I love seeing where I stand, because no matter where I fall, I can use it as motivation to focus on improving myself. I also love being able to connect with friends across the country and feeling like I'm there in person.”
Aside from the fact that she also loves to surf (hey, John Florence!), something you may not know about Kathleen is that she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age 13. “There’s not a day that goes by that it doesn’t affect me,” she says, “even when I’m not showing it.” As she’s grown up while coming into her own as a pro swimmer, Kathleen’s found her methods to keep maxing out her potential in spite of her chronic condition. “I lean on my national team swim community a lot ...They know the struggle and sacrifice it takes to be an Olympic swimmer. Also, having a really great relationship with my coach helps me daily, and my family and boyfriend are my biggest supporters. They are always there to pick up the phone and listen to me go off about some crazy set I just did in practice, or hear me vent after a hard day!” And, as has been a common theme with all the champion athletes we’ve spoken with, mindset is of paramount importance. “It always feels good when you can leave practice doing something better than you thought you could. On bad days when I am not hitting my times in practice, I try to pick one thing to work on so I can still end on a positive note.”
Back on dry land, it’s time to train with Kathleen, just like she trains with Peloton. From HIIT rides to core strength sessions sandwiched between warm ups and stretches, check out all four days of Kathleen’s handpicked stacks below. Find all the classes in the Champions Collection now!