No Name Supper Club, Los Angeles
The amply bearded chef of the quasi-secret supper club No Name opened his first restaurant 16 years ago. Like all new business owners, Jared Simons was on the job every morning and night. He pounded kilojoules, drank too much, and worked into the wee hours. He ballooned to 91kg, way too much for his 1.79m frame. “One day I woke up and felt like death,” he recalls. That was nine years ago.
Then a friend introduced Simons to five-day-a-week high-intensity training. He dropped most of the weight, so he could at least eat and drink without guilt. He was happy, Simons says – for a while. “I think I looked pretty good from the outside,” he comments.
In the autumn of 2015, he saw a story online about the “Vegan Ironman”, singer John Joseph of the punk-turned-thrash band Cro-Mags. Here was a man in his 50s, Simons recalls, who was “crushing triathlons”. So Simons bought a bike, picked a doable race (an Olympic-length tri ), and set a timeline of four and a half months (see p96 if you want to train for a tri yourself).
As an early riser who didn’t have to be at work until the afternoon, Simons’s problem wasn’t time. He worried most about fuel. He was 38 years old, and wanted to find a way to stoke his energy and stay healthy. “And I kept coming back to Joseph’s story and a plant-based diet.”
Simons adopted a strict vegan diet, despite working full-time in a place that served rich food. Five weeks later, he says, “I felt amazing.” He was leaner and stronger. His wife said he was no longer snoring. He felt more energetic, even though he required less sleep.
Encouraged by the changes, Simons kept pushing. He joined the LA Triathlon Club, hired a coach, and went gonzo on training. He was spending two to four hours a day running, biking, swimming, and working out. The gym he built in his Hollywood Hills garage has TRX straps, a Concept2 rower, a Keiser spin bike, and weights. A year later, he had finished three Olympic-length triathlons and a half Ironman.
Simons isn’t finished yet. He’s just entered his first full Ironman race, Sonoma County’s Ironman Vineman.
“I literally feel like I’ve become superhuman,” Simons says of his new body. “Doing all this has brought health back into my life. I’m not just working out so I can look good. It’s now a lifestyle, and it’s about how I feel. I’m probably adding years back to my life.”