In Recess

Driven by Iron

Austin attorney Marggy Pabon turned to fitness after leaving her law practice in Venezuela

Interview by Adam Faderewski

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Marggy Pabon in the running portion of her rookie triathlon in 2016.
Photo courtesy of Marggy Pabon.

For seven years, Marggy Pabon practiced law in Venezuela, where she worked in politics fighting for democracy. Once a communist system was implemented in her home country, she landed in Austin but found herself without the ability to practice law. She immediately took to fitness—something she had loved for a while—becoming certified in a number of courses, participating in triathlons, and teaching. A few years later, Pabon enrolled in the master’s law program at the University of Texas School of Law, continuing to work as a personal trainer while studying. Once she became licensed to practice law in Texas, her workload increased dramatically, so she had to scale back her fitness regimen. But Pabon, who recently gave birth to her second child, is back in training with hopes of running the Ironman Triathlon in Cozumel, Mexico, in September 2022, just in time for her 40th birthday.

What led you to take up personal training and fitness instruction?
I am originally from Venezuela. I got my license to practice law in Venezuela in 2003. I specialized in administrative law, and I was involved in politics. For many years, I worked with the government opposition fighting for democracy. After a communist system was implemented in Venezuela, I decided to leave my country. I applied for the green card lottery, and I won it. I moved to Austin in 2010, but I did not speak English and I was not able to practice law with my Venezuelan license, so I had to find a way to make a living. I always have been passionate about sports and fitness–I was a ballet dancer for 10 years, was part of my university soccer team, and later in life, I became a runner and a cycling instructor. For these reasons, I decided to find a job in the fitness industry. I started taking other fitness courses and completing certifications as a fitness instructor for Pilates, yoga, Zumba, Aqua Zumba, and others. I got my first job at Gold’s Gym as a cycling instructor and that is how my career in the fitness industry began.

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Marggy Pabon in the swimming portion of her rookie triathlon in 2016.
Photo courtesy of Marggy Pabon.

How long did you work as a personal trainer/instructor?
I worked in the fitness industry for five years, and I worked as a fitness instructor for one year at Gold’s Gym and at the Jewish Community Center Austin. After I completed my personal trainer certification, I started working as a trainer. I worked at Pure Austin Fitness in downtown for four years as a personal trainer and fitness instructor. I stopped working as a personal trainer once I started the master of law at the University of Texas, but I continued to teach fitness classes at Lifetime Fitness until I got the license to practice law in Texas in 2016.

How many triathlons did you do per year on average? What was your level of involvement and competition?
I started doing triathlons here in Austin. I used to do an average of one race a month during triathlon season (May-October). My favorite races were the High Five Events series. While I was a personal trainer, my level of involvement and competition was high. I was committed and training was my life. I used to train an average of 20 hours a week. Since I worked in a gym, it was easier to keep up with the long hours of training. I was in the amateur level, but I placed in the top three in a few races back then.

A picture of Traffic and Traffic Camera
Marggy Pabon in the running portion of her rookie triathlon in 2016.
Photo courtesy of Marggy Pabon.

What'st he longest distance race you've done? What about the toughest?
The longest and the toughest race I have done is the half Ironman Triathlon in Austin (swim: 1.2 miles, bike: 56 miles, and run: 13.11 miles). I hired a Venezuelan professional triathlete to coach me. I dedicated my life to train for the half Ironman for eight months. It was challenging because I had a 1-year-old at home so just being able to finish that race was an amazing experience and accomplishment for me.

How much do you compete today? Is it mostly for fun now?
Currently, I am not competing. I just had my second baby. Once I recover, I am planning to start racing again. However, my training and races nowadays are a hobby. As a mother of two and a busy attorney, I don’t have enough time to train as many hours as I would need to be competitive. However, fitness continues to be an important part of my life, and I work out at least five times a week. Since long hours training is not an option anymore, I have expanded my training to new disciplines such as boxing, yoga, and CrossFit—but running continues to be my favorite.

Do you think your athletic competitions helped with being an attorney?
Absolutely! I am an associate of Nunis & Associates. Managing a stressful job while raising a family can be challenging. I believe that keeping a balance in your life between work, family, and fitness helps you be more efficient in your daily tasks. Also, training is the best way to manage stress, and it keeps you energized and sharp at work. It also helps you sleep better and feel happier. A healthy work environment and the support and understanding of your superiors are key in maintaining this balance.

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Marggy Pabon rides during the cycling phase of her rookie triathlon in 2016.
Photo courtesy of Marggy Pabon.

What are some of your future goals for competing?
I just had a baby, so I need to progressively get back to my training routine to avoid injuries. First, I will focus on recovering my core strength and muscle mass with functional training, Pilates, yoga, and weightlifting. Once I accomplish this, I will incorporate running, biking, and swimming to work on my cardiovascular resistance. Once I have recovered my fitness level, I will be ready to race again. Because I started in the fitness industry and doing triathlons, I have wanted to complete a full Ironman Triathlon (swim: 2.4 miles, bike: 112 miles, and run: 26.22 miles). My goal is to do the Ironman at Cozumel, Mexico, in September 2022, which is just before my 40th birthday. I am not sure where I will find the time to train for such a challenging race, but I am still hoping to get it done at some point in my life. TBJ

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