The hilarious (and super fit) star of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt spoke with Health about her favorite workouts, ice cream, and how the "SpiritCycle" episode helped her prepare for a triathlon.

By Julie Mazziotta
September 18, 2015
Credit: Nautica Malibu Triathlon presented by Equinox

In one of the (many, many) hilarious episodes of the Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the lead character Kimmy, played by Ellie Kemper, tries to escape her problems with “SpiritCycle.” Complete with huge candles for mood lighting, a cult-like attitude, and a ridiculous instructor (“Be like a drunk girl getting out of a cab and leave EVERYTHING behind!”, “Turn your resistance all the way to Gandhi”), it’s a pitch-perfect parody of everyone's favorite fitness cult, SoulCycle.

Now Kemper, 35, is training to compete in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon presented by Equinox, and though she’ll be running, not biking, as part of her relay team, she assured us that all her practice at SpiritCycle definitely helped her prepare.

“Yes! And even though I won’t be biking in the triathlon, Nick Kroll (who played SpiritCycle instructor Tristafe in that episode) has been training me for life in general,” she told Health.

Kemper says she also headed to the real-deal SoulCycle to prepare for the triathlon, which starts bright and early this weekend in Malibu, Calif. She’s raced twice previously, in 2011 and 2012, as part of a relay team. This year, she’s again tackling the running portion of the triathlon, a four-mile run, along with Paul Lieberstein (aka Toby from The Office) and Brent Forrester (the former executive producer on The Office), who will take on the half-mile ocean swim and the 18-mile bike ride.

The event supports the Children's Hospital Los Angeles, and all fundraising efforts from the race goes to benefit CHLA's Pediatric Cancer Research Program.

A long-time runner, Kemper says she's excited to compete again this year. “I’ve participated a couple of times, and I’ve had a blast both times,” she says. “I've run for most of my life. It's the only way I know how to keep my quads looking over-sized and mannish.”

And Kemper is clearly a speed demon. In terms of goal times, she says that, “a sub 8-minute mile would be great.”

As for her other training, Kemper is right on track. Along with running and SoulCycle classes with her favorite NYC instructor Rique Uresti, she’s also taking BarMethod classes for strength, which is fairly similar to her typical workout routine. “I try to do something—run, spin, barre—every day. I like that structure.“

But more importantly, the comedian has added to her diet, “an extra helping of Ben & Jerry’s Tonight Dough every evening for sustenance!”

The triathlon is a perfect warm-up for the Emmys, which film later that night, where Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is nominated in seven categories, including Outstanding Comedy Series.

“It is an honor and a total thrill,” Kemper says. “We are all delighted that the show has been resonating with people, and I, in particular, hope that more grown women start wearing light-up sneakers.” (That is, Kimmy’s shoe of choice).

Then Kemper and crew will head back to New York to continue filming the second season of Unbreakable, hopefully with a few Emmys in tow. Until then though, Kemper has a few words of smack talk for the other competitors in Saturday's race.