Health

The CEO of Allbirds Shares His 6-Move Core Workout

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THE CHILLED AIR off San Francisco Bay. The screech of seagulls. The jostling of waves under the Golden Gate Bridge. The crunch of dirt underfoot. When Tim Brown runs, he leaves his phone behind and focuses on nature and his breathing. His favorite run is a five-miler along San Francisco’s waterfront from Crissy Field to Hopper’s Hands, a sign at the base of the bridge that he high-fives. Then he loops back.

tim brown

Jake Stangel

    “Exercise, for me, is time alone, and it’s a way to reset mentally,” says Brown, 41, the co-CEO and cofounder of Allbirds. “I disconnect from technology and I take in the beautiful views and let my thoughts go. The Hopper’s Hands run is as good as it gets.” The idea of Allbirds wasn’t conceived during one specific run, but he says that regular exercise sessions helped him create—and now sustain—the company. “It’s difficult to take an idea from nothing to something, and often you get stuck or feel overwhelmed. Going for a run is a way to problem-solve and often sparks me to attack challenges afresh.”

    Brown’s relationship with exercise hasn’t always been so cerebral. The New Zealand native played professional soccer for eight years; in 2010, he competed in the World Cup with the New Zealand national team. “As a professional, you’re pushing yourself hard every day and measuring everything,” he says. “Now I’m more flexible. But I learned that we have a tendency to overestimate what we can get done, or get good at, in the short term and underestimate the long run. I believe deeply in the compounding impact of gradually getting a little bit better—in work, life, and fitness.”

    tim brown

    Brown is wearing Allbrids new running shoe The Tree Flyer and the Native Run shorts and T-shirt, both made with eucalyptus fiber and merino wool. allbirds.com

    Jake Stangel

    These days, the father of two kids under five typically trains every other day for an intense 30 to 45 minutes. “My target is every other day, but two consecutive days off or on is fine, and it’s not something I obsess about,” he says. In any given week, Brown normally does two outdoor runs plus a gym session or two, and he’ll also mix in a yoga class or bike ride. Whatever exercise he does, he tends to chase it with a series of core moves.

    Brown may not train with the maniacal fervor he had in his soccer days, but
    he does still set benchmarks for himself. One is running six miles in under 40 minutes; it’s an intense test of speed and stamina, requiring a six-minute, 40-second pace per mile. “I’m competing with no one other than myself, and it never fails to give me a sense of where my fitness is compared with my peak,” he says. “I also get a sense of achievement from pushing myself. Usually I’m falling short, and it will be a nudge to be more consistent and eat a little better or rest a bit more.”

    tim brown

    Jake Stangel

    Although he says his running time is his personal time, he does of course check out what other runners are wearing. “Every single time I see someone, I always look at the shoes—it’s part of the job,” he says. Brown and Joey Zwillinger, an engineer and renewables expert, cofounded Allbirds in 2016 with a simple premise: Running shoes were too flashy and too plasticky. They thought they could do better by using natural materials like merino wool, eucalyptus fiber, and midsole foams made out of beans. The company’s minimalist and sustainable sneakers caught on as part of the office-casual uniform of the Silicon Valley set and other climate-change-aware consumers.

    Allbirds now makes trail and running shoes—complete with their carbon footprint noted on the sole—as well as workout wear. “Sometimes when you hear that a product is sustainable, the assumption is that it’s less good,” says Brown. “Our belief is that natural materials, in the context of exercise and performance, create better experiences. That’s our journey, to engineer products out of natural materials that create better experiences.” Exercising every other day is helping him get there.

    man stretching

    Jake Stangel

    Rapid-Fire Session

    Frenemy workout?

    “After warming up, do 5 three-minute intervals at the fastest pace you can maintain. Rest 1 minute between intervals. It’s only a 19-minute session, but you’ll be wiped out.”

    Go-to recovery food?

    “Bananas. Easy to grab and go.”

    Motivational mantra?

    “Sometimes when you’re going out the door, you’re not quite sure you want to do it because it’s cold or you’re a little tired. But then there’s that feeling on the other side of it, having done it.”

    Fantasy training partner?

    “Roy Keane, the fiery Irishman who became Manchester United’s midfield general. I’ve always admired his competitiveness.”

    Fitness goals when you’re 100?

    “Being alive would be a good start! Doing some exercise every other day and maintaining that drumbeat would make me very, very happy.”

    man stretching

    Jake Stangel

    Corner-Office Core Session

    Brown has a standard series of moves to strengthen his lower back and abs. Do them as a 3-round circuit. Do each move for 1 minute. Repeat 2 times.

    Side plank (on your right side)

    Squeeze your core and glutes.

    Lunge with a T-twist

    Extend your arms and twist your torso every rep. Swap sides after 30 seconds.

    Pushup

    Aim for 15 to 20 reps.

    Hip-bridge march

    Lie on your back, feet near your butt. Lift your hips. Raise and lower each leg.

    Standing split

    Stand on 1 leg. Raise the other leg behind you as you fold forward and extend both arms. Hold for 10 seconds per side.

    Side plank (on your left side)

    Squeeze your core and glutes.

    This story is in the July-August 2022 issue of Men’s Health.

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