This month we interview Troy Mayers, father of 2, legendary Extreme Ice Water Swimmer, Kick-Ass Personal Trainer, Owner of IFPA South Africa (International Fitness Professionals Association) and owner of Troy’s Carpets and Flooring.

“Unhappiness does not arise from the way things are but rather from a difference in the way things are and the way we believe they should be.  Comfort is an illusion.  A false security bred from familiar things and familiar ways.  It narrows the mind.  It weakens the body and robs the soul  of spirit and determination.

Comfort is neither welcome or tolerated here”

I reckon that can be one of Troy’s mantra’s.  He pushes the boundaries of comfort all the time and looking at what crazy swims he has completed already, he does not tolerate comfort and boundaries much.  Someone that buys all the ice packs from the Garage to go sit in at 3 or 4deg Celsius or swims in his speedo in the heart of winter in an open air non heated pool has a whole different level of crazy going on!  #HugeRespect


Some of the crazy extreme swims that he has done to date:

  • Swimming around Cape Point
  • 1km Extreme Ice Swim in Lesotho
  • 3 Robben Island Swim Crossings
  • Quite a few 10km and 20km swims

JDES is honoured to feature him as our EPIC person of the month and he definitely gets our stamp of approval!  Well done Troy, you are an inspiration in pushing the limits!   #JDES #justdoepicshit #Legend #Lovelivinglife #extreme #adventure #pushingthelimit  #outsidethecomfortzone

We asked Troy some fun and interesting questions and here is what he had to say!

Apart from Trains and Extreme Swims, what else makes you tick?

Spending quality time with my kids and family is definitely up there with things that make me tick.  Nothing gives me greater pleasure than spending time with Jesse (11) and Amber (9).  I believe strongly in family and even at 47 I am proud to say I am a mommies boy.  I live in the same complex as my parents so I see them everyday.  I am also in business with my father so it’s definitely a close family unit.  I told my mom recently about my next adventure I am planning and she asked me if I could please wait for her to die before I attempt it.  Some of the things I do definitely push the boundaries and some may say irresponsible but I am responsible enough not to tell my kids about them as I don’t want them to worry.

You love going on train trips.  Why is that and what is the best or most thrilling part for you?

Trains are definitely the forgotten gem of travel and it is something I highly recommend to anyone who is reading this.  If you want to see the country go by train.  I can’t explain what it is about the trains that appeal to me.  I love the solitude of it.  I love watching the country going past me.  I love waking up and seeing the most magnificent sunrises and there is no sound like the clickety clack of the train moving.  Everyone should have a happy place.  The train is my happy place.

How did you get into personal training?

I was a professional MMA fighter and in 2010 I broke my neck training for a fight.  That injury ended my career and so I started coaching fighters.  We started a gym for underprivileged kids.  These kids came from mainly Alexander township as the gym was in Bramley which is basically next door to Alexander.  I absolutely loved training these guys.  The kids that competed started doing well and many of them went on to become professional fighters.  I began to make a name for myself as a coach and after much thought and consideration I decided to go into personal training full time.

You are an entrepreneur in diverse fields.  From a Personal Trainer, to the owner of IFPA  South Africa, to your own flooring business (Troy’s Carpets and Flooring).  How did you get into these and how do you manage the diversity?

When I decided to become a personal trainer I researched a lot of personal training courses over a period of four months.  I kept coming back to the IFPA, they had more accreditations than any other college and their syllabus was written by Dr. Jim Bell.  I knew Dr. Bell was a leader in the fitness industry so I decided to study through them.  I loved the course so much that I eventually brought the college to South Africa and I started the IFPA South Africa.  It was a course that changed my life and I wanted it to have the same positive influence it had on my life on anyone else who studies personal training through the IFPA.

The flooring is something I started up again recently.  We had a family flooring business for 49 years but due to some unforeseen circumstances we had to close the business about 5 years ago.  I always loved the flooring industry and one day while sitting in the dentist chair I had this idea to start it up again.  Within 72 hours we were up and running again and it feels good to be doing something that I love again.  The business is growing at a very good rate, so between family, my Personal Training, The IFPA South Africa and Troy’s Carpets and Flooring and then my own training, there is very little time for anything else.

I love dealing with people and I am fortunate enough to have 3 businesses and I love them.  I truly do what I love.  The Carte Blanche music doesn’t make me anxious on a Sunday, I get excited.  It’s a new week and that just means I go out and do what I love.

You are a proud member of Narcotics Anonymous.  How long have you been clean now and what was the turning point or event that made you change your life around?

Narcotics Anonymous saved my life.  I am able to do what I do today because of this wonderful program called Narcotics Anonymous.  I have been clean for just over 11 years.  The day my son Jesse was born I decided to put down all forms of mind altering substances (including alcohol) and be the best father that I could possibly be.  I knew that the only way to do this was to stop using drugs and alcohol.  Fatherhood is hard enough as it is, I am glad I am able to do it sober.

You only started swimming 5 or 6 years ago.  Why swimming?

I was actually running at the time.  I was sitting at the gym one day with my girlfriend at the time and I saw an old friend, Warren King,  who I had not seen in years.  He was far away from me and I remember turning around to her and saying you see that idiot over there, he swam from Robben Island to Blouberg.  I went over and spoke to him and I asked him about it.  I asked him if the wetsuit keeps him warm.  He looked at me, smiled and said that he swam it in a speedo.  A few weeks later I had to have knee surgery and I would not be able to run for 6 months so I started swimming.  I came home one day and announced that I am going to attempt to swim from Robben Island to Blouberg.  Within a year I did my first crossing and the rest as they say is history.  Warren has become a great friend of mine and has become an amazing trail runner.  I often call him after a cold swim, when I am hypothermic and in a world of pain and I tell him, I am not sure if I love you or hate you but right now I probably hate you.  He laughs and says but you will love me when you warm up.  Warren introduced me to this wonderful sport, I will be forever grateful to him for all his help and guidance in the first year of my swimming and especially training for my first crossing.  His advice was invaluable.

Why did you pick extreme cold temperatures, as opposed to heat or any other extremes?

I love extremes.  I am an extremist.  If its extreme I want to do it.  It is not only extreme cold that I chase; it’s just the extreme as a whole.  Right now I am looking for a partner as I want to row across the Atlantic.  If i could surf I would be surfing big waves.   I am always looking to test myself in extreme conditions right now it’s in the extreme cold that all my goals focused but let’s see what the future holds.  Watch this space.  I have some other things planned.

How do you mentally prepare yourself for the cold swims?

To prep for cold swims I swim in cold water.  The colder the better.  I get in the cold water when for most people it would be too cold to go outside.  I can swim in 9 degree water for up to 2 hours.  I recently swam 3km’s in 6.2 degree water.  To explain what this feels like is almost impossible.  People can get an understanding of it but the only way to explain it is to tell someone to go and get in.  For my Ice Swim I bathed 3 degree water for up to 40 mins at a time.  I bathed at zero degrees for 40 mins.  This just helps the body acclimatize for the extreme conditions that your body is going to experience at these temps.  There is nothing fun about swimming at these extreme temperatures.  From the moment you get in your body starts shutting down and too much time in these temps and you will die.  That what makes me tick, I get to go where very few humans have been before.  I was fortunate enough to get an ice sponsorship from Cliffy Regenbaum, he owns the TOTAL garage in Illovo and he sponsored me 20 bags of ice a week.

You prepare your body for the cold swims by swimming in very cold swimming pools during the winter, in a speedo and no wetsuite, and in summer you use copious amounts of ice.  How does your body and mind re-act prior to you getting in the water and then once you are in, what does your body and mind go through?  ….. (Apart from your brain cells screaming at you that you are a dumb ass hahaha )

In winter when the wind is howling and it is freezing and I am lying in a warm bed, I start negotiating with myself.  I can come up with a million reasons why I should not get in and why I can stay in bed.  Those reasons will kill you, they are the reasons as to  why people fail.  I have learned not to listen to them.  I get up and get going.  I have a trick I do when I am at the pool and the voices come back.  I pee in my speedo, it sounds gross but it works.  I have no choice but to get in.  I also suffer terribly from guilt and if I don’t swim because I woesed out, I feel absolutely terrible the whole day.  I get into a bad mood and become an all-round grumpy person.  So out of the goodness of my heart and so people don’t have to put up with my bad mood, I get in for them.

Ice bathing is just plain torture.  The sound of the ice going into the bath literally wants to make me vomit.   I scream when I get in and have been known to shout at some profanities in quick succession.  I lie there scared to move or even breathe and then i slowly start getting my breathing under control.  I put on my music and I lie there enjoying the discomfort.  I have learned to embrace the pain.  I have learned over the years that the first thing people do when subjected to cold water is panic.  If this ever happens to you, do not panic, slowly get your breathing under control and get moving, your body generates heat even at these extreme temperatures.  I have seen a man almost drown and all he had to do was put his feet down and he could stand.  Panic will kill you.

If you had a chance for a do-over in life, what would you do differently?

I would not choose to do anything differently.  I do not have any regrets about the choices I have made.  Every choice I have ever made has got me to where I am now.  Everything happens for a reason and the choices I made then have lead me to where I am now.

Has failure or apparent failure ever set you up for later success?  Elaborate if yes.

I do not see a loss as failure at all, as long as you learn from it.  I learned more from my losses in MMA than I did in my victories.   A loss is an opportunity to see where you are weak and what needs to be worked on.  It’s an old cliché but it is very true that it is only a failure if you quit trying.

What are you most afraid of?

I am petrified of snakes.  I don’t even like seeing them on TV.  I have never been to the game reserve, I am that scared of them.

What is your biggest pet peeve?


Your next big adventure is swimming from Yzerfontein to Dassen Island.  Are you swimming around Dassen Island or just a straight line one way swim?   What is the total distance and what is the expected water temperature to be?  If it is the one way swim of 11km, are you aiming to break the record?

I am only going one way.  Yzerfontein to Dassen Island has only been successfuly crossed 8 times so just to finish I will be happy.  On these kind of swims it is very difficult to aim for a time or a record.  There are crazy currents so you really have no Idea what kind of swim you are in for.   My focus is to complete the task at hand.  If I get a good time that is just a bonus.

You are not only doing these extreme swims to see how far you can push yourself and what is possible, but you also raise funds for charities.  For The Dassen Island swim you are supporting an orphanage.  Which one and how can people get on board and involved?

We were hoping to raise funds for the Abram Kriel Orphanage.  I am not sure what happened to it though.  I was approached to help them and it seems to have fizzled out.  I hope it can still happen.  I really would love to get involved with some form of a charity.  For my Cape Point Swim I raised funds for Feed. SA.

Which book/s have made the biggest impact on you?

Tyler Hamilton’s book The Secret Race was an absolutely brilliant book.

If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions, what would it say and why?

Don’t be a doos.

If you were a giant, what would you like to do?

I would make a giant scoop and clean up the giant mess that we have made in our rivers and oceans.

What is one dream you have yet to accomplish?

My main dream is to swim the English Channel and then the North Channel.  They still a couple of years away but until then I will keep dreaming.  Always dream, dream small, dream big but have dreams.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have a lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?

If I lose focus I take some time off.  A couple of missed sessions is absolutely nothing, it gives me time to reset, recoup and refocus.  I tell myself not to panic and I have learned that it is okay to feel like this sometimes the main thing is I don’t beat myself up about it.  I always have my next swim planned.  I take some time off, look at the date of my next swim and I get going again.