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What S Your Workout
Jake Burton, Snowboard King, Sets Multiple Goals for His Workout
From the Wall Street Journal of Tue, 23 Dec 2014 07:49:21 EST
Jake Burton riding in the spring of 2014 in British Columbia
Jake Burton riding in the spring of 2014 in British Columbia Jeff Curtes

Jake Burton sets an annual goal of snowboarding 100 days a year. A snowboard pioneer, and founder and chairman of Burton Snowboards Inc. in Burlington, Vt., has hit that goal nearly every year during the past 19 years, with the exception of 2011, when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Mr. Burton went through three months of chemotherapy. In January 2012, his doctors gave him a cancer-free bill of health and he slowly began regaining his strength in the pool and at the gym. Today, at age 60, he is charging harder than ever on the mountain.

“I got in 114 days this season,” he says. And when the snow is gone, he takes to the ocean for his other obsession, surfing.

Jake Burton Carpenter on a late November hike around Stowe Mountain Resort on Vermont's Mt. Mansfield.
Jake Burton Carpenter on a late November hike around Stowe Mountain Resort on Vermont's Mt. Mansfield. Ben Sarle for The Wall Street Journal

Mr. Burton relies on four regular activities—hiking, yoga, swimming, and biking—to keep him fit enough to snowboard and surf. He thinks of his workouts on a point system, awarding himself one point per workout, with 10 being his target each week. “I usually manage six.” Some days he tries to double up on workouts by mixing business with an activity. He might bike with a colleague and discuss new snowboard gear.

Mr. Burton includes his family in as many activities as possible. He and his wife, Donna Carpenter, who is president of Burton Snowboards, have trails within minutes of their Vermont home in Stowe. They often set out together on hikes, but “hiking with Jake is a solo sport,” jokes Ms. Carpenter. “He recently had a minor knee surgery and still beat me up the mountain.”

He takes about six surf trips a year. This year he brought his three sons, ages 18, 21, and 25, on a surf trip to the Maldives. Recently, he and his wife started booking bike tours when they visit cities such as Florence and Paris.

The Workout

Hiking is Mr. Burton’s main form of cardio. “I have to keep it up to keep my weight in check,” he says. One of his favorite hikes is up the Pinnacle Trail, which is 10 minutes from his home. It takes him about 50 minutes to hike up and another 50 minutes to hike down. He will also drive to Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, and hike the Long Trail, which is nearly 5 miles round trip. Mr. Burton always takes a watch when he hikes. “My watch is like a heart rate monitor. The times tell me how hard I’m working,” he says.

In the winter he often hikes up the mountain with his dogs and snowboards down four or five times before the ski resort is officially open. Bigger trips, most recently to Japan, allow him to have full days snowboarding in the backcountry.

While attending New York University, he was the captain of the swim team and he continues to get in the pool every other day when he is home. He swims intervals, warming up with 800 meters and then doing a few intervals of 500 meters and 50-meter intervals for speed.

Two days a week, Mr. Burton uses weight machines at the Swimming Hole, a nonprofit pool and gym facility in Stowe that he and his wife helped fund. He does an all-body workout with a focus on legs. “The stronger my legs, the better my snowboarding,” he says. He says he used to lift more but scaled back when he began practicing yoga. “I might not be as strong as I once was but I feel better doing yoga,” he says. “It makes surfing easier and every day things easier, like standing on one leg when you’re drying your feet after you get out of the shower.”

He takes a private Ashtanga-style yoga lesson in his home once a week.

The Diet

Mr. Burton is pescetarian and tries to eat mostly organic. He and his wife hire someone to help prepare meals, which are left in the fridge. “We’re spoiled,” he says. In the morning Mr. Burton has a smoothie made from frozen mangos and frozen peaches or frozen berries and bananas. Lunch might be vegetable soup and an avocado and tomato sandwich with a tiny bit of mayo on whole wheat bread. They might have a squash soup with some cheese or lentils and a salad with avocado. “I average more than two avocados a day,” he says. His wife’s vegetable garden provides many of the ingredients that go into meals. They freeze vegetables to use during the winter. His splurge is pizza.

The Gear

Mr. Burton estimates he has about 30 different snowboards at home. His favorites are the Burton Namedropper (retail $419.95) and the Burton Barracuda (retail $519.95). Right now he is riding with Burton EST Genesis bindings (retail $329.95) and wearing Burton Ion leather boots (retail $499.95). Mr. Burton likes to hike in Adidas trail running sneakers. In 2006, Burton purchased Channel Islands Surfboards and Mr. Burton is constantly trying out new boards. He has recently been riding the Average Joe short board (retail about $1,500) and a Waterhog longboard (retail $765) from Channel Islands.

The Playlist

“I’m hooked on hip hop,” he says. “It drives Donna nuts so I try not to listen to it at home but I’ll put on my headphones when I hike. The music is so clean and raw. It really motivates me.” He says he’ll listen to the classics from Biggie [The Notorious B.I.G.], Tupac, and 2 Chainz or he’ll put on the hip-hop channel on Sirius XM Radio. “I also love classic rock so much that my kids now like it.”

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