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141: Our Interview with VH1’s Dr. Jenn Mann plus Peloton Adds Challenges to the App
Peloton Challenges are now available on the app.
Peloton’s Head of Music, Paul DeGooyer, discusses the lawsuit and what goes into selecting songs with Billboard.com.
Emma Lovewell is working with Theragun.
Apple Watches will now connect with (some) gyms.
Emma Lovewell talks to the Telegraph.
The Washington Post has an article about how exercise helps with anxiety.
Oliver is injured?
Denis Morton has a new series.
Mirror is offering meditation classes and discounts.
Olivia teams up with Spotify Mint.
A new prediction from The Prophet.
Peloton has cool things planned for Black History Month.
Peloton’s latest Artist series features Guns N’ Roses.
Watch the episode here:
Listen to the podcast here:
Our Interview with VH1’s Dr. Jenn Mann plus Peloton Adds Challenges to the App
We’re cold. We’ve got new windows in the house. All the windows have been open all day, so it’s cold because we live in the Midwest.
It was almost 50. It’s how you know you’re old. We’re so excited about windows.
It didn’t change the look of our house, not one bit because it’s the exact same kind of window.
We’re like, “It’s window day.” We haven’t been this excited since we got a new washer and dryer. It’s a little peek behind the scenes in the crazy life that we live.
I think I was more excited about the Tread and the Bike and the Tonal.
Speaking of all that stuff, what do you got in store for people?
We have a long overdue visit from The Peloton Prophet. We are going to hear from them. We also are going to talk about several changes that are coming from Peloton. There’s some stuff about challenges. We’re going to have an update on the lawsuit. We’re going to talk about some different things going on with the different instructors and new content. I think that’s about it, those kinds of things.
Before we get to all that, we have our shameless plugs. Don’t forget we’re available on Apple Podcasts where you can go there and rate, review and subscribe. It’s important to subscribe so you’ll never miss an episode. You can also leave reviews for us at Facebook if you want at Facebook.com/TheClipOut. While you’re there, like the page, join the group.
Also, it’s Peloton.
We had somebody from an episode a few years ago. It was prior to multimillion-dollar ad campaigns and we lived in the Midwest.
Then they went and gave us a bad review because of it.
Would you like to hear a good review?
This is from Marshall Spevak. Marshall says, “Best place for Peloton news. The Clip Out is a mainstay for my hour-long commute to work. I get to catch up on my Peloton news while getting the laugh from the great banter between Crystal and Tom. Thanks for all you do to keep the Pelo-world informed and in check! #MarshallinNJ, two stars.
Where did we go wrong, Marshall? That was such a great review. Why two stars? I was like, “Where’s the confusing part?” There it is.
Also, don’t forget we have a new website. You can sign up for our newsletter where you’ll get weekly-ish newsletter with all the things we talk about. Let’s dig in.
Peloton has announced that you can have challenges within their ecosystem app thing.
I feel like people are confused about why this is a big deal.
I could tell.
I will. Here’s the deal. Prior to this week, what you did for challenge was you go to your bike, you go to your treadmill and you opt in to the challenge. Anytime you take a class, whether it be digital or on your bike or tread and it fits the parameters of that challenge, you get credited toward it. If you want to see how you’re doing, you go to the Challenges tab on your Bike or Tread to see how you’re doing. What we announced is that now, you can look at it on your app and see what your progress is. That’s what it was.There are times where to show up when we don't feel like showing up and where we need to be gentle. Click To Tweet
It’s not like you can build your own challenge or things like that?
No. I also want to clarify. If you have the iOS app, you can look at it because screw Android apparently and yeah, I’m bitter about it. It’s been a year since they’ve updated it. I love Peloton. Peloton, you know I love you, but come on please with the freaking Android, or at least say why. I get that things are more complicated, but like a timeline, a roadmap. I’m a project manager, I need details. That was a big deal. You can now see it on the web, so you could pull it up on your browser and you can pick that up there. As Gina Mitchell would say, “You can look at it on your Android phone on the browser.” Thanks, Gina. That is true. I could but I would like to use it within the app that I pay the same price for.
She’ll be like, “Come over to my house and look at my phone.”
I would love that. I wish she lived closer. I would do that every day.
You were becoming Mrs. Maisel there for a second. It’s like when she gets mad at her parents and she’s like, “You know I love you, but oh my God.”
We’ve been watching too much Mrs. Maisel.
There was an interesting article on Billboard, which used to be a magazine, I guess it may be still is. It’s a website now. It’s some updates in the music lawsuit.
Thank you to Fred Wachter for submitting this article. I do my checks at 9:00 in the morning. I missed this one. It wasn’t done. Peloton’s Head of Music Talks on Fitness Phenom’s Stellar Growth, Despite Copyright Lawsuit. That is a long title but great for SEO optimization. I hear you, guys, I know what you’re doing. I get why you’re doing it. In this article, it’s an interview. What they did is they interviewed the Head of Music and they talked about a little bit of the background, like Peloton is doing so great but they have this lawsuit that you have all heard about because we’ve talked about it a million times. If you haven’t, Peloton is being sued and it’s up to $300 million. It’s by not actually the musicians, it’s by three publishing companies I believe, for specific songs, not for artists.
They talked to Paul DeGooyer. They interviewed him. They talked about what the music’s role in relation to the Peloton experience. He talks about the fact that it was tough because they have all these people who are coming to listen to music but they’re not coming to listen to specific music. That’s one thing you have to take into consideration. He talked about how songs are acquired and they’re selected, which I think a lot of us know, but just in case you don’t, they use a proprietary system called Crescendo and it’s their in-house streaming service. They use tools that they are able to search for the music. It’s around beats per minute, the duration of the song, things like that, that they can create their own library. Each instructor can grade their own library.
Some of the instructors, he goes on to say, are like DJs. They have five music supervisors who were assigned to each instructor. They’re generally connected at the hip in terms of, “I heard the song, but it doesn’t seem to be in the system.” He says sometimes they’ll go out and get that song and sometimes there’s a song that they may already have the rights for, but we haven’t turned it on. I thought it was fascinating. Why would you not turn all of them on? Every single song that we have rights to, turn it on. There’s got to be a reason or I don’t know what that reason is. They say that they have a good handle on what their members want and like, and what they’re asking for, which I’m sure some of our members would disagree with. They pay a lot of attention to make sure that they’re not playing the same stuff over and over again. I think there are some people that would disagree with that.
Honestly, this is the exact same complaint that radio stations have for 70 years.
One of the questions they ask, “Is there any directive for instructors to promote certain songs?” “Absolutely not,” was the answer, like unequivocally no. He says they choose their own, “We don’t promote anything musically speaking. That’s not the nature of our relationship with our members. They’re already paying $39 a month on the hardware tier to have this experience. They don’t need us selling anything.” Having said that, we know the right song for the right moment drives a nice network effect. They talked about the Lady Gaga class that they had. He talked about how it’s already over 100,000 plays. This was four or five days later. He said, “If 100,000 people are tagging those nine songs for their Peloton playlist, then we know our community is going to go nuts for it on our social stuff. To us, that’s a win.” He talks about that. I’m not going to read through all of these. I think you guys should go check it out. They talked about a lot of things related to the lawsuit. You can find this in your newsletter. You will get it delivered to you. I promise I’ll do it. That’s a great way to find it. You can also find it at Facebook.com/TheClipOut. It’s very interesting stuff. Thanks, Fred.
I think we’ve talked about it once or twice, but I see lots of things on Facebook about the Theragun.
I wish I had one. It’s like a gun and it massages your muscles. If you were to use your knuckles to dig into your muscles to relax them like a deep-tissue massage, that’s what a Theragun does. I understand that they’re amazing.
Emma Lovewell has been showing up in their ads.
Actually, what she was doing was an Instagram paid ad, it was a partner kind of thing. She was talking about the Theragun and all of its wonderful benefits, and it was a paid ad. Good for Emma. That’s awesome.
You will only see more and more of that. The Peloton instructors are like professional athletes. You could make the argument that they are, I’m not trying to be dismissive of their achievements.
You mean in comparison to NFL or NBA?
Yes, in terms of endorsement deals, I think you’re only going to see more and more of it. Apple Watch had an interesting announcement.
I included it because I thought it would be interesting to all of you. We have so many iPhone users, Apple users. Apple released the thing. It’s going to be new Connected Gyms Program that you can use with your Apple Watch. If you go to certain gyms such as Basecamp, Crunch Fitness, Orangetheory or YMCA, you can use your Apple Watch and it will pull in certain information. For example, having an Apple Watch will get you discounts when you buy stuff there. If you use Apple pay, you could book classes on your Apple Watch, get discounts for actually working out. Crunch Fitness, for example, they said it can save $3 to $4 a week on their membership bill if you meet certain workout goals each month. They’re finding all these ways to connect with gyms and I found that interesting. I don’t know where it’s going to go. I think it’s one of those things that they put out there, it doesn’t get a lot of buzz because I think it’s too complicated. People have too many memberships, too many things that they monitor and do.
I will say though, if you have an Apple Watch, this is a good one because you’re wearing it and it’s going to know you’re there. It’s going to do it automatically, right?
I don’t know if it’s automatically. I didn’t read every single detail of this. I suspect you’ve got to go in and do something to connect it. It’s not just like you walk into the gym and it knows here and it knows you did this. I don’t know. That’s a good question.
All your fitness things know that you’re running. You don’t have to say, “I’m running now.”
I think you have to be in that gym. Running doesn’t count. If I was doing it here and I had an Apple Watch, that wouldn’t count. I’ve got to be at Crunch Fitness or at Orangetheory.
I was thinking it probably connects to their Wi-Fi. I don’t know. We’re making stuff up.
That’s just it. We don’t know.
It will be interesting and it’s cool that you would have the ability to buy things when you’re there. You use your watch and you could get food or water or whatever. I don’t go to a gym so it doesn’t matter to me. There’s such a love of Apple within our community that I felt like it was an interesting turn. It makes you wonder if Peloton will do anything like that, like get added to Apple’s list. If it could work with the Treadmill, if it could work with the Bike, if you could work with it in their studio. There are lots of applications.
My first thought was it seemed discount-driven, “While you’re there, you save 10% at the smoothie bar or whatever.” That wouldn’t have wide application for Peloton since you’re at your house.
I agree with that. Maybe that’s why they connected with the people they did. I don’t know. You would think that you could do it within the stores, there are Peloton stores all over, if it was going to go that route. If it’s about how many times a week you work out, I think there are applications that they could use. I don’t know that they want to work together, so it doesn’t even matter. I just thought it was an interesting related article.
Probably not. My guess is somewhere in an Apple dungeon, they’re building a bike right now. It seems that’s the sort of thing that Apple does. Another Emma Lovewell story?
She was mentioned in a UK site, the Telegraph. Emma was mentioned in it to talk about different places that you should go in New York, her go-to places for fitness-related things. When I say things, I mean like she had a place that she suggested for acupuncture. She had a place that she suggested for Matcha, that kind of thing. It’s very related to what she does every day but it wasn’t like, “Go here for this kind of workout.” It had a little bit of that but it wasn’t just that. I don’t want to give too many spoilers away but it was a great article and you can get that in your newsletter. It is a paid ad but you can get it for free. You can read most of it for free if you’re not reading a ton of Telegraph articles.
It wouldn’t open for me. I guess I’ve must have clicked through on different articles. If you’re on there that much, then give them your money. Trying to continue my little streak. I found an article about How Exercise Reduces Anxiety and Makes You Feel More Connected.
Which is perfect, given who we’re talking to, Dr. Jenn Man. This is very timely, Tom. It’s probably why it was on your mind.
It popped up on Washington post. That’s who I give my money to.
Tell us all about it.
I didn’t read it. I just sent it to you.
You’re no longer on a roll. Your roll is over. It came to a complete stop.
I didn’t expect you to put me on blast like that. You’re like, “Talk about it.”
As I’m perusing, a lot of the things that we have talked about on multiple occasions on the podcast, you can use exercise as a mental health tool. It’s the endorphins, it gets you moving and makes you feel good. That is all affected by what’s going on in your brain. From a mental health perspective, if you have all the chemicals doing what they’re supposed to do in your brain, in theory you’re going to be happier. Exercise helps you do that.
I’m already happy with not much anxiety, so I’m good then, right?
I don’t think that’s true. Let’s hear what Dr. Jenn has to say about it. It talks about your exercise can make your brain more sensitive to joy. It makes you brave. Moving with others builds trust and belonging. You do need to exercise. Trying a new activity can transform your self-image. That’s all. It’s a fascinating article. It also will be included in your newsletter. Tom found it but did not read it.
The next one just says, “Oliver injured.”
I don’t know a lot about it because since I got this new job, I’m not doing as good of a job keeping up with everything. I’m sorry, you put me on blast. I do know that Oliver is injured and he is not able to teach as many classes right now. I don’t think he’s teaching running classes at all. I don’t know if he’s doing strength classes. He’s not teaching running classes while he recovers. He’s okay. He’s going to be fine but it’s an abundance of caution. You want to take it easy. We are not sure why Oliver hasn’t been teaching classes.
Denis Morton has a new series.
We have another signature series. I’m just saying every instructor is getting one of this. I can tell. This one I’m really excited about, it is called Reset. It is a bike to mat class. On one day, they’re going to do a bike class, on another day, they’re going to do a mat class. For all you that take every single class live that you do, you need to switch up for this. Denis did an actual Facebook Live and he talked about it or a video that he posted to Facebook. I don’t know if it was live. He talked about the fact that this is the theme, the music selection, everything is put together in such a way that they go together. He would like for everybody to take them back to back even though they take place on two different days. I think it’s cool. I like that they’re doing more stuff like this, all about mobility, being aware of your body. I love it.Peloton is such a wonderful tool for self-care. Click To Tweet
Mirror is offering meditation classes. Don’t you close your eyes when you meditate?
You don’t need a mirror for that, do you?
No but you can hear the instructor through your Mirror device. I’m trying to keep up with all the different things.
It’s funny that it’s like, here’s this big giant fancy mirror.
You still see the instructor in front of you.
They’re still offering steep discounts it sounds like.
They’re still doing like Black Friday-type pricing. They have on sale until the end of January. They get free shipping and a bunch of other stuff and three months free of their subscription too. I’m not buying anything because I think I have enough exercise equipment. I do like the Tonal better. I think that the Mirror would go unused because I have so much cardio, I don’t need to add more cardio.
It seems like a lot of what they’re doing on that will be replicated on the other devices anyway.
It’s more functional exercises. It’s more things like burpees or jumping jacks or whatever. I don’t want to do those things. If you do, by all means that’s a great way for you to get that exercise.
Olivia took over the Spotify Mint feed. I’ve never heard of this, Spotify Mint.
I knew you were going to put me on blast on this one, so I looked it up. You know how Spotify has all those different channels or different things that you can follow, like country or playlist? This one is for EDM specifically.
Spotify Mint is a playlist?
It is a playlist.
It’s not like a whole other version of Spotify?
No, but I think that they do a couple of things with this that they don’t do with everything. For example, I think they’re doing it more and more with other channels, but they’re adding in content from the artists. You’re hearing interviews with them. They also have the music structured so that it’s a constant dance party from what I understand. It flows from one song to another and more of a dance-type thing. That is what Mint is. It used to be called Electro Now and they renamed it to Mint. It is the sixth biggest Spotify playlist followed or whatever. That’s pretty big.
That’s big. I just don’t like EDM, so I pay zero attention to it.
You probably like some EDM and don’t even realize it. I think you’ve probably heard songs for real that are pop crossover that you probably do like that are considered EDM. I have and I’m not an EDM fan, but I do like music that is considered EDM but also is on the pop list.
I find it very fascinating that Peloton does artist collaborations and now Spotify is doing Peloton collaborations.
This whole thing that we were going to be talking about, I don’t think we ever said the point of all of that, is that Olivia Amato was asked to take over the Spotify Mint feed. She did a special playlist that was for an EDM run and an EDM bike ride. She basically took it over for a couple of days. It was pretty cool because if you went to Spotify, her face was on the cover, and that’s pretty cool. She was excited about it as she should be. That’s huge. That is very exciting.
We promised people a Prophet prediction, and it has to do with Spotify ads.
I was told by the Peloton Prophet that they believe there are more of these coming. In fact, they believe yoga is coming up next. There’ll be some yoga EDM mix.
Black History Month is just around the corner.
Peloton is making sure that they are celebrating. They celebrate all the months. They’re very inclusive of course. They did some things this 2020 that they have not done in the past. First of all, they have this amazing new collection that was dropped in the boutique. It is by Jean-Michel Basquiat, I believe. He is an amazing artist that had so many influences that he has spread since the 1980s. He died very young, 27. This collection features his art all over it and it’s gorgeous. I had to buy a few things and they will be here soon. I was excited about that. They’ve never done anything like that, very specific for art. I’ve never seen them feature an artist like that in that way. I thought it was really cool. I was very excited about it. If you haven’t checked it out, you should. It sold out really fast. There was a bag and it was sold out within an hour. It was gone. I don’t know about the rest of it. I haven’t gone back and checked because I immediately purchased everything that I possibly could.
He is a big deal.
Did you have more to add about him?
There was a movie in the ‘90s with Jeffrey Wright and David Bowie playing Andy Warhol.
I need to go watch that. I would like to watch that. Of course, we’re going to have all of our awesome playlists. They’re going to have several classes. You’re going to get different genres. You’re going to get generations of music. For example, Jess Sims is doing an all-female hip hop artist for her Saturday 60 class. I’m super excited about that. Also exciting, Peloton is going to be teaming up with the Brooklyn Museum. They are going to sponsor their first Saturdays event on Saturday, February 1st. It’s going to be a night of free art and entertainment. It’s going to be a special fireside chat with Tunde Oyeneyin and Common. It’s free to go to this. There are only 200 spots though. Good luck. First come first served, starting at 5:00 PM at the doors.
There’s so much stuff like that in New York.
I think it’s amazing. I wish we could pop over to NYC. I’ve never met Tunde, so I’d love to meet her.
We need to talk to her soon.
I’m so excited about that too. If you haven’t heard, we found out that we get to interview Tunde.
If you have a question for her that you would like to submit, you should like the page and join the group. There’s a thread in there where you can leave your question and maybe it will get selected.
You only have until the end of the day on January 31st. You’ve got to be quick.
Not a part of Black History Month because that would be weird, but there’s an artist series with Guns N Roses coming up.
It is going to be January 30th. There’s going to be a ride with Olivia Amato. There’s going to be a bootcamp with Andy Speer and a yoga flow with Kristin McGee. I’m super curious what shows up on that playlist. On a personal note, I want to say that I support all of our new instructors. I have seen a lot of people that have not been as positive about this particular series as our community usually is. I hope that you all support all of our instructors and show them love because it’s hard to get up there. Read things whenever you go to Facebook or Instagram and see that you’re not people’s first choice for this kind of thing. Said as someone who has to read awful things that people say about me. You are not so nice sometimes. Our core audience are always nice, just to be clear. They’re amazing people, but there are also some not so nice people. Spread the love. Show up for these guys.
I find it interesting that since it seemed like there were so many GNR songs that were caught up in the purge, that now there’s a GNR series.
It wasn’t that long ago that the GNR came back, because before Jennifer Jacobs left, there was a final Guns N Roses ride. I know that Jenn Sherman had some Guns N Roses on a ride that she did. I think there were other instructors that did as well. Part of the complaints about this one is that it’s only 30 minutes long. As you know, some of their songs are 7 to 8 minutes.
Do they play the full songs?
I didn’t know if maybe you’d get three minutes in November Rain instead of eight minutes of November Rain.
I don’t even know how I could wrap my head around that because I love the entire song.
If they did some DJ version.
I don’t know if that’s what they will do with this particular ride, but in general, the instructors use the entire song.
I should probably put one little addendum on the GNR ride. It wouldn’t be entirely inappropriate for Black History Month because Slash is half-black.
I did not even realize that.You need to look for the positives that you can hold on to and work on squashing the negative voice. Click To Tweet
A lot of people don’t. I wanted to throw that out there, in case anybody would to be like, “Wait a second.”
Stereotypically speaking, you would not think of GNR as a black artist.
Which is where I was coming from. I want to put that out there in case anybody was like, “Wait a minute.”
Fair enough. I don’t think anybody has that pop culture close to the top of their brain the way you do. I am glad that you clarify it.
GNR has got some die-hard fans. There are some metal head out there like, “Wait a minute.”
I love GNR. I can’t wait for this.
Joining us is someone with a whole list of accomplishments. She’s a psychotherapist, sports psychology author and host of VH1’s Couples Therapy and the spinoff, Family Therapy. It’s Dr. Jenn Mann. How is it going?
I’m good. How are you, guys?
We’re awesome. We’ve got a little bit of a reprieve from work.
I thought it was cold this morning when I took my daughters to the ice-skating rink. You’re living it even bigger and icier than me.
Normally, we will start by warning people about me, like how I can be, but I feel like we don’t need to because you’ve worked with Farrah Abraham.
I’ve worked with DMX. I’ve had Flavor Flav screaming in my face. I can handle anything that comes my way.
There’s nothing I can do?
I don’t think so, but maybe you’ll surprise me.
On the one hand I’m like, “It takes the pressure off.” On the other hand, I’m like, “Challenge accepted.”
I found you because I’ve watched the show on VH1, Couples Therapy, but I saw that you love Peloton and I was excited about that because I am a huge Peloton fan.
I think to say love is an understatement. I am obsessed. It’s crazy. Mark at the Century City location Peloton, who sold me my Peloton jokes with me, “You are the most reluctant Peloton sale I’d ever got.” Literally it took me a year, “Why do I want this? Why are people talking about this?” Now I come in dressed head to toe in Peloton gear, talking about my PR. I’m like, “I took this class. Have you taken that class?” He always laughs.
What was the moment? How did you find out about Peloton and what got you hooked?
I had a client who kept coming into my private psychotherapy practice talking about it saying, “I want to get this.” She’s a mom of twins, she’s a widow, so she doesn’t have someone who can watch her kids when she wants to go workout. She’s like, “I want to get this.” She got it and she kept talking about it and I was like, “I love to spin but I don’t know about this.” I was into the classroom atmosphere. I’m in private practice so I go to the office and it’s me and one or a couple of people in a room. I like the group energy. What I also realize is, first of all, my favorite instructor switched studios and that was a problem.
I found another instructor I liked, but she was 10:30 on Mondays and I had to work my client schedule around the class. I was like, “I don’t know. What if I don’t like any of these teachers?” I eventually was like, “I can’t keep driving and parking. I’m losing an hour in driving and parking every time I want to do this and I am held prisoner to this person’s schedule and that doesn’t work for me.” I decided to bite the bullet and got the Bike and the addiction began. I heard people talking about the Tread and I was like, “I think I need that.” I had a generous partner. Eric was like, “You seem to love that Bike.” He got it for me as a gift and the rest is Peloton history.
How long have you had the Bike and the Tread at this point?
I got the Bike, I believe it was September. I got the Tread about 4 or 5 months later.
That’s interesting because you were all in quickly.
I don’t do anything half-assed. It’s not my style.
It feels good the person behind Couples Therapy isn’t afraid of commitment.
I am not. I know and I’m all in.
I have to ask who your favorite instructors for the Bike and the Tread are?
It’s shifted over time and I have to say I love Matty and Olivia. I feel a kinship to them. I love their music selection. I love their classes. I love them as people. We’ve developed friendships via text messaging and messaging and all that stuff. I love what they do and I feel that they’re soulful people. That said, I love a lot of the instructors. I originally started with Ally Love and I felt she was exactly what I needed to ease in. She reminded me a lot of an instructor that I had, Miranda Barsky who’s in LA. Ally is inspirational and positive. I love that. I love Robin when I want to have my ass kicked. When I want to go hard, I want that thing. I’ve been getting into yoga meditation. Kristen is amazing. I love all of them.
I made a commitment. I talk a lot and you’ve probably heard me talk about it on Couples Therapy. I talk a lot about embracing change. I was like, “I need to embrace some Peloton change. I made a commitment to take a bootcamp class, which I don’t usually take. I made a commitment to take one new instructor and one person that I hadn’t taken in a long time. To me, one of the things I love about Peloton is that I feel it’s a metaphor for life and that we have the opportunity to learn these lessons and to gravitate to the things that we need at that moment. There are times where maybe we need to push ourselves hard or to show up when we don’t feel like showing up. There are other times where we need to be gentle and instead take a yoga class or a stretch class. I think that Peloton is particularly great that way and it’s such a wonderful tool for self-care.
On that note, one of the many things that you do is sports psychology consultancy. Do you find that as a consultant for sports psychology that you actively think about those things for yourself?
How I got started in sports psych is I was an elite-level rhythmic gymnast. The sport with the ribbons, hoops, clubs, rope, ball, I did that. I was on the national team for a few years. On my first year competing, I had a coach who is considered to be the mother of the sport in this. I was expected to make the national team my first year and I was one of the only people on my team who did not make it. I missed making the national team. It was the top twelve. I came in 13th place. I missed it at 0.05. I trained hard and my teammates were the top girls in the nation. Of the 12 junior and 12 senior spots out of the 24, we would generally take at least 16 spots every year.
I felt like I’m with the top coach in the country. I have some of my biggest competitors who are here with me. I worked hard the following year. At the end of the first day of the competition, I do this ribbon routine. My coach looks at my mom and says, “It will be 9.0. Because it is a national competition, it will be 8.6.” My mom says, “Great.” The score goes up to 7.05. A coach from another team protested the score, which has never happened before. It was ridiculous and they upped it from 7.05 to 7.15. At the end of day one, I was in 13th place yet again. My mom, who was a smoker at the time, got down on her knees and said, “God, I’ll give up anything. I’ll give up smoking. If she makes a national team, I will never smoke again. Please let this kid make the team.”
The next day, I compete and I come in 12th place by the skin of my teeth. I was supposed to be the top six. I came in 12th place. My mom has never smoked again. I saved my mom’s life and made the national team. What happened was I said to myself, “I am training with top people in the country, the top coach. We’re training at the same hours.” I have to find a way to give myself an extra edge. My dad said, “There’s this thing called sports psychology. You may want to read about it.” I started reading books and I started using the techniques and then created some of my own. The following year, I won 5 gold medals out of 5. I beat my next competitor by 1.0 and it hit me that this is powerful stuff. That mind-body connection is incredibly powerful.
When I was in grad school getting my degree in Psychology, I started coaching gymnastics on the side to earn some money and I started using the sports psychology techniques on the girls I was working with. They worked well that the parents started paying me to travel with the team and they were my guinea pigs where I got to try my techniques on other people and it went well. I started and I continued my studies. I got hired by USA Gymnastics and other organizations to do that. The funny thing is that I thought about sports psych for gymnastics, but I didn’t for a long time about Peloton. For some reason, there was a disconnect for me that was like, “I’m not trying out for the national team and I’m not trying out for the Olympics. I’m on my Bike, I’m on my Tread.” It didn’t click. I had one day where it clicked. I go around saying I’m not a runner and because running is challenging for me.
I did a marathon in 1999. I did it for 5 hours and 20 minutes. My goal was to complete it. I didn’t care if I walked it, crawled it, whatever I did. Suddenly I was like, “All the things I tell my clients, I’m reinforcing this negative concept of myself as an athlete and this is not what I practice and I’ve got to do what I preach.” I shifted and started to think of myself as a runner and start to talk about myself as a runner. I started to visualize, I started doing Ross Rayburn’s long-run meditation the night before my long run, which literally every single time I’ve done that so far and it’s been either 5 or 6 times, I have beaten my PR on the next long run. That mind-body connection is strong and powerful and that it’s important when you’re training for the Olympics or whether you’re doing a ten-minute run on your Tread, it’s important to get yourself in the right mindset.
I have a big question then. Something that Tom might tell you is that I might be a little hard on myself about things. I always feel like I want to say that stuff to myself and be positive. I always feel like it’s not real. I can say it in my head but I don’t truly believe it. How do you get past that gap where you honestly absorb it and feel it’s true past the imposter syndrome, if you will?
It’s a few things. I have an app that’s called No More Diets. Part of the app deals with some of the psychological stuff about our relationship with food. One of the sections of it, I have an exercise where it addresses negative self-talk. On the left side, you write your negative self-talk and on the right side, you write a sentence that counters that negative self-talk. Here’s the thing about it. You don’t have to believe it in the beginning. That’s okay. Fake it until you make it. That is fine. What happens is that we have a healthy voice and an unhealthy voice. I think of it as like the angel and the devil on our shoulders. Our unhealthy voice is always telling us negative things, “You can’t do it and you’re too this and you’re too bad and you’re not whatever enough.” What happens is if we don’t talk back with our healthy voice, that unhealthy voice gets bigger and bigger and louder and louder. It’s important that we take the time to talk back to it.
In sports psychology, we talk a lot about a 4 to 1 ratio, 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative. When you’re saying those negative things, I don’t want you to say one positive thing. I want you to say four positive things. I don’t care if you believe it to start with. You can always find something positive to say. It doesn’t have to be delusional like, “I’m not a basketball player,” and then you say like, “I’m tall and I always make the baskets.” Maybe what you say is, “I have great hand-eye coordination. I love to play basketball. My passion for basketball is impressive.” You need to look for the positives that you can hold on to, to work on squashing that negative voice.
Tell us about some more of your career journey. You said you also went to school for generalized psychotherapy. How is that different? How did you put those two together into a career?
For my undergraduate, I was a Mass Communications major. My focus is on print and television journalism.
Same. I was too.
Where did you go?
Nowhere of consequence.
Did you have a good experience? Did you enjoy it?
I graduated when I was 45, so I’ll let you connect those dots.
We do things when we’re ready to do them. I bet you appreciated it more at 45 than you would have at 22.The most important thing in a relationship is connection. Click To Tweet
That is true. Honestly, the reason I dropped out of college is that I got offered a job at the alternative rock station in the market. It was like, “I’m going to do this so I can be a DJ at a rock station,” and someone handed it to me. I can’t say, “Wait six months while I take a college algebra class.”
Sometimes we have to grab an opportunity when it’s there in front of us. I got my Master’s in Clinical Psychology and then I got my Doctorate in Psychology, specifically Marriage, Family and Child Counseling.
How long did that take? Make me feel bad. How old were you when you finished 45 years of school?
I graduated from undergrad early. I took six months off. I did my Master’s in two years. I did my Doctorate. It took me four years to do the academic work and then it was another year for the dissertation and then I had to defend it. It was five years and a few months plus the two.
Screw sports psychology. You should do homework psychology.
The thing is that when you’re studying something that you love, it’s such a different experience. I had a great experience at Emerson for my undergrad. Academically, I love grad school because every day was eye-opening. It was learning about the psychological theories and these masters of the fields. It was fascinating to me.
I have a great love of pop culture and I didn’t realize it until I was well into my adulthood that I had spent my childhood studying this. Not watching but reading books. I had all these books about movies and TV and radio. I never realized I was studying because I enjoyed it.
It has a lot of value in nowadays culture.
My parents sure as hell didn’t think that. I remember I booked concerts for a living and it’s nice that the day I got to point out to my dad like, “Remember when you were like, ‘What are you going to do with all this stuff? You’re wasting your time.’ Suck it, dad,” but in a nice way. How did you go from there to the media component of what you do with psychology?
There were two significant milestones for me. The first was I was outspoken in my class on eating disorders. I’m someone who’s recovered myself. I shared a lot about my experience and about intuitive eating and about all that stuff. The teacher was going on Channel 2 Action News with the host, Dr. Winnie King. She pulled one other person and me aside who was also recovered who was outspoken and said, “I would like for you guys to come. Would you be willing to speak when I do this TV thing? Would you be comfortable?” I was like, “Sure, absolutely. Anything that delivers the message, I’m happy to do.” I said yes. I didn’t fully know what I was getting into, but as I’m preparing to do this thing with her, I’m thinking to myself. I’m sitting in my office with one person. I’m thinking, “This is an opportunity to teach people about something important about psychology, healing and pain. I suffered for all those years and I didn’t think that I could ever get well and recover. I can share that with people and that could change someone’s life. That could change millions of people’s lives.”
When it hit me that instead of sitting in my office and helping one person, I could potentially help millions, I was like, “This is powerful stuff.” I did the interview with her and they ended up using a ton of my footage and not a lot of the other people. Someone else who is a producer who knew me said, “Could you come on the show and talk about eating disorders?” It picked up and at some point, I get a call from none other than Harvey Levin of TMZ. Harvey says, “Hi, my name’s Harvey Levin. I’m doing a pilot of this show called We Need Professional Help. We’ve cast two people on the show and we need a young fresh face. I keep seeing you on TV. Would you be willing to come in and audition for it?” I said, “Sure. Absolutely.”
I went in and I auditioned for it with two other therapists who had already been picked to be on the show. I’ll never forget this, and Harvey and I talked about this to this day. I’m sitting at the desk with Harvey and Harvey says, “I’ve got to tell you, no matter what happens with this show, you have to pursue this. I know talent. You are incredibly talented and you have to do this. You have to get an agent or a manager.” I was like, “There are agents or managers for people who do this?” He’s like, “Yes, and you have to get one.” I was like, “Okay.” Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey, who was the other executive producer on it, pulled me aside. She’s someone who is a straight shooter and she said, “I’ve got to tell you, when I first saw you, I didn’t like you, but now I’ve seen you in action, you’re good. I want to work with you and you’ve got to do this.” I was like, “The universe is telling me something. I’ve got to do this.” I went and I got a manager and pursued it ever since. It’s a great passion of mine. I can have the opportunity to enlighten people about mental health, that I can help normalize the stigma of therapy. I can help people talk about these issues and even think differently, approach the partner differently and think about themselves differently. To me, it’s such a great gift that I feel lucky to have.
I have a follow-up question. How do you audition for something like that? Do they bring in people and have your therapy them right there?
If I tell you the story of the two people, your jaw is going to drop. I don’t think I’ve ever talked about this publicly, but it’s an amazing story. The premise of this show was that it was two people would come in, it could be like a mother and a daughter, a boyfriend and a girlfriend or a brother and a sister. Some combination of people who were connected to each other who are having a conflict and they would sit and present their situation to the panel of three therapists. One would leave and the other would tell her story. They’d switch and then at the end, they would come together and the therapist would vote on whether they should stay together or split apart. If they were roommates, they would either be told like, “You should stay together and you won $5,000 of therapy or you have $5,000 towards a moving van and an attorney. Should you say together or break up?”
The one that put everyone over the edge was there was a man and a woman who came in. They were engaged. She had an identical twin sister. She and her fiancé were into kinky sex, dressing up and doing all kinds of fun stuff. One day, he gets a call from his fiancée who says, “I’m at the hotel. I’ve left a key for you. I’ve got a blindfold. Come to the room and I have something fun planned for you.” This was in their wheelhouse. He’s like, “Great.” He shows up at the hotel, the lights are out. She blindfolds him, they have sex. In the end, she takes off his blindfold and he looked and he realized it was her twin sister. It was not her.
Point of clarification, they were both there?
The sister had been sneaky, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s rape. That is not consensual. Shockingly, the conflict they were having was they were planning this wedding and she wanted her sister to be invited and he did not. I was shocked that she would want to have her sister. Violating her fiancé like this, after betraying her like this, after doing something that horrible, cruel, unethical and terrible that she wanted to invite her sister was quite stunning.
Did the sister have a history of doing awful things like that?
I don’t know. It was quite some time ago. I don’t remember. I remember the moment where I asked him and I said, “You’ve been sleeping with your fiancé for many years. I know you guys were role-playing. Did you have any moment where you were like, “Something feels off. Is this her?” He got pissed, he had a bottle of water and he threw it at me and I ducked. Everything changed from there. I hope to God that he got whatever healing that he needed to get and that they’re okay or they’ve moved on from each other and that sister is somewhere where she can’t harm people. It was a fascinating situation and they were an articulate, interesting couple. Working with them was quite fascinating.
I’m like, “Why don’t they have a show?”
Who knows? Maybe they do. They must have somewhere.
There are many outlets these days, who knows? They could be on Crackle.
Do you have questions that you see come up over and over again as you counsel people?
The questions that come up tend to be along the lines of, “How do I have a healthy long-term relationship? How do I keep things alive?” To me, the most important thing in a relationship is connection. There is a guy named M. Gary Neuman who wrote the book The Truth About Cheating. He did one of the most impressive studies about cheating that’s ever been done. It was over 500 people who had cheated. One study was the men, one was the women. What he found was shocking. We tend to think like, “When someone cheats, it’s because they’re horny. It’s because they wanted sex. It’s because of the sex drive.” What he found was not that. What he found was that for 92% of the women and 93% of the men, that the reason why they cheated was a lack of emotional connection or a lack of emotional and sexual connection combined.
To me, that was incredibly eye-opening. It shifted the way I approach couples because when you focus on nurturing the connection, it changes everything. People are more invested in their relationship, they care more. It’s one thing when you are distant and not connected to cheat. It’s another thing when you are connected and you’ve been nurturing the relationship and you’re spending face to face time together every day. You know what’s going on in each other’s lives and you’re vulnerable with one another. It makes it a lot more difficult to take a step like that.
People that have told me about their relationships or cheating and I’ve had people cheat on me, that it doesn’t feel like it’s ever one thing that causes it. It’s a multitude of things. I think that makes a lot of sense. Going back to sports psychology, do you think there are parallels to different ways of thinking and the different instructors that we’re each drawn to?
I do think that we tend to gravitate towards Peloton instructors who sometimes they have what we need or what we aspire to. Sometimes they are the yin to our yang. Sometimes the opposite can be true that, “I’m Type-A so I go to that instructor who’s more Type-A.” That is personal, but I don’t think it’s necessarily always the same consistent thing for each person. There are some people who are like, “I’m Type-A and I like this instructor,” and others who are a little more flexible on it.
There’s a connection, but it’s not a pigeonhole connection that’s consistent each time.
It would be interesting to do personality tests of each instructor’s core following. What did they have in common? What did they not? That could be the next M. Gary Neuman study.
I am fascinated by that because typically, you will see pairs of instructors that people gravitate to the most.
You point out all the time the type of person that you see that likes one instructor over another.
I’m fascinated by it.
Who do you take the most?
I would say the most on the Bike, I ride with Jenn Sherman.
I love Jenn Sherman. I’ve got to mention Jenn. Her music is unbelievable and I feel like she’s someone who I’d be pals with. She’s one of my peeps. She’s a nice New York girl.
She’s real when she’s on the Bike. I value people who are transparent and real. I know that’s why I like Jenn so much. There are people though that tends to be like if you like Alex, you’ll like Robin. If you like Ally Love, you like Emma. If you like Matt Wilpers, you like Christine. Rarely do you see a crossover that’s like, “I love Matt Wilpers and I love Alex.” I’m not saying that never happens but that’s an unusual pairing for someone.
It’s funny because I tend to think of the instructors in groups. I don’t know if I made it up in my head like, “These people came first. They were Peloton instructors before those people.” I don’t know much about the history as I’m sure you guys do, but I have this idea in my head and tend to gravitate towards what I think of as more of the old-timers.
Tell me who you think the old-timers are.
I tend to think Robin. I know Jenn, Matty, Olivia, but I have a feeling they probably were more on the tail-end of the old-timers that they arrive would be my guess.
Matty and Olivia are new to Peloton because they didn’t come in until the Tread. Matty Maggiacomo and Olivia both came in as Tread instructors and then Olivia started teaching on the Bike a few months after that. She does the Bike and the Tread. I think Olivia out of the group you’ve said is probably the newest.
What about Ally Love? Is she one of the old-timers?
I would say midway. Your true OGs are Jenn Sherman, Robin and Cody. After that was Matt Wilpers, then there was Emma Lovewell, Ally Love and Denis Morton. You then get to like the newest group.
What about Emma and Hannah?
Hannah has been around for a long time too. I forgot to mention her. Not as old-timey as Jenn and Robin, but not long after Jenn, Robin and Cody.
I did Emma’s Crush Your Core. It was fantastic. Not only was it fantastic, but she was also great. It got me doing ten minutes of abs every day at the beginning of my workout. I can’t go like, “I’m late to work. I can’t do it.” I put it in the front now because it’s more of a priority for me. Thanks to Emma.
I love that it was accessible regardless of where you are from a strength standpoint with your core. I was not strong and I knew I needed to do work, but I was overwhelmed because I’m looking at Emma’s abs and I’m like, “I don’t know if I can do that.”When you focus on nurturing the connection, people become more invested in their relationship and care more. Click To Tweet
You could grate cheese off her abs. She’s amazing. I keep messaging her and saying, “Please do Crush Your Core part two.”
I bet she will eventually.
Hopefully, I’m not the only one. More of your readers will reach out to her as well.
I bet they will.
You take Jenn Sherman. Who else do you take?
On the Bike now, where I’m at is at Jenn Sherman because I’ve been running a lot. I have been a running place I’d say for about six months or so. For running, I tend to run with Matty Maggiacomo and Becs Gentry.
I can’t believe I forgot Becs. Becs is my running inspiration. Becs looks like a gazelle when she runs and I feel like she never loses her breath. She is talking with that accent, she’s charming. Through a whole run, you’re sweating your ass off. You look like a drowned rat and there’s Becs smiling, glowing, looking like a gazelle.
She’s got a light sweat. You’re drenched anyway.
I’m gasping. I’m grunting. She’s like, “We’re going to up our incline.”
Only to 4 or 5, it’s no big deal. Her legs are long, she’ll be like, “We’re going to do a cool down. Slow down to eight.” I’m like, “Slow down to eight? I didn’t get to five. Calm down, woman.”
You got Matty and Becs. Who else on the Treads?
Selena Samuela and also I’ve been running with Oliver Lee too. All of them. There are lots of great running Tread instructors.
You can’t go wrong. These instructors are all great. One of the things I love about the Peloton instructors of the many things is they cast them well. They have this it factor. All of them are mesmerizing, charismatic and inspirational in their own way. Everyone is a delight to look at. They’re all interesting. They’re all great.
I think the key thing you said there though is in their own way because it’s not the same thing over and over again like some instructors.
We need to talk about you and why you’re not using a Peloton.
Some of them are focused on the logic and the science of it. Some of them were more inspirational and some of them were like, “Let’s make it fun.” Others are more like, “Screw fun. You’re here to work.” It’s like everybody, for the most part, seems to find the 1 or 2 or 3 that works for them because what motivates everybody is a little bit different.
That’s why I find their personality interesting because like Robin, nobody can say the things that Robin can say the way Robin can say them. That’s magic. On the other hand, for me personally, Cody for example has his key phrases and they don’t do it for me. Other people, they’re motivated by that and that’s why I find the entire thing fascinating, how different everybody is and how people are drawn to those different people.
At first when I started on Peloton, I was a little intimidated by Robin. She’s hardcore. “Am I going to like her class? Is she going to be barking orders at me?” I found her to be wonderful, inspiring and positive. Even though she’s pushing you, she does it in a way that you never feel bad about yourself. You always feel like, “I’m going to give it a little bit more because Robin’s here with me.” She’s great and talk about a woman with the it factor, she’s such a star. She is amazing.
I can’t believe she used to be an attorney. I’m like, “I’m glad she stopped doing that.” Not that she was probably not amazing at that. It’s clear that wouldn’t have been her as a person.
Have you read her book?
I have not read the book but I have read about her story. The simple reason I haven’t read her book is that it wasn’t on Kindle for a long time and I read all the books on Kindle. She’s like, “It’s a paperback. You’re supposed to read it as a paperback because you’re supposed to go through it and do the exercises.” That never worked for me.
It’s good. I found it to be fascinating. It was hard to put down. It was a great combination of her personal story, inspiration and great tips about running.
It always amazes me when people who become attorneys have the nerve to walk away from it. There’s so much sunk costs there and to be like, “Never mind, I’m going to hit the reset button and go do something completely unrelated.” That’s such a ballsy move.
I don’t know that everybody in that situation can say it in the same way that Robin does. The reason that I love her motivation is because of her personal story and having somebody hold a gun to her head. She was like, “Life is too short for this.” When she says, “We get to do this. You’re lucky to be here,” I believe that.
I took Tunde’s class. She talked about how in one year she lost her mother, her father, her brother and I think it was her aunt. The way she talks, I burst into tears. On my 30-minute ride, I spent ten minutes sobbing. She was real about it. It was also inspiring to me to hear her talk about grief. I don’t want to say overcoming grief because I don’t know that you overcome grief. I think that you grieve, you work through it, and you integrate the grief into your life in a different, more positive way. I found that to be incredibly inspiring.
She is one of the most real instructors. I honestly have not gotten to take many of her classes because her schedule doesn’t work with mine. The classes I have taken, she’s amazing. I want to find that ride and go take the ride.
It was part of one of the programs. It was either the one with the best music or the favorite ride. It’s a 40-minute ride.
She used to be overweight when she was a teenager too. I think she’s inspiring from that standpoint as well.
One of the things she talked about that was similar to Robin was that she was a successful makeup artist. She said that she got on the Bike and was doing a spin class and she heard a voice say, “This is what you’re supposed to do. This is your calling.” She left makeup to do this and talked about how she had a year of auditioning for Peloton and that led her here. I thought it was amazing and inspiring.
I’m sure it took a long time to get good at to be like, “Nevermind.”
She is good. She’s amazing. I’ve seen pictures. She was the one that did Matty’s makeup for The Grinch whenever he dressed up.
That’s one of those professions where if someone says that was their job, then I assume that you have to be good at it. Makeup is like being a photographer. It’s one of those things that many people think they can do. If you’re making a living at it, then you have to be top tier.
It’s such an art. My best friend is my makeup artist. I post about her a lot. She is talented, amazing and I’m always in awe. I feel lucky they have this best friend that has this incredible talent. This is cool.
You get your makeup done every event you have to do.
You look like a mere mortal, but you work magic with a brush. You can make me look younger. It’s amazing. Tom, why are you not on a Peloton? I need to understand this.
We don’t want to take up too much of your time.
Tom, I’ve got all the time in the world for you.
I have always had a hate-hate relationship with anything athletic. I had negative experiences as a child and I don’t like it.
Give her the brief version of your striking out.
I legit struck out at tee-ball. That happened.
Negative experiences with competitive sports?
Everything about it. I suck at it and then I would get piled on for sucking at it. It was like, “I don’t even want to be here.” I was made to go be in soccer. My parents were like, “You should play tee-ball.” I sucked at it and then they were like, “Now you could play soccer,” and I sucked at it and then it was like, “Now you can play basketball,” and I sucked at it. They came in and said, “Football,” and at that point I drew a line in the sand and I was like, “Absolutely not. You can make me go but you can’t make me move when I’m on the field. I’m not going to do it. Everything you’re signing me up for, I suck at and you keep picking sports that get progressively more physical contact. The next thing is going to be some blood sport Kumite. No.”
Did your parents understand you better in other areas or was this a reflection of a bigger picture, if you don’t mind me asking?
They didn’t understand me at all.
He was an enigma to them.
There is nobody else in my family that’s like me. I have 41 first cousins on my dad’s side.Grieve, work through it, and integrate it into your life in a different, more positive way. Click To Tweet
When he says anyone in his family, he means anyone.
My dad owned a printing company, his dad owned a printing company. His dad owned a printing company and they were all about fixing things and mechanical.
“Why do you want to play music and talk on the radio?”
My dad would be like, “Come help me work on this thing.” It would be like some weird Abbott and Costello routine where he would ask for some tool and no matter what he asked for, I would hand him a screwdriver. He’d be like, “Hand me a crescent wrench.” I’m like, “What is a crescent wrench? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Here’s the thing though. If that experience is what has kept you from exercising, first of all, your parents still have an awful lot of power over you. Exactly what it means is that you’ve never branched out and separated from them, figured out what you like.
I figured out what I like. It was all nerd stuff. It was comic books, TV, movies and pop culture. I can tell you all of that stuff.
I’m talking about in the physical realm. It sounds like you found your sweet spot when it comes to entertainment, when it comes to intellect, but you haven’t found your sweet spot when it comes to exercise.
Because he won’t even embrace it enough to try. He’s like, “I don’t want to sweat. I don’t want to move. I don’t want somebody to tell me I did it wrong. I want none of those things.”
The joke I say on here is my body is in new condition.
Do you guys have kids?
Not together, but yes.
How many between the two of you?
Would you like to live a long time to see them get older, have grandbabies and maybe even great-grandbabies?
Two of the three. That makes them work harder if they all think that maybe at any moment like, “Maybe I’m the one he doesn’t like.”
One of the many things that gets me on the Tread and on the Bike is going, “I want to live to see my kids have kids. I want to live to share those moments with them.” Study after study shows that doing cardio and taking good care of ourselves allows us to live longer. I think that it’s a shame to give your parents that much power and to let that trauma, and I do consider it a trauma, to let that trauma of being forced into doing these sports that you loathed, that were not who you are, prevent you from trying a light walking class where there’s no one. Kick Crystal out of the room where the Tread or the Bike is and do something where you don’t sweat. Start out light. Do ten minutes of walking at a 2.0 pace and see what you think separate from your parents, separate from the messages that you’ve got to see is this something that is as horrible as I thought, especially if it could lead to better health and living a long time.
You’re good. You should do this for a living.
I might do that.
I was thinking, “Tom, you should probably listen. She’s a doctor.”
A lot of the time what I do in sports psychology, I have all these elite-level athletes who are super high level, but I also have a lot of people come to me similar to you where they’re like, “I don’t know how to start an exercise regimen. I had a bad experience. I don’t know where to begin. I don’t know how to get past that.” It’s important to figure out in the exercise world, of all of the many things out there, what can you connect with the most? It sounds like for you, a solitary activity is probably where it’s at. Something where you don’t get a lot of feedback. Something where you don’t have to deal with other people and their thoughts or feelings about it that you don’t have to perform for someone else, but where you could get in your head. You’d be surprised. I find that I get some of my best ideas when I’m on the Tread or the Bike. You’re getting all this oxygen to your brain. You seem like someone who’s creative, who likes to be in his creative head and this is another forum to get to do that.
How is oxygen getting into your brain? Whenever I’ve done anything remotely like exercise, I can’t breathe at all.
I know you’re joking, but if that is the case, you’re going too fast. What you don’t want to do is push yourself hard that you injure yourself or you’re out of breath that it’s horrible. I would say start slow and gentle. If it’s not on the Tread, go for a walk outside. Get some fresh air. It’s good to get some sunlight. It fights depression. There’s no negative to it in terms of your well-being.
She makes many good points, Tom.
It’s some food for thought to consider. To me, when we have a trauma of some kind and we don’t do things that are good for us because of our trauma, we are still being held prisoner by our trauma. I think it’s important to move past that and make self-affirming decisions that are good for us and that helps us take care of ourselves and be healthy and live a long time.
I have done things, I will say in my defense, because I feel like I need to defend myself. I used to be quite a bit heavier and I definitely got my weight under control because of the things that you’re saying. I used to be 50, 60 pounds heavier than I am now. That played a role where I was like, “Okay.” When I ended up with sole custody of two kids, I was like, “She’s whack-a-doodle. I’ve got to stay alive until they’re adults.” That was a motivating factor. I feel like this might be the first interview we’ve ever done where there’ll be a co-pay at the end.
I’m not charging you. When you made those changes that resulted in you losing weight, were they difficult to make?
Did they remain difficult or did they get easier?
How I did it primarily was I did a weight loss study and they put me on a low carb, low-calorie diet. I couldn’t go over twenty carbs a day and I couldn’t go over 900 calories a day. This weight-loss study was with Washington University, which is a reputable school. I was meeting with a nutritionist weekly and meeting with a physician weekly. It was medical research.
It’s amazing because also one of the things I learned when I was doing my Doctoral dissertation on weight loss is that 900 calories is the number in the concentration camps that the Nazis discovered that if you give prisoners 900 calories, it’s enough to keep them working. It was fascinating to me that they want it enough to keep you going. That’s a low number.
I had to keep a food diary and it was funny because I followed all those rules well because I was like, “This is for science. I don’t want to screw up science.” I dropped weight like crazy.
What happened after the study was over?
It started with a week in the hospital on a liquid diet, they did muscle biopsies, I did the thing, they put me back in, and then they released us out into the wild. I had dropped about 45 or 50 pounds. I was like, “I’m going to keep doing this for a while because I had seen good results.” They called me a year later and they’re like, “We’re bringing people back in. What’s your weight now? It’s to do a follow-up study.” I told them what my weight was at the time and they were like, “Okay, never mind. You’re good. We don’t need you.” I was like, “Is it good? I hadn’t gained the weight back.” I asked and they were like, “We only want people that gained the weight back.” I was like, “Out of curiosity, how many people have kept the weight off?” They were like, “You’re the first.” They called me back two weeks later and they were like, “The doctor wants you back in because he’s curious.” It paid. I was like, “I’ll go back and let you do another muscle biopsy for $800.” I kept all that off until my mom got sick and she was in and out of a coma and stuff for three months. I would leave the hospital, I’d be like, “It’s 9:00 at night. I’m going to go to KFC.” I put on not all of it, but a good chunk of it. I went back to what I had been doing about 4 or 5 months after she died and lost a bunch and pretty much kept it off ever since. That’s been going on a decade.
Are you not doing the 900 calories and 20 carbs?
No. When I’m trying to lose weight, I tend to keep my carbs around twenty, but I’ll keep my calories. I’m not super good at counting but probably that 1,500 to 1,800 range.
It’s fascinating to me that you’re a guy who would do something and even do it more than once that is deprivational and challenging not physically but also emotionally because we have a relationship with food. Food is comfort, food is soothing, food is something that we look forward to. We have a complex relationship with food. You were able to do that multiple times but that you haven’t been able to step on the Tread for a light walk is interesting to me psychologically.
I find the foodstuff easier.
I think it’s because the sports stuff and the exercise stuff is intertwined with some family stuff.
I also feel like to me, the dieting is I’m removing something from the equation, not adding something to the equation. How did this end up about me?
It’s fascinating to me that you have this block and that over time you’ve even allowed it to continue, that you have a wife who’s into fitness that you guys have this show together, but yet you resisted.
It’s a unique dynamic.
He might be a bit stubborn as well. That might be a little bit at play.
Do you push him to exercise?
I don’t, not at all, because he is stubborn and I think it would not be good for our relationship. I would support it, absolutely. He has this feeling about exercise and about doing anything around the house that’s fixing things.
I don’t change my oil or wiper blades. I don’t know how to do any of that stuff. When I do, it’s awful. It’s an all-day project.
I find it funny because Tom is the coolest and collected person except when he’s not. He’s got two switches about that stuff.Like most things in life, tolerating discomfort is the key to ultimate success. Click To Tweet
If that switch breaks, God help us because I can’t fix it.
That’s what a handyman is for. I get on a treadmill for you.
It’s funny when you were talking about your best friend does makeup, my best friend does handyman work. He completely remodeled our basement. Whenever I have a project like that, I’m like, “Let me call Nick. Nick will do it.”
On a diet, one other thing that I also love about Robin is that she’s vegan. She’s plant-based and that she talks about it to me is amazing. I’ve been vegan for a few years and I’ve been vegetarian since I was ten years old, which is longer than I’d like to admit. To me, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.
Vegetarian at ten, is that a choice you made or was that your household?
I saw a documentary that showed the slaughterhouses and I saw the cows in cages where they couldn’t move. I saw the baby cows being taken from the mommy cows to be killed and made into veal. I saw that at ten and said, “That’s cruel. I don’t want to contribute to that system. I don’t think I can eat this. It has a face, it has a mommy, it has a heartbeat and I can’t do that.” I went into the kitchen and my mom was like, “You want to have a burger tonight?” I said, “I don’t think I can do that anymore.” She was like, “Tell me more.” My mom had been vegetarian before she was pregnant with me. I guess the doctor in those days didn’t know better. Her doctors said, “You have to eat meat while you’re pregnant,” and she did and had gone back to eating meat. When I became a vegetarian, she became vegetarian with me.
A few years ago, I went vegan because I started to learn about how the dairy industry contributes to the pain and suffering of animals and how it’s those dairy cows that they are keeping pregnant to produce the milk that is giving birth. Their girl cows are being turned into milk cows and the baby boys are being turned into veal. I was like, “I don’t want to contribute to that system.” I also started reading about the health of it that we have bought into this misconception that has been created by moneymakers that milk does the body well and that it gives us calcium. All the studies show that it’s the reverse. The countries that drink more milk and eat more dairy have more osteoporosis and have more problems. Milk is not a good way to get that calcium.
A lot of that food pyramid stuff that they came up within the ‘40s or whatever was because what do we have the most of that we need to unload.
Also, what companies are making money and more profit off of it. It’s shocking. I read a book called The Food Revolution when I went vegan and it was shocking to me to learn about the truth behind the fruit and what our bodies need and what they don’t. To me, that was a great book and also The Ethics of What We Eat helped me look at the ethical side of food and cruelty and animals. That for me was eye-opening. My favorite book on the plant-based side these days is Proteinaholic that’s written by Dr. Garth Davis. It’s such a phenomenal book. He is a weight loss surgeon who had put on a bunch of weight. At the time he was living in Texas and he got a call from some magazine saying like, “We’re doing a feature. We would love to write about you and take some photos. Can you tell me where do you usually exercise?” He says in the book, “I hadn’t exercised in years, but I used to go up and down the stairs. I do the stairs.” They meet him there, he does this photoshoot. He went up and down the stairs once or twice and realized he’s going to throw up. He’s out of shape. He makes an excuse. He says, “I have a patient that’s having an emergency. I’ve got to go.” He leaves and he throws up.
At the time, he was engaged to his wife and he went to get life insurance. The doctor who gave him an exam, they did an eye exam and they said, “You have cholesterol in your eyes.” He was a mess. He had IBS. He was falling apart. He is an obsessive researcher and he started to research what are the diets in the whole world where people live the longest. He started out, he studied the blue zones, which Dan Buettner wrote that examines where do people live the longest. He started looking at all the different kinds of diets like Mediterranean, vegetarian, vegan. Ultimately, he decided to go vegan because he felt that the studies and the research pointed to that’s what makes people live the longest. He ended up going off of all of his IBS medication. He ended up losing a ton of weight. He has so much energy that he now does triathlons, marathons and stuff like that. It’s a great book. I love his book because it’s such a great combination of sharing stories about himself and his experience as a weight loss doctor, but also about concrete research about diet, health and longevity.
I always think about being a vegan or vegetarian and I can’t even not eat chocolate.
There’s vegan chocolate. I come from a no deprivation mindset. My app is called No More Diets for a reason. It’s based on my Doctoral dissertation. That thing that helped me get over my eating disorder was not depriving myself. In this day and age, Ben & Jerry’s has vegan ice cream. There is vegan chocolate, there’s vegan cheese, there’s a vegan burger. That’s not the healthiest food, but it’s a lot better than some of the alternatives. You don’t have to be deprived if you’re vegan at all. This day and age, there is not a single food that I could think of at this point that I haven’t been able to find that I love the vegan version of.
I’ve heard many good things about that Impossible Burger.
It’s delicious. It’s good. They now have it at Fat Burger and they have it at Burger King, Carl’s Jr. It’s all over now.
You are a meat guy.
I know she doesn’t want to hear that, but when I was talking low carbs, she had to know what that meant.
There are great vegan meat options. Gardein, their Chick’n is fantastic. There are many great options. Beyond Burger also is good as well. Tofurky, their sausages, there are many great options.
I’ve done a lot of reading about the fact that they feel like meat these days can increase your chances of cancer cells growing. That has been of concern to me because just about everybody in my family has died from cancer of one kind or another. I am cognizant of that. I haven’t stopped eating all animal products. I still eat eggs and I still have some meat, but it’s mostly chicken. I drastically reduced it. If we go out to eat, it’s like a black bean burger instead of a burger.
Do you eat a burger and when you’re done, you’re like, “Did I eat that?”
Have you guys seen the documentary, The Game Changers? You have to see it. It’s good. It is a documentary that they look at these top athletes like NFL football players, Olympic gold medalists, runners, swimmers, ultra-marathoners, super athletes, the best of the best. They talk about the vegan diet and plant-based diet and how it affects performance. It’s quite fascinating. There’s even an interesting thing where they have these three NFL players eat meat and then they measure their erections after they eat meat versus after they eat a meat substitute. The amount of blood flow that these guys had compared to when they ate meat was off the charts. All of these guys were like, “I’m never touching meat again.” I am ready to conquer. It was amazing. A lot of these football teams, a lot of these guys are going vegan.
I have to have a major mind shift. You said there’s a relationship with food that it’s comfort food. I enjoy many things that I grew up with that there’s this comfort food piece to it, but I don’t know that I can. I’m not great at eating the things I know I should. It scares me to even think about like, “Now we’re going to add even more things that you can’t eat.”
If you think that way, for sure because then it becomes deprivational. What if you instead are saying, “I’m going to try and set up having chicken. I’m going to try a Gardein Chick’n instead and see what that’s like.”
How do you do that when you travel? Surely there’s somebody you’d visit that doesn’t necessarily eat the way you do. How do you approach that?
In the decade that I have been vegan, I have never once had a problem. I have to say that’s not entirely accurate. When I first started, it was more difficult than now. Now, it’s easy. First of all, you can always get pasta and vegetables. You can always get rice, you can always get a salad. It’s easy. Also, now most places have the Impossible Burger, they have Beyond Burger. They have all these things. I have an app that’s called HappyCow. When I travel, I live for this app because it tells you every vegan, vegetarian and veg-friendly restaurant and store within the vicinity. People write reviews. They post pictures. I’ve used it in Rome. I’ve used it all over the world. I’m going to be going to Australia to do a speaking engagement. I’ll be using it there, but it makes it easy. I have friends that have used it in Russia, Japan, Africa. It’s not difficult to be vegan now. It’s easy.
I will say this as a meat-eater that as the meat substitutes get better, easier to access and taste more like real thing, I do think that 100 years or 150 years from now, the thing that those generations will look back on us on it’d be like, “What is wrong with those people?” I do think that way.
When you look at the studies, when you look at the China study, which is one of the longest longitudinal studies of diet and of all of these health risks. Everything over and over again says that meat and dairy had been linked to cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and these are the top three killers in this country. To me, it’s about self-care and it’s also about there are many good options to replace things. You have to change your mindset to be open to them, but when you taste them, they’re good options.
You’ve made a compelling case. I’m going to have to do some more research. One of my coworkers, he’s not vegan, but he’s heavily vegetarian. He doesn’t eat much that’s animal byproduct at all.
My friend, Kathy Freston, wrote a book called The Book of Veganish, one of the things that I love about her is that she has a gentle approach to going vegan. She believes in leaning in, starting with a meatless Monday, starting with saying like, “I’m not going to eat pigs,” and then see how that goes. Maybe you say, “I’m not going to eat lamb.” You add animal by animal. She has a gentle approach and that she believes in you don’t want to be too all or nothing because for some people, that’s not going to work. For a lot of people, that’s a great approach. She’s written a number of fantastic books. She did Oprah’s vegan challenge. She’s well-known in the vegan community because she’s someone who brought it mainstream. A big part of how she was able to do that is because she has such a gentle approach.
I love how you can say this stuff at the top of your head. You know the books they wrote. You know what they’re about.
I’m a bit obsessive. If something interests me, then I go all the way.
Speaking of, have you been out to Peloton? Have you been to the headquarters and taken rides in the studio?
I have not, but I am dying to. Matty and Olivia were talking about Homecoming and I’m contemplating going.
You should go. It’s a good time.
We will be there. If you go, will you let us know because I would love to show purpose in person?
I would love that and I can nag Tom in person.
I promise you there are plenty of people there who do.
We could all gang up on him. It’ll be fun.
Tom, let me ask you, if I go to Peloton New York, would you get on a treadmill with me?
How upset would Crystal be if after all this time me saying no to her, I said yes to you? You’re supposed to make marriages stronger.
She wants you there for longevity. I bet you that she’d be okay. Right, Crystal?
There you go. Baby steps, this is the key.
She said walk, Tom. She didn’t say you had to take a ride.
If you are my client in therapy, you came in talking about this, I’d say you are banned from running. You are not allowed to run. Under no circumstance should you be running.
That’s smart. She’s got you pegged. She’ll tell you what you can’t do.
A gentle walk, that’s it. Don’t go faster than 2.0. Nothing too fast, don’t break a sweat.
They don’t have classes like that during Homecoming.
You get on the Tread. You walk a little, see what happens. Let go of the child trauma and walk slow. Do your thing.
You’re making him squirm.
You can do it while giving the finger to the football team.
Do you feel comfortable telling us your leaderboard name so that people can follow you?
Can I keep mine private? I only follow back to people I know personally. I post on my social media about my workouts and who I’ve taken. In my Insta Stories, at this point, I post every day showing what classes I’ve taken and people will message me and be like, “I like that class,” or that thing.
Tell people where all those things are so they can find them.
You can find me on social media on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, @DrJennMann.
We always ask this question, but I feel like you will have extra good thoughts on this. Do you have any advice for people starting out?
I have lots of advice for people starting out, Tom. I would say be gentle, start slow. I would say experiment with different instructors and different classes. I am adamant and obsessive with people who are new exercisers about setting small, manageable goals. The number one mistake I see people who are starting out exercising make is too much, too fast, especially around New Year’s, “I’m going to work out seven days a week for an hour a day.” Don’t even set that goal. You’re going to get injured. You’re going to hate it. It’s going to be horrible. Start with twenty minutes, “I’m going to walk for twenty minutes once a week.” When you accomplish that goal for a couple of weeks, add in another second twenty minutes once a week. Build with small, achievable goals. Because the thing is that when we set goals and we don’t meet them, we start to think of ourselves as someone who doesn’t keep our word to ourselves. That is incredibly destructive for us. What you want to do is set those small, manageable goals, build on them and start to build on your view of yourself as, “I’m someone who keeps my commitments to myself. I’m someone who meets my goals.” It opens up much to you.
The other thing is in the beginning, don’t expect to love it. Like most things in life, tolerating discomfort is the key to ultimate success. When I started running again, when I got that Tread and I go, “I’ll walk. Maybe I’ll do a little running.” What got me to where I am now, which I’ve come a long way. Now I can do an hour class and I can follow what the instructor says. In the beginning, twenty minutes was a struggle and it was a struggle at a 5.0 and now I can do hills and I can go faster and I can do all kinds of things. The only way that I got there was by tolerating discomfort and being willing to work through that. I believe in that, not just with exercise, but in life.
Including emotional discomfort.
As Tom has experienced, the emotional discomfort of this interview with me.
I have never seen him squirm.
My goal in life is to have Tom on a treadmill at 2.0 or slower.
If you do, we’re going to have to ask John Foley to be present because he was like, “Tom, really? You’re never going to get on the Bike?” and Tom was like, “No.”
It’s like you don’t want to hear Harpo Marx talk. You think you do, but you don’t.
I will not rest until I see you on a Tread at 2.0 or less.
Not moving is less.
It’s small manageable goals. We’ll stand on it for one minute and that’s how you start.
She’s not going to let this go.
He’ll be like, “I wish I never gave her my number. It’s Dr. Jenn again.”
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day.
It is my pleasure. This was fun and it’s fun to get to talk Peloton with other Peloton nerds. Poor Eric. Let me tell you about my run with Olivia and he’s so sweet. He’s such a good partner. He’s like, “I want to hear all about it.” It’s a whole other thing when you talk to someone else who’s like, “I did this run with Olivia,” and like, “What do you think about this one with Matty?” “Have you checked out this?” It’s exciting and fun. I love doing this and I appreciate you guys having me.
This has been fabulous. Thank you so much.
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