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Everything You Need To Know About The Tonal Strength Institute Troy Taylor
There’s a new way to do Feedback Friday.
- There’s new Tonal gear.
- Tonal is making it easier to share your workouts to Instagram & Facebook.
- Tons of new content including Dynamic Weight Mode Build, Full Body Burn, & Alleviate Soreness.
- Coach Jackson got married!
- Coach Trace’s Reverse Training Birthday Workout.
- A new Ask Coach Nicolette is happening.
- Community Coordinator Dia Woodbury is having a baby!
- Vinny shows off his Tonal on Jersey Shore Family Vacation.
- The February Challenge will be Coach Jared’s Divide And Conquer.
- Read Between The Reps for January is Dr. Dana Cohen’s Quench: Beat Fatigue, Drop Weight, and Heal Your Body Through the New Science of Optimum Hydration.
- Check out Tonal’s new official book club Facebook group.
- Tonal’s SVP of Product (Sumner Paine) lifted his 30 millionth pound.
Watch the episode here:
Listen to the podcast here:
Everything You Need To Know About The Tonal Strength Institute Troy Taylor
We are back from winter break. We took a little break there but now, we are back and once it’s better, it’s never the same as ever.
Our New Year’s resolution is to be the same as ever.
We try to set goals that are achievable. Our New Year’s resolution, “Just don’t get worse.” You’ve got to get better, just don’t get worse.
We can do that.
It’s going to be a jump ball but we will give at the old, “I dropped out of college try.” What pre-tell do you have in store for people?
We are going to talk about the new system for Feedback Friday, the new Tonal gear that dropped new features, new content. Of course, we have our interview with Troy Taylor talking all about the Tonal Strength Institute, which you are not going to want to miss.
Before we get to all that shameless plugs, don’t forget we are available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast, TuneIn, iHeart, wherever you find a podcast, you can find us. While you are there, be sure and follow us, so you will never miss an episode. Also, maybe rate and leave us a review, so people that come along after, you know that we are worth checking out that we’ve got good information. Also, if you are a Spotify listener, you can now rate reviews on Spotify.
I want to point something out. People get intimidated when they think they have to say a whole bunch with reviews. You can literally do a star rating if you are uncomfortable and then just be like, “I like it.” That’s all you’ve got to do. I promise it won’t be hard. If you don’t know how to do that on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, reach out to us because we can walk you through it.
You can like, “Real quick, Tom is the funniest person I have ever heard in my life, five stars,” and you are done. That’s all you’ve got to say. Easy peasy.
There’s a little more involved than I was thinking.
I’m trying to help them facilitate. How about this? “Tom is the funniest.” Four words, you are done.
I’m here, too.
New plan of attack. Here we go. “Crystal’s husband is the funniest.”
It’s not quite what I had in mind.
I’m trying to meet you halfway and you’ve got to give me a little wiggle room here. I’m trying and you are just shooting down everything. You can also find us on Facebook, Facebook.com/supersetpodcast. While you are there, like the page, join the group. Later on, we’ve got a cute dog video. You can watch these episodes on YouTube. If you go to our YouTube channel, which is called YouTube.com/theclipout because that’s the name of our other show but both shows live on that channel. You can watch these in HD glory. There’s all that. Let’s dig in, shall we?
If you have tips for Tonal, not tips on how to use Tonal but tips for Tonal the company. Not Tonal the machine. There’s a new way to give them your input.
In the past, you went on Facebook and there was voting. At the beginning of every Friday, the end of the week, at the beginning of the day, there was a thread and you would add in a new option like how you can add to voting options on Facebook. You could add your own. Kate would gather up all of them, and then at the end of the month, you’ve got to vote like, “Here’s my favorite for the month.” You were supposed to only vote on three.
That way, the ones that were most important to people would float up to the top over a given month. Now, a new thread will be posted on the first Friday and that thread will be open until the next one is pinned. You get to comment about content coaching programs. They do suggest and actually plead. Please, read the thread first to see if your idea has already been suggested because they have to aggregate it manually.
Kate is like a human abacus.
It’s actually their whole team, not just Kate and it’s still hard. That way, make sure every idea is in its own separate comments. If you have 3 ideas, don’t just do 1 comment, do 3 different comments but they want to know them all. Whenever get everybody to vote on it, you can like and comment on other ideas. When you like somebody else’s idea, you are voting for it. You can vote for your favorites. Isn’t that great?
Yes. That’s a great little system they’ve got going on there. I was trying to say set up, and then halfway through, I was going to put it to a system and it came out system, which you should have someone look at to make sure it’s benign. That’s how that works. I’m not a doctor but get it checked out.
There’s also a new Tonal gear. Apparently, this is the thing you want because when I clicked the link, it took me straight to this thing.
That’s because that’s the one Kate was asking for her birthday. She even put her size out there, in case anybody went.
They come in abacus. If you are wondering, if you have an abacus in your life and you are like, “But would this Tonal gear fit my abacus?” The answer is yes, it will.
The one thing that I did went was already sold out. I already messaged Kate that day and I was like, “I really hope you guys get this back in. That would be nice.”
What is this called?
This is a bra by ONZIE.
Are they just selling you the bra here?
Yes. What did you think was happening?
It says onesie but I see two pieces.
That’s the brand. You’re such a boy.
I don’t buy a lot of sports bras. I look at them but I don’t buy a lot. I feel like you do the buying and it’s yours I’m looking at but I’m not looking at the label, spoiler alert.
ONZIE is a brand.
That was clear. I was like, “Maybe it’s called Onzie or Fonzie without the F.”
Maybe it is ONZIE and I have been calling it onesie this whole time.
I was just like, “But there are two pieces there. I don’t even understand anymore.” It’s a brand and you are not buying the whole thing for people that are reading or don’t know what we are talking about. It’s like a sports bra, and then leggings on but then I thought it was pronounced One Z-2, One Z also. I’m making it more confusing. “Who’s on first?” “I don’t know, third base.”
ONZIE Sacred Bra.
The takeaway is new Tonal gear. We made that clear. We didn’t make anything else clear but we made that clear.
There is a new way for you to share your workout with the Facebook and Instagram world.
Now when you are sharing it, what you do is, you click on it, and then you click share, and then it asks like, “You could go right to Instagram stories?” and that graphic goes right on Instagram stories. You can add little fun strong man arms. Of course, you’ve got to tag Tonal, @Tonal. It’s great because you can do it right from the app now. You don’t have to download the picture, go to Instagram, then load it. It’s very nice.
They need some muscle arms that are less muscly.
That’s like Instagram’s. You need to ask Instagram for that because that’s an emoji.
I’m like, “Not that I’m going to share anything. I haven’t checked my Instagram in forever,” but it’s like, “I feel like it’s lying to share the big muscle arm there. They need like.” You know that thing when Bugs Bunny would make a muscle and it would go the other way? I need that.
That’s not true because I have seen your biceps. You are being very modest, Mr. O’Keefe.
I’m a regular Bugs Bunny, I tell you that.
As always, there is a veritable crapload of new content and I’m sure Tonal loves it when I refer to it as crapload. I mean crapload in the best possible way.
It’s a metric that you measure by. It’s not a statement on quality.
Especially since we have been out for a little while, there’s so much. Do you want me to blow through some of the good stuff that came online?
Absolutely. We have new strength, there’s dynamic weight mode, build with Coach Pablo 40 minutes. It’s all about using the dynamic weight modes.
I was really excited about this one. Do you know how you only half-read something sometimes? I thought it said, “Dynamic weight, alomode.
You thought it was ice cream?
Right. I was like, “Tonal has really stepped it up in 2022 that they are working on ice cream into the workouts,” but apparently, it was not meant to be.
I think you were hungry when you read it.
I’m not even into a Metpro. I am never hungry.
You were craving ice cream. There’s a new quick fit, a full body burnout with Coach Liz only nineteen minutes. Get the full-body workout.
I thought it said new quick trip and I was like, “I’m going to get me one of them chicken rollers.”
Are you sure you are not hungry? You sound hungry. There’s alleviate soreness with Coach Francis, hips and hammy opener with Coach Nikki, new bar barbell glutes with Coach Francis. If you need a tushy builder, we’ve got a new warmup, instant motivation with Coach Liz. I highly recommend this new mobility roller release with Coach Allison, 24 minutes of foam rolling. Also, recovery core and stretch with Coach Nicolette, new cardio with Coach Amy, meditation with Coach Allison. There’s even more because there’s a new program and it’s divide and conquer with Coach Jared. Now, Tom, I believe this is what you are working on. Tell the folks how it’s going.
I have been doing it.
You were telling me in all seriousness. For anybody who hasn’t looked into this one yet, 5 times a week for 4 weeks, just so you know, Tom, we are going to talk about this because it is going to be the challenge program of the month of February.
I already did it. I win.
I don’t think that’s how it works. What I am curious about is you were saying that it’s deceptive in that as you are working on it. It’s good. Afterward, all of a sudden, it’s catching up with you.
It’s because it focuses on one specific muscle group. When you are doing it, you are like, “This isn’t so bad. If you are saying this is going to work, whatever, Jared.” The next day you’re like, “I did do something yesterday.”
It turns out Jared knows what he’s talking about.
My apologies, Jared. It did catch me off guard. The first time I did the core day or whatever, it was like, “Whatever.” The next day, when I’m getting into bed, I was like, “Holy crap.”
You were like, what have I done?
I get up to pee about eight times in the night. That’s doing a whole other set in the middle of the night of core stuff.
That would explain why you were hollow-body rocking in the middle of the night. This was actually released a little bit earlier in the month. There were more quick fit workouts, quick shred with Coach Nikki, high-intensity, head to toe with Coach Woody. That’s a full-body, 36 minutes. Quick fit upper body TKO with Coach Pablo and a new yoga hip and back love with Coach Francis.
Positive energy with Coach Nikki, and then a new bar with bar burner for legs with Coach Gabby. New warmup, lower body love with Coach Allison, new chest day recovery with Coach Liz, new cardio, and then a new meditation maintain your motivation with Coach Jake. Tons and tons of new things not to mention, this is all in addition to all of the live classes that are happening each week because there are new classes being recorded daily.
In the month of January, the challenge was to do the fast track to fitness, and they had two different tracks that you could do. One was for beginners and one was for intermediate. The reason that I tell you this is because they had a new class every single day that you could take. On your trainer, there was a row that was a fast track row, so you could go right to that for your classes. You could either do it live every day when the classes came out or you could do it on demand, either way, you wanted to approach it but a whole new way to approach classes and programs and I loved it. It was great.
You said there was a row, I was like, “Tonal got a rower out before Peloton did?”
Coach Jackson got married.
They’ve got married-married a little bit ago. They had a private ceremony, legal proceeding here in the US but they went down to Cabo. They were supposed to have this happen way back whenever COVID hit. They’ve finally, got to do their wedding in Cabo and coaches were there. I’m not sure who all was there but I know for a fact that I saw Coach Pablo.
Did he go just because it rhymes with Pablo and Cabo?
I’m sure that was why. They all seem to have a great time and hopefully, we will get to see pictures soon.
Coach Trace’s birthday will have occurred by the time you read this.
It was on Monday the 24th. Happy birthday to Coach Trace.
He had his reverse training birthday workout, and four people were suitably cruel.
I’m sure they were because it was a 31-minute Tonal workout, I assume because he’s turning 31.
I was like, “I can guarantee you, it was a Tonal worker. I don’t know why you would assume that.”
I hope that he had a great birthday.
There was an Ask Coach Nicolette segment for people.
On Thursday, January 27th at 4:00 PM. Pacific time, you were able to go in and ask coach Nicolette anything. If you didn’t get to catch that real-time, you can go back and check it out on demand.
Also, some exciting news for the Community Coordinator, Dia Woodbury. She is having a baby.
She’s welcoming her second child into the world. It’s at any day now. I didn’t even know she was pregnant, so congratulations. She is going to be taking some time off. She will be going home to take care of her kiddo. While she’s out on maternity leave, Devin Reese will be filling in Dia’s shoes. Welcome to Devin and congrats again to Dia. I thought this was really funny by the way, Devin is joining Tonal from the Tonal retort retail team. She’s coming into the community from the retail team but check this out. She and Kate were in the same class in fifth grade.
How about that? Why just fifth grade?
I don’t know.
I wanted to hear that story.
It was just fifth grade. It wasn’t like K through fifth.
One of them moved in, then one of them moved out. Maybe they redid the districts and then redid them again.
I think there was a falling out and one of them had to leave school. That’s what I’m going with.
Do you think it was Kate? It’s because she’s a little bit of a troublemaker.
She probably used her human abacus powers.
To do what? To math Devin?
She math-her. Math is evil. She math shamed her. She had to go to the non-abacus school. She was like, “You’ve got a calculator over there. You are a little baby calculator user.”
That sounds like Kate. Maybe they made up. I hope this will be a happy ending.
They are mature adults now. We live in a world where calculators and abaci, I believe that’s a plural of the abacus, can walk peacefully hand in hand.
Between the lockers in the school hallway.
We have talked about this person being in possession of a Tonal previously but I’m not 100%.
I cannot remember but I did verify this happened a few months ago. Apparently, Tonal gifted it to him.
Vinny from Jersey Shore are both MTV shows. She has a Tonal. Maybe that’s not news to you but it was on the most recent episode of Jersey Shore. You’ve got to see him utilizing his Tonal.
Just so you know, people in the community instantly made fun of the fact that he’s working out in socks and slides, which I didn’t even notice. Also, for those of you judging, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t really like working out, working out. It was just for the film.
Give us some footage of you using that contraption and he’s like, “Here you go.” I work on socks. Am I not supposed to do that?
It’s the slides.
I hate things like that. I like shoes.
Also, I hear that he has posted about this since he did move back to Jersey, back to the East Coast, so apparently, the Tonal went with him.
That would be rude if they gave him one and he left it behind. That would be a dick move. He also has Peloton right there for people that did Peloton, he has one of those as well.
Same with Snooki.
The latest Tonal talk was Motivation Workshop with Coach Jackson.
I love this because it talks about getting stuck. You make a goal, especially around January, if you are a person who does resolutions, then you start the month, going great. All of a sudden, life happens because life always happens and you get stuck. How do you keep going, either now there’s this obstacle in your way or you’ve lost motivation? This tonal talk addresses both. It’s fabulous.
February is almost upon us, which means the February challenge will be here soon as we have delineated, I have already successfully completed the February challenge, so I am the winner.
Not really. You know, why not really? It’s because the actual February challenge has more than just divide and conquer. They put other workouts on the calendar. To really complete it, you need to do those workouts as well.
I then quit. I need coach Jackson’s motivation Tonal bot.
This is going to be a lot of fun. People have been asking for a classic bodybuilding split program. It will be a lot of fun for people to do together because it’s a great program that it’s going to be very challenging. An hour of legs, that’s a lot of legs.
That’s the rough one. The other parts I haven’t really bothered me all but that leg day one is like, “Oof.”
You needed the whole hour. Usually, you Zoom through them.
That one was like, “He says only 51 minutes.” I was like, “Not the way I do it.”
There is also a new read between the reps for January. We didn’t really get to talk about it too much. It’s Dr. Dana Cohen’s you might want to grab a snack because this is the longest book title, Quench: Beat Fatigue, Drop Weight, and Heal Your Body Through the New Science of Optimum Hydration.
They had a little bit of a bit to it. I feel like you could have made that into a song. On that note, if you haven’t gotten a chance to read it, it might be a little late since you are at the end of the month but don’t fear because here’s the thing. There is a brand new Facebook group that handles nothing but the official book club. You can go out there and get the link, so you can find Tonals New Book Club: Read Between the Reps, and then you will always know every month exactly what everyone is reading.
It’s a great place I’m sure to go and have your own conversation, not have to wait for the video chat and whatnot, the Zoom links. You can talk about it on the fly right there.
I wonder what February’s book is going to be.
Senior Vice President of Product Sumner Paine is going his 30 million-pound.
That is an astounding number. They needed to be including 30 million pounds lifted on his Tonal. I love that he did it live. He did it on one of the live workouts. A group of people from the Tonal crew got together. Kate encourages people, “Let’s come on and come together and celebrate him.” Everybody hopped on and celebrated with him. This was a fun fact that Kate included. Did you know that Sumner was actually the one who founded the official Tonal community way back in 2018?
Another fun fact. He was in fifth grade with Kate.
Kate and Devin were all in the same class. They are besties.
She used to make fun of him for using the speak and spell. Kate was a terror.
Finally, the cute dog video that we promised.
Coach Brendon posted this in the Official Tonal Community. Apparently, the original Reel is two and a half minutes long with this dog. The dog walked up to him and was like, “I’m going to sit on your chest now while you continue to use the Tonal.”
I don’t know what it’s called the bench chest fly or something like that. The dog was like, “Pay attention to me now.”
It gives him a big old hug. I love that he gives him a hug. That’s the sweetest. It had to be included.
This is what Twix tries to do to us. Our dog is always like, “You will pay attention to me now,” or when you get down on the match, she’s like, “Are we doing that?”
She thinks her downward dogs are our downward dogs and then she wants to get underneath. I love how he just keeps holding the dog. Now Twix would not be okay with that.
That dog is not like to be held.
You can hug her but no picking up. None of that. What a wonderful little video. It made me so happy. I’m glad Coach Brendan shared that.
Joining us all the way from the Tonal Strength Institute is Troy Taylor. Troy, how is it going?
I’m doing awesome. Thanks for having me on. How are you doing?
I’m good. It sounds like the Total Strength Institute is breeding superheroes.
That might be triggering for you because didn’t one of your openings for your movie podcast was something about the Snark Institute or something.
On Reel Spoilers, I always say, “Broadcasting from the basement of the O’Keefe Institute for Advanced Film, Snarkitute.”
I thought we should get it shortened to TSI.
Every time we change locations where we record from, I have to come up with a new one. It’s the fourth one I have had to come up with in the time we have been doing the show.
That’s probably why it feels superhero-y.
We are not breeding them yet, but we are trying to take some science and bring it into the program.
Because of your awesome Tonal background there, it looks like you have got a superhero on the wall already. There’s one up there. Who is that? Is that Jared or Jackson?
It’s not Jackson. I know it’s our Stanford studio. I have never been there with COVID and things.
Where in the world are you located?
I’m in Park City, Utah. I originally came over here in 2004. My previous role brought me to the mountains of Utah. I managed to stay here when I took the role at Tonal. There’s a little bit of snow outside.
Let’s start right out of the gate. Tell the people about the Tonal Strength Institute.
I have been on board at the Tonal Strength Institute for the last few months now. I’m the first employee of the Strength Institute. We have grown a little bit since then but we exist to infuse cutting-edge human performance knowledge into the DNA of Tonal. To break that down a little bit, human performance means everyone who is a human, we are interested in. Whether you are a sixteen-year-old, new to training and never done that or you are like me in my 40s. If you have knee issues and you are trying to manage those. You are maybe in your 60s and post-menopausal. The whole gamut is what we are interested in.
It’s not just about how we train but that’s a big portion, the physiology, and biomechanics of what happens with muscles. It’s also about what is happening in the brain and neuroscience or behavioral science. We are trying to bring the best practices from the science world and from what we know. Developing new knowledge within that space and making sure that Tonal is on the cutting-edge of what we can know about human performance.
People love to say, “I did my own research.” You actually do.
We have got a number of projects that are up and running and a lot more in the pipeline. We do our own research for sure.
What led to the evolvement of the TSI existing? Why does it exist?
If you talk to Aly, our Founder, and CEO, it has always been a vision to have this brain trust around this human performance knowledge to advance essentially everything that Tonal could do. It has been in the conception or at least in mind forever. Once Tonal started getting traction and we started to explode, it was the point to pull the trigger. It has always been part of the plan.You can find science to support anything if you dig harder. Click To Tweet
It’s about infusing what we can do from the human performance side and the best practice knowledge there with the data science side and the wizardry that goes down with the algorithm creation. It’s the melding between those to create something unique. We exist to be on that cutting-edge and make sure that Tonal is leading the way not just now but in 12, 18, 24 or 36 months. We always have new and latest cutting-edge practices to bring to our membership.
Is there anything that the end-user would do or see that you could be like, “We did that?”
Absolutely. It doesn’t exist for the sake of science. It’s around how we inform the product. A good use case example of that coming up right now is one of the advisory board members that we work with is a professor by the name of Brad Schoenfeld. He is very well-known in the muscle hypertrophy world. He is one of the leading researchers in the world in academics. For Tonal, he is writing our hypertrophy positioning statement, “What does Tonal believe about how sets and programs need to develop if we are interested in muscle mass?”
That will then go and transform into how you see programs moving forward in the future. That will have these guideline principles that the Strength Institute develops. Our coaches and programming team work to develop it on how that would be inserted. We have to have, let’s say, at least ten sets of volume a week if we want to be interested in hypertrophy. We don’t have to just work in 8 to 10 reps or 8 to 12 reps. It used to be a classic hypertrophy range.
There’s research that we can do that in as low as 6 and as high as 20 reps. That we don’t have to go to failure, but we need to go fairly close to failure. We need to get to 1 or 2 Reps in Reserve. It’s close. All of those principles that come out of the science will lead the way into the product through program creation. When you go in and click on the latest Go Big or Go Home Program or whatever it may be, it will have the groundwork and framework from the institute.
That’s fascinating that you are saying you don’t have to go to failure. Everything I have always heard whenever I hear people talk about that is like, “Go to failure.” When I’m doing this, I’m like, “I’m not going to fail. Am I not doing this right? Does it know who I am? Is there a special asterisk like, ‘Don’t do Tom too much because he will quit?'”
There’s good science behind but maybe sometimes it’s okay and people want to push themselves, not against it. Going down all the time, every set certainly is not only not beneficial but it’s also detrimental to training. It adds more fatigue and burns out your central nervous system.
I listened to your Tonal Talk with Kate. I remember you talking about the fact that one of the things that are being worked in here in one of your mini-projects is how people do react like, “What does motivate them?” I don’t know if it’s being looked into or in the pipeline, but I remember you talking about that because I thought that was fascinating.
It’s a project in its infancy. It’s about to kick off. After MLK Day, a new behavioral scientist starts within the institute. It will be his first day. He will have some deliverables. I want a delivered report by the end of the day. Hopefully, he will read this. It’s a good prep for onboarding. It’s a super interesting area where we do want to understand, “What signals can we ask people? What signals can we get from Tonal itself around how people are engaging with the product and their programs?”
I’m joking about like, “I don’t want to go to failure.” I bet people who have been lifting weights for years at this point probably don’t believe that they are working out as they should be.
Like most training methodologies, people get into a habit and they get into a rut, “This is what I do. This is the way I do it. This is the way I train.” If you have been training to failure for the last ten years, it depends on how your gains are going. You are still making progress and then maybe it works for you, but science would say, “If you plateau, what do we do when we plateau?” Some people push through and push harder, “I’ve got to add more and do extra,” whereas I might need to back off and give myself a little more recovery. There are interesting ways that we can incorporate that into the product.
I pretty much always err on the side of recovery.
You are always focused on your recovery, Tom. By that, he means a nap.
I give a great presentation on the power of napping. It’s good for memory formation and recovery.
Tonal Strength Institute is on my side. I’m going to start sending you notes of things I want you to back me up on.
You can find silence to support anything if you dig harder.
What projects are you working on so far then? I know you have got a lot. You can pick a few.
It’s busy and exciting times. I will pick out a couple that maybe have already happened. We are ready to share a couple that is still in the works, but it’s not super confidential. The first project that we took on the board was the feels like study. If you read forums, I’m sure it has come up in your show and others that Tonal feels heavy. A 200 or 100 pounds on Tonal doesn’t feel the same. It feels heavier than free weights.
We partnered with High Point University out of North Carolina and Professor Kevin Ford out there to study that. We took a bunch of subjects and fifteen resistance-trained individuals. The professor took them to their 1RMs on Tonal and free weight. We measured EMG activation. It’s their muscle activations. Long story short, it’s about 20% to 25% heavier on Tonal. It depends a little bit on the exercise. Lifting 200 pounds on Tonal is more like lifting 225 to 250 pounds in free weight.
Will that cause you to adjust what the numbers say or will you leave them where they are at?
The current plan of record is to keep them what they are because the weight that we see on the dial is the weight. If you hung 50 pounds off of the handle, it is 50 pounds. It’s all to do with movement and the way that it moves. When you work with free weights, if you pull on the weight, you get this momentum inertia. It’s a positive benefit. It takes more work off your muscles and gives you a bit of free stuff. On Tonal, the way it works is you have to push through the entire range of motion. I can get a better activation of the muscle.
We are not necessarily changing it, but we are considering ways that we can incorporate that either into the product if people want to know that or into the mobile app. Maybe through an editorial feed, we can give some information around how people might think. If you are on vacation and your hotel doesn’t have a Tonal, you wouldn’t work out. Why would anyone want to do that on vacation? Some people do want to do that. If they want to go and train in a gym that doesn’t have a Tonal, they get an indication, “This is probably what should bench press or deadlift be like.”
That was project number one that was out of the way and we were ready to talk about it. We have been spending a lot of time on our advisory board and building that up. If you listened to Kate, we went through that on Tonal Talk. We have seven individuals who are experts. They are working on positioning statements. It’s much like that Brad hypertrophy that’s going to make its way into the products.
Stacy Sims is an expert in female physiology. She is the author of the book ROAR. It’s around female training and how that might adjust, “How do we optimally train at different stages of female development from post-puberty to pre-menopausal to post-menopausal? How could we modify our training so we can develop programs that are aligned to that?” It’s super exciting.
We are working on a project around understanding feedback and the best ways to get your feedback. It’s a well-researched topic area. We have great Form Feedback. There are 200 or maybe more cues that we can give people. How do we best give that to help people learn? We are in the business of trying to help people improve. Can we modify that? How can we modify that in the future through feedback? We are working on a whole bunch of projects around there. Most of those projects will be released.
Do you need anybody on your advisory board to represent the lazy? I’m asking for a friend who is too lazy to ask himself.
I’m not bad at representing that voice. I touched some aspects into that. If I’m ever in doubt and I need subject-matter expertise on that topic area, I will be sure to give you a call.
Give me a heads-up because it might take me a couple of days because I’m lazy.
I used to work with a shot-putter way back when. He would have this little bike that he would pedal up to the shot put ring. He is 350 or 400 pounds. He is a huge guy. He was like, “It’s too much energy to walk. I’ve got to get this little bike to walk.” He managed to throw the shot put ridiculously at a far distance.
He was saving that energy for that moment.
I aspire to be a sloth. That would be a step in the right direction.
This was back when it was okay to say things like a spirit animal. We don’t do that anymore. He did one year dress up as a sloth for Halloween in the fun of finding animals that he was most like. What are you excited about? Is there one in particular that stands above all the rest?
There are a lot of exciting projects that we are working on. My favorite one is around some of our studies around Dynamic Weight Modes. For those that use them, Eccentric changed Smart Flex. There’s a reasonable body of research around Eccentric training and how beneficial it is, but no one has been able to do it the way that Tonal does it. The traditional way of doing it in the gym is you have to load up these clunky plates with either of your 2 legs up or 1 leg down. You overload the central portion. They fall off when you get to the bottom, so it reduces the weight.You increase quicker if you do a program than if you do individual workouts. Click To Tweet
You typically are now going to be able to study it in 1 or 2 repetitions or in this bilateral to unilateral. It’s a 2-footed or 1-footed example, whereas Tonal makes that with a touch of a button and it’s every rep. We are doing a bunch of research around that, with Brad initially around muscle hypertrophy. There’s a whole avenue of research that we can go down there, which unlocks a huge potential of beneficial gains for our membership, smarter or more efficient ways to train and get more out of the same level of training. That’s the area that I’m most excited for us to dive into, peel back, and show our members how best to utilize those.
I love the Smart Flex because I feel like it always helps me push through whenever I’m stuck on something. It will be interesting to see what the research bears out. My anecdotal evidence is that the Smart Flex does help you get to the next level and smooth out the strength that you are able to do for each rep. It will be interesting to see if the evidence shows that or if it’s all in my head.
It’s purely a hypothesis in this benefit, but I agree with you. We call it sticking points in parts of the lift where you can’t push through and Smart Flex would help those. Typically, the activation profile of a muscle is light. It gets activated. There’s a peak and it goes down. Whereas with Smart Flex, we are titrating the weight, so you get the optimal contraction or activity. The hypothesis would be the same. I’m excited to see how that plays out. We will find out soon.
Do you feel like the Tonal Strength Institute will evolve over time? Where are you headed now? Do you think it will look different when we look at it a year from now?
Yeah, absolutely. We have got a behavioral scientist and TSI coordinator. We are still in a crawl-walk-run analogy. We are a toddler that’s getting to the steps. We are still building the team and the capacity. We have got fifteen or so research projects that are lined up to be commissioned. We are going to be bringing on various PhD students to work either through the institute themselves or through our partnered universities and academics that we work with. We are doing a lot around some of the professional sports space. We will be talking about some of the things around the athletes on Tonal.
We are going to continue to evolve. No one has done this before, which is exciting for me and a little nerve-racking. We get to break new ground. There are other institutes out there or other kinds of research arms, but no one has a business model that is designed for us to continue to iterate, be knowledgeable and be the leader in this space. Our leadership team, our CEO and the C-Suite board are super dedicated to us doing that. It’s an exciting time.
Is there any aspect of strength training or fitness in general that you think you will be able to research in a way that you have never been able to tap into before because of Tonal?
The biggest area that we can unlock is data and understanding the thousands of members that use and train. We have the world’s largest strength training database. Everything that I infer from science when I do the research or my career previously or academics is in the strength training world, it’s relatively small and very targeted groups. It’s typically 12 to 20. It’s generally 18 to 24-year-old male university students. That’s what we know as the research is done about. There are some researchers that expand outside of that, but still, very small groups.
The biggest unlock for Tonal is we have these thousands of members who are training on our device multiple times a week. Being able to glean the information with all data-privacy-related things de-identified, but understand how people make progress in the real world and bring that back into the product itself. We can cherry-pick, “We want to look at this particular cohort, segment or group of individuals. We are going to take 40-year-old females that train at least three times a week. What is more effective? Let’s compare this program versus those programs in a real-world setting, either through A/B testing or through our beta.”
There are huge unlocks that we are going to be able to get around understanding how people train and how beneficially to train out of there. The other one would be on the dynamic weight mode. We are going to be able to research that in such a way that no one else has ever been able to. Those were the two biggest unlocks. We are barely scratching the surface of the behavioral science side, how people engage and stay motivated and how we can understand that and then provide interventions. There are so many.
I know when it comes to medical research, getting diversity in participants is always a struggle. Tonal can cast the net wide in a way that you probably can’t in traditional circumstances.
We have an active membership who are engaged. In one of my Tonal Talks, I taught around a muscle biopsy study and 25 people volunteered immediately. Normally, you open a checkbook before anyone thinks about doing that stuff, “I would love to. That sounds awesome.”
I did a study with a muscle biopsy and it was delightful. It was totally worth doing, though.
We even talked about it after the Tonal Talk because I was telling Tom about it. I was giving him the highlights of it. I knew that he had done the muscle biopsy before. We were talking about that because he had to do it twice if I remember correctly.
I had to do it eight times. It was a weight-loss study. They wanted to test how the body process glucose at different weight levels. I went in. They did a muscle biopsy and then I lost a bunch of weight. They did it at the beginning of the week. At the end of the week, they did it in the other leg. I came back in after I lost weight and they did it in both legs. I had to repeat the study a year and a half later. I had a lot of muscle biopsies.
The first one was the worst. Once you get past it, your body can accept it a lot easier. If anybody out there is worried about that, you don’t need to be.
Let me show you the example. To your point around the medical community and the things, we try to infer. That’s what we have to do in the research world. If we studied this group, we try to infer it. When it’s a similar group, I’m looking at 20 to 30-year-old males and apply that to 30 to 40-year-old males, it’s not perfect but maybe it understands some physiology.
What we want to be able to do is study each of the cohorts or groups because they are going to respond differently, particularly in female populations. It’s something I’m excited to partner with Stacy Sims on with hormonal changes as we go through different stages of life and we can start to understand that in a way that hasn’t been done before.
I’m fascinated to see how that turns out. You both are men, so it’s not as exciting to you. From a woman’s perspective, it seems unfair when you have to deal with your cycle because you are stronger at some points of the month than others and you have more energy. You guys are zooming along on an even keel. It’s so unfair.
I agree if we can fully understand the implications. It’s almost a superpower that we can tap into that you can train endurance, mobility and strength at certain times of the month and get better gains than a consistent, “This is what I do to plateau.” We have to understand how best to do that. That’s one of the works we will work with Stacy around and maybe at some point down the line. I don’t want to overpromise. Maybe we will have programs that are designed around that we can manipulate, so we take advantage.
You seem genuinely so excited about your job. I probably should have started with this. What is a brief overview of your background that you ended up here?
You certainly couldn’t have been fourteen thinking, “I want to work at the Tonal Strength Institute.”
It has been a path. Mostly the previous years of my career had been in elite sports. I was an average sportsman, not in Texas, but in the South of England. I’m not particularly great at any of them, but I loved playing. I went on and studied Sports Science at university. I was pretty good at that. I ended up doing a Master’s and started volunteering with sports teams. We are talking until the early 2000s with Salt Lake Olympians and things around that. I wouldn’t say I fell into it, but it was a good thing that I was good at.
I started working on physiology and as a strength coach for these elite athletes. I always wanted to chart my own path a bit. I came over to the US in 2004 to work for the US Ski & Snowboard team. I went to the Torino Winter Olympics. With that team, I went back to England. I ended up leading a sports science and medicine team for the Canadian Olympic Committee for over six or so years and working up there. My previous role before this was with the US Ski & Snowboard, where I was the Performance Director and ran the Olympic team for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics.
My primary focus in most of that role is elite athletes. What I did was to take science best practices, apply it to the populations and work around how we can think about humans holistically. It’s not to think of it as a physiologist, bio-mechanist or psychologist, but think about it as a whole human and how we can leverage all the disciplines of science to enhance it. I do a similar role at Tonal. There’s a much broader and diverse population that we try to work with but we lean heavily on the same principles about how we would approach elite athletes. It has been fun.
Honestly, if you would ask me years ago if I would be working for Tonal, I probably was aware of Tonal. About 2018 or 2019. I probably first got it on my radar. I’ve got one for my athletes as of late 2019 as a training mode. That was the first time I ever tried it. Once I touched it, I was like, “It’s legit. There are a lot of opportunities.” I never thought I would be leaving the elite sport, but once I tried it, I was like, “This opens up so many possibilities.” Hopefully, it comes across. I’m still super excited about my role and the opportunity that we have at Tonal for sure.
For everyone in the mediocre sport, we are happy that you are here. I’m not mediocre but maybe one day if I try hard.
We studied the spectating of sport and reaching into that popcorn.
He is so funny. The few times I have done races and things like that, he will wait in the car and then come out whenever I’m done like, “I’m here at the finish line.” Anybody out there who does normal spectating understands what I mean. It’s different how you do it, Tom.
I didn’t know I was abnormal and that was one of the ways. He dedicated his life to sports and I’m like, “I don’t care.” It’s not that I don’t care about what you have done with your life, but when it comes to sports, I don’t care about sports at all. Honest to God, it has been a while. Somebody was at our house one time. They wanted to turn on ESPN. I had to google to find out what the number channel was. I had no idea where to find it on our cable system.
He knows the comedy channels, though. It’s a different way of thinking.
Maybe we can mix them in and you could add comedy commentary to sports. Maybe there’s a new niche.The community is part of the special secret sauce of Tonal and the willingness for people to help out. Click To Tweet
There was a show on ESPN called Cheap Seats. It was two guys from St. Louis, which is where we are from. The Sklar Brothers are twins. They grew up about four blocks from my house, but we never met. It was like Mystery Science Theater 3000 but for sports. They would watch old sports shows and old baseball games. They did the spelling bee. They would make jokes about it as it unfolded. It was pretty fun. It was a shame they didn’t do it longer. Looking back, merging nerd humor and sports is not the best from a marketing standpoint.
You said you loved the Tonal the second you tried it. What is your favorite aspect of the Tonal machine?
My favorite aspect is the variety. I can do everything on this device on my wall, from programs and workouts, dynamic weight modes, heavy lifting to a recovery yoga workout. It’s all-encompassing. I have spent my life in very large gyms training elite athletes. We have to have bespoke equipment for this. With Tonal, you can get the same or better workout on virtually all of them on a device that’s now in my home on a wall. It blows my mind still to think about the potential. The variety is unique.
Do you personally prefer programs or individual workouts?
I mix and match. I will be honest. I started on some programs. I did some Go Big or Go Home and then I decided to move away from there. I went home and enjoyed them. I need the recovery workouts afterward. I love life, especially with Trace and Gabby. I find it motivating to work out with some colleagues. I have a tendency not to bring a ton of intensity. I train quite frequently and my job is there. That’s why I have science-based programs. At times, I struggle to bring the intensity. I have found that the live workouts have upped my game. Power HIIT and others have increased the fire that I bring to the workout. It’s a combination of mainly lives and programs.
What is your leaderboard name?
You are not looking at that detail. It’s private. I thought it was something fairly basic. It’s probably Troy Taylor or it might not be that. You can go and edit that on the app, right?
You can because I had to change mine.
I’m not in the top 10 or top 1,000.
I wanted to give you a high-five if we were ever on the live workouts at the same time, but I can’t because I don’t know your name.
I’m pretty sure it’s Troy J. Taylor.
I won’t look at your stats. I will high-five you.
That’s fine. You can look at it.
I would think you would no longer be worried about people judging your athleticism when you have spent the last several years surrounded by elite athletes.
It crushes you on a daily basis. I justified that, “They are Olympians. They can lift out things.” Now, I’m being crushed by a 75-year-old.
Maybe it’s a 75-year-old former Olympian. It’s what you should tell yourself.
I used to play squash or racquetball with a guy that could barely walk and he would beat me. I felt used to being humbled in my athletic prowess.
Do you have any advice for people who are brand new to Tonal? They have never used it or maybe they are brand new to the community.
The UI and UX on Tonal and your ability to find stuff for it to fit in are pretty phenomenal. Also, there’s so much there. I would encourage you to reach out to the community around what programs people like you have liked. We are going to surface and recommend them, but there’s so much that you can do. The community is part of the special secret sauce of Tonal and the willingness for people to help out.
For most people who are starting on Tonal and you don’t know, enroll in a program. The programs are a good place to start. We have good data on the best way to increase strength. You increase quicker if you do a program than if you do individual workouts. It gives you a good structure. A lot of people who struggle with it haven’t worked out that maybe have an intention to work out, but sometimes it’s their behavior gap that they don’t work out. Tom is different. He doesn’t have the intention to work out. That’s a whole different thing.
I’m laughing because I don’t do any one-off workouts. I have a couple of cardio one-offs. For the strength training stuff, I only do programs because I will be like, “If I go down there, it’s hours in the basement. I’ve got to start digging around to pick a class. Nothing sounds right. I will spend fifteen minutes figuring that out and then I will quit.” I want to go down and be like, “I’m doing day three. It has already been decided. Within three minutes, I’m doing it.”
There’s good behavioral science behind the power of default. You don’t have e choice in it. You are going to accept it and move on. When we are trying to build habit formation, we want to leverage and lean on that as much as possible. The programs are created and designed for your level and goal. I encourage most people to at least initially enroll in a program. If you want to add lives, quick-fits or recovery workouts, that’s cool and then do so. The base structure of our program is a great place to start and then you can build from that.
You know the man barely does cardio, right? Do you know that he secretly used the Tonal for a year before he came out of the Tonal closet?
I didn’t know that.
I knew but I wasn’t allowed to tell anybody. I remember the day we called Kate and told her. She thought something had happened terribly. She was like, “We need to talk to you.”
Thank you for joining us. Before we let you go, let them know where they can find you if you would like to be found or push them to some Tonal place you want.
I’m not big on social media but I’m on LinkedIn at Troy Taylor. If you google Troy Taylor and Strength Institute or Tonal, you will catch me up. On LinkedIn, please connect and chat with me there. That’s my main avenue.
Thank you so much.
That brings this episode to a close. What pre-tell do you have in store for people next time?
We have a very special treat next time. We are going to have Coach Jackson’s new spouse. Anya is going to join us as well, as Coach Pablo’s significant other Chris Hines.
We will get some insights into what it’s like to be in a relationship with a Tonal coach.
What is it like on the other side? How are these coaches at home? What are they like when they personal train them? We are going to get all of the scopes. I can’t wait to share this with you.
Until then, where can people find you?
People can find me on Facebook at Facebook.com/CrystalDOKeefe, and they can find me on Instagram, Twitter, and the Tonal leaderboard, @ClipOutCrystal.
You can find me on Twitter, @RogerQBert or on Facebook at Facebook.com/TomOKeefe. You can find the show online, Facebook.com/supersetpodcast. While you are there, like the page, join the group. Of course, don’t forget, you can watch all of these on our YouTube channel at Youtube.com/theclipout. That’s it for this one. Thanks for tuning in. Until next time, keep lifting.
- Tonal Strength Institute
- Brad Schoenfeld
- Tonal Talk – TSI Update with Troy Taylor on YouTube
- Professor Kevin Ford
- Troy Taylor – LinkedIn
- Apple Podcasts – The Superset
- Spotify – The Superset
- Google Podcast – The Superset
- TuneIn – The Superset
- iHeart – The Superset
- @Tonal – Inatagram
- Dia Woodbury – LinkedIn
- Jersey Shore
- Snooki – Past Episode
- Quench: Beat Fatigue, Drop Weight, and Heal Your Body Through the New Science of Optimum Hydration
- Tonals New Book Club: Read Between the Reps – Facebook group
- Official Tonal Community – Facebook Group
- @ClipOutCrystal – Twitter
- Instagram – Clip Out Crystal
- @RogerQBert – Twitter
About Troy Taylor
Internationally renowned human performance leader, with extensive experience developing and leading world class, multi-disciplinary teams and working collaboratively to connect high level strategic insights to operational execution. Highly sought after thought leader, with demonstrable track record of driving innovation and cutting-edge practices across multiple sports and countries.
[…] might remember again when we talked to Troy from the Tonal Strength Institute, one of the individuals he talked about that was heavily involved […]