The whole point of training is to get better at the stuff that really matters to you. But how do you actually structure your training to do that?
The truth is that most people’s workouts aren’t all that aligned with what they actually care about. Maybe they used to be but as their personal priorities changed, momentum kept their workouts pretty much the same. Or maybe they’re following a system some “expert” made that worked really well the expert but isn’t actually optimized for their goals.
In this episode, GMB Head Coach Ryan Hurst is joined by Mercedes Pollmeier, certified GMB Trainer and founder of ModusAthletica, to help you make sure your training is supporting your real life, and not the other way around. They’ll show you how aligning your training with your goals, values, and identity leads to better results with less stress.
- Elements – Your Foundation For Physical Autonomy
- Figuring Out Your Training Wants And Needs
- How To Tap Into Your Long Term Motivation
Transcript of this Episode
Ryan: Everybody. What’s up? Welcome to the Gnomes Making Butter podcast. Today’s special guest, one of my favorite people, Mercedes. What’s up.
Ryan: Today we’re going to be talking pretty deep, pretty deep topic, right? This is something that Mercedes came up with and I think is wonderful and revolves around the topic of are you doing what’s right for you. And basically how to figure out what is right for you. Now we’re going to be talking about how this really is alive. We’re going to be talking about how this especially relates to fitness. And before we get started, I want to introduce Mercedes.
Ryan: Mercedes, this is the third time that you’ve been on the podcast. Mercedes just a quick overview of Mercedes, your company’s modusathletica.com. Go check it out. And GMB trainer, climbing guru, a master’s degree in human movement. This is going to take me 20, 30 minutes to read through. NSCA certified strength conditioning specialist, precision nutrition level two super coach, elite level competitor in both tennis and bouldering. Let’s see, author of, Simple Strength, which I love, writer for numerous magazines. Mercedes is my outdoor conditioning coach. Overall great person and she is a friend of mine and not just a Facebook friend, we actually hang out. And we actually chat quite a bit pretty much multiple times throughout the week. She’s a mentor of mine. So again even though GMB trainer, she was a student of mine, I look at her as a mentor and a close a friend. So hey, let’s get into the topic today. Thanks for being here.
Mercedes: Thanks Ryan.
Ryan: We’re going to go deep. Let’s just go ahead and just start off. And so you know, the big topic that we’re going to be talking about today is – are you doing what’s right for you? And this is huge. And the thing is we see this a lot out there when people get on the interwebs and they see, yeah, a fitness routine or something and they’re just like, “Oh, this person says that I should be doing this, so I’m going to do it.” Or even going deeper, we can look at this in terms of lifestyle and thinking that we have to be doing something in a particular way because this person is doing it.
Ryan: To start things off, I know you’ve got a really good example of a client of yours who went through this and came to you maybe on the fitness side of things, but you actually looked at it in a different way as far as the lifestyle way. So I’d like you to kind of start off explain a bit about your client and their job and how when they actually got down to the heart of things, it made a huge difference in their life. So, take it away.
Mercedes: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I client of mine, she came to me because actually she was in the middle of this job and basically realized that she wasn’t being very consistent in her climbing workouts and couldn’t figure out why she was struggling, trying to get to the gym and eating well. And after some time, I ask questions on like, “Hey, where do you spend most of your time during the day?”
Mercedes: And she told me, “Well, if I’m not working, I’m actually driving.” So her commute was probably two hours every day and she told me that that was probably the worst part of her whole day. And so can you imagine, she’s driving and then she drives home. The last thing she wants to do is go to the gym. She just wants to decompress.
Mercedes: And so asking her like, “Well is this something that you’re willing to change so that you can serve yourself better? Obviously you want to be working out, you want to be healthy. But here are some things that are in your way right now.” And so asking her these questions and asking her to reflect on these, it took a little while. But she ended up figuring out really the problem was not the commute and not necessarily the job, that she didn’t really like either. It was the fact that she didn’t have enough confidence to go out there and find a different job that she was actually overly qualified for, that serves her much better. She doesn’t need to commute anymore. She takes the bus and now has time after work every day to go to the gym and to eat healthy.
Mercedes: So, if you’re someone who does struggle with getting to the gym or being consistent, which is mostly, that’s the magic ingredient of getting better in any health and fitness goal is consistency. What is the thing that is stopping you? What’s the thing that’s standing in your way? And just by asking yourself that question you can really, maybe get to the heart of it. That would be a good place to start.
Ryan: Oh, this is great. And wow. Yeah. Just off the starting line there. Just so basically what you’re saying is we just need to quit our jobs and find a job that’s going to allow us to work out eight hours a day. Right?
Mercedes: Yeah. Yeah.
Ryan: That’s what it’s about, right? Now, I’m sorry to kind of joke about that. But this is
really good. And this is why I really wanted to talk to you is, because this is what I love about your coaching as well and that is looking at, it’s not just okay getting that particular result in the fitness. But like what’s going on in the life. It’s very holistic is what I’m trying to say. And so this is what I love about it. And that is, what is really right for you? And again, we’re not telling you quit your job so that you can work out more. I mean, the underlying thing here is really figuring out what’s going on in your lifestyle.
Mercedes: Yeah, I think it’s really normal for most people to feel like that they need to keep adding more to be better. And yeah, there’s like the FOMO of like, “Oh, this new workout and this new exercise. So I need to keep adding this.” And it’s really easy to get lost. And then all of a sudden you’re spending all your time doing a lot of random things leading to almost nothing.
Ryan: Well this is good too. I mean sorry to interrupt you. I mean this is like what you brought up earlier was, how do you spend the majority of your time? Or what do you spend the majority of your time on? And in that case it was the commune and things like that.
Ryan: And I want to bring up you as the good example in that you’ve had a very big shift in your life. Something that you and I have been talking a lot about over the past months. Pretty much, there was a time, there was a week, every single day we were talking. Where you were really looking at what was going on in your life and looking, okay, are you doing what’s right for you? And realize it actually wasn’t. And it was huge. And if you could talk a little bit about that of what is going on, what went on, what led you to that? And basically, how it is now in terms and thanks to the fact that you actually took a step back and you said this is right for me or not.
Mercedes: Yeah. I for the last six years I’ve been working in a gym, a climbing gym. I was a manager there and basically only focused on my career and thinking like, “Okay, if I advance my career I’m going to be happy, I’m going to keep growing, keep moving.” And it’s really easy to get stuck in your routine and to not really step out and take a broader look at your lifestyle. And that’s where I was for like six years.
Mercedes: And I would say in the last two years I started to realize like, “Okay, I’m actually not climbing as much as I want to be. Being a practitioner is my number one value, but I’m not doing the thing that I want to be doing.” And so yeah, it took a couple of years and finally I made that decision after talking to you of, what is it that I want to be doing?
Ryan: And two days later, bam!
Mercedes: And then like two days later I was like, “Okay, I’m quitting. I’m going to quit and I’m going to serve the community better by going out on my own.” And the biggest thing right now is, yes, now my first focus is actually climbing. I’m climbing a lot, almost every day. I am working out. And then I’m going to go to work and do the things that I need to do in order to make some money.
Ryan: And again, I want to reiterate again, sorry to interrupt. But I’m not saying a Mercedes is not telling you to go out and quit your job just so you can workout more. The main thing is looking at what’s going on in terms of, what you said, values. What you truly value in your life. Yeah, go ahead please. Please.
Mercedes: Yeah. I think you had mentioned this, what kind of lifestyle do you want to lead and how do you match that? Because you have to have a job. And then you need to do all of the fun things that you want to do. So really looking at, okay so you have this job and then zoom out. Like what things do you want us to be spending most of your time on because time is our greatest commodity. And then at that point, like really distill down what things should we be focusing on. And really like those questions can only be answered by you. You’re the only one who can answer those. I can give you a million workouts, but in the end you’re the person who has to make that decision. And how you make those decisions is figuring out what your values are, what your identity is and how do you prioritize those. And then you can just kind of go from there.
Ryan: And like you to you, I know you feel the same way. It’s not about looking at… well let me rephrase that. It’s does your workout support your lifestyle and not the other way around? And and that’s what I really love, especially about your programming and the way that you look at working with your clients it’s, “Okay, what’s going on in the lifestyle?” And like you said before, you can create a gazillion workouts. I can do that too for anybody. But the thing is, is that workout matching that person’s lifestyle and helping that person to do the things that they really want to be doing in their life better? Yeah, that’s GMB in a nutshell too.
Ryan: So you bring out value, and I think you’ve mentioned this before, looking at people where they try and cram in their workouts and just try and get it in. And even though they’re busy. Your, example of the client who had the commute. And I mean it just wouldn’t make sense for your client to be working out hardcore after that kind of commute. And so made some changes to do that. But I think also a lot of people can get stuck in thinking, “Well Ryan says this or Mercedes says this, so therefore I have to do it and get it in.” And in essence it’s really a matter of looking at, “Okay, is this good for me?”
Ryan: And yeah, go a little bit deeper. Let’s actually go into question here in a second. Before we do it, I kind of want to mention a little bit about what you are doing right now. And this actually hasn’t come out yet. You’re in the process of still kind of putting the final touches on it, but I know you have a program coming out very soon and if you could tell a little bit about that, just quickly. And maybe we can actually do another podcast where we just discuss that in depth. But tell us a little bit about what you have coming out here pretty soon.
Mercedes: Yeah, I’m launching a 10 week climbing program called Midnight Lightning. It’s actually named after a very famous bouldering problem in Yosemite. It’s basically for folks who are new to training or have reached a plateau and it really looks at the person holistically. So it’s I’m not treating you just as a climber, I’m treating you as a human being who’s coming to me, who needs all aspects of training, like part of this lifestyle. So it’s got recovery, it’s got some meditation, it’s got mobility as well as climbing related things like drills and techniques. So I’m very, very excited about this. It’s been years of research put into this 10 week program. Yeah, I’m super stoked.
Ryan: Oh, I’m happy for you too because as you know I’ve seen it. So I’m excited for this to go. All right. I think you’re looking at maybe end of this month. It’s November, beginning, December that’d be really cool.
Ryan: So again maybe we can go into depth and a follow up podcast modusathletica.com. Let’s go into the next topic, which is related to what we were talking about and that is doing what’s right for you. Okay. We can talk about that and the values and people say, “You need to do what’s right for you.” Okay, great. That’s like telling a person like, “Relax.” How do you do that? And that’s what I like for you to discuss a little bit. How do I figure out what’s right for me?
Ryan: In terms of not just lifestyle, I’m talking fitness too. It all relates of course. But learn me, learn me.
Mercedes: Yeah. Whenever a client comes to me, I always ask them a million questions. And really in the end I want to make sure that they are doing whatever it is that they want to do for the right reasons. And when it comes to climbing training, it is a lot of hours in the gym, because when climbing it takes at least two hours to get all of the drills in plus all of the rehab stuff. So it’s a big commitment. And when you start a program, you really have to go into it with the right mindset. And the right goals. Really the why. Like you have to lead with your own why every time. And a good way to figure out what your why is is something that I learned from Precision Nutrition. It’s actually called, The Five Whys. Have you ever done this, Ryan?
Ryan: I have. You know me, I’m always like, “Why, why, why, why, why?
Mercedes: Yeah, you’ve asked me why a lot.
Ryan: But go into this. Explain what this is, I absolutely love it. Keep going. Yeah.
Mercedes: So this is actually a technique that Toyota uses for almost every major decision.
Ryan: I thought you just said, Yoda. I was like, “Star Wars what?” Toyota, nevermind. I’ve heard
of Toyota before.
Ryan: It’s some Japanese company or something.
Mercedes: Yeah, I don’t know.
Ryan: Sorry go ahead, keep going.
Mercedes: Yeah, so they use this technique. So basically you’re asking yourself a question five times. So let’s say my goal is, I just want to get fit. Okay, great. My response would be, “Why do you want to get fit?”
Mercedes: And then maybe the response would be, “Well I want to look better.”
Mercedes: Like “Okay, like great, that’s awesome. Why do you want to look better?”
Mercedes: Then sometimes it takes a little while to figure out what that next step is like what is underneath that? And that’s when it starts to get juicy. Things that I’ve heard are, “I want to feel sexy.” Or, “I want to feel more confident.” Or, “I feel like I would have better relationships if I were fitter.” Wow, we just uncovered a lot in there. And if you do that a least five times, you ask yourself that question, “Why, why, why?” You’re going to get to a very deep level of what your motivation is to be fit. And I think if you can lead with that and hold onto that, you’re going to be able to follow through on any goal that you set out to do.
Ryan: Yeah, this is brilliant and I love it. I love that you brought this up. It’s like the Russian nesting doll where you keep opening and going deeper or looking at the onion and peeling back those layers. Not the blooming onion, but actually something that’s healthy for you.
Ryan: This is some tough shit, right? Because what you’re saying is, is moving beyond just, “Yeah, I want six pack abs.”
Ryan: “Okay, Why? Why do you really want the six pack abs?” Nothing wrong with that, of course. It’s a matter of really going deep into to hitting your values and really what you hinted at earlier was when shit gets tough as you’re going through the program, being able to go back to that why and you know this is really why I’m doing this and therefore I’m going to continue doing it. Even on those days where don’t really feel like it.
Ryan: And especially for example, like in your case and where you have a lot of climbers who were looking to solve problems and I’m talking actual bouldering problems. Like climb particular routes and problems. Yeah. And so it’s, that’s life though if you really think about it. And not just going through the motions. Really, really saying, “Okay, why am I doing this right now?” Yeah, that GMB program Elements. Yeah, it’s great. But I mean I really want everyone to go, “Okay, why are you really doing this?” There might be something else out there for you that would be better outside of GMB, outside of one of your programs maybe.
Ryan: And that’s where you and I are very similar is we don’t just want people who just want to go through our programs. We want that program to be able to help them for their why. And by using the five why’s that you said? I just think that’s wonderful and being able to do this. I know I challenge you all the time and you challenge me and we’re always trying to bug each other to try and figure out exactly what we want and we can get on each other’s nerves. Sometimes you’d be like, “Shit, why did you ask me that question?”
Ryan: But I think this is also coming also back to something that’s important, like you know, looking at not just right for you, but also moving beyond that and saying… you’ve brought this up before is community and saying, “Okay, how do we then evolve?” And this is something to think about is we need to be selfish for ourself. It’s not a bad thing because if we can’t do that for ourself, then how are we going to be good for other people?
Ryan: You’re the same way. That’s why you stepped away really from what you were doing. And you basically said, “I need to be climbing more.” And likewise with me, you know me I step away from certain things and say no a lot so that I can focus on myself. So that can be better for the GMB community.
Ryan: And so I guess looking at how we evolve, what does that mean? And just maybe something new and I can just chat about right now. But, you’ve talked about this before, finding like minded individuals that are helping you to move out of your comfort zone.
Ryan: Even though you’re still focused on your why and have your values, it’s a matter of continuing to try and get better and going deeper. So I mean, what do you think about that?
Mercedes: I mean I think it’s always great to be challenged. Especially if you find very like minded people, maybe you’re never challenged with the views that you have. Or, this is how we train. And then if you get someone who maybe doesn’t quite train the same way, you’re able to view what does what you’re doing in a different way. Like, “Okay, maybe I am missing something. Or maybe I don’t even need to do this part of my training in order to get better.”
Ryan: Yes. That’s perfect right there. Yeah. You don’t even need to do something, maybe. But sorry I interrupted you, but I just love what you just said is like when a person is too like minded, we actually won’t grow. And I mean that’s another big reason why with all the GMB trainers, I’m like, “Don’t just do GMB, go do other stuff because you’re going to be limiting your potential if you will, by only doing the same thing.” And so that’s why myself as well. I love reaching out to other people that I don’t know about and having people like you who kind of kick me in the butt to go, like, “Why are you still doing this?”
Mercedes: Yeah, well I think that’s why also I did the GMB apprenticeship, because I was so kind of engrossed in the climbing community and all I had was like climbers, climbers, climbers. And there’s got to be other ways of training and that’s when like gymnastics and martial arts really peaked my interest. And then I stumbled upon GMB, I think, right when you guys were launching your programs. I was like, “This is also, this is what I need to be doing.” And then I ended up signing for the apprenticeship couple of years later.
Ryan: So funny. Well actually I remember before you signed up though, we met in person.
Mercedes: Yeah, we met in person in Seattle.
Ryan: In Seattle. I remember because I was on an airplane and someone was like, “Hey Ryan, you should read this book.” And they didn’t tell me anything and it was your, Simple Strength book.
Ryan: And I’m sitting on an airplane reading this book and on one of the chapters there’s this quote that you started off with. I was like, “Holy shit, that sounds really familiar.” And it was fricking me. And then you’re like referenced me. I was like, “Oh my God, I made a book. Who is this person?”
Ryan: And I reached out to you right away and you’re like, “Yeah, I know about your blah blah blah.” Anyway, long story short, I end up meeting and you’re like, “Yeah, I was going to apply but I didn’t want to.”
Ryan: And that’s when I was like, “If you don’t apply like punch in the face.” So I didn’t punch you in the face, so that was good.
Ryan: Yeah, let’s talk about them, another topic quickly and that is maybe a back and forth to you and me looking at tools. And so, okay, so for listeners out there, you know now, are you doing anything that’s right for you? Okay. That was the topic. And then some tools on using the why in order to peel back the layers of the onion to figure out how you do that and in order to focus on your values. But what are some tools maybe that can help us to make sure that we’re staying on track for what’s right for us and looking at community? What do you feel are some things that we can do with that? You mentioned before, online is great, but meeting up in person can actually be better sometimes.
Mercedes: Yeah. I think that I do really like online communities, because there’s so many people that you get to get to interact with and there’s so many different perspectives. But when it comes to the physical practice, if you can practice with people, you end up learning so much more about a particular movement or even a mindset, that maybe you would have never encountered doing stuff online. And online is normally after the fact, like you just did your workout and then you’re going to go online and do this thing. And really it’s the in-person, in the moment learning whatever it is. And I feel like I’m more creative when I’m with other people as well. And especially when it comes to movement.
Ryan: I definitely am as well. Yeah. Oh absolutely. You and I are similar in certain ways where we’ve done a lot of this by ourself. We’ve had to do a lot of it by ourself and that’s why I love actually going and teaching because for me it’s not me the teaching part of it. It’s me going and meeting up with other people and doing things with them that sparks other avenues of creativity or whatever was going on at that time. So yeah, I really like that, that’s good.
Mercedes: And I think it’s really important too, when you do meet with people that you lead with curiosity and kind of like a beginner’s mind. Because sometimes when maybe someone is doing something really sick and you’re like, “I could never do that.” Try never to have that mindset. Always think about like how can I do that? What are the baby steps? Ask them. Teach me. Teach me how to do it.
Ryan: Well that’s perfect. I love that. That’s really good. For those of you who are listening in the GMB community, first off always thank you for listening. Really appreciate it.
Ryan: Start your own little community where you are. If you know there might not be a GMB trainer in your area, but that doesn’t matter. Just get a group of people together that are interesting. Get on the forum, get on the alpha posse and search for people who are in your area and just do a meetup. Just get together and play from time to time. I think that’s a really good way to do things and great things can come out of it.
Ryan: So I want to kind of wrap this up a little bit. We talked about first off figuring out what’s right for you doesn’t mean quitting your job and thinking that you have to work out eight hours a day. It might mean though once you peel back those layers and you figure out your five whys and keep going deep and figure out what’s really important to you, the carryover, not just looking at fitness but for the lifestyle as well. This might make a big impact and actually help you to figure some things out. So thank you for bringing it up Mercedes.
Ryan: The other thing too is looking at your values. It’s not about having your lifestyle revolve around your workouts. It’s looking at having your workouts help your lifestyle, right. The other thing too that we talked a little bit about is evolving and actually some tools and looking at finding that community. And I think something that you bring up a lot that I me on the same, it’s being selfish in the sense that better in yourself so that you can be better for others. And bringing that to the community and the people that you’re around so that you’re making a positive impact. And I think that’s absolutely wonderful. So to finish things off here, bonus tip, I’m going to put you on the spot. So what is a bonus tip that you would give the listener about what we talked about today? And it really can be anything.
Mercedes: My bonus tip.
Ryan: Your bonus tip.
Mercedes: I think I always like to go really deep but I feel like I’m not living my life if I’m not going fully after it. And really it would be, I challenge you to think about what your identity is. How do you identify yourself as in a person who’s doing fitness? And then maybe look at it in a bigger picture way of your job or the people that you surround yourself with. What is your identity? And then from there, that’s when you can figure out your values. And I think if you can figure those things out, you’re going to lead a much happier life if you can align your values and your identity with the things that you actually do, like your lifestyle.
Ryan: I love it. That’s really great. So everybody, be sure to check out Mercedes over at modusathletica. That is all one word, modusathletica.com and I want to say thank you again for chatting with me, Mercedes, it’s always a pleasure. And we’ll have you on another podcast here, we can talk about climbing. And talk more about about Midnight Lightning. So thanks again everybody for listening. Any last words, stay cool.
Mercedes: Thanks Ryan.
Ryan: All right, cheers. Bye.
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