Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 46 - Travis Pollen - SEE OPPORTUNITY NOT OBSTACLES - Part 3 of 3

So, the funny thing is like you're talking about getting too specific. I've actually done this and I will say I actually think it gave me a positive effect. I bought a-- because everybody buys them and never uses them. I bought a Total Gym off of Craigslist and then attached Vasa trainer paddles to it.
Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 46 - Travis Pollen - SEE OPPORTUNITY NOT OBSTACLES - Part 3 of 3

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JESSE: So, the funny thing is like you're talking about getting too specific. I've actually done this and I will say I actually think it gave me a positive effect. I bought a-- because everybody buys them and never uses them. I bought a Total Gym off of Craigslist and then attached Vasa trainer paddles to it. So, I picked it up for like 50 bucks and then my coach had Vasa trainer paddles. So, it is not my whole strength workout, we have a whole other things I do for my strength workout. But like when I come home from the pool, I've done my pool set. I do my strength stuff and then I come home, get on the Total Gym, I can lay down on it, do basically fly with the Vasa trainer paddles, and I've used that to help build strength. Because like, my limiter for anything, be it swimming or running whoever's always like max power. I'm a terrible sprinter, just terrible. So, it's helped me a lot to bring that high end power up so that I can slowly start to build my threshold pace in the pool. TRAVIS: Yeah, I think that's great. And I would-- I don't have any problem with that. Like that's a great recommendation. I think the Vasa trainer, that's the appropriate amount of specificity especially even like this is your weakness, therefore you need to train it, right. The best example would probably be running with ankle weights. Sounds good in theory, but changing like the proportions of your-- the proportional weights of your lower body like, it's just gonna-- it's not mimicking the same mechanics as you would have when you're really running. So, wearing a weighted vest would be a little bit of a better approach because now it's concentrating the weight closer to your center of gravity or doing resisted sprint with a bungee cord or a parachute or running up a hill. Like those are all better options than using ankle weights. JESSE: Yeah, yeah. Well, yeah, I think about it too. Like, as you're saying ankle weights, I'm even thinking about like, almost like feeling through the motion. I'm like, I'm gonna have more impact in my knees and the way my foot’s gonna play it is probably going to be different because of that. The amount of force you're gonna have to apply to move the ankle weight, it's gonna flip out your foot farther faster, which is going to make you more prone to like heel strike, and you don't want that. So, like yeah, trying to adjust for that would be really odd. I think you would end up like you said, end up working on-- You would improve some muscles, but not the muscles that you need to actually run faster. TRAVIS: Yeah, it's gonna give you a training effect, but as much as we want the training effect, we want the training effect with the technique boost, right. So, it's not just about putting in the mileage of the yardage but it's putting in the perfect mileage or like maintaining proper technique or striving for better technique under fatigue and with higher training volumes. JESSE: Yeah, yeah. So, one thing I saw on your social media is like you spend, it seems like a lot of time kind of I’ll say dispelling myths or like trying to educate people on like, what's going on. You’ve got this like-- shareable graphics. Like, you're working hard. So, anybody listening to this or if you're watching on YouTube, we'll plug Travis's social media here at the end too, but check that out because he's got a lot of good information and shareable graphics and all kinds of stuff. So, lots of good stuff there. So, where do you-- Is it just a marketing thing like we were talking kind of marketing before we got going, is it just a marketing thing where you're like, hey, ?? 04:03> people can talk to me, or where does the idea come from where you're like, all right, let's get rid of these kinds of bad thoughts or myths that people have about all these different workout processes. TRAVIS: Yeah. So, I think a lot of it is like, just inspired by the things that I hear other people say and see on social media. Like a good example recent myth, this might have been the most recent one was like somebody came out and said, he said that like heavy bilateral squats and deadlifts hurt his back, and that's fine like that. That's true. I know that he has a history of back problems and he prefers to do unilateral exercises like split squats, lunges, that sort of thing instead of like barbell back squats and barbell doubles, totally fine. But I felt like the connotation, I didn't feel like he gave the appropriate amount of nuance to say like, I have a history of back pain and it's exacerbated when I do these lifts. Therefore, in my training and my client’s training, I do this. It was just kind of like a meme showing that squats and deadlifts break your back. And the problem with that is like with the appropriate amount of context, no problem. But when somebody who doesn't have like any sort of prior knowledge about any of this sees that, that kind of reinforces these negative beliefs, like oh, okay I heard my doctor, or I heard some experts say that squats and deadlifts are bad and now this is confirming it. So, now I'm afraid to ever lift anything and that is just a-- it's like a debilitating narrative and belief process. Sure for certain people, those exercises are not gonna be right for them or for them at the moment. But there are plenty of people who can do those exercises safely and with heavy loads and not have a problem. So, it's just about the appropriate amount of nuance and realizing that every person is different. And so that's kind of the issue with any blanket statement like oh, this exercise is bad, or even though this exercise is good like nothing is universally true about that. And so I made a post just kind of trying to elaborate on that. And that's sort of where I've gone with a lot of these things like trying to dispel the good versus bad and just provide the appropriate amount of nuance. And I think that like anybody who is in the movement realm and trying to educate people, we're usually good-intentioned, right? We're trying to keep safe and give them the training effect. But I think what some people don't realize is that like different people are coming in with different prior experiences and knowledge. And so if you tell the person who's already scared, if you give them like this kind of scary message, that's just going to reinforce those beliefs. And it's going to make them more fearful, which could actually contribute to them having pain down the line. Versus if you give the same message to some idiot who's already doing stupid stuff in the gym, like maybe that is going to be helpful for them. But that basically means that one, you can't just like put out one message to the world because you have different people coming in with different conceptions and misconceptions. And so that's kind of my just trying to give people more information, raise more awareness about these things, that there's always two sides of every story, and that it's never black and white. And so the infographics that I've been putting out, kind of, I think they attract the eye a little bit and hopefully, that gets more people engaging with them. And after I finish my PhD, I'm tinkering with the idea of kind of combining them all and making like one resource where they're all in one place, and I can just kind of go into more detail. I haven't figured out whether that's just going to be like a free giveaway on my blog, or if I'm going to try to sell it. Right now, I don't really sell anything besides personal training, so might be a good idea to actually sell something but-- and it's probably gonna take me a while to put it together. So, maybe I should try to get myself compensated for it. But I just mostly, I just want the information out there for people because I think that there's so many sources of misinformation. And there are so many sources of limited information, like people who are, like I said, who are well-intentioned or just trying to keep people safe, and don't realize the damaging narratives that those messages can have. JESSE: Right. Well, I think in especially when we're talking about like, sharing things on social media, which I found the infographics you had on your Facebook page it's like, it's easier to make a meme or something very short and share it and get people to share it versus what I refer to as fighting the good fight and being like, in any case, going back to what we said in the very beginning it depends. And then from there, here's the whole spiel about everything you need to know, for your particular situation. And I appreciate that you're doing that. I feel like I try to do the same thing and sometimes I find myself, especially here on the podcast being very, very wordy. Because it's like, there's so much to say about this one particular small situation. And it's not just a simple answer most of the time. Even if you have all the experience in the world, it's like well, there's 10,000 situations we could talk about right now depending on what's happening. And we have to diagnose that and go through all the options. And I think it's overwhelming to a lot of people. But then I also think there is a smaller segment of people and those are the people that you have the, I think the greatest chance of affecting that need that information, that we'll see like the stuff you're putting out and go finally somebody who can actually like explain it all to me and go oh, like it totally makes sense now. I get why that other thing doesn't make sense even though everybody liked it and everybody shared it. TRAVIS: Yeah, that's the problem is that people, it’s easier to think in black and white. So, people just want to know are squats and deadlifts bad ?? 10:44> good. And the message that squats and deadlifts are bad is more attention-grabbing, it's more sexy, it's gonna share farther and wider. And so that's kind of the challenge that I'm fighting and I'm sure you're fighting too. It's like, I'm gonna put out the-- I'm gonna use all 2,200 characters in the Instagram thing or ?? 11:08> 1,500 word blog posts about whether you should be able to crawl like a baby and whether that matters. Because I think it's important but it's gonna be harder to sell just not monetarily but sell the people on actually reading it when your message is more nuanced and more shades of gray. JESSE: Yeah, I think and I could be wrong because I'm not-- I don't think either of us is a massive-- has a massive audience at this point. But my theory, and we'll see how this plays out over age and time is that if you are consistent with giving good information, and you stay around for the long haul that that will pay dividends in time because you have basically a portfolio of work over two years, five years, 10 years. There's all the information that I've been trying to share with everyone. TRAVIS: Right. That's the challenge like people see people with huge followings and think that it happened overnight and it certainly doesn't. But the way that you become regarded as an expert is through consistently putting out that good information and becoming people's go-to resource. And like I've over the last maybe one to two years, like I've had a lot of like people who I used to be friends with and sort of lost touch with or just acquaintances reached out to me for help with their training programs. And it's like, it's really cool. It's like, wow, this is working. Like I wasn't purposely trying to get this message to this group of people who I am connected with but haven't spoken to. Yet they're seeing, they're interested in fitness and they've been seeing my posts for a while. And when they realize that they want help, I'm the person who comes to mind, which is awesome, right? Like, that's how you want to be. And the only way you get to be that way, well, two ways; one by putting out really good information and then two buy being a sleazy marketer. And I would rather like keep my integrity and just put out really good information to a smaller group of people, but I'm kind of like selling out and going that route. So, yeah, if I have 4,000 followers instead of 40,000 followers, so be it, you know. JESSE: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And I don't think you meant to make the connotation this way, but for clarification sake, as an entrepreneur, and somebody who does try to do marketing, there is, we often refer to and I think Travis is familiar with this, I'm going to assume. There is the light side and the dark side of marketing, where like when you learn about marketing, you learn about the things that people care about. And I think, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think when you're referring to sleazy marketers, you're talking about people who are using those what we refer to those triggers or pain points that people have, and basically trick them into purchasing things they don't need and making empty promises basically, to solve your problem versus the light side, which is like, Hey, I can solve your problem. But maybe I'm not perfect at writing the copy that makes you fearful and then tells you I can solve your problem. So, there are two sides to that. Just like not all marketers are bad, not all marketers are good, all that kind of thing. TRAVIS: Right. I think it's a fine line that you walk where, yeah, I'm gonna like, I'm willing to use a more provocative title to a blog post to get somebody to the blog, and then I'm going to give them great information. But I don't want to create this damaging narrative to get people there. And so yeah, like the counterexample is, like you said I'm the only person who knows the secret to X. Everybody else is wrong now by my $300 product, where I help you, like get you out of pain, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It's like I just-- I can't get behind that. JESSE: Right. And often, and I'll admit like when I was like, 18, 19, I’m sure I bought a bunch of just like, bullshit, get rich, quick kind of things before I finally found, eventually found my way into a more mature and positive entrepreneurial community. But like those things, they work because they prey on people's desperation to solve their problem or fulfill their hopes, dreams, and desires. And that's where the sleazy marketer thing comes in where it's like, sales and marketing by itself is neither good nor bad. It's just like how it's wielded. TRAVIS: Right. If you think of it from the standpoint of like, I'm qualified to help people, and I have this service, whether it's ebook or whether it's my personal-- like online or in person personal training that like people would benefit from. Like, I'm going to help people get stronger, more confident, better know their way around the gym, help them with their sports performance, if only they can have the opportunity to work with me. Now then, from that standpoint, like I would be doing people a disservice by not letting people know about this, right. But it's how you go about it and yeah, it's a fine line between getting the word out without like preying on people's fears or like calling everybody else an idiot, that sort of thing. JESSE: Right. Right. Well, I think it's a case of like, where, what’s the saying, one rotten apple spoils the bunch where it's like, somebody does something sleazy or underhanded. And then that gives the rest of anybody trying to sell something like a bad name. Like I had this connotation too like when I went to work at New Balance. So, I helped fit shoes for runners and people with medical conditions for several years. And when I arrived, I was like I don't want to be like a sleazy car salesman. I don't want to do that. And I never took that approach, even though the owners at the time they didn't really-- They were kind of in between the sleazy car salesman and where I am now where it's like provide value first, they were somewhere in the middle. And just the way they presented it still didn't convince me that your whole goal is to solve a customer's problem. So, it's like, I think when people get that bad experience, wherever it is, then it's like defenses are up, no matter who you are now because I don't want to get tricked again. So, Travis, before we run out of time, I have two questions with you. One of them I asked everybody at the end of the episode this year, but first I have to ask you, what happened to the beard? TRAVIS: That's a great question. Nobody's ever asked me that. So, first of all, I'll tell the story of the beard. It's not really a good story. It's that January of 2019, maybe like three weeks in, I realized that I hadn't shaved. And I had like a little bit of a beard. And I was like, huh, I wonder like how long I can go with this like, kind of enjoying the way this is looking. Let me see this through. So, fast forward eight months to August of 2019, I had a beard down to here and that like so all the pictures of me, everything like beard hair out just nuts, mountain man. And I liked it but I don't know if you've ever had a beard. It's like-- JESSE: I have patchy spots, I’m incapable. TRAVIS: Yeah. And I appreciated my ability to grow this full beard, but it was difficult to maintain. Just because you have to trim which is, it's a little bit less work than shaving every day. But there's more upkeep to it than I think maybe people realize. And like food would get stuck as I was trying to eat. But the real nail in the coffin was that the girlfriend despised it and she for months was like begging me to get rid of it. And so finally, one night, this is a funny story. This part of the story is funny. One night I snuck out of the house to my friend's house who cuts my hair. This was that like, I don't know 11:00 pm. I come back fully shaved head and face and I go to get into bed and my girlfriend who doesn't usually wake up when I get into bed, she like kind of stares and thinks that it's an intruder because I don't have the beard anymore. And when she went to bed two hours ago I had it. So, she's like, what's going on? And I'm like, just go back to sleep. I wanted to surprise her because ?? 20:55> she's been wanting me to get rid of the beard and whatever. And so she reaches over for me and feels to make sure that I don't have a leg and that’s how she knows I’m not an intruder. So, anyway, it didn't work quite as planned. And I sometimes miss the beard. I thought it looked good but I probably will never grow it that long again. But it was good to-- I'm glad I did it once. So, that's the long story of the beard and it's funny because if you like a lot of my social media, I think I probably still have it. I didn't really-- I don't know, I don't take pictures and post that often. So, like if I had come on today with a long beard, you probably wouldn't have been surprised. But I have no beard. So-- JESSE: I think I was surprised either way, but there's usually a story when it's gone from big beard, no beard. So-- TRAVIS: It's weird because I don't really-- because I like okay, so I had a beard for eight months out of 30 years of life. I don't really think of myself as somebody with a beard yet I had a beard. So, if you met me between January and August of 2019, you would think I'm somebody who has a beard. But that's not how I identify. So, it was kind of like this weird like just dynamic because not that having a beard has like a really serious connotation one way or another, but it is-- it's something about a person. Like people who have beards tend to have beards and people who don't, tend not to and I don’t so-- I've had interviews for job positions right after I finished school. I guess, like going to an interview with the big beard that would, it just speaks one thing about a person versus showing up clean shaved. Of course, I have these like goofy hipster glasses. But that's, I don't know. I have this-- The goofy hipster glasses are definitely my personality. The beard? I don't know. JESSE: Yeah, yeah. There's definitely a difference. I know, I used to have long hair in high school down shoulder length. And I know for a fact, I did not get a job with Best Buy because I had the hair. And the reason I know that is because a friend worked at Best Buy and basically had heard from one of the hiring managers was like doesn't have the look to work here. Even though probably a work ethic, I'm a hard worker, but they weren't ?? 23:25> shouldn't even have given me an interview because I had long hair. TRAVIS: Yeah, I struggle with that. And I understand the rationale for selecting people who have a certain look to work. But it's like if you're just going to-- if you're going to do a great job, it shouldn't really matter how you look, but it does. So, as a prospective employee somewhere, do I kind of fight for my right to look the way I want to look? Or do I-- because that's who I am, or for, at least for the job interview, do I show up clean-cut, well dressed, then once they get to know me then probably switch to the funky glasses, you know. I don’t know. It's tough. JESSE: All right. Well, so now I have to ask you my final question. And this is something I'm interested in for everybody. Because everybody has a different perspective. So, I'm asking everybody this year, what do you think the purpose of sport is? TRAVIS: Wow. I think that it's to test your limits. Especially for me, that's really what it was about. It was like seeing what my breaking point was, right? Just just trying to get so close to that or even expanding that over time. And I remember like looking around at some of my high school teammates who weren't working as hard as me. And I was a little bit snooty about it, probably, because I was just giving it my all. And I would look over and see people like getting out and taking a water break or stretching or whatever, not because they needed to really per se just because they were lazy or whatever. And I was like, why is that person afraid of hard work? And that's not really fair of me in hindsight to think of it that way. And not everybody took it as seriously as I took it. But for me, it was about testing myself and seeing what my limits were. And now when I look back on that, I can think like anything that I’m to go through now like probably isn't going to be as demanding as what I put my body through then. And so I can kind of use that just to remember I'm resilient because I proved to myself over and over again that something that was really hard I could get through. And so personally, that's what sport means to me. And I think probably all the other people can relate to that too. I would think. JESSE: It's a good answer. I said everybody's different so I love hearing how everybody takes it and approaches it because like, even with running say, everybody that runs like what we get from running is different and-- So, I kind of have a history of-- I majored in psychology in college, one of my majors. And so I just had an interest in kind of the human mind, human spirit and how people behave, why they behave. So, that's why I kind of-- I love that question, especially from people like you that have worked so hard for so long for certain goals. TRAVIS: And like I think I say that, that would be like all that would apply to the competitive thing that I did towards swimming. Now, if you asked me that my answer would be different. Like yeah, I do some hand cycling, I do some recreational swimming, I do some rock climbing. The rock climbing, I'm starting to get a little competitive with but it's mostly just for fun. I'm not like-- I don't necessarily aspire to like be elite at that, although I'm maybe tinkering with the thought of that. But anyway, now I exercise because I enjoy it and because it is a good outlet for me health-wise. And my schoolwork benefits by being physically active and it helps me think more clearly. I also want to be an example for my personal training clients. So, all of those things, I guess it's sort of the difference between sport and recreational exercise. JESSE: Travis if people want to see what you're doing, follow you, see those infographics especially, where can they find you? TRAVIS: I'm on mostly Instagram these days and my handle is Fitness_Pollinator. And then I'm on Facebook, I believe the public figure account is TravisPollen-FitnessPollinator. And then my website is So, any of those-- JESSE: And if you’re on YouTube and not on iTunes, then you will have the benefit of having all those things on the screen. TRAVIS: Oh, yeah. JESSE: Sometimes I get them in the description, but it's always nice when you look at the video and then you can see it. TRAVIS: Yeah, if anybody Google's my name, I think all of those places should pop up. JESSE: Yeah, you come up, you come up quickly. TRAVIS: I spend a lot of time on all those platforms and I'm always happy to interact and answer any questions that I'm able to answer or hopefully, not pretend to answer too many questions that I don’t know the answer to. I mean, you get that sometimes, right? Like, I'm a rehabilitation sciences major so people assume that I know a lot about exercise physiology, maybe. And I know next to nothing about exercise physiology. So, I'm quick to defer those sorts of questions. JESSE: Yeah, yeah. That sounds good, Travis. Thanks for spending some time with me today. I hope you have a good rest of the day. TRAVIS: You too. Go to Part 1 Go to Part 2

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