Making every Peloton ride exceptional is what every instructor aims for. Each one may offer similar methods, but they can offer you different experiences. Denis Morton, A Power Zone instructor, shares to us particular elements that make his class more successful from the rider end. He also shares his learnings from joining the company. Crystal and Tom O’Keefe also talk about some updates from the HR Tribe and how Crystal got kicked out from a group. They then discuss some developments from Steven Little and his family and what they are working on.
Listen to the podcast here
An Interview With Denis Morton, Steven Little Helps Out Wildfire Victims, And Crystal Gets Banned From A Peloton Group
I literally drove home from work and raced down the stairs. I still have my shoes on. I don’t have my giant glass of soda. I’m out of breath because I don’t ride the bike, so I have no stamina when it comes to running of any kind.
Also, we could get this and I can jump on a ride.
You’re trying to hit a live ride. We’re playing beat the clock. We’re available on iTunes. You can go over there to rate, review and subscribe. It helps us tremendously. We greatly appreciate it. Other things we should plug at the top of the show is our awesome website, theclipout.com. We have a web store so you can go and buy yourself or someone you love a t-shirt. We have multiple things there. You can also find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/theclipout. What is coming up on the show?
We have an update from the HR Tribe. We also have an update from Steven Little and his family. They’re working on something that I want to share with everyone. We have a fantastic interview coming up with Denis Morton and we have some drama that I can’t wait to share.
You made someone mad.
How could you make someone mad? You’re delightful.
I have my moments that I’m not. Are we going to jump right in? I’m far from perfect.
Is that all the bullet points?
It’s going to be short and sweet.
What’s going on with the HR Tribe?
They are officially changing their name to HR Crew. Tom Lebel has an event posted on the OPP and he is asking, can anybody go out there who wants to go to the party and let them know that they’re interested in going to the party? Because he’s trying to put a rough count together. He’s pre-planning and project managing. That’s the update from the HR Crew.
Do we have to stop saying tribe?
We do. It’s the HR Crew. They stopped saying tribe a long time ago when Steven Little left. It’s still ingrained in my brain and I couldn’t change it. They had already called themselves something different and I forget it every time. They always put in their hashtags when they ride the HR Crew. They decided they should just make their Facebook page match their hashtag.
This way, when I don’t ride the bike, I’ll be not riding with the right crew.
Tom Lebel has graciously offered to let you borrow his Jeep when we’re in New York if you take a ride.
I don’t know that I want to drive a car in New York. Once you get above the market like five, I start to get a little nervous. We’re market 26 or 27. I’m okay. You start getting into larger markets, but once you get into the big cities, New York, Chicago, LA, that’s the Thunderdome. I don’t know if I could handle that.
We’re going to find out. It’s going to be fun. I can’t wait.
We have an update from Steven Little.
It’s actually an update from his wife, Julie. They’re doing this together so I figured it’s an update from both. We still have fires in California and there was a lot of destruction. A lot of people have been displaced from their homes. There was an article that showed that there is a tremendous shortage on getting housing out there. One of the ideas that came up through this article was tents. Not just pitch a tent canvas, but a nice tent that has multiple rooms including closets. They’re expensive. They’re $330 on KMart.com. They can sleep up to twelve people.
That sounds reasonable for a tent of that size.
I totally agree.
I thought it was going to be way more.
The idea is to raise some money and get ten of these tents together and send them out there to California to find people who need them. They’re also side-by-side working to find people who need them. They posted this and there is a YouCaring page which I will post at Facebook.com/theclipout. You can go there to make your donations if you’re interested.
Peloton Power Zone: There is no level of the Peloton that is not approached with a high degree of professionalism.
What did you do?
That’s a funny thing, I don’t know. I have my theories. I want to go back in time. We started this show for several months. Our third episode was about a group you might remember Fast Times at Peloton High. It was all about racing and Pelo pacing. To give you a little insight after I post these episodes, that episode was not even up for five minutes before I started getting feedback and it wasn’t feedback like, “It’s amazing you have a show.” It was, “Scott Farr messed with me,” and I’m not going to tell these people stories because they are not my stories to tell. That’s not what I’m here to do. Immediately the feedback was not positive for this individual, Scott Farr. I didn’t get involved. I stayed out of it. We are neutral. There are two sides to every story. I have heard from various individuals that he randomly will kick you out of his group and then not explain why. I got kicked out of the Fast Times group.
A badge of honor, you’ve been expelled. You didn’t even get detention first.
I didn’t. I reached out and I asked him why I was removed. I am going to read my messages on Facebook because I want everyone to know exactly what was said word for word. I sent this message directly to Scott Farr. I said, “Why was I removed from the Fast Times group?”
To back up, you’re in a lot of groups because one, we talked to a lot of people. You’re not necessarily just in the groups that you participated in. You like to be in a lot of groups because you were trying to let as many different groups have a voice through the show as possible.
I feel like we’re here to bring the community together. I want to highlight all the things going on, not just 1 or 2 groups or one type of writing. I asked why I was removed from the Fast Times group and I got no response. On Wednesday at 5:41 PM, I sent another message saying, “I guess I’ll have to make assumptions.” On Wednesday at 5:57 PM, I received a response from Scott, “Are you looking to race or get paced? I don’t have a ton of time for these convos with work, but what is it you need from the group?” I replied Wednesday at 6:18 PM, “I need to understand why you removed me.” It’s a simple question. Scott then replied at Wednesday 6:52 PM, “We won’t be discussing the administration of our group outside of the admin team. You should let me know what you need from the group and I’ll see if we can help. We’re always interested in supporting other riders. Have a great night.” I said, “Asking why I was removed is not administrative. I don’t know what your deal is, but clearly, everything I’ve heard about you is true.” I guess your stance is, “No one can be in the group unless they pace or race.” I’m glad to report that.
I don’t think it’s some star chamber secret oath to not explain to someone why they’re removed from a group.
I’ve never been removed from a group, so I’ve thought I should ask why. Like, “What did I do?”
It’s not like you’re on there doing some screed.
I should also mention, it wasn’t just he removed me from the group. He also unfriended me and left The Clip Out group. Am I upset about any of this? No, I honestly find it absolutely hilarious.
His group is named after a high school for a reason.
He then replied Wednesday at 7:25 PM, “I’m not sure that threatening us is appropriate,” which I’m not clear when I threatened him, but that’s okay. “Please don’t reach out to me in the future. Happy holidays to you and Tom,” which I don’t think he meant it all.
That might’ve been tongue-in-cheek. I find it interesting that he finds people hearing his own words is a threat.
I think it is. The reason is that the stories that I have heard, which I’m not going to get into other people’s stories. This is a pattern with him. He appears to have a tactic where if you don’t agree with him, he removes you from his life and he won’t discuss it with you. Clearly in point, he won’t discuss with me whatever his issue is.
None of this should matter because clearly, he’s not listening. He’s unfriended and blocked you. He won’t be reaching out.
I reached out to other admins of the group, one of which doesn’t have anything to do with the group anymore. She’s got some personal stuff going on, so she didn’t know anything about it. Another admin who I have not heard back from either. Also, I thought there must be some mistakes. I re-requested to join and I was denied not just once, twice.
This was before the conversation?
Yes, because he hadn’t answered. I did attempt to solve the issue because surely I did something. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t pace or race. My understanding is they only have 100 people that actually race on Fridays in real-time. I can’t imagine it’s that. That doesn’t make sense because that would mean most of their members should be removed. I think it might have to do with the fact that he seems to be under the impression that he owns Jennifer Jacobs in his tribe. She belongs to him in some regard and that’s simply not true.
It’s interesting because some of the instructors have a tribe page that that’s all they communicate with. Jenn Sherman is a good example. If you want to know something about Jenn Sherman, you know where to go. You go to the Tribe page. There are other instructors, Denis Morton is one of them. He has a Tribe page, but he also is part of the Power Zone Pack. Matt Wilpers is another one. Matt Wilpers doesn’t even have a true tribe page. There are groups that discuss Matt Wilpers and they are huge supporters and Matt participates.
He doesn’t have an officially sanctioned, “This is where I live, on Facebook.”
That’s how Jennifer Jacobs is. She participates in multiple groups. She participates in the Heart Rate training one. She participates in the Fast Times and she participates in Jacob’s Tribe. Apparently, me talking about Jacob’s tribe is what set him off because nothing else has occurred since then. I don’t know what other conclusions to come to. He won’t talk to me and answer my questions.
If you won’t answer questions, then people can only draw their own conclusions.
I was thinking about this. Why am I bringing this up? People are probably asking that. One, I find it hilarious. I find the entire thing childish, immature and funny. I haven’t dealt with anything like this except for your ex-wife. That is the only other person that I can think of that acts like this in our life. Also, because this has happened to multiple people, I feel like it wasn’t my job to bring their stories forth. I invited them to come on the show and talk about it and they didn’t want to. I totally get that. They want it to be the bigger person, which I applaud them for that, but I don’t consider myself the bigger person or the lesser person here.
We talk about what goes on in the Peloton community and this is what’s going on. He’s a one-man OPP.
I feel it’s my job to let people know what’s up. If you’re in the Fast Times group, you will no longer be seeing anything about what’s going on with The Clip Out because we’re not allowed to post there. Feel free to share our notes there or not. I don’t care.
If you’ve been busy and not been able to ride or pace, you might want to go ahead and leave the group before he kicks you out.
Definitely, do not talk about Jennifer Jacobs belonging to another tribe. Talk about touching a nerve, somebody has got some compensating to do.
That’s enough of that. We have bigger fish to fry.
The Morton fishermen. Enough of our chitchat. Let’s chitchat with somebody.
Joining us on the show is another instructor. They were kind enough to send another one our way. That’s very exciting. Ladies and gentlemen, Denis Morton.
How are you, Tom?
I’m doing good.
We can save the kindness gauge for later and that might have been a favor to you.
That’s okay. If it gets heated, that’ll probably generate even more people reading.
Are you selling advertising? Let’s get to work.
We have not yet figured out a way to monetize that.
That’s okay. It’s a labor of love.
Commodification is the key to ruining everything. It’s hard to say.
It can be a thin line. Where to begin?
We should start with how you ended up in your life at Peloton. How did you find your way there?
It’s a longer story than I think we probably have time for, but I can give you the cliff-notes. My move to Peloton comes on the shoulders of a twelve-year career in fitness that I never intended to have. I was in my early twenties. I was making marginal decisions as people will in their early twenties. I followed a girl into the yoga and the person that filled those pants had been filling my mind for some time. She actually promptly left and went someplace else. I stayed with it and did yoga every day for sixteen months. It gave me something physically challenging enough and spiritually fulfilling enough that I wanted to make better decisions both from my mind and my body.
I continued practicing yoga until I landed in Los Angeles. I answered a Craigslist posting about being in a yoga DVD because I thought I was going to be an actor or a model like every other person living out plan B several years later. I got cast in a yoga DVD and I got an offer about nine months later to be a part of a teacher training as compensation. When I showed up to learn to teach yoga, they would not let me teach yoga at that facility without learning to teach spinning as well. At the time, I didn’t know that people rode bikes in dark rooms to nowhere in front of panting, sweating cheerleader. I laughed at it and then I came out and they said, “You do it or you don’t.”
I went into my first class and I came out of that with the corners of my mouth pinned back and I got it. I understood the endorphin rush. Fast forward several years, I started teaching with other teachers. I was recruited to leave for another cycling company. I got an offer to partner in a cycling company and I got a text while I was on vacation in Mexico from a woman named Robin Arzon. She said, “We’re looking to add another instructor to our team, are you interested?” I said, “I’m on vacation in Mexico, but let’s set up a call.” I was busy. I was running the company at the time and I thought the idea of auditioning was amusing for a job that I’ve had for many years.
We talked and at the end of our twenty-minute conversation, I liked her and I believed her. I was interested in the model and the capacity to spread the message a little bit wider. What happened to me was essentially the equivalent of going from small-town Baptist preacher to televangelist almost overnight. I could reach 50 people at a time in my dark little studio rooms, but this has the capacity to extend the message much farther. Incidentally, I asked at the end of that twenty-minute conversation, “Ideally, when would you have me come in and audition for this job? I already do.” She said, “On March 31st.” I said, “Incidentally, I land in York City for a birthday party on March 31st at 11:00 AM.”
That was true?
Yes, she did not miss a beat and said, “Can you be here at 3:00?” I said, “Sure.” I came and I did the audition. That was not at all the end of the process. They were pretty thorough in their hiring process, which I also very much appreciated. There is no level of the Peloton that is not approached with a high degree of professionalism. I liked everything that they were doing and I liked everyone that they introduced me to. The decision started to become more and more clear as the conversation progressed.
Did you already know somebody at Peloton or did they just reach out to you cold?
Peloton Power Zone: Power Zone is specifically based on placing your body under certain amounts of stress, which elicit physiological adaptations within your systems.
I did know Christine years ago. We had taught together, but the person that said my name to Robin was a mutual friend that I haven’t spoken in years until this. He leads Vedic meditations. I’ve never even bothered to ask how they knew each other. I’m super grateful that they did. It makes me think I haven’t done my responsibility here. I might have to have a conversation with both of them someday.
You could give someone a thank you note.
I’m going to say I’ve got thank you cards in my closet. I’m going to have to dig those out.
Were you aware of Peloton? You said you worked with Christine, but were you guys close enough that you knew where she was? Did you know about Peloton?
She was, but I was so deep in the process of building the other project that I was a part of before this that I had lost track of it. When you’re running a program, you don’t stick your head up above the water line very often to see what other people are running. You’re focused on what you’re doing. I knew about Peloton before they even started selling bikes because of another mutual friend that was involved in the developmental stages. I had lost track of how the magnitude of the project and the veracity with which they had approached the fitness market. I had no idea the velocity that they had managed to gain over the last few years. I was impressed at my first look and I am still impressed. I’m excited about everything that we’ve got coming.
Were you in a fitness pre-yoga or was that your embarkation, if that’s not a word on your fitness journey?
Fitness as an end unto itself had never been a specific interest of mine. I was a soccer player as a child. I’ve been bodyboarding my whole life and body surfing. Some of my earliest memories are body surfing on top of my father with my arms around his neck. He was my boogie board and I was always a climber of trees and a runner of races. I played football in college. Over time, what happens with all of us is that we accept the responsibilities of adulthood. One of the compromises that we make is that we rescind our athleticism. After college football, I started to feel that happening. Maybe that was contributing to the quality of my decisions at the time. What I’ve always cared about is being comfortable in my own skin and being able to move smoothly and confidently.
The yoga provided me not only the physical capacity to move confidently and comfortably with the amount of skin, but also ease the transition into operating comfortably in my own skin on a more figurative level. Only through my desire to share the benefit that specifically yoga, but movement and structured movement training had brought to my life did I enter the market as an instructor. It was never about making money. I didn’t even realize you could make money. I wanted to continue giving the gift that had meant so much to me.
It’s always nice when you can fall into stuff like that.
I am exceptionally fortunate. I have not looked for a job since 2005.
It means you’re also very talented.
I do give myself to everything I do. If I’m going to bother, I give it all. Through the course of committing both to the projects that I’ve been a part of and to my capacity for excellence, I have been fortunate enough to have been noticed by other people that wanted me to be a part of the next project. Call it hard work, call it luck. I call it luck.
What’s that saying? You’ll be surprised, the harder you work, the luckier you get.
There’s that great speech by Ashton Kutcher at the Kid’s Choice Awards where he said, “I’ve gotten all these opportunities and all of these opportunities were disguised as hard work.” The more you say yes to the projects that scare you and stretch you, the better work you’re doing and the more you’re developing yourself, whether you’re paying attention or not. It’s almost like Mr. Miyagi, it’s wax on, wax off and paint the fence. You have no idea what you’re training for.
I’ve noticed that a lot of times in my life where it’s like all of a sudden, I’m doing something and it’s accessing some skillset like, “When did I develop that?”
It’s when you weren’t looking and focused on being excellent at the thing that you were trying to accomplish.
It’s always nice to find out that you accidentally got good at something that doesn’t feel like you had to work so hard. We reached out to our audience through social media and to see if they had any questions for you. We weeded out at least 75% of the inappropriate ones.
I’m interested in 25% of what’s coming.
We’re going to turn it over to them. We will have questions from them moving forward. Our first question is from Ren Herman and they would like to know, what is your favorite surfing spot besides your father?
It’s a loaded question. The real honest answer is I’m not sure I’ve been there yet. My dream trip is to the Mentawai. It’s an archipelago in Indonesia where a large percentage of the best waves on the planet are condensed into one place. Specifically, there is a place called Nias in a landmass called Scorpion Bay that has my full attention. I used to pull the pages out of the magazines when I was a kid and put them on the front of my desk. My favorite surf spot is Long Beach, which is only about 25 miles East of New York City and has considerably better surf than anyone does or should know. It’s already crowded enough and I’m not trying to blow up the spot, but New York has much better surf on the South Coast of Long Island than people realize.
I also like a place called Manasquan in New Jersey. My favorite wave that I’ve been able to serve with any degree of regularity leading up to that was Rincon, which is in between Ventura and Santa Barbara on the California Coast. It’s a little headland that sticks out into the ocean off of a South facing coastline that catches Northwest swells coming out of the Gulf of Alaska. As it wraps around that headland, if you catch it in the right spot and the tide, the wind, the swell and your ability all come together, you can get a ride that can be about a half-mile long. At which point you’re kicking out the back of the waves because your calves are cramping, not because you’re tired of surfing.
Our next question is from Stephanie Caputo and she would like to know how you got involved with Power Zone Training? What piqued your interest? Was it Peloton or Matt that approached you or did you approach them with your interest? How did that happen?
It started with me taking the class. Matt is incredibly generous, both with his knowledge and his time. He was around a lot when I was here making the transition into Peloton. I bounced a lot of my questions off of him. He and I developed a friendship. When I started taking his Power Zone classes during the process of getting trained, this is the first time I’ve ever taught a numerically based training program. I’ve always taught by field. It was always entirely subjective and I was always telling people what kind of feeling and exertion level that they were supposed to be feeling verbally. It was always just a description.
The reason that I’d always resisted numerically based systems is that a certain cadence and resistance pairing is going to mean something different to me, to you and to her. To have a 300 pound NFL offensive lineman competing with a 70-pound ballerina has never seemed fair to me, even reasonable. I don’t know that it’s in the best interest. We give ranges which makes it a great deal more accessible and more inclusive. Power Zone cut up into seven zones of exertion and each zone represents a range of output. If your maximum output is 300 and my maximum output is 200, if we’re both working at the same percentage of our max, we’re both experiencing the same physiological difficulty.
Power Zone specifically is based on placing the body under certain amounts of stress, which elicit physiological adaptations within organ groups, systems or muscles. It meets you right where you are and takes away the objectivity of it and makes it subjective for each. It individualizes success across a very wide audience, which is an amazing thing. I am excited not only to learn that as a system but also to be able to stage it. I’ve got my fingers crossed. I’ve got ideas in development for ways to translate that into various other programming types.
It’s like handicapping in golf. Players who have different skill levels can still compete.
I know where you’re going with that. I almost never use the word handicap if I can. We’ve all got strengths and opportunities.
I don’t mean in a derogatory way, but just as a way to level the playing field.
I don’t mean it too in a derogatory way in golf either. We’re not handicapped, this is what we are.
It’s a way to get it to a level where it’s apples to apples.
It’s leveling the playing field.
Rachel Boutin would like to know what your Power Zone training or learning to teach it entailed.
I had to buy the book.
They didn’t even give you one?
I’m sure they would reimburse me. I can’t remember if I ever submitted it. It doesn’t matter. It’s been so useful. I’m happy to pay. A lot of it was reading and talking to Professor Wilpers. The two doctors that put this book together are brilliant. As a result of their brilliance and commitment to excellence in their own field, it’s about as dense as a neutron star. Reading it and trying to process it into a usable platform reminded me of why I dropped out of college, but I did sift my way through it. When I got stuck, I would just call, text or stalk Matt in the street and make him explain something to me. Mostly it was reading, studying, taking classes and trying to gain a broad-based understanding of the concept and application of the process.
That leads to the next question from Lauren Jobe-Coil. She would like to know what kind of questions were on your Power Zone tests that Wilpers gave you?
It was basically nuts and bolts stuff. FTP stands for Functional Threshold Power and they wanted me to explain what that was and how the FTP test is administered and how the FTP warmup and test go together. The significance of the numbers, the calculations of each zone, how that’s done and the specific physiological adaptations that are being elicited by the stress levels provided by those zones of output. I’m not comparing myself to Mozart, but they say Mozart sat down in front of a piano when he was four and it made sense to him. The Power Zones just made sense to me. I looked at it, I listened a great deal to Matt and I’m like, “This makes sense. I’m interested in this.”
It was a matter of learning the background behind the way that the concepts are applied and that’s what the questions were about on the test. My mother was an English professor, so while it was not required to answer an essay form, I did. What might’ve been a page or two of the answers ended up being three pages handwritten. It was primarily nuts and bolts and the nuance and also work recovery ratios. How long can you go in zone five and if you go this duration in zone five, how much time do you need to recover from that in order to be ready for the next interval?
As a rider who takes your classes, I’m glad you got that part right.
It speaks to the credibility as an instructor. In order to have a healthy relationship between an instructor and a student, trust is necessary. The moment I ask the riders to do something that is absolutely unattainable and unachievable, I have lost their faith. If you lose the faith of your riders, it’s much more challenging to get it back than it is to err on the side of caution and keep it and continue to pull that thread. All of those class plans are pretty thoroughly thought out and run through the checks before we try it on. If I’m not sure about it, I ride it first and make sure that I think it’s attainable.
That would have to be a big concern. If you put a goal in front of somebody that they don’t feel as attainable though, on the one hand, they might lose their faith in you as an instructor. What’s probably more likely to occur is they think they just can’t do it. They give up entirely like they’re a failure and then they walk away.
Our job as instructors and specifically within Power Zone is not to provide a structure that is unattainable. The relationship between coaches and athletes, which is what this is. We can say teacher, student, whatever, but it’s coaches and athletes. If you trust a coach, they have the capacity to push you so far beyond your perceived limits than you would ever push yourself because you have done the leg work to gain their trust. That takes a great deal of time and space to build, curate and a moment to destroy.
I never thought about it like that.
You’ve had coaches.
Since I’ve ridden the Peloton, I’ve never done any exercise on a regular basis until I got the bike. It’s a new approach for me.
Do you find yourself thinking the thing that they’re asking sounds unreasonable or unattainable, but they haven’t given me anything that was yet, so I’m going to give it a shot and then you impress yourself?
Yes, I usually end up feeling like, “There’s no way I can do that,” and then I do. I was thinking through. I don’t know that I sit there at the moment thinking, “I don’t know I can do that. I was surprised myself.” By the end of the ride, I’m almost always thinking that. I never thought of it as a trust with the coach. I never thought of that as going back and forth. I thought of it as, “I must not be pushing myself hard enough if I can’t do it.” I never thought of it as it’s more of a relationship than what it is.
It’s great to see that we’re in a relationship. I hope I haven’t outed our process. It’s not a giant secret, but yes, there is a great deal of emphasis on maintaining credibility with your audience, specifically when you’re asking them to do something physical and challenging.
Peloton Power Zone: Coaches have the capacity to push you so far beyond your perceived limits than you would ever push yourself.
I’ve never thought about it in those terms because I’m not a sports guy and I never have been. My parents made me play sports when I was a small child, mainly because I was small and they were bigger than I was. I was awful at it. I told the story in the show, I once famously struck out at tee-ball. When you were saying that I was sitting, going back to the coaches I had as a kid and I’m thinking, “I never had a good coach. Every coach I ever had was a complete failure.”
Being a coach, I have also had those coaches. Everyone gives you an opportunity to learn something, something you want to be more like or something you want to be less like. Even bad coaches can teach good lessons.
My lesson was sports aren’t for me.
That was the lesson you learned. There may have been a number of lessons available and that was the one that stood out for you. As long as it’s working out for you, I’m happy if you are.
Moving onto something more lighthearted, Melissa Perry Giamanco would like to know how you pick the music for your classes.
It depends. It’s a balance. Some days I’ve got a structure in mind for the class and I pick the music to fit it. Some days I’ve got a song that’s banging around in my head like shoes and a dryer that I can’t get rid of and I put that on the playlist and then build around it. For most of my time in fitness, music has been part of what set me apart. It’s all that mattered to me growing up. You and I were talking, I’ve been a music junkie since I was very small and I’m a lyrics junkie. I’m hyper-conscious of lyrics and the way that music and lyrics within music motivate. If I can, I try to pick music that allows the song to speak, even though I talk a great deal. I would like the song to say something of its own.
Also, that process has been changing some. Whereas music has been the forefront of the artistry of what I’ve been doing on a spin bike for the last several years, now moving into Power Zone, I don’t want to call myself a slave to the structure or the clock. The intervals and the timing are what drives the structure of the class. It seems like that would become a slavish relationship for me, but it turns out it has become liberating because it narrows down my options in a way that makes it almost easier for me to make the playlist. If we’re going to be doing the zones after, for example, I’m not going to play any. I’ve got to give you something that’s going to make you want to kick a hole in the ceiling. The duration of the interval is this. I have to find a high energy song, a cadence that’s relevant to this interval that’s going to be between 4 and 5 minutes long. That has been liberating in a way to take myself and my ego about music out of it and let the structure of the intended intervals run the program a little more. It’s a labor of love. It is creative, structured and I do agonize over it.
I have to tell you that your country music rides on Monday mornings have become some of my favorite rides.
Thank you so much. I have not listened to the country. My joke is that as soon as Garth Brooks turned into Chris Gaines, I stopped listening. It’s not even remotely true. It was around that time in the late ‘90s that I stopped listening to country music and it has been so fun for me to reconnect to the music that I loved growing up. When I was a very small child, I was riding on a family friend, Don Alford’s shoulders. My parents were involved in this and this group of people went camping a few times a year. We were camping with this group near the River Ranch Rodeo. It’s a small amateur rodeo in Central Florida.
We were walking from the rodeo grounds back to the campsite and I was on Donald Alford’s shoulders. Don looked up at me and said, “Denis, did you enjoy the rodeo?” I talked with a pretty heavy list as a child. I said, “I sure did, Mr. Alford. Boys just want to get dirty, boys just want to get bucked.” Every Christmas, I get to hear that story over again. Don Alford can get about a third of the way through it before he buckles over with laughter, which is great. It fills a room with joy and it’s wonderful. I grew up wanting him. Momma’s don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys. I wanted to be the Dukes of Hazzard. I was Bo Duke. I was the blonde one and my brother was Tom Wopat. I grew up on country music and it’s been so much fun to get back to it.
Did your lisp self-correct or did you have to get speech therapy?
I think I went to a few sessions as a child. It’s not a part of my memory that I’m super in touch with. I’ll have to talk to my mom. I do remember meeting a woman a couple of times in one of those windowless rooms and the little Catholic school that I grew up going to.
You have to tell him why you’re asking, Tom.
I was asking because I had a speech impediment as a child. I had a lisp and I couldn’t say my R’s. I did the same thing.
Did you go to speech therapy?
I did. Maybe it’s just the age they hit you at. I think I was in it around first grade. I vaguely remember it as well. I know I was going semi-weekly for the better part of a year, like an entire school year.
It may have been that for me and I don’t remember. Do you read any David Sedaris?
We went and saw him when he was in town. In fact, I had a short story published locally and at the reading, they weren’t very nice enough to compare my story to a David Sedaris story.
As a kid who grew up with a lisp, Carolina or state always resonated so deeply with me because he organized all of his vocabularies to never have to say the letter S. As a person who is completely devoid of sports fanhood, he always chose Carolina because it didn’t force him to say “state.” It’s a brilliant piece if you ever get a chance to read it.
I’ll have to find it because his stuff was on sale on Kindle one day and I bought almost everything he’s ever written because they were $1.98 each.
What he essentially became was a semantic gymnast to avoid the letter S.
I think a lot of people do that. I know people with stutters, they always get stuck on their own name because you can substitute other words. You can find a synonym for almost any word, but you can’t for your own name. When you ask them their name, a lot of times, they just get stuck. My speech therapy nightmare was I went through it for six months and my R’s were awful. Everybody thought I was from New York. What was supposed to have been the last day, she was like, “We think we’ve got this under control. You’re doing good independently. We don’t have to keep nudging you.” She’s like, “Run through the alphabet one more time.” I’m like, “L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V.” She’s like, “Back up.” I’m like, “What?” She’s like, “Do that again.” I’m like, “Q, R, S, T, U, V.” She’s like, “The S?” I had to do it all over again only now for Ss.
I still type in lip occasionally. My iPhone is constantly trying to autocorrect me from making fun of my childhood.
Chris Thomas wants to know, “Do three-pound weights help build muscles?”
The short answer is more than not lifting three-pound weights. What it comes down to is whether you’re trying to build muscle, maintain muscle or tone muscle. “Is a three-pound weight going to have the same impact on your muscle that a 30 pound or a 300-pound weight would? No, not necessarily. If you’re bodybuilding, you do high weight and low reps. If you’re trying to increase muscular endurance, you’re going to do a low rate and high reps. That’s what we’re doing more. What we offer at Peloton is a total body fitness program in part because we offer that upper body sequence. The variety and intensity with which the instructors’ approach it does give you a balanced workout over time.
What becomes important as the weight diminishes is to maintain a firm mind-muscle connection. I read this report on a study where they had a group of people working out with weights. Then they had an experimental group working out doing the same movements but with no weight and an intense focus on squeezing the muscles that they were focused on as you move through the movement. You’d be looking like a crazy person in a gym on a flat bench, bench pressing the air and focusing on squeezing your pecs on the way to the top. The differences in strength gain over the course of a six program were only 15%. You’ve got people that are lifting weights and people that are making the mind-muscle connection between the movements that they’re doing and the muscles employed in those movements. The mind is the most powerful thing that you can use in your body and everything else in your body is just responding to the signals that your brain sends. Are our three-pound weights going to turn you into Terry Crews? No, but they might prevent you from becoming somebody that you’re not happy with in the mirror.
Marcel Marceau must have been ripped.
He probably had good shoulders.
That was the only mime I could think of. I guess Shields and Yarnell, that’s it.
He was probably good at pushing movements, but maybe not so good at pulling because you can’t show a box that you’re pulling from.
Honestly, I can only think of one pulling movement and he would’ve gotten arrested for that.
He could’ve been playing imaginary tug of war.
Our next question is from Brenda Kramer, who’s leaderboard name is Canada Brenda, “What is the one thing you’ve learned about yourself since joining Peloton?”
Mostly, what I’ve learned about myself as my absolute and it’s not that I learned it. There are so many of these lessons that as we moved through our life, we learn over and over. The thing that has been galvanized for me again is my refusal to accept less than my best. I am hard on me and I am committed to representing myself as well as possible. Before I moved over here, I had built and managed a team of 50 instructors and a crew of 150 to run the facilities. I thought that moving from managing large teams as well as myself to managing myself and trying to be my best as a Peloton instructor was going to be less work. In fact, Boyle’s Law applies no matter where you are. The amount of work that you have expands to fill the space. Somewhere in my human brain, I’m always looking for the opportunity to slack off a little bit. Somewhere deep-rooted in the person that I am, my reptile brain refuses to slack off. I’m learning to balance that.
That’s good. You don’t want to be all work all the time.
It’s funny because surfing and teaching are the only two things about which I am type A. I am super relaxed most of my life. Words matter, music matters, being my best and helping people matters. The rest of it can fall by the wayside. I can take it or leave it, but I want to be great at the things that I choose to put myself into. I live in my head.
This next question was asked by a few people. They wanted to know if you had heard if there are any plans to incorporate Power Zone on the tablet.
It would be exceptionally helpful specifically for the people that are participating in Power Zone classes, but the real answer is that’s way above my pay grade. I go to content development meetings to talk about the things that are being rolled out. I’m not the one rolling them out. The Power Zone pack is chomping at the bit to see that happen. As a Power Zone instructor, I’d love to see that happen, but I don’t have any idea if or when that’s a possibility.
That’s a fair answer.
I’ll tell you the truth. It’s part of the problem.
Gina Spinelli-Mitchell would like to know, “If you could have any celebrity dead or alive in your class, who would it be and why?”
It’s Joseph Campbell. He’s been dead for years. He wrote The Hero’s Journey. His work has been the single greatest influence on my own. It would have nothing to do with having him in class. It would be the possibility of talking with him afterward. He unified all of the hero myths. He was very interested in mythology as a child and began amassing what became the world’s greatest collection of the mythologies of various cultures. He was a professor at Sarah Lawrence College and he became the world’s foremost authority on mythology. What he said was the trouble with mythology is that people tend to think of them as entertaining stories when in fact, what they were is an oral history and a manual for living and overcoming your challenges. We’ve all got a demon and a dragon to slay. The cave you fear to enter is the cave that holds the treasure you seek. His entire lexicon was about facing your fears and overcoming yourself on the way to personal greatness. Joseph Campbell is one of my personal heroes. When I was no longer listening to my parents, Joseph Campbell continued to steer the ship.
You’ve mentioned that you used to teach yoga and Krista Thompson would like to know, “Do you have any plans to add beyond the ride yoga classes?”
That’s above my pay grade. I have offered, I am open and let’s all keep our fingers crossed and stay tuned. Don’t get me wrong. It’s been a great deal of fun and I’m loving it, but it’s also been a lot of work to get up to speed, get confident and proficient at what I’m doing on a bicycle. I’m not trying to divide my attention or energy and spread it any thinner than it already is. As the demand on me diminishes somewhat, as I become more comfortable in this format, I am wide open to accepting new challenges. I have an abiding and unwavering love and passion for yoga. I would be absolutely willing to delve into that if given the opportunity.
Beth Tooley Sabby says that she read somewhere that you said that you like to eat the same thing pretty much daily and she’s just curious if that’s accurate and if so, what is it?
I think what she’s referring to is my kitchen sink scramble. That means whatever is in my fridge from the farmer’s market get sautéed in oil in a pan in the morning. I whip eggs and pour them on top and then cook it all together. It’s true to the extent that I am motivated enough to wake up early and make my breakfast every day. Sometimes it’s a bagel sandwich, sometimes it’s the kitchen sink scramble and the kitchen sink scramble. We move in cycles. Sometimes we’re on top of our nutrition and grocery shopping and sometimes we’re not. Even when it is a consistent part of my morning, it varies by season depending on what’s at the farmer’s market. I am a creature of habit and I am a compulsive in my dietary habits, but it stays balanced just by nature of where I shop.
This is from Beth Boshart. She says, “With all the jokes that you make on rides about dating lines, what’s your best pickup line?”
I think it’s everybody’s best pickup line, “Hi.” Smile and be interested because if you’re pretending to be interested when you’re hitting on them, that’s a recipe for a bad relationship. I have a bunch of terrible lines and I throw them out in class from time to time, but I would never actually use those with someone I was interested in. Certainly not until I had gotten to yes the first day. I don’t want to show them how cheesy I am until I’ve already implied a value.
I like the rotation falls to where I get to ask this question.
It’s not from you. We had a lot of female readers that wanted to know.
Peloton Power Zone: What becomes important as the weight diminishes is to maintain a firm mind-muscle connection.
We don’t have a name attached to this one. One, to protect the innocent and also because it would be a very long list. People were curious as to your relationship status.
My relationship status is good. Fewer people are involved in my private life.
I don’t blame you, so we’ll let you go to the next one.
Carrie Olsen Elling would like to know, “Why the orange shoes?” which she loves.
The tradition I came from was rhythm-based, like Cody’s class where everybody’s riding on the rhythm of the music specifically. I’m musical as a person. I was a breakdancer as a kid. I’ve never been to a regular dance class. I’m a reasonably good dancer and the program that I came from, we would have the whole room moving together on the same foot. It’s not just on the beat of the music, but the whole room would be swaying in unison. There have been a number of incarnations of brightly colored shoes. When you’re in a dark room with a bunch of other people and they’re trying to follow your feet, black shoes in the dark don’t translate well. I tried white ones and then I tried tennis ball green ones. I found those orange ones. The chakra of creativity and sexuality. I love orange and they are like traffic cones on my feet. They were easy for people to follow and even from all the way at the back of the room. I’m not that flashy as a person, but that particular element made my class more successful from the rider end.
I wouldn’t have thought about that, but that does make sense. The people that are riding can see what you’re doing.
They’re pretty day-glow, which is why people notice them on the stream. I know a couple of riders that have tracked them down and bought them because they liked them so much. It’s the first time I’ve ever been a fashion influencer, I promise.
That probably brings us to our last question, which isn’t a question. It’s from Lisa Carlson. It’s not really a question so comment or don’t. It just says, “Those arms.”
She said, “Say thank you.”
It’s so funny. I get a lot of questions about diet, exercise and all these things as I become more visible. What’s the old line, “The higher you climb on the totem pole, the more people can see your butt.” People ask me and my joke answer has always been, “You don’t want to follow me. There were some weeks that I live on whiskey and chocolate.” I promise you that’s not accurate. It goes back to my answer. It’s never been necessarily about fitness or aesthetics. It’s that I want to be able to move. If you’re going to paddle a surfboard for hours on end, your arms are going to be toned. When I was teaching yoga in LA, the natural progression for me seemed to go into aerial acrobatics. I started training for silks and trapeze. Honestly, my arms are a shadow of what they were when I was consistently training for silks and trapeze. I’m flattered either way. There’s a great line in one of the Winnie the Pooh books where Eeyore was talking about owl. He says, “Just the other day, owl flew by and noticed me. He didn’t acknowledge me, didn’t say hello, but he noticed me.”
The final question would be, where can people find you other than on the bike? Is there a social media presence or a website, anything of that nature?
I would direct them to my Peloton instructor page. Denis Morton – Peloton on Facebook. On Instagram, it’s @Denis__Morton. Beyond that, I’m going to have to see them on the stream. It’s one of the aspects of my public-facing persona that I’m working on the most diligently. I’m not interested that much in the minutia of my daily life. I can’t imagine that other people are, but they are. I might as well feed them.
Don’t say you’ll see them on the stream. Everybody’s scared that that camera works in two ways. They get worried that people are looking at them.
Let me clear this up for you. All I see is your screen names. I’m not sure I would be comfortable if I had a camera on all of you guys all the time.
Thank you very much for taking the time.
This has been great. Thanks so much for inviting me.
Thank you so much.
What recipe does he have?
It’s salsa chicken. You need 2 to 4 chicken breasts, taco seasoning, salsa and also some cheese, but that’s optional. If you don’t like cheese, that’s okay. You preheat your oven, roll the chicken breasts in the taco seasoning, place the chicken in the baking pan, cover it with salsa and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. If you want the cheese on top, remove after 30 minutes, sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top and bake for another five. Let it cool and serve. He says that it’s easy, healthy and pairs well with almost anything. He likes it with quinoa and a salad.
That sounds pretty simple. Thank you for doing the show and for providing a recipe. That’s it for this episode. Who do we have coming up on the next episode?
Lori Cheek from Shark Tank. As a bonus, she’s also the person that convinced Flat Michael to go to Peloton in the first place. She is incredibly entertaining. I can’t wait to have this conversation.
That’s what we have to look forward to, a bonafide TV star. That’s cool and a first for us. Where can they find you?
They can find me at Facebook.com/crystaldokeefe or on Twitter @ClipOutCrystal. On the bike, it’s @ClipOutCrystal.
You can find me on Twitter @RogerQBert. On Facebook at Facebook.com/tomokeefe. You can also find the show on Facebook at Facebook.com/theclipout or you can check out our website, theclipout.com You could check out our web store, maybe buy yourself a t-shirt or a non-dad hat. That’s it for this episode. Thanks for reading. Until next time, keep pedaling.
About Denis Morton
Raised in Florida, schooled in Tennessee, steeped in southern California and heat-tested in Texas, Denis brings 14 years of fitness leadership to Peloton.
With an athletic history ranging from college football to aerial acrobatics, and a musical taste to match, Denis will keep you moving, grooving and guessing what comes next.