TSS 34 | Strength Training

34: Live Classes Debut plus our interview with Brendon Ayanbadejo

TSS 34 | Strength Training


Tonal takes us behind the scenes at dress rehearsals for live classes.

  • We take a peek at the Tonal Safety guidelines.
  • New content including The Power Of Chains, Upper Body Intensity, Attack Your Core, and more.
  • Tonal spotlights the LGBTQ+ & Allies Facebook group.
  • There’s another new FB group – Pets of Tonal.
  • Coach Nicolette and Coach Frances celebrated Latin Heritage Month.
  • Tonal’s  Black Excellence Series continues with The Invisible History of the Afro-Latine Community
  • You can sync your Amazon Halo with Tonal.
  • The November Challenge has been revealed.
  • An interesting article about Muscle Repair & Growth.
  • Kate has a chance encounter with a Tonal Community member.

All this plus our interview with Brendon Ayanbadejo!

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Live Classes Debut plus our interview with Brendon Ayanbadejo

How was your first live class?

It was awesome. I took the very first live class that ever existed. I wanted to be part of history and it worked out well since I was working from home. That first class was Power HIIT class with Coach Woody and I loved it. I loved seeing all the scrolling across the top. You could see all the different people every time they got a PR. You could see if it was strengths PR or if they hit a milestone of any kind. If they hit a certain number of pounds like while we were in class, Kate reached 4 million pounds while we were in class. The milestones shift all the way over to the left. You can see it and then you can immediately high-five them. I loved that.

The only thing that it is going to take some getting used to is the leaderboard scroll side to side. When I was on, there were 307 people for the very first class and you couldn’t see all 307. It’s like you’d scroll and then it would reset and another group would come up. If I wanted to high-five every single person going there, I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t see them. Somebody got a high-five and I didn’t even see them in the class. They got a shout out and I don’t even think he was in the class.

I guess it’s because he was one of the people that got to do the beta testing. I don’t know if Coach Woody gave him a shout out because he had been one of the beta testers. She was like, “He’s probably on here,” or if it was a weird glitch. It went fast and I liked it. No more people can join after the first block starts. It freezes the leaderboard at that point. You can’t add at that point. Even during the warm-up, people were still jumping in. It was exciting to see the number going up the whole time. It was cool and very energetic.

I guess we will have some more live class stuff to talk about. Beyond that, what do you have in store for people?

We’re going to talk about any of the new stuff with Tonal. There’s a new group that we want to talk about. There’s a new update from the Black Excellence Series. There are some little In Case You Missed It details like what now works with the Tonal from a gadget standpoint. We’re going to talk about all of those things.

Before we get to all that, shameless plugs, don’t forget we’re available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts. Wherever you find a podcast, you can find us. While you’re there, be sure to rate, review and follow us so you never miss an episode. You can also find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/supersetpodcast. While you’re there, like the page and join the group. You can also find us on YouTube. All of these episodes are live on YouTube at our YouTube channel, which is called YouTube.com/theclipout, the name of our other podcast but everything lives under one umbrella. Swing on by and follow us there if you are so inclined. There’s all that. Let’s dig in. Shall we?

We shall.

We were talking about Tonal starting their live classes and they put out a very cool video taking you behind the scenes of their dress rehearsal.

They officially did this as a Tonal Talk. It might’ve been my favorite Tonal Talk, although I love all of them. That’s tough to choose but it’s my current favorite.

My current favorite is the one we were on.

Kate did a good job. I didn’t realize this whole time that when they’re filming classes, that it’s a Hollywood studio. It never occurred to me.

I thought it was like they had a thing in the office. It was like, “Here are the cubicles. Here’s the break room. Here’s where we filmed the classes.”

Because I’ve been behind the scenes at Peloton and at the studio in the building, I have been assuming this whole time that that’s exactly how Tonal was doing it. First of all, it’s mind-blowing right off the bat. This particular studio has had a lot of stuff filmed in it including a Selena Gomez video. Kate mentioned three other things, but that’s the one that stuck with me.

I care about Selena Gomez now that I watched Only Murders in the Building. I should have cared about her before. She’s in Wizards of Waverly Place. I should have cared about her before because I was friends with Mr. Laritate in real life.

Yes, Bill Chott. You should have cared. At any rate, this was cool. All the COVID protocols were being followed. Masks were being worn. There were signs like, “Be quiet, we’re filming.” Kate went backstage and she talked to one of the guys filming about what that was like. She then went into the dressing room where Coach Gabby was getting ready. She was getting her makeup and hair done. I was mind-blown again because I had no idea. I know that they said they had people over this but I didn’t realize it’s legit people for this. They’re producing it like a Hollywood studio. This is why you should watch the Tonal Talks because you’ll learn so much. Those were my key takeaways. There’s a lot of awesome stuff happening. If you haven’t had a chance to watch this, you absolutely should. It’s a good one. They even have a wardrobe room, Tom. It’s like my dream come true. All workout clothes.

Also, Kate has posted in the Official Tonal Community on Facebook. They want to keep you healthy but that doesn’t mean through working out. They’ve posted their safety guidelines and tips to keep you safe while using your Tonal.

I appreciate that because it’s so obvious that it’s exercise equipment and we need to be careful with it. That exercise in and of itself is wonderful for you but if you’re not following all the rules, it can be dangerous. They talked about minors using the Tonal. If you’re going to be doing any prenatal training, talk to your doctor. If you’re going to solicit medical suggestions from the community and coaches, don’t do that. Talk to your doctor.

It’s always a bad idea to ask the internet for science advice. These last eighteen months has taught us anyway.

Using third-party accessories on Tonal, it’s like Tonal hasn’t evaluated those. They have no idea how well those work. Back squats on Tonal. We’ve talked about this before. It can lead to danger. That’s why they do front squats. They’re safer on the Tonal. Goblet squat is a new one for me. It’s seeing Tonal’s recommendations about how to perform them because everyone is a little bit different. You might need to adjust your body position to make sure that you’re comfortable while doing it and you have the appropriate range of motion.

I thought that was great that they’ve posted all this. It wasn’t too long ago that they had the screen lock that they added to it as well. It’s nice to see that Tonal takes all these things seriously. It’s yet another guide that is out there on the Official Tonal Community. If you have questions about that or if you know somebody that gets one and you’re like, “I just want to make sure you’re doing all the great thing,” you can send them the link. They got it all.

As always, there are tons and tons of new content. It is a crazy amount of content. We were talking about the studio, that they filmed in a Hollywood studio and that there’s no studio onsite. Part of the reason I assumed they had a studio on site was because they create so much content.

They’re renting a studio and that has to be so expensive.

That’s why I thought it would have to be cheaper to have it all in house.

It wasn’t too long ago that Kate told me or she posted, I don’t remember if we were having a conversation, that there are multiple stages back there. They could be filming two different kinds of content at the exact same time. Again, with the mind-blowing. It’s crazy. What is going on? We have The Power of Chains with Coach Nicollete. It is a full body and all focused on chains. It’s for 29 minutes. You’re going to have all the different muscle groups completely challenged by chains mode. That workout is going to be no joke. That’s labeled as intermediate. There’s the Upper Body Intensity with coach Brendon, also an intermediate upper body, 25 minutes.

There are several new quick fits. There’s Attack Your Core with Coach Paul. There’s the Back Muscle Build with Coach Paul. New cardio is coming up, Tabata Burn with Coach Woody, sixteen minutes of major cardio. This might be a good one for you, Tom, when you’re looking for cardio add on. I like to help out. Also, new yoga. Yoga is amazing. Forward Folds with Coach Nikki. New Pilates, Pilates Abs. It’s a series of five with Coach Frances.

There’s a new warm-up, Power Activation with Coach Paul. Also new mobility, Pain-Free Knees with Coach Liz. This needs to be taken by anybody who does a lot of biking or running and you ever have soreness in your knees. It’s pain-free knees. There’s a new recovery, Recovery for Mobility with Coach Nicolette, seventeen minutes, full-body, all muscle groups will be covered. If you’re going to take one of these full-body workouts, make sure you take the full-body recovery as well.

Achieving your goals is going to be tough and challenging. But when you do and get to live within that dream for ten years, it's special. Share on X

We talked about in one of our episodes the different subgroups that Tonal is fostering within the world of Tonal. They talked about their XXL Community. Kate also posted spotlighting their LGBTQ+ & Allies group.

This is led by Patrick Curreri. On October 18th in that group, they had a live stream that Coach Pablo hosted. He’s going to do this monthly. He’s discussing fitness related topics relevant to the LGBTQ+ community. The first one was all about fitness and psychology. That’s a great option for allies too. Even if you’re not LGBTQ+ but you’re an ally, this could still be a good place for you to go, show support, interact with the coaches, and have good conversations.

It’s probably for the best if they say an ally because how are they going to make you prove it? That would be an awkward Facebook message. Sometimes they want to save space. I’m just saying that ultimately, there’s no way to police that. It’s their way of saying, “Everybody is welcome but don’t be an asshole.”

That’s always the case. Don’t be an asshole. That should be in every interaction you ever have on Facebook and in fact, just in life.

While I hate to rank groups in terms of importance, a slightly less important group but something some people might still enjoy. Someone began the Pets of Tonal Facebook page.

As far as people enjoying it, that would be me. I would enjoy this. Pets of Tonal now exists. You can post pictures of your furry little workout partners that come in all shapes and sizes.

It interrupts your workout. That’s what ours does. She always thinks it’s playtime.

That it’s time to nuzzle.

She’s like, “You’re on the floor. I’m on the floor. Let’s be on the floor together.”

This was started by some amazing person who was like, “I would like to start a group.” It’s Kien Taing. Now there’s a whole brand new group, Pets of Tonal. Make sure you join.

Coach Nicolette and Coach Frances celebrated Latin Heritage Month together.

This was for the whole community to wrap up the month. They were wrapping up the Latin Heritage Month with Tonal treats. I can’t remember what the food they made was but I remember the drink. It was Mock Margarita. Even if you’re not drinking alcohol, you still have an amazing treat. You’re not left out. It’s been a while since there’s been a Tonal treat but they’re fun.

Tonal continued their Black Excellence Series.

This time it was about the Invisible History of the Afro-Latin Community. It’s fascinating. You might be wondering what comprises the Invisible History. They have a Patreon and an Instagram. You can follow them. They consider themselves to be independent artists who create high-quality educational content, honoring historical events relating to black, Latin, and indigenous people. They are looking to make it possible for everyone to learn about the subjects covered and have access to the information for free. That’s cool.

If you want more information, you can check out their Patreon at Patreon.com/invisiblehistory.

In case you’re unaware, you can sync your Amazon Halo with your Tonal.

It’s pretty easy to do. Somebody posted that they wanted to hook up their Whoop to it. Whoop also works on the Tonal so that you can see what your heart rate is. There are lots of ways to do that. There has been a previous Tonal Talk that talks about heart rates on training. If you’re interested in how it works with the Tonal, the link is out there as well. If you go and search for it in the Official Tonal Community. That’s pretty cool that they’re getting more little gadgets that you can add to Tonal.

Also, the November Challenge has been revealed.

This one is going to be fascinating because in the past, we’ve always had four-week challenges This one is still going to be four weeks but it’s two two-week programs in one month. Coach Jared is going to do two weeks of Beginner Breakthrough. Coach Allison is going to take on the last two weeks in the Stronger for Sports Program. This is the first time that we’ve had two coaches that are going to work together to do the community challenge. Each workout is about 30 minutes. There’s going to be plenty of time for other programming if you want to do that, get your cardio in or whatever else you want to do.

It doesn’t screw up other plans you might have.

They’ve incorporated encore classes on Saturday. They will still be able to have virtual classes like for Jewel group classes, which everybody can take together. Those live classes that are happening, there are encores of them. Those happen on Saturdays.

Someone posted an interesting article in the OTC.

I enjoyed reading about this. It’s from LiveScience.com and it’s an article that talks about how muscles heal themselves after a workout. There’s a picture of a muscle on the cover of it. You can see how the muscles literally repair themselves. The article also talks about eccentric movements and how it creates tears in the muscle fibers, which is what you want because as they grow together, that’s what makes your muscle bigger. That’s what you want to happen. That’s cool because we have that eccentric mode.

Tonal will constantly tweak the weight and you don’t have to think about it. I love not thinking about things.

Exercise is hard. Having the ability to not think about it but still get an amazing workout is so freaking cool.

I always say that I love not thinking about it, but I also love having that choice taken away from me like, is it time to increase? Is it not time to increase? The machine is going, “No, it’s time that it happened. Don’t worry about it.”

It’s anxiety-inducing because somebody like myself who doesn’t have any confidence when it’s time to increase the weight, you’re constantly second-guessing yourself. Even though you joke about, “I don’t want to think about it,” what I hear you saying is it’s amazing to know that you’re doing it at the right time at the right rhythm. You’re not hurting yourself but you’re also not underestimating.

TSS 34 | Strength Training


I don’t trust myself to make the right call. I’ll either let myself off the hook or I’ll be afraid that I’m not quite ready when I am. It will slow down my progress so it’s nice.

That’s what I mean about it. You’re underestimating yourself.

I don’t think I’m underestimating. I think I’m right. I wouldn’t know what I was doing.

Underestimating yourself from a strengths standpoint, Tom. You’re not getting what I’m saying at all.

Finally, Kate had a humorous anecdote about running into a member of the Tonal community while she was out and about.

This was right in the middle of the live classes were dropping. She was eating her food between back-to-back live classes. Two women showed up at her door to buy a chair from her future mother-in-law. They noticed the Tonal logo on the back of Kate’s leggings or perhaps, as Kate thought might be possible, her totally toned muscles. They asked her if she had a Tonal. She then found out that one of the women at the door is a member of the Official Tonal Community. She doesn’t have a Tonal yet but she thinks that we can persuade her. I thought that was pretty cool.

The November book has been announced.

It’s going to be No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness. If you pair this with the classes that are going to be going on, it’s like this is all for beginners. It doesn’t have to be for beginners but for people who maybe have been off Tonal for a while and they are looking for a way to get back in. This book and the classes are geared for people who are starting out, getting to know their Tonal. Maybe they’re working on a different sport. It all works together in conjunction is my point. That is a lovely trifecta.

I love that they try to strengthen your body and your mind.

Joining us is one of the newest coaches for Tonal, super excited. It’s Brendon Ayanbadejo. Did I get that right?

You said it perfectly.

I wanted your validation, one, because I’m needy and two, I think a lot of people would think the J is a soft J in Spanish, which is where my mind went initially. I don’t want people to yell at me. It was also in a preemptively defensive position.

Now you’re part of the family but it’s African. The J is a different set of linguistical rules when it comes to Latin words.

It makes sense. Because I took Spanish in high school and college, so I want to default to that plus my own biases.

For my Latino friends, I’m Brendon Ayanbadejo.

It has a nice ring to it either way. It’s very lyrical when you say it with the Spanish accent. Being a brand new coach, we have all kinds of questions for you. I’m curious when Tonal first came on the scene for you, when you first realized, “It’s out there, I’m interested in this.” I’m super curious about what was the process to become a coach for Tonal?

Those are all great questions and I think my story will be super unique. It will be different than probably most people on the planet when it comes to Tonal. In 2017, I was part and still am part of a venture capital firm called Next Play Capital. We were at one of their incubators on the Embarcadero in San Francisco and we went into not an office but almost a warehouse/office. There are people pounding and banging away.

There was this beta test going on this machine and it wasn’t a Tonal yet, but it was going to be Tonal. It was in the very early preliminary stages and they were putting out there to investors and talking about the theme and the concept of what it was going to be. The digital weights, all the different things you could do with turning on and off with your hands and me being in the fitness industry and having been a former professional athlete, I was like, “I want to be a part of this company.” I invested in 2017.

We’ll fast forward to when Tonal came out and I bought a Tonal and I started using it but in the back of my head the whole time, I was like, “Instead of being an investor, how do I work with Tonal?” I have my Tonal. I’ve had it for several months. Let me email the people that I know over at the company. Even though I didn’t have a relationship where we talked all the time, but I did know some people over at the company. I emailed them and then I started having this dialogue back and forth and they’re like, “If you’re serious about coaching with us, then you’ll go through the same process that everybody else has to go through.”

I don’t know if it’s a casting call but I created my submission video. I auditioned and then I came in for an in-person and it was a process. It took definitely 3 to 4 quarters to get it all dialed in and situated. Finally, they’re like, “Brendon. We do want you to coach?” I manifested it a long time ago. To be sitting here and be a Tonal coach in 2021 is something that I’ve envisioned since 2017. I feel accomplished. I feel excited and I’m humbled and honored that the company did everything that they said they were going to do and more, and then I also get to be a part of it on several different levels.

That is a different story than what we’ve heard before. That is incredible. I love that you had the vision, like from day one, you were like, “I want to be part of that. I love the machine.” Even though it wasn’t in its gorgeous, end-user in product beauty, you were like, “I want in on that.”

I’m curious. We see the end product. What did that early version look like compared to what we have nowadays?

When I saw it, there were some visibly exposed pulleys. I couldn’t grab the trainer. I couldn’t grab it and use it and activate the weights at the time when I went and looked at it. Then the screen didn’t even turn on, but I saw beta videos and so on and so forth of what they envisioned it doing. It wasn’t sleek and beautiful and a piece that you want to put anywhere in your house just yet. I remember seeing more like exposed metal. That sleek black and that cool design, very tactile. I didn’t have those types of features or opportunities to play with it and touch it but then, later on, I was able to go and see it and it still wasn’t even as cool as it is now.

I saw a later version of it. It’s always been a great and magnificent idea and usually, these ideas get half-cooked or half-baked, but this idea did even more than what they presented to the investors. Even what you see now on Tonal, it’s going to do more next year and so on and so forth. I’m excited about where the company is going and that I get to participate and be along with this revolutionary technology that’s going to bring real strength training into people’s homes without taking up the whole house.

Making it accessible to people that are intimidated by weightlifting, which is somebody like myself. You were a professional football player, I’m thinking that you weren’t a stranger to lifting weights.

I put a lot of weight into my time.

It’s something I’ve always been intimidated by. Having the ability to have it in our house and have it accessible and be able to not have to worry, like, “Am I lifting the right weight? Does this make sense for me?” Having all of that guesswork taken out of it has been a complete game-changer for us. I’m so excited. I still get excited when I talk about Tonal, obviously. I’m also super curious. What was it like being a professional football player? I feel like that would be so hard to be in the limelight like that and I guess now you’re doing another version of being in the limelight. What does that like?

I can’t say that I’ve ever hated attention. I definitely can’t say that. Playing pro ball as a kid, I played many different sports and eventually, football was the least barrier to entry for me. I’d play other sports and I’d hurt other kids, so I go, “Maybe I should play a sport where I’m supposed to hurt other kids.” I’m supposed to bang them up and beat them not playing baseball and accidentally bumping into a kid or playing basketball and you break a kid’s ribs because you bumped into him too hard. That’s what you’re supposed to do in football.

Recovery is almost as important as the actual physical work that you're doing. Share on X

Not that you’re supposed to break anybody but it’s the sport that called me more than I called it because I played many different sports, but also I grew up in Chicago until I was ten. To be able to play in the city that I was born and raised in was amazing. To be able to give back to the community gave so much to me as a kid and helped raise me as well. When you have a moonshot goal and you achieve and you accomplish it, and then you get to live within that dream for ten years, it is pretty special.

It’s an experience that I won’t ever forget, but it was also tough and challenging. I was never comfortable a single day at work for ten years in the NFL because I know that NFL stands for Not For Long. I played until I was 35 or 36, but had I got comfortable at 30, then there’s going to be some 22 or 23-year-old guy that’s going to take my job. Even though I made pro bowls and I was team captain and the best player at my position on the team, I went to work every single day like I was expendable. That takes a lot of pressure and a lot of tolls on you mentally and physically but that’s the way that I am. No pressure, no diamond. I always like to put pressure on myself to be the best that I can be.

I’m not a sports guy by nature, but isn’t the average length of time in the NFL is less than two years?

The average player is three years in three games. When you get to that 3rd or your 4th game, you get vested and that’s considered your fourth year, but it’s under four seasons. There are guys like Tom Brady that played for twenty years. There are other guys that play for one year and then I was fortunate to be able to play for ten.

I’m always curious on that journey to the pro level, when you’re a kid, whether it’s high school or college, at what point did you realize, “I’m better at this than most people.” Everybody, whatever your field is, it has your dream. If you love sports and you’ve got the announcer’s going in your head when you’re playing sports, if you think you’re a funny guy, like I try to think, I am. I played the game like I was walking out on stage doing up. At what point did you go, “This could be a thing I’m not crazy about.”

I don’t know if I ever quite had that feeling, but I always felt I was special. In high school, I wasn’t ever the best player on my team. We had other players that were better than me. Coming out of high school, I wasn’t offered a scholarship, so I went to junior college. Then I had some teams looking at me but ultimately sent my tapes to the team that I wanted to go to. I got a scholarship to UCLA. Eventually, I became one of the best players on my team and I was All-Pac-10. We received accolades and awards, but I wasn’t drafted in the NFL.

Before I even made the NFL, I was cut three times as well. My story is one of trials and tribulations and the path less taken and most people don’t come out of that. Once you’re cut once or twice from the league, you don’t make it back. I ended up playing for years and doing all the things that I did. I don’t know if I ever quite had the feeling that, “I’m one of the best and I’ve arrived,” but I will say when my brother was in high school, he played ten years in the NFL and won a Super Bowl as well. We did the same things and we’re the first in our family to play in the NFL.

His JV coach, which was my JV coach had pulled my brother aside and he said to him, he’s like, “You’re special. I’ve never seen a player like you before. You can do things that the other kids can’t do.” I remember him telling me that story and I’m like, “Anything my brother can do, I can do as well.” That’s when I had the first inkling and first idea, like, ”I could potentially be a pro player.” At the time, my brother was maybe 14 or 15 and I was like 12 or 13.

That’s such a crazy story that both of you did that. There are few families that have the distinction of saying I played in the NFL and you guys are like, “We both did.”

My mom would go to games and I played one season with my brother. That was the best thing for my mom but there were a few seasons where we played against each other. My mom would be wearing stuff from both teams and she’ll be hearing in the crowd like, “Lady, are you crazy? Who are you cheering for? Are you cheering for the Bears? Are you cheering for the Cardinals?”

I had a moment like that when I played sports as a kid and they actually pulled me aside and the coach was like, “You’re the opposite of special? You should probably take up like cross-stitch maybe or dance, think about that or accounting.”

I love accounting, to tell you the truth. I have my MBA and I enjoyed accounting, but dancing now, that’s something I wish I could do because I love to dance. I just don’t do it well.

What is it like whenever you’re a football player and you’re at that level? What is every day working out like? I would think that you can’t just do 45 minutes. That’s not even close. I also picture you working out all day. That’s what I picture.

You have off-season training and you have in-season training. For me, in off-season training, I would probably do about sixteen workouts a week. Each workout would be around an hour. You can imagine there are seven days in a week. Seven days I would do a double day, but a couple of those days, I would do three workouts a day. That’s how I stayed in the league so long, but as much as you’re working out, you’re stretching, you’re sleeping, you’re taking care of your body, you’re meditating and doing all that stuff. I worked and I grinded hard in the off-season and then during the season, I would work out with weights three times a week. I would try to get a workout done the day after a game. We play on Sundays. I try to work out Monday. It was the hardest day to work out because your body was beaten up.

I try to get my work done Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and then use the rest of the week for recovery but of course, you’re on your feet every day during the week in practice. Practices are you’re on your feet, a few hours a day during practice and then there’s different paces and different temples while you’re on your feet. Now, the league is a lot more gracious when it comes to 50% effort in practice and maybe one day’s 85% effort.

There are no days where you’re hitting and tackling, usually during the season, unless the coach gets mad at you because you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing. There are rules on the number of days you can work and all that stuff. It wasn’t so much like that when I played, but now there are a lot more conscious that recovery is almost as important, if not more important, than the actual physical work that you’re doing.

How many of those workouts do you come up with? Do you hire someone to come up with or do they say, “If you’re in this position, here’s what you do? You do these exercises these days. Go.”

In the off-season, the team can only work with you within allowed windows. You can’t be there the entire off-season. If the off-season is six months, there are maybe four months of programming where they can be with you and they’ll create and design the program. The program will be conditioning, agility, speed, position, specific work and then a whole weightlifting program that goes with restoration and recovery, whether that’s swimming, physio, yoga stretch, so on and so forth. Some players don’t like to go to the off-season program, but the benefit is you’re doing what the team wants you to do.

You’re also getting paid for that but for me, as I got later in my career, I would pay a trainer. I’d pay like $1,000 a week to go to the trainer that had all that stuff designed for me, so I didn’t have to think. I would just show up every single day. They had days that were position, recovery, regeneration, conditioning, speed, agility, so on and so forth in their weight program. Then I would add additional weight training, so I could build specific muscles that I wanted to build.

I was thinking that it’s funny, you hired a guy, so you didn’t have to think and I’m like, “That’s what we have Tonal for.”

It’s not $1,000 a month and a week either.

They’re also not paying us to do it.

It’d be great to get paid to work out. Everybody would be in shape. Tonal should be paying us all to work out.

I think there’s a flaw in that business model. You’re forgetting, you’re also an investor.

I think you game the system now because you do get paid to work out for Tonal.

I’m definitely double-dipping.

I’m also curious, what was it like from that transition? You’re working out all the time. It sounds like now you transition back into “civilian life” and then you become a personal trainer. Maybe you were before that, but that’s what you start focusing on. I would think that after working out all that time, eating a certain amount, it would be a difficult transition to not gain like 1,000 pounds as soon as you’re out of the NFL. It sounds like you were very careful.

The thing was, like I mentioned in the off-season, even up until I was 36 years old, I was working out sixteen times a week in the off-season. To work out that much, eating is a chore. I had to eat so much food and eat a specific way and I was taking 100 pills and vitamins a day from collagen for my connective tissue to Gingko Biloba for my darn brain. To be able to eat less, I dropped about twenty pounds. Most of it was muscle mass. I don’t eat that much anymore. I work out three times a week for myself and then I work out on my Tonal, additionally to shore up my coaching and practicing different moves and routines that I’m going to be implementing on Tonal.

I don’t consider those my workouts, even though they’re at a decent pace and they’re challenging in itself, but I have like three workouts for me that I do a week. That’s three hours and then the rest is mostly recovery. I’m doing Frances’ yoga classes on Tonal, or Jared Rodriguez’s mobility classes on tonal. The transition was doing less, not doing more. That was hard to do less. I think that I want to live for a long time and I want to have a high quality of life and I can’t grind and beat up my body. I’ve been able to change the way that I look, change my eating habits and still feel good and still feel healthy by doing a lot less but it’s definitely been a work in progress.

With that transition from NFL-level fitness to where you’re at now. Not that you’re not in amazing shape, but was it difficult to process that psychologically to feel like, “I lost 20 pounds of muscle? Was that hard to swallow?”

Egotistically, it was hard not to be the strongest guy, not on the floor that day, but the strongest guy in the gym. In my mind, “I want to be the strongest guy in the gym. I want to be the buffest guy on the beach.” To transition out of that, I’m like, “Let the young guys do that. I don’t need to do that stuff anymore,” plus I’m going to hurt myself because I actually got more hurt after I transitioned out of the league, still trying to lift heavy. I would put 400 pounds on my back and do ten reps of squats. Then I’d go run a quarter-mile and then I would do that. I’m like, “Can I do this for twenty minutes straight?” That was insane. I wasn’t even training like that when I was in the NFL, but I tried to keep training like that at a high level.

TSS 34 | Strength Training


I had to change everything and I started getting a lot more into yoga, Pilates, mobility work, more muscle endurance, twenty reps of things and changing up my movements because I wasn’t getting all the three planes of motion that I’d normally get when I was playing football and doing those things. Building in different planes, emotions with weights and exercises that I wasn’t doing when I was playing. It was a big transition, but mostly it was ego. I had to let go of being the strongest, fastest specimen everywhere I went. I didn’t need to be the lion anymore.

That has to be difficult though.

I have a lot of respect for you to make it so gracefully. I love that you’ve taken your life and you’re still super focused on fitness but you’re doing it in a healthy way. I think that’s cool. A lot of respect for that.

I think for women, there’s a lot to be said about lifting weights, too, because it’s actually the healthiest thing you can do to maintain bone density, to maintain a lean body, to maintain your metabolism but there’s such a stigma against weightlifting. I’m going to throw out an odd number but let’s say 30% or 40% of women think, “I’m going to lift weights, so I’m going to get buffed.” That’s not going to happen.

It’s hard to get buffed, if it was that easy to be buffed.

It’s hard to get buffed but that’s the best thing you can do hormonally, physically and exercise-wise. You do need a myriad of exercises and different modalities that you’re doing. You need to build in some cardio. You need to build in some mobility and some different types of movements. You need to build in strength training. Strength training should be at the pillar of everything that you’re doing. I’m not saying that self-servingly. Scientifically, I’m giving the facts, but some people are against it. It always boggles my mind.

There’s a lot of stuff out there that you try on social media. I try to steer people in the right direction without getting into a long-winded conversation and people will fight against you. They think the answer is only cardio and it’s cardio all the time. It’s Zone 5 cardio. It’s like, “No.”

We are in one of the biggest conspiracy countries in the world. It’s the age of misinformation. I think that’s part of my job as a personal trainer to teach people, “These are some of the best things you can do.” People ask the questions like you’re asking me, “How much do you train now?” I do about three hours a week of strength training and then I build in walking. I build in a stretch. I build in yoga, but the foundation is that three hours that I get to have to myself and then everything else is ancillary and it’s a supplement to that strength training.

Could somebody get to where you’re at doing three hours a week or is that once you’ve achieved where you’re at, that’s what you can maintain by doing the three hours?

I think a lot of that depends on age and muscle memory. If you have some of that programmed in, then yes but if you’re newer to it and say you’re 40 and you’re going to get into weightlifting at 40. They’ll probably be a lot more of a learning cycle. I’m at a point where I can hone it in and focus on what I need to do and lift enough weight to get to where I need to get to. There’s probably a foundation that needs to be built in for people to do that because most people that I know don’t have the hours on their bodies that I have on my body. Now, they’re actually doing more than I do and I probably have a higher fitness IQ, but it’s because of all the extra work that I’ve done in the past.

There are people that are blessed DNA wise and they have a decent diet and good sleep habits and they’re able to transform. We see it all the time. People that didn’t even know that they could, they had been eating poorly and sleeping poorly and they had been doing fitness, but once they dial everything in because fitness will probably always be the third pillar in your health. Diet will always be number one. Sleep will probably be number two and your fitness will be number three. You can do a lot when you start putting all those pieces together, no matter what age you are.

That means Crystal, you can’t make fun of me when I nap anymore.

It’s part of your fitness program.

The napping depends. Why are you napping? Are you napping because you’re eating foods that are inflaming your body and you have to nap to recover or are you napping because that’s part of your natural sleep cycle? There is such thing as too much sleeping and there’s such thing as too little sleeping. You have to find what the optimum amount of sleep is for each individual.

I want to sleep like you worked out in the NFL.

He’s like Garfield. It’s hilarious because he can fall asleep anywhere.

That is a talent that most people wish they had. There’s value in being able to sleep when hurricane XYZ is outside and you’re like, “Let me just take a nap so I can power up a little bit.”

I wouldn’t be able to, but he absolutely can. It’s crazy. What has it been like being a coach for Tonal and what do you think about it so far?

It’s still very new for me. I’ve probably done maybe ten workouts. There are three that are available now. I’ve probably done ten and I have a lot more coming up in the coming weeks. It’s a learning experience. It’s exciting. It makes me nervous at the same time, which at this age, not too many things make me nervous, so it’s good that things still make me nervous and excited at the same time. I want to see how much I can push. Can I help push and innovate Tonal? How much is Tonal going to help push and change me as well? There’s always an evolution in fitness going and you want to maintain some of the core pillars of fitness, but you also want to know the science and the education as to what’s new and what’s the most beneficial as fitness continues to change.

I’ve had a little bit of all of that and I’m excited to put my signature on Tonal and help build the Tonal community and start having dialogue back and forth with members and people that are taking my workouts in my classes. I hadn’t been able to build that following yet because I’m so new, but this is why I’m here on your show and this is exactly why I’m on Tonal. Now, I can help people inside the four walls of my brick and mortar and we have probably 30,000 members, but through Tonal, it’s unlimited. The trend rate for Tonal subscribers and Tonal members is on a rocket ship right now. I love that I could be in somebody’s home in New York, in Alaska, in Florida and I can be here in LA. Eventually, I’m going to be in homes all over the United States and so it’s Tonal. That’s exciting to me.

It does sound exciting. When you work out with Tonal, do you do programs or workouts or do you do your own? Do you set up your own stuff when you were just a member?

Even as a member, let me try to benefit from everything that Tonal has to offer. If I’m going to come on here and do my own thing, then I’m not learning anything. I’ve taken a couple of programs with Coach Nicolette. I mostly do workouts. I do have over 100 workouts on Tonal. I’m at the century mark. I do probably 40% of my own workouts and some of those are trying to learn and program. How do I want to build workouts and how do I want my workouts to feel for members? I try to do everything that Tonal offers. I’d done Coach Frances’ yoga. I took one of Trace’s workouts which was amazing. They both kicked my butt. It said beginning yoga and I was like, “This is pretty darn advanced for me.” I want to benefit from everything that Tonal has to offer, for sure.

How do you feel Tonal compares to the traditional weights?

It’s heavier because there’s no momentum but it’s also intelligent. Whereas traditional weights are traditional weights, so there’s nobody telling me how much power I’m exerting on each rep. There’s no one correcting my form unless that’s myself if I’m looking in a mirror or whatnot. Being able to add Eccentric and Chains. Those are things that I did while I trained as a professional athlete or even as somebody that loved to lift weights. To be able to have all those at the push of a button is phenomenal. It’s been amazing.

I’m also curious if Tonal has enough weight for you to do your workouts on or do you supplement with other machines or is it enough that you get a good workout?

It’s totally enough. It’s very rare that I max out the weight on Tonal when I deadlift. If I back squat, which we don’t do on Tonal, but I do it on my own. We don’t have that in our exercise library. Sometimes, when I’m bench pressing, but with the barbell. The handles are heavier. I don’t need to go quite as heavy when you open that chain. When it’s a closed chain, you’re stronger in a close chain.

Even inside of a gym off of Tonal with dumbbells, you’re not going to be as strong with dumbbells as you would be with a barbell because that chain is open. There’s another plane of motion where you’re trying to balance and so on and so forth but the barbell closes that. The same thing is true on tonal. You’ll be stronger with your barbell weight than you will be with your handle weight.

I never realized that. I thought it was like, sometimes you had to do the handles because they’re not trying to make you change your setup as much. That’s a big jump to go. If the move before it was handled and now, they want you to do barbells, that’s a lot of hoops to jump through and they tend to try to avoid that. I thought that was the only thing driving that decision. That’s fascinating.

When you are doing some of the workouts, the coaches don’t want to be switching and changing the equipment, especially if time is limited. You’ll see in the shorter programs, they’re not changing the equipment as much. In the longer programs, the coaches will change out the equipment. You’re going to be stronger with the barbell for sure than you will be with the handles.

Do you have any advice for people who are starting to work out on Tonal?

I think that when you work out on Tonal, you should not limit yourself to beginners’ workouts. You should do all the programming and then if you’re very experienced on Tonal, you shouldn’t limit yourself to advance workouts on Tonal. You should do beginner workouts as well because as I mentioned, there are foundationary things and sometimes we miss and we forget some of those foundationary things. We don’t necessarily teach all those foundationary things when we’re coaching more advanced people.

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It’s good to regress and go back and do the basics and then how you can make the basics more challenging? If it does say that it’s a beginner’s class, what elements can you add to it? Whether you’re adding something on your own in between the workout or if you’re increasing weight or you’re adding Chains or you’re doing something to take that beginner program with that beginning education and then making it a little bit more challenging so you’re getting what you need.

There’s no such thing as a hard workout and there’s no such thing as an easy workout. There’s just a workout in whatever you make of it is what it’s going to be. People say, “It’s a bad workout.” I’ve never had a bad workout. I got four limbs. If these four limbs are working and I wake in the morning, there’s no such thing as a bad workout unless you choose for it to be. That’s the one thing I don’t subscribe to. If someone’s like, “That workout was so hard or that workout was so easy.”

If you’re advanced, then make it harder. If you’re a beginner and a workout is too hard for you, then have the mental wherewithal, which is hard to say. “This is too challenging for me. Let me back down. Let me build in more rest. Let me change it up somehow, so I can get through it.” That’s one thing that people say there are hard and easy workouts. I don’t agree. There’s just a workout and you decide how hard or how easy you’re going to make it, but you should make your workouts challenging.

You should try to challenge yourself every time and you should not over-exert yourself either. If you’re doing too much, pull back a little bit. If you’re doing too little, then increase a little bit, but these are the words of a man. As I told you, I want to live for a long time and I want to have a high quality of life. When I would go too hard after being a professional athlete, I would hurt myself, so I had to change and scale back and bring things down a little bit. I’m not being paid $1 million to work out anymore.

I’m curious because this probably isn’t something you’ve struggled with, but how does someone know the difference between they need to back off and they’re letting themselves off the hook?

You should never move to failure. If you’re like, “I’m advanced. I’m going to crush this workout.” You do something and you’re struggling on that last rep and you failed. There’s Spotter Mode. There are different ways you can avoid that. There are burnout sets on Tonal and then also you can turn off the weight, but it’s better to work to 90% than it is to work to 100%. It’s healthier for your body.

Struggle a little bit with that weight, but if you can’t lift it at all, you went too hard.

If you want more out of it, then lighten the weight and do twenty reps, which is fine. You’ll have more time under tension or take a lighter weight and move slower with the lighter weight. For your Eccentric, science shows that you should have a four-second Eccentric, a two-second Concentric. It’s 1, 2 and then a two-second pause. It’s a 4, 2, 2, and nobody in the world works out like that. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a 3, 1, 1 but most people don’t work out like that either. Most people are working at a 1 to 1 to 1 ratio. Slow things down, lighten the weight and you’ll get more out of it, actually.

It’s good to know. I’m new to all this. It’s all new information to me.

We can Google concentric and eccentric.

He never exercised until we got the Tonal and then he like exercise on the Tonal. He hid that he was doing it for a year. This is all new. I think that’s the first question to ask.

How’s that year going? What types of transformations did you see?

I got thinner.

He’s getting a lot stronger. He’s lost quite a bit of weight and also, the muscles that he’s gained are starting to show through. He doesn’t like to talk about it.

I see some traps and some shoulders. I see some nice quads.

Flex your bicep, honey.

Your head is definitely strong from back here.

I’ve always exercised that. Here’s my sports journey. I once struck out at Tee-ball. That’s a true story.

We’re not all athletes.

I don’t even know what to say.

Neither did the coach.

I hope you struck out hard.

The umpire was like, “Strike three.” That’s a thing, I guess. He was confused. I’ve told this in the other episodes. When I played Tee-ball because they wanted more kids to play, they would have extra positions. You would have like between shortstop and center frame, you had a short center and then behind center fieldsmen, you had back center. You played behind this inner fieldman. True story, I swear to God, I played behind that guy. If the ball made it to me, I was supposed to put it in my pocket and bring it in at the end.

That’s why they have designated hitters. You don’t even have to go out there. You sit on the bench, for crying out loud.

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I was so bad at that, they moved me to the most useless position in Tee-ball, which most people think is the pitcher because they pretend to throw the ball. I was the catcher. My guy had to be surprised when they hit the ball.

Somebody’s got to catch the ball at home plate. Catchers are important.

Not so much in Tee-ball, but yes. That’s my sports journey. Thank you so much for joining us. Before we let you go, let everybody know where they can find you on social media.

I think the two best places would be Facebook. I have a blue check. Good luck spelling. My last name, but it’s Brendon Ayanbadejo.

It will be in the title of this episode, so it’s easy to find.

You’d be surprised. People still won’t see it. I get called Brandon all the time. I’m like, “There’s no A in Brendon.” On my Instagram, it’s @Brendon310. My Instagram gets pretty crowded, but on Facebook, I’m a lot better at responding when commented and I’m on the Tonal community as well on Facebook. I love engaging there with everybody and seeing their transitions and them hitting their 1 million pounds or 2 million pounds and their strength scores going up and whatnot. I love to engage there.

I want to say welcome to the Tonal family. We’re so excited you’re here and thank you for taking the time to interview with us. It’s been cool.

Yes, absolutely. Thank you so much.

Thanks for having me on the show. I’m appreciative and the community has embraced me with open arms and you guys are part of that. Thank you.

I guess that brings this episode to a close. Until next time, where can people find you?

People can find me on Facebook at Facebook.com/crystaldokeefe. They can find me on Instagram and Twitter, and the Tonal leaderboard @ClipOutCrystal.

You can find me on Twitter @RogerQBert or on Facebook at Facebook.com/tomokeefe. You can find the show online at Facebook.com/supersetpodcast. While you’re there, like the page and join the group. That’s it for this one. Thanks for tuning in. Until next time, keep lifting.

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About Brendon Ayanbadejo

TSS 34 | Strength TrainingSuper Bowl champion Brendon Ayanbadejo is a modern day Renaissance man who understands both the pain of discrimination and the personal joy that comes from embracing an unwavering belief in equal rights for all. The three time NFL Pro-Bowler is known as much for his prowess on the gridiron as he is for his resolute devotion to champion the right for gay couples to legally wed. Brendon was born in Chicago on September 6, 1976 to an Irish-American mother and a Nigerian father. As a child of a biracial couple, he was taunted over his parents’ right to be married, and this harsh bias left its mark. Today he sees the fight to legalize same-sex marriage as the 21st century version of the fight for racial equality, and he has thrown himself into the battle for equal rights with a relentless determination towards victory.


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