TSS 29 | Body Positivity

Our interview with Coach Natalie Carey

TSS 29 | Body Positivity


A friendly reminder of the OTC’s guidelines.

Tons of new workouts and programs.

Coach Jackson is letting YOU pick HIS workout.

The Tonal Blog spotlights April Ross and Alix Klineman’s workouts.

More from the Tonal Blog – Sue Bird’s total body workout.

How Tonal athletes fared in the Olympics.

The latest Tonal Talk spotlights data scientists.

Tonal is helping you find an accountability partner.

The August Challenge is here.

The Tonal Book Club features Hooked.

Birthdays – Coach Paul (8/6)

All this plus our interview with Natalie Carey!


Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Our interview with Coach Natalie Carey

We’ve been going like crazy. We haven’t had a conversation that isn’t recorded. We’re pounding through stuff. Let’s just get right to it. What do you get in store for people for this episode?

We’ve got some celebrity sightings. We’ve got some coach news. We’ve got some information that came in from the Tonal blog that we’re going to cover. We got new content, tons of it. There’s talk about the stuff that you might have missed and then the book club and birthdays.

Before we get to all that, shameless plugs, don’t forget we’re available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart, TuneIn. Wherever you find a podcast, you can find us. While you’re there, be sure and follow us so you never miss an episode. If you can’t get enough of us, check us out on Facebook at Facebook.com/supersetpodcast. While you’re there, like the page and join the group, and you can stay up-to-date on things. You can also watch these episodes on our YouTube channel. It’s called YouTube.com/theclipout because that’s the name of the podcast that started it all. We have it all under that umbrella, but you can see these episodes there as well. Swing on by and say hi. There’s all that, let’s dig in. Shall we?

Let’s do it.

Let’s start with the little Tonal house cleaning if you will. They had a post this week, Meet Kate, the OTC community manager, but they use it as an opportunity to remind people to play nice.

Not only that, but it’s a whole thing that they’re doing called Tonal guide. Facebook has a new process that you can do and you can fill out these group community guides. Tonal has been filling it in. When I say Tonal, I mean Kate and Dia because they are Tonal community managers. They’re going through and they’re introducing each other. Kate introduced Dia. Dia introduced Kate. There are also rules that have been posted so it’s all official now. There are things about data scientists coming and things like that, and all the people you need to know. It’s going to be a complete guide to the world of Tonal and to the Facebook community.


The content just keeps on coming.

There has been so much that has dropped. I cannot even pretend that I’m going to go through everything, but there’s so much. There’s this new program from Coach Nicolette that is four times a week. It’s called Hyped Up Hypertrophy.

I picture little trophies and they’re running around in circles. It looks like a little guy front and back has come to life. It was just running around in circles.

You can picture that’s how Hyped Up Hypertrophy is, but this is going to be an exciting program and it’s from Coach Nicolette. As I said, four times a week advanced. There are a ton of new workouts. There’s High Powered Upper Body with Coach Allison, and lower body and bodyweight ab blaster with Coach Nicollete, not to mention new boxing, Jab, Jab, Cross with Coach Brett. Burn, Baby, Burn with Coach Jared, which is a new high-intensity program. There’s the Overachiever Challenge with Coach Jared. I feel like the name sums it up. Be careful, it’s a lower-body advanced.

There’s a new cardio, Don’t Stop Moving with Coach Nicolette. New yoga, Recovery Basics with Coach Jake. Good Night Stretch with Coach Nikki. There’s Pilates. There’s Sculpting Blast with Coach Frances. New barre. It’s a Full Body Mobility Barre with Coach Frances. Another new warmup, Intense Lift Prep with Coach Liz. If you’re getting ready to do a really big lift, this is the warmup. We have new meditations, High-Stress Meditation with Coach Allison. New mobility, Heroic Mobility with Coach Jared. New recovery. You can soothe those sore muscles with Coach Liz.

After all that, there’s more. Those are programs but there are also tons of just regular old workouts.

There’s more new yoga, Brazilian Yoga Sculpt with Coach Brett, Yoga Martial Arts Flow with Coach Brett. It’s Capoeira with Coach Brett, and if you haven’t noticed, Coach Brett is new. He is Tonal’s newest guest coach. Balance and Vitality with Coach Nikki. New strength, it’s a back builder with Coach Allison. You can get your back looking all hot completely. New high intensity, it’s a full-body scorcher with Coach Amy.

There are more new Pilates, Lower-Body Burner with Coach Frances, and more new barre. That one is up to high. No Impact Cardio with Coach Gabby and a new bootcamp, Breathless Bootcamp with Coach Allison, where you get transported away to the breathless secrets. New mobility, it’s the Hip Mobility Recovery with Coach Nicolette and then more recovery, Revitalizing Recovery with Coach Jared. Meditation, I am Meditation with Coach Jared and another new warmup, Fun Lower Body Prep with Coach Nicollete, and new family fitness, Kids Camp Ninja Bootcamp with Coach Gabby.

It feels like a workout just reading all that.

I feel like I am an auctioneer.

That should go into your strength score.

I feel like it’s going to keep people busy. That is an incredible amount of new classes to take. I hope everybody’s taking advantage of it. There are days that you can’t lift, it means you shouldn’t lift because your body needs to rest, but there are lots of other things. Tonal, clearly, is not slowing down.

Coach Jackson’s reverse training birthday party workout is just around the corner.

It’s going to be Tuesday, August 24th at 5:00 PM Central. It’s 3:00 PM for the Pacific hours. Tom, I feel like you need to go to this because you get a little feisty with Coach Jackson when you’re doing his programs.

TSS 29 | Body Positivity


It’s not with him.

It’s anybody that you’re working with, but this is your moment. You get to tell him what to do. We’re not trying to kill him or anything, but we get to make him work hard.

I would go the other way. I’d make him eat a bunch of pizza. Here’s the thing, you could tell him to work hard for how long this thing is going to last like 45 minutes to an hour or whatever. He can do a bunch of pushups or pillar bridge or whatever. That’s nothing for him. What you need to do if you really want him to suffer is you need to make him gorge on pizza the entire time, “Eat another piece, eat another piece.” By the time he’s all done, he’s out of shape and he’s got to start all over again.

It’s going to take more than a couple of hours to get him out of shape. He’s in really good shape.

There’s a flaw in that theory, but how long would it take him to recover from that if we made him eat 45 pizzas?

Let’s put Coach Jackson in a carb coma.

There we go. If he hears this, he’s probably like, “Yeah, let’s do that.”

Happy birthday to Coach Jackson.

We got two Tonal blog posts about how to train like a pro. The first is, “Build explosive power with April Ross and Alix Klineman.”

This is amazing. They just competed in the Olympics and did very well. You can train along with them. How cool is that?

There’s also one with Sue Bird’s total body workout.

It’s another custom workout. This one is done by Sue Bird who also just competed in the Olympics, and also did very well. Tonal is amazing in finding these pro athletes and forming these relationships with them.

It says a lot about the quality of Tonal. When we have a friend or a loved one who’s skeptical and you’re like, “Olympic athletes are doing it. What did you do last week?”

It’s like, “It’s not heavy enough for me.” Really? It’s heavy enough for the Olympic athletes.

Real quick, check your day planner. Were you at the Olympics? Spoiler alert, you weren’t.

Speaking of the aforementioned Olympics.

Five-time Olympic gold medalists, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi are the greatest teammates in the history of sports. That’s the title of this article, but the real takeaway here is Sue Bird. She was mentioned in this article because she did an amazing job at the Olympics.

We had a recent Tonal Talk, building strength with data. If you like your data scientist, here’s your moment.

This took place on Wednesday, August 4th. The cool thing is that all of the questions that you’ve been dying to know about strength score and all the other cool features that these data scientists work on because they have so much that they program in the AI and behind Tonal, this was the chance to ask it. You might not have been able to do that, but you can still go back and listen to all the things that they talked about, and all the answers that they gave about the questions that were submitted.

If you’re looking for an accountability partner, Tonal has got you taken care of.

When I mentioned that guide a while ago, one of the things that you can find in that new guide on the Facebook community is an accountability partner like, how to do that? They also started a thread specifically to find an accountability partner. The idea is that you read through the comments, look for people that have posted that might be in the same time zone or have the same goals as you, and then you link up with them. If you don’t find somebody that meets your goals, then you put a comment on there and wait for your accountability partner to come in. The idea is to be there for each other and help each other remember to stay on course. If you commit to three days a week, then you each try to encourage the other person to get three days a weekend.

The August challenge is here.

This one is with Frances, it’s called Fit and Focused. It was the new program, but then there’s a bunch of things that have been added to the 30-day calendar. There’s added yoga, stretches and all kinds of things. There’s a workout that has been customized completely for the entire 30 days of August that it’s running. I know there are 31 days in August. I believe that the program is 30 days.

Just because you're not body positive with your clients doesn't mean that you're doing something wrong. Click To Tweet

They gave you a day off.

The August Tonal book club has also been picked and it’s called Hooked: Food, Free Will, and How the Food Giants Exploited Our Addictions.

What a fascinating topic that is. The author is Michael Moss. My understanding is he will be present for the Zoom when it gets together. That is super cool. This is available for everyone to not only read, but you get together and put in your questions and things like that to talk about it throughout the month. At the end of the month, you talk about all of it. It’s a cool little thing that Tonal has going on. I am curious about this book, if it’s mostly focused on sugar or if it’s focused across the board on other things that you could get addicted to from a food perspective. I probably need to check this one out.

His previous book was called Salt, Sugar, Fat. My guess is it’s probably a little bit of everything.

They do a great job at exploiting our addictions.

I guess you already missed your chance not to forget because it was August 6th.

I know we already wished Coach Jackson a happy birthday because that’s coming up, but we didn’t want to not wish a happy birthday to Coach Paul, whose birthday was on August 6th. Happy birthday to Coach Paul, even though it’s belated. We still love you.

Joining us is Tonal instructor and coach extraordinaire, Natalie Carey. How is it going?

It’s going great. Thank you so much for having me on the show.

Thank you. We are so excited for this opportunity. Thank you so much.

Thanks for being here. I’m immediately going off-script. This might be the fastest I’ve ever gone off-script. When we were chatting before we started, you mentioned that you’ve been on camera a lot since you were a kid. I’m curious. Did you have parents who loved video cameras or is there a backstory? Were you a child actor or something?

No. My parents told me I only had access to a camcorder a couple of times when I was a kid. I was very unlike most children growing up. We don’t have a lot of home videos of me as a kid, but my mom put me into dance classes from basically the time I could walk. There are a lot of dance performance videos of me as a little kid on stage. How I got so comfortable being on camera is when I was in middle school and elementary school. I was a competitive dancer. When I say competitive dancer, there were a lot of sequins. Think of Dance Moms.

My mom used to do the printing for a dance studio. My sister worked there. The LaVerne Meier School of Dance. She at one time had this huge dance tournament or competition. It was massive. It went on for like 4 or 5 days.

They are a whole production. When we were training for these, our competition groups would all huddle around these old-fashioned camcorders where there’s one tiny little screen on it. Our dance instructor would rewind it over again and say things like, “Natalie’s foot points a little bit to this angle and you need to point it to this angle. Tiffany’s arm is here and it should be here. You all need to have your head facing this way.” Watching ourselves on video over and over again in these dance performances that I got comfortable being on screen. It grew on me. I love being on camera now, which works because of social media.

I don’t like that and it took me a long time to get comfortable doing the show because hearing my voice, it took a long time. Kudos to you. You were way ahead. You’re good on camera. You’re comfortable.

Thank you. You have a lovely voice.

Thank you. You’re very sweet.

You do. It’s very pleasant to listen to. Tom, you as well have a lovely voice. Pardon me for the prolonged pause in paying a compliment.

How did you originally find out about Tonal and become an instructor? How did that happen?

I’m sure that people have heard this story before because it’s true for many of the original founding coaches. Liz Letchford is the reason a lot of us got connected with Tonal. I worked with Liz at a gym up in San Francisco called DIAKADI. We knew each other through work. She knew I was a body-positive trainer. I had this specialization that was a little bit diff5erent from what other people are doing. One day, she sends me this email and says, “There’s this guy who made this thing and wants to meet you. Can you go to this address on Tuesday at 3:00?” I knew Liz.

She is an incredibly supportive person. She’s one of those people where she connects the right people together all the time. She knows this huge network of people and always finds a way to support everyone in whatever they’re doing. I was like, “I trust Liz. I don’t know what this is, but yes. I’ll do this thing.” The doorways in this creepy alleyway of San Francisco. There are no signs on the door and the windows are all covered. I was like, “This is weird.” I ring the doorbell. I go in and they were like, “We need you to sign an NDA right away.” I don’t even know what I’m doing there. I signed an NDA. “I won’t talk about your creepy alleyway.” Then they show me Tonal. It wasn’t a prototype. It wasn’t the original prototype that Aly had created.

TSS 29 | Body Positivity


It was a lot farther along in the process, but it was definitely not as far along as what we currently have out at home. I played around with it for a few minutes. I sat down with, Ryan Vance and Kelly Savage, who was one of the original coaches. They wanted to hear my feedback on it. I didn’t know what I was expecting. I came in very shabby clothing. I envisioned myself in my memories basically showing up in my pajamas. After a while, they were like, “Do you want to work with us?” I was like, “Was this a job interview that I did in my pajamas?” It was a job interview. My job interview consisted of me being like, “Here’s everything that’s wrong with the device. Here’s how you need to make it more like a personal trainer.” I didn’t realize that I was being interviewed. Thank goodness. I was so lucky that they liked me.

Sometimes that’s the best though. You’re being yourself. When you get hired after a job interview in your pajamas, you have that moment probably where you’re like, “Was I crushing it or are they weird? What is that? What does that mean?”

They were specifically looking for trainers who had a niche who were trying to do something a little bit different. I think they loved that I am a body positive personal trainer and they were like, “This is something different. We definitely want her on the team because it’s something that people aren’t doing yet.” It was that plus and I have great pajamas, I guess. It sold them on me.

It’s also San Francisco. You could show up in a pirate hat, a tutu and a riding crop and they’d be like, “Did you come from church?”

This is absolutely true.

It’s not like that here. We’re in the Midwest.

Have you two ever visited San Francisco?

I have not. I want to.

I have. Once as a child and as an adult, but for work. I didn’t get to see a whole lot. I ate at the restaurant that was the basis for The Maltese Falcon. They actually have The Maltese Falcon in the steakhouse. It was a random steak house that this company took us to for dinner. I’m sitting there and it clicks for me where I’m at. I’m like, “This is The Maltese Falcon. That’s the honest to God The Maltese Falcon over there.” Everybody’s like, “Okay.” I’m like, “What do you mean okay? That’s a national treasure.”

There’s a lot of cool spots in San Francisco that have been in movies. My fiancé is especially into Bullet. Every time we drive past someplace that was in Bullet, he’s like, “Did you know that this was in that scene of Bullet? See the Queen does this thing and let me reenact it for you.” I’m like, “Whatever,” and he was like, “Why aren’t you more excited?”

Why aren’t you more excited?

I think you need to meet her fiancé, Tom.

I’m on his side. I don’t know if I should meet her fiancé because we might end up together.

Tom, it sounds like you have excellent taste in movies. Did you see how I slipped that compliment in there?

Going back to this process. You were doing something different. I’m curious, how body positivity became so much of a thing on your radar. You go out of your way to teach that. How did that become your niche?

I think it’s because I spent so much of my life on the very opposite end of the spectrum. Growing up in a world of ballet dancing. Many people have probably felt they grew up with the culture around them constantly telling them, “You need to look a certain way. You need to be a certain shape to be successful.” I ended up going into fitness. I had already had some disordered eating tendencies but being in the fitness industry exacerbated those tendencies as it has done for a lot of fitness professionals, unfortunately. To be concise about how I got there. Remind me. What was the question so that I don’t go off on a body-positive tangent?

How did it become your niche?

It became my niche because I literally woke up one day and was so tired of being hungry all the time. I’m tired of putting myself down and weighing my clients in and having them cry in the gym when they weren’t meeting their weight goals. It wasn’t feeling good anymore. I decided I’m not going to worry about what I look like anymore. I’m going to accept whoever and whatever I am. I literally thought I invented body positivity until I started to write a book on it and realized that there’s this whole world of other people that invented it in the 1960s. I’ve done a lot more research and I’ve realized that at least for me, this feels like a more authentic way to approach fitness.

I love people and I love making them feel welcome in a world that I have a lot of love for. I love movement and exercise. If I can bring more people into that by being kind to them and not putting our bodies down and not putting all these unrealistic expectations on them and things show up as you are, that felt like a cooler way to approach my job. That’s how it became such a huge part of what I do.

I love the idea of it, but I think I have a little trouble with the concept of what is different because you’re so natural with how you teach your classes. I’m not sure what is different. If you were not a body-positive instructor, what would be different? Does that make sense?

Crystal, that’s because you didn’t know me for the first 30 years of my life, where I did lots of dieting. I’ve done pretty much every single diet out there. I was very strict with my clients about, “This is what you’re eating. You messed up on your food log. You’re lying to me on your food log. You’re not doing the workouts that you promised. Why are you giving me all these excuses for not working out?” I was very much like, “There is one way to do fitness and if you’re not doing it that way, then you are failing at it. Why are you even here?” That was my approach for a very long time. I did a complete 180 back in 2016.

I like this Natalie better. The other Natalie probably would’ve made me cry.

I did. That was the problem. I was making people cry and coming into the fitness industry, there were so many things that I did because I was told that’s what you do. I studied my certification and it says, “This is how personal trainers act and this is how you should treat all of your clients. You come into a gym and there’s this gym atmosphere of like no pain, no gain. You should be crying and sweating and puking on the floor or else you’re not working hard enough.” I didn’t question it. It was this moment where I finally woke up and was like, “Is there a different way that we could be doing this because I didn’t want to make people cry anymore.” I felt terrible doing that to people. As soon as I started telling my clients, “I’m going to have a different approach to how we train.” You could see this relief in their face of like, “Thank, God. You’re not going to make me cry anymore. I’m so here for it.”

Body positivity is accepting and respecting your body and extending it to other people regardless of their shape or size. Click To Tweet

We’re they any people that wanted that more militant approach, for lack of a better word. Rigid, how about that?

I’m sure that there were clients who heard me say that and decided, “I’m going to move on to somebody else.” I found that most of my clients were so excited to hear it. That’s what they had been craving. That type of support. I’m sure that there have been so many people over the years who take one look at what I do and were like, “Not for me.” That’s fine. Coach Jackson and I have had so many conversations about this because he and I are such close friends. Our philosophies are so different in our approach to fitness. I’ve always told him like, “Just because you’re not being body positive with your clients doesn’t mean that you’re doing something wrong. Not everybody needs body positivity.”

People like me come from a background of disordered eating and dysfunctional relationships with exercise as a constant punishment. We have a complex relationship with our body image and not everybody has that. They don’t always need my approach. I always tell Jackson, “There are a lot of people who need your approach to fitness and there are a lot of people who need my approach. There’s somebody for everybody.”

That’s a great outlook. I feel there’s a lot of that mentality in the exercise world and in sports like, “Toughen up.” Clearly, it can work because it does. Also, it’s prevalent that it was like, that’s all you ever saw. I’m sure a lot of people assume that, “If I’m going to go down this road of sports or exercise, them being mean to me is the price of admission.” Honestly, I hate sports. I hate them to this day because when I played sports as a kid, every coach I had was a prick. I’m like, “Why? What about this is enjoyable for any of you people?” It doesn’t help that I suck at it. Then I’m like, “I have zero hand-eye coordination. You being a prick is not going to make me any more coordinated, so dial it down.” Thank you.

Now that you don’t have PE instructors yelling at you, do you feel nowadays you tend to like coaches who are harder with you or do you like a coach who is like me? Who’s like, “Yay. We can do it.”

It’s a great question. Tom?

I don’t know. Honestly, I haven’t been working out that long. I got sucked into it not too long ago.

He only revealed that he’s been working out like three months ago. He was in the closet working for a year.

Literally in a closet?


No, he wouldn’t tell anybody. I was the only person that knew for like a year. He swore me to secrecy.

Really? Why? I’m curious. My apologies if you’ve told this story. Why did you not want to share with anybody?

It’s not who I am and part of my personality and my shtick. I’m not that guy. I knew that also, between the Tonal community and the Peloton community. I’m not doing Peloton, but we’re known in that world to some degree. They’re very supportive. If I was like, “I did a workout.” Everybody would rally around me. I didn’t want that because that’s too much pressure to keep doing it. I felt like I didn’t earn that. One workout and everybody’s like, “rah-rah,” like, “Calm down. You got sweaty once.”

He wanted to establish that it was a habit.

I was doing it for an extended period of time. Where now if I never did it again, I was like, “I did it for like a year and a half. That’s not nothing.” I didn’t want to be the guy that’s like, “Look at me, I’m doing this thing,” then I stopped doing it and everybody’s like, “I thought you were going to do that.”

I will also add that we talked to Dr. Jenn Mann on our other show because she’s a sports psychologist. She’s been on VH1 and MTV and stuff. She was asking Tom, the same question that you’re asking. She was like, “What? How did this happen?” Her theory with Tom is that it was so much ingrained in his identity. That’s what he means about his shtick. It was like so much his identity that it felt like he was losing a part of himself. Even if it was a positive thing he was gaining, he saw it as losing a part of himself. It took him a while to adjust. Still, if people are like, “Good job, Tom.” He’s like, “No, it’s not.” He’s very dismissive of it.

Thanks for sharing that.

I’m weird. It’s okay.

Thank goodness for weirdos.

People are boring.

That is so true. I want to go back. You mentioned that you were a dancer when you were younger, but I was reading on your website that you were a classically trained ballerina. In my mind, I’ve never done that but I envision it as strict.

TSS 29 | Body Positivity


It’s the worst in terms of what they expect you to do. Are your feet even still attached and you keep them in a drawer and take them out when you need them?

Tom, it explains how she can take that bar and put it all the way behind her back. Like in that one warm-up with the bar, the Tonal bar? That’s why because she’s so stretchy from all those years of a ballerina.

That explains. When you do that, you’re like, “Go over here.” I’m like, “Go F yourself.”

I know. There was a whole thread one time on the Facebook Tonal Community about dissecting what I was doing. I don’t know, like a hundred comments about, “How does she do this? She’s dislocating her shoulder.” I was like, “No, I’m not dislocating my shoulder.” I thought it was so humorous. Growing up as an athlete and I think this has served so many coaches and personal trainers. These things that we’ve grown up with or that we’ve gotten used to, we definitely take them for granted as skills that maybe not everybody has. I’ll put a bar over my head and I’m like, “It’s fine.” That thread made me realize, “This is something that not everyone can do. Is there another way that I could teach it?” It’s things like this where I’m like, “How do I make fitness more inclusive to people? How do I give them options?”

It’s like, “Yes, we can’t all do that.”

You’re so sweet about it though. You’re like, “How can I make this better?”

To your question, yes, I was a classically trained ballerina. I did the point shoe thing. I did many performances of the Nutcracker. For several years, there was a point where I was doing ballet seven days a week, 2 to 5 hours a day. There were no breaks. I lived in leotards and tights and smelly shoes. I started to hate it. As you said, Tom, it got to a point where it sucked. It doesn’t suck for everybody, but it got to a point where for me, I was like, “This sucks.” I’m grateful for all the time that I spent in the ballet class because it gave me so many skills that I’ve used later on in life. It took me a long time to realize. Again, the wake-up moment, “Is there a different way that I can be a dancer and not have to spend seven days a week with my feet hurting?” Another moment where I’m like, “Is there another way that I could do this?”

Talk about the opposite of body positivity. To be a ballerina at a certain level, there are certain body types where it doesn’t matter what you eat. You will never get there and you’re just on the scrap heap.

I was one of those dancers. I always had my ballet directors constantly poking at my stomach and telling me I needed to lose weight. They would have conferences with my mom about, “How Natalie needs to lose weight.” Let’s be clear. I was thin and they wanted me to be thinner. I developed breasts when I was eleven. My mom had to argue every single season to get costumes made that would support me because I was one of the few girls that had developed breasts. Most people were still flat-chested and very thin. It was an experience and definitely a culture where I was constantly reminded that what I looked like was not acceptable, was not the goal. There wasn’t anything that I could do about that at the time.

Do you still dance now? Do you do it for fun or is it some structured activity?

Yes, to both. I still dance. I still dance for fun also as a structured activity. When I moved to San Francisco, I saw some posts about a college friend who had tried pole dancing. This is how I live a lot of my life. I decide I’m going to do something, then it changes the whole course of my life. I saw this post and I was like, “I’m going to be a pole dancer.” I’d never tried it before and I Yelped a studio. I went to class and I was like, “Yes, this is for me. This is what I’m going to do for many years to come. I’m sold.” It is what I have been doing for many years is pole dancing on and off competitively. I’ve taught pole dancing but mostly, I enjoy taking the classes and competing.

There are competitions for this? I had no idea.

Yes, not that I YouTube them.

You should because they’re incredible.

I think a lot of people think of it as dancers of less than clothed variety.

I know it’s like an exercise thing too.

It’s a rare skill and it’s evolved past that because the ladies that did that got so damn good at it.

That is the root of my sport, exotic dancers. Most of the original pole dancers started as exotic dancers. Most of them are still active in the sport and are the most famous in the community because they are the original gangsters of pole dancing. They found that they would go to clubs and would see that other people were coming up with these tricks. We call them tricks. They would try the tricks at their club. They started to create this community of people who were not pole dancing as strippers, but now pole dancing as a sport. It’s exploded in the last few years. It’s everywhere on the internet now.

I had no idea that was a competition. I’ve seen people do that. I’ve seen people like to go to classes and do it as an activity. Again, we live in the Midwest. They don’t have things like that. We have strip clubs.

I competed in Chicago. There’s a whole community there.

That’s not considered the Midwest. That’s in Oasis.

That’s the only cool part for 400 miles in any direction.

My apologies. Forgive my very elite San Franciscan of thought knowing better.

There are achievements and wins to be had at every single level of wherever you are in fitness. Click To Tweet

This 2021, we started wearing acid wash jeans. We still wear a Swatch watch.

Are the acid-washed jeans making a comeback from like last season or from the ’90s?

No, we discovered them. Somebody saw a Warrant video on YouTube and they were like, “That looks cool.”

I’m pretty sure it was rad.

It maybe comes back from Stranger Things. It seems very perfectly descriptive word.

It is, but it’s from the ’80s, Stranger Things. That’s a whole another phenomenon. Malls became cool again.

Tom and Crystal, are you going to find a pole dance competition? I feel like you should experience this in real life.

I’ll look it up out of curiosity. I don’t believe there’s anything close here.

I’m sure there is somewhere down in the loop or Central West End.

Do you think? I’m going to have to.

The studios are everywhere now.

I’m going to check it out.

If not, we’ll take the East Side and check out Diamond Cabaret.

I’m not comfortable.

Just for the pole dancing. “We’re dancing connoisseurs, sir.”

I’m missing this. Something is going over my hair there. I don’t know what it is.

It’s because you’re not from St. Louis. I’m sorry. In East St. Louis, that’s where all the strip clubs are. In one area, it’s two blocks and that’s all that’s there.

It’s factories and then strip clubs.

If you ever come to St. Louis, you’ll know where to go. I’ll try to find you some other pole dancing places though. I don’t think that’s a fun part of town. At any rate, we got way off subject. I’m so sorry.

No, that’s okay.

Do you feel like the members you’ve met within the Tonal community struggle with body positivity? I don’t know if that’s something that you see. I feel like the Tonal community by and large is very positive. I’m curious from an analytical standpoint, if you think that they’re towards themselves, not judging other people, are they body-positive?

Yes, I think that’s two different things for sure. The Tonal community is supportive and accepting of one another. Also, for anyone who’s reading and maybe isn’t familiar with what body positivity is. It’s a very nuanced topic, but what it boils down to is accepting and respecting your body. Extending that to other people, no matter their shape or size. I see so much support and positivity in the Tonal community towards each other. I definitely see some things where I’m like, “They put themselves down there or they’re playing it a little bit small.” I don’t see a lot of people fat-shaming or body shaming themselves too much. I’d say, “Sure, there’s always room for more body positivity and more body acceptance.”

TSS 29 | Body Positivity


Sometimes it stands out to me in the way that people cut themselves down when they don’t think their achievements or that their progress or their goals maybe measure up to some of the big things that we’re seeing in the Tonal community. When somebody posts, “I maxed out my bench press. I maxed out the weight on Tonal or my strength score is now up in the thousands.” Then somebody posts in there like, “This is my strength score. I know that’s not a big deal, but I’m proud of it.” I want to see people feeling more comfortable with those lower strength scores as still an achievement and celebrating all of the wins. There are achievements in wins to be had at every single level of wherever you are in fitness. I want people to feel more confident that, “It’s okay. If you’re proud of it, then it’s an okay thing to be proud of.”

I think sometimes people need permission to think it’s okay. We all need a coach Natalie in our head. I might be one to downplay things like that, a little bit.

I’m the same way, especially about that stuff.

Are you?

Yes, the whole time I was sitting and I still have to double-check to make sure like, “Is that how much weight I’m lifting or the number of reps?” I still do that.

Honestly, he does not give himself enough credit. He has come such a long way. He says things now that he doesn’t even realize how much he’s increased his stamina and strength. He’s getting ready to do a workout. He’ll be like, “This one only has goblet spots and something else. This will be an easy one. I can knock this out quick.” I’m like, “Before you would have been like, ‘This has goblet squats.’”

That’s one of my favorite parts of being a personal trainer is when I get to watch somebody go from doing a workout that they think is so challenging to now maybe some of those moves are their warmup or maybe now they’re squatting their body weight or whatever. It’s cool to see people not even realize how much progress they’ve made and get to be like, “Did you remember though from where you started? We’ve come a long way.”

Like when I did the assessment then immediately took a nap on the floor.

I’m a big fan of naps. There is no judgment on my end.

I was judging him.

She was judging me. She was not very positive of me that day, I’ll tell you that. I was judged.

What is your personal workout schedule look like? It’s got to take a lot out of you to put these workouts together for Tonal and you’re a personal trainer. How do you have time for this? What does it look like?

I’m not doing every single Tonal workout. When you do a program on Tonal, most of the time, I’m not doing every single workout with you on there. There’s sometimes this misconception that personal trainers or coaches are doing every single workout that their clients are doing. Generally, we don’t. Some group instructors do. For me, I’m usually weightlifting on Tonal about four times a week. Then now that the studios have reopened, now that pandemic died down a little bit, I’m back to pole dancing twice a week. I used to be into running and now I don’t love running anymore.

I ask myself to run a couple of times a week because I know it’s good for my heart and lung health. I love going hiking. If I run, then hiking’s a lot more fun for me. I make myself do some cardio every single week. That ties in with body positivity as well, as far as I feel, because even though I may not love fitness. We talk a lot about, “Movements should be joyful and Kumbaya.” Sometimes it’s not joyful, but it gives you joy in other places of your life. Running is like that for me nowadays.

I think that’s a great distinction because a lot of times, when people hear about body positivity, they think it’s like an excuse to be unhealthy. It’s not the same thing.

That’s a good point.

Whereas, I see it as an excuse for more people to participate in healthy lifestyles.

As we were talking earlier about when all the coaches were pricks, my solution was, “I’m not going to do this anymore. I’m going to sit on my couch and watch TV and become an expert in the history of sitcoms,” which I am. Because of that, I didn’t do any of that stuff for two full generations. That’s a lot.

Many people come to me who have never felt welcome in a fitness setting because people have made fun of them or somebody has been mean to them along the way. They didn’t think that they could participate. Telling them, like, “Show up as you are.” It makes room for a lot more people. We are finally starting to see that in the last few years. Companies are starting to carry more inclusive sizing because that never made sense to me. You’re asking people to become a certain body type, but you’re not giving them any clothes to do that. It was always crazy to me.

Agreed. I’m glad that people are doing that. You’re seeing that a lot more in modeling and things like that too. It’s not where it needs to be, but it’s made a lot of progress, so that’s nice. What would you say your favorite feature about the Tonal is?

I love the Smart Handles. When I first became a personal trainer, I was not lifting correctly because I still had a lot to learn. I hurt my back and that’s something that I’ll have to manage the rest of my life is my back pain. Things like setting up for a seated row wherein a gym, I would have to almost hunch over around the equipment to pull the handles into the correct position to do a seated row. On Tonal, I can get set up on the floor, put my heels up against the bench, grab the handles with the weight turned off then set up properly so that I don’t hurt myself then turn the weight on. That makes such a huge difference for me that I feel safe from start to finish of setting up for that exercise. The smart handles have made a big difference for me, for sure. What are your favorite features of Tonal? Feel free to include the new one.

I love the fact that it does anything with the weights. When it changes the weights automatically or like the smart flex, I feel like the Smart Flex is my favorite because I struggle with overhead presses and things like that. I feel smart flex makes it more accessible for me to do. It changes it enough that I can do it instead of feeling like I’m going to punch somebody because it hurts so much.

Sometimes, movement is not joyful, but it gives you joy in other places in your life. Click To Tweet

Or punch yourself.

Or punch Tom. That’s no longer an overhead press.

Do you have a favorite, Tom?

The fact that I don’t have to think about anything. I dig the fact that it remembers how much weight I lifted on this move. I would never be able to keep track of that. I don’t even know how people would do this in real life.

They brought pieces of paper and wrote them down.

That sounds awful and you’re sweating all over. I would never remember any of that and so I would always do it wrong. I also love the fact that it quietly increases the weight on you. Like, “You’re ready. Here it is.” It’s so incremental that you don’t know that you’re lifting a little bit more until it’s too late.

In the tiny little script, it says, “Increased one pound.” You’re like, “I knew something felt heavier, Tonal.”

I get excited about that. I get excited about PRs and Tom’s like, “Whatever.” He doesn’t get excited at all. I’ll be like working out next to him doing something else. Every time it dings, I’m like, “PR.”

I’m like, “Of course, you’re going to hit a PR.” If they raised you a pound because it’s time then now you lifted more weight. You get a PR.

You’re still lifting more weight. It’s still an accomplishment. I don’t understand.

See the small wins. Crystal’s got it.

I feel like, “Of course, that’s his math.” Do you do programs or one-off’s or what’s your preference there?

I try to do as many of the new things that are coming out each week as I can. Honestly, we’re coming out with so much new content now that I can’t keep up with it. What I tend to do it, I’ll pick a program from anything that I’ve tried out that I liked. If I review another coach’s workout or program and I’m like, “I like this. I would do this again. You should all enroll in the program and I’ll do the whole thing.” That for me is fun because I do like to see the progress each week. I do like to get the PR dings. I like to watch my strength score go up. That is also how I see the most improvement.

When I’m practicing the same exercises over and over again, which is amazing because that’s how weightlifting works, that’s how I program for my clients. Yes, that’s how I should be lifting. I will do one-off workouts occasionally. Especially, as I said, I want to try out the new content or if we get a new coach and I want to see what their style is or if we come up with a new genre that we have out there. Typically, I stick to the programs and that’s what I have been doing for most of my training career. Setting a program for myself and then following it. I do the same thing for pole dancing. I write out a pole-dancing workout program for myself, then I like to sit there on my phone in the pole studio and I can check it off.

I’m having trouble visualizing what would be an increase in skill there or would it be like you’re going higher up the pole?

What’s the metric for judging advancement?

It’s a foundational movement called an Inversion. It’s when you go upside down on the pole. There are a bunch of ways to progress up to it. When you walk into a pole class for the first time, most people cannot flip their body weight upside down. If they can, they can’t hold onto the pole while they do it. When I came back to pole dancing after they reopened during the pandemic, I couldn’t invert anymore. I had to work my way back up through the progressions to get back to inversions. Then it’s easier to invert from the floor than it is to invert aerially, which is what we call it when you climb up the pole. Then you flip yourself upside down. It’s also harder to do multiple inversions. That’s how I progressed something like pole dancing. There’s always a harder way and an easier way to do all the tricks, which is why you should come to see a pole dance competition.

I’m googling it as soon as we get done.

They have virtual ones now too. You can watch them in person or virtually. YouTube has all these old videos on there too. You can see amazing performances there.

Do you ever do your own workouts and is it weird?

Yes, I do my workout. We talked about this. I love seeing myself on camera. I grew up with the camera. I love it. The more Natalie’s, the better.

Do you have any advice for people that are now joining the Tonal community?

TSS 29 | Body Positivity


If I see people that are joining the Tonal community, I think my main thing is to celebrate all those wins that you think are too small to celebrate. Celebrate all of them because people in the community want to celebrate you. I know, Tom, doesn’t want to be celebrated, but if you want to celebrate yourself and you enjoy other people’s support, I would definitely be loud about those wins. Even if you think they’re small. Put them out there. People want to hear about them.

I’m going to take that advice. I’m going to try to take that advice.

Are you? I hope you do.

Thank you so much for doing this. Before we go, I want to make sure that you have a chance to tell people all the places that they can find you on social media.

Thank you so much. I’m on Instagram @BarbellBlondie. You will know you found the correct account because it’s a lot of yellow and many costumed workouts. That’s on Instagram. Then, I also have a YouTube Channel, which has a ton of modifications for my Tonal programs on it. I have been working on this project over 2020 or so of trying to go through every single program and workout I have on Tonal. Creating modification options for it because we don’t have that available yet on Tonal. We have that great replacement feature, which is helpful to a lot of people. There are some things where people need a little bit more support or some props. I come up with a bunch of different ideas of how they can use their Tonal and make it a little bit more accessible to them in these deep-dive videos. Those are all on my YouTube Channel.

What a great resource. Thank you for that.

Thank you. It’s my pleasure. Also, it gives me another chance to watch myself on Tonal as I’m recording it.

Have you ever done one of your workouts while having a YouTube video playing this out?

Yes, I have. I love to do weird things. I’m like, “Yes, I do that all the time. Every week.”

Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to join us. We appreciate it.

We do. This has been great.

Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate this as well. It was so wonderful to connect with the two of you.

You as well.


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 at @ClipOutCrystal.

You can find me on Twitter @RogerQBert or 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. Don’t forget our YouTube channel, YouTube.com/theclipout where you can find all of our Superset episodes as well. That’s it for this one. Thanks for tuning in. Until next time, keep lifting.

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About Coach Natalie Carey

TSS 29 | Body PositivityNatalie is a competitive pole dancer whose body-positive attitude inspires confidence, self-worth, and ignites power in every workout she creates.




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