Date: April 7th, 2017
New Podcast Series with Mercedes!
I’ve talked with Mercedes Pollmeier on the podcast a couple times now (#1 and #2), she wrote an article for us, and she’s our in-house online personal trainer for TrainingBeta. So knowing how knowledgeable she is and how easy she is to talk to, I wanted to give her a more consistent presence on TrainingBeta. That’s why we decided to begin a new podcast mini series together.
We’ll be talking every month about a different topic of climbing training. The talks will be shorter than a normal podcast: only about 20 minutes. They’ll be quick bits of information that are usable and digestible and will hopefully help your training immediately.
In this first episode, she talks about what body awareness is, how to train it, and why it’s important not only in climbing but in life in general.
A Little More About Mercedes
Mercedes is a Strength and Conditioning coach out of the Seattle Bouldering Project. She has a Master’s degree in Human Movement and works with climbers of all types and abilities, ranging from elite level/competition climbers to novice alpinists. Currently she works at the Seattle Bouldering Project with climbers and other athletes of all ability levels.
She’s offering 1-month and 3-month online training programs to people who feel like they need a little more individualized help than our other climbing training programs can provide. She is detail oriented, very focused on proper form, and offers continuous support and feedback to her online clients via the Trainerize app.
Body Awareness Interview Details
- What is body awareness?
- Why it’s important in climbing
- 3 best movements to train overall body awareness
- How body awareness is helpful in relationships
- How body awareness is helpful with nutrition
- Why that’s all important for climbing
Mercedes Pollmeier Links
Training Programs for You
- Personal Training Online: www.trainingbeta.com/mercedes
- Boulderers: Bouldering Training Program for boulderers of all abilities
- Route Climbers: Route Climbing Training Program for route climbers of all abilities
- Finger Strength : www.trainingbeta.com/fingers
- All of our training programs: Training Programs Page
Please Review The Podcast on iTunes
Please give the podcast an honest review on iTunes here to help the show reach more curious climbers around the world 😉
Neely Quinn: Hey everyone, welcome to the Training Beta Podcast, I’m Neely Quinn, your host, and I’ve been gone for a long time. I didn’t do an episode for the past month, and that’s because I was very sick, and I had no voice. It was the worst illness I’ve had since I was 9 years old, and it just came out of nowhere, and I literally couldn’t talk. But now I can, for the most part, I just have a little deeper, more masculine voice now, and I’m back with my first episode in a while.
Today I’m going to be talking again with Mercedes Pollmeier. You have probably seen or maybe heard episodes with her in the past- she’s a climbing trainer, and she works out of the Seattle Bouldering Project, and she’s also our in-house climbing trainer for TrainingBeta. She sees people online and gives them personalized training programs from anywhere in the world. If you like what you hear from her and want to train with her, you can find more information about who she is and what she does at trainingbeta.com/mercedes, which is just how the car is spelled.
Today we are going to start a series. We are going to start dong fifteen minute podcasts every month or so, and we’re going to talk about different topics on climbing training and answer some questions. I don’t know exactly what this series is going to be called- we tossed around the idea of calling it the “Zen Trainer”, or “Ask the Zen Trainer”, or something like that, because Mercedes is really different. She’s not like any trainer I’ve ever talked to. She practices a lot of mindfulness and asks a lot of her clients about mindfulness- making sure that they are feeling their bodies while they are doing their exercises to make sure they are dong them properly. She does tons of videos to show people how to really properly do exercises, so they’re not injuring themselves. She also talks a lot abut body awareness. What that means, she’ll explain in this episode. She talks about how body awareness can not only help your climbing, but it can help your relationships, your overall happiness, and what you eat, how you eat, and a lot of other behaviors. All of those things can affect your climbing. So this is the first topic, and if you guys have suggestions or questions that you want to ask Mercedes about training, you can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com, and we will consider putting them on the podcast.
So here is the first short episode, it’s only about a fifteen minute long talk with Mercedes Pollmeier. Here she is- enjoy.
Neely Quinn: Alright, welcome to the show Mercedes, thanks for being here.
Mercedes Pollmeier: Thanks Neely!
Neely Quinn: So this is our first quick podcast episode with you, and hopefully we will be doing these pretty regularly, maybe once a month- or maybe more than that if people really get into it. Today, tell me what we are going to be talking about.
Mercedes Pollmeier: We are going to talk about how increased body awareness can help your overall performance, and maybe even just overall awareness of living- like what you eat, how you act. I think awareness overall can help in a lot of different aspects.
Neely Quinn: Okay, well let’s start with climbing and how it affects your climbing, and then we can go into the other aspects. Tell me a little bit about that.
Mercedes Pollmeier: I think from just the last few years, I kind of had a bigger turning point in how I train people, and I realized that if you can train increased body awareness, then you will perform a lot better. You don’t necessarily have to be a lot stronger, you just need to be more aware of how your body is moving. I think for climbing, especially when you start to climb a lot harder, things become a lot more precise. Even micro beta- when we use very specific beta for your body type- you have to be so aware of what you are doing or what you aren’t doing, so I think the body awareness plays a huge role in solving movement problems on the wall.
Neely Quinn: So give me an example of that. Describe “body awareness” a little bit more, and maybe describe a couple of movements that you’ve worked on with people.
Mercedes Pollmeier: Okay- so what is body awareness. I’m so bad at describing things simply
Neely Quinn: And a couple of movements…?
Mercedes Pollmeier: Some of the movements, I think, honestly, the things that aren’t on the wall. So let’s take it off the wall. I find that a lot of inverted poses, like hand balancing, like crow, or even any kind of handstand variation, you all of a sudden increase your body awareness. When you’re upside down, your body kind of starts to freak out, and your mind is like “What am I doing, why am I upside down?”. All of a sudden you get to gain a little more awareness of what your body is doing. I think some people- what I hear is that “I don’t even know what my body is doing when I’m upside down”- so I think that is a really good starting point. Put your body into a really challenging situation, and start to focus on what is happening in your body.
I think handstands can be a little extreme sometimes because it can be scary, but making it a little bit easier, so a crow or something like that, that tends to help people start to understand like “Okay, I don’t really know, I can’t feel my feet, are they pointed? Are they flexed? Are my legs tight? Are they relaxed?”. I think just those simple exercises being inverted will start that process, of being more aware.
Neely Quinn: I’ll sometimes climb with my friend Shannon who is really good at body awareness when she’s climbing, and I’ll be doing a move and trying a move, and I won’t be able to do it, and she will say “Okay Neely, what you need to do is focus on your right thigh, and just push down really hard, with your leg and project yourself this direction”.
So is that the kind of thing you’re talking about?
Mercedes Pollmeier: Yeah totally- she must have a really good sense of what her body is doing while she is moving.
Neely Quinn: She does, and she’s super strong because of it.
Mercedes Pollmeier: Yeah, totally. And being able- for you to be able to execute that, having a good body awareness, like “Okay, now I totally understand what you are saying”. Some people, especially more new climbers, just won’t have that kind of awareness over their body. It’s really hard to talk to them specifically that way sometimes, you just have to pick one or two things for them to focus on, instead of specifics.
Neely Quinn: Yeah I guess it’s something that you kind of take for granted.
Mercedes Pollmeier: Yeah.
Neely Quinn: So it’s something you can train, sort of in baby steps, if you’re a newer climber?
Mercedes Pollmeier: Totally. I think it’s kind of like what I was saying about the inverted positions. There’s an element of being uncomfortable, and it’s a little scary. New folks to climbing will have that element of fear, and I think that fear can sometimes hold you back from learning what your body is doing. I think sometimes we are a little too focused on “Oh my god, I’m going to fall”. Once you can kind of overcome that, you can start to focus more on what your toes are doing, are they pulling, are they pushing, are you even making good contact with the foothold? Little things like that, and just repeating it. How you get better is that you have to practice, intentionally practice these movements over and over again, and then it just becomes automatic after that.
Neely Quinn: What are a handful of movements that people could be practicing over and over?
Mercedes Pollmeier: I would say, if you have a systems board, or a board that isn’t too complicated, that you can just kind of move around on. If you start the day with a few exercises in mind- for me, I always like to warm up on a not very steep wall, fairly vertical, and all I do is try to keep my arms straight, and focus on really good toe placement, and quiet feet. I call it “Ninja Feet”, because you want precision, you want stealth, and you want to be able to use your leg muscles while you are moving around. I would say at least two minutes of super easy moving around, but only focusing on your toe placement.
Neely Quinn: So ninja feet?
Mercedes Pollmeier: Ninja feet, yeah. Another one would be maybe hip position. So every time you move, how are your hips moving? You don’t have to say, “Oh I have to pull my hips in every time”. I think just being aware of what your hips are doing, are they moving side to side, are they close to the wall or are they far away from the wall? That is one point of awareness that you can start to practice while you are moving around. Again, it can be 2-5 minutes of just focusing on what the hips are doing. So hip movement.
Neely Quinn: Okay. Anything else?
Mercedes Pollmeier: I think for maybe more advanced practice, if you are working on a problem that has a lot of lock-offs, you can start working on lock-off drills on the wall. But it’s not just about locking off- it’s about how far can you pull your hand past your chest and holding that position. But also focusing on pushing your feet and keeping that tension on your body, every time you make a lock-off move. You can practice one lock-off, each side, maybe ten to twelve times on each side, really focusing on that tension and where your hand is locking off. Are your hips close to the wall? Do you have continued tension in your body every time you do that?
Neely Quinn: Okay, yeah that’s great. Any others?
Mercedes Pollmeier: Oh man, I’m sure there are a million [laughs].
Neely Quinn: But those are your top three- they kind of work everything. Your feet, your arms, and your hips.
Mercedes Pollmeier: Yeah.
Neely Quinn: Okay. So you were saying, in order to keep this short, I know that we can talk about this forever. But you were saying that this could also affect the rest of your life. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Mercedes Pollmeier: Totally. When I work out, I guess for me, it’s very meditative. I do want to work out with intentionality. I don’t often work out just to build up the sweat, that’s never actually my goal. My goal is to be as mindful as possible while I’m moving. It is somewhat of a meditative state, and it got me more into meditation in general. Almost every day, I’m doing a meditation, and I realized that “Okay, being mindful of my thoughts- are they positive, are they negative? When people are talking to me, am I actually focusing on what they’re saying, or am I thinking about a million other things and not listening to them?”. Some of those things have helped me become more aware of how I interact with people. How is my behavior? Am I being a good person? I think that being mindful can build relationships a little bit better.
I think also the mindfulness of how you eat- I think that has helped me quite a bit. I know that when I was younger, I used to just eat whatever, and eat super fast, and just try to get calories into my body because of how much I was training. Now, oh man. I’m like “I eat so fast, I need to slow down”. And take my time with every bite. You actually end up getting full without as much food. That was a really big eye opener for me, when I realized like “Oh, if I’m a little bit more mindful about the speed of my chewing and swallowing, I’ll get a little bit more full with less food”. And it’s awesome, actually. Those are just some things that have helped me, just while I’m being more mindful, I think, in general. My life has become a little bit more mindful as well.
Neely Quinn: So it’s just about paying more attention in all areas of your life.
Mercedes Pollmeier: Yeah.
Neely Quinn: Do you think that you can go too far with that?
Mercedes Pollmeier: Like being obsessed? [laughs] Yeah I mean, I think it takes a lot of energy to be super mindful. Can you take it too far? I don’t know. I guess, I think maybe if you are so mindful that hopefully it becomes more automatic, you know? Like you don’t overreact when sometime says something that you dislike, you know? That hopefully that becomes a little bit more automatic, or if you’re starving, that you won’t just shovel food into your mouth, that you can eat a little slower. I think that just becomes involuntary. Just like climbing, you know, when you get much better at your foot placement, or how you pull, it all becomes automatic. I don’t think that there is too much, at least not for me.
Neely Quinn: It seems like all of these things, it can affect your climbing. It can affect the way that you interact with people, it can affect the way that you eat, and so since this is a climbing training podcast, I want to sort of wrap it up into how all of those things could potentially affect how good of an athlete you are. Can you talk a little bit about that, just wrapping it all together?
Mercedes Pollmeier: Wrap it up. I guess in the end, it’s honestly being a good person. Don’t let your- I think as an athlete, our goals are normally taking the biggest priority, and sometimes we forget about the other people that are involved in our life. If you can be mindful of how you affect people when it is your priority to send whatever grade it is, I think you’ll be able to hold onto better relationships long term. And you need people around you to perform well, and have that support. I think to be the athlete that you want to be, make sure you’re being mindful of how you are treating people around you. Otherwise you’ll be all alone at the top!
Neely Quinn: Who will you spray to!
Mercedes Pollmeier: Yeah!
Neely Quinn: And then of course, when you’re eating more mindfully- of course I have a lot to say about that- but it’s going to affect your climbing. Maybe it will make you healthier, maybe it will make you leaner, maybe it will make you gain weight, who knows- maybe you might need to do that.
Mercedes Pollmeier: Absolutely. And obviously the food that you eat will affect how your mind works, as well.
Neely Quinn: Right.
Mercedes Pollmeier: Eating the right foods will help that for sure.
Neely Quinn: Right, and being mindful about what your body actually wants to consume, instead of just consuming what is in front of your.
Mercedes Pollmeier: Yeah. And I think certain situations will have us eat things that maybe we don’t really want, but we will eat it anyway. Like social situations- you’ll probably eat more candy or sugar, or more alcohol that you really want to, but you do it anyway, because it’s the social thing to do. Definitely, there’s a lot of situations, for sure.
Neely Quinn: So body awareness. It affects your climbing, because you need to know where your body is in space. It affects your relationships, it affects your diet, and everything else. So I think that is a great fifteen minutes worth of talking. Do you have any finals words on this topic?
Mercedes Pollmeier: Nah- I think if people want to know more, you should definitely shoot us an e-mail, ask us more questions about body awareness and how it can help.
Neely Quinn: Okay well I think that’s it for today then, thank you very much.
Mercedes Pollmeier: Thanks a lot Neely.
Neely Quinn: We’ll do this again in a month, and until then, if anybody wants more on Mercedes, you can go to TrainingBeta and find her there, and you can go to her website. Do you want to do a shout out of your own website or anything?
Mercedes Pollmeier: Yeah- you can find me at modusathletica.com. You can also follow me on Instagram- @modusathletica is my handle.
Neely Quinn: Alright, well cool. Have a great one, I’ll talk to you soon!
Mercedes Pollmeier: Awesome, thanks Neely.
Neely Quinn: I hope you enjoyed that interview with Mercedes Pollmeier. Like she said, you can find her on her website, on Instagram, and on TrainingBeta. You should see more from her, hopefully in articles that she’s going to write for us on TrainingBeta, and in these short podcast episodes.
Other than that, if you want more training advice, or a clear program to follow, we have many of those on TrainingBeta. It is our mission statement to get you the best training information and the most easy to follow training programs possible. That is what we strive to create, and that’s why I made the website in the first place. We have a subscription program for boulderers, we have one for route climbers, we have an e-books on finger training- we have something for everybody and all levels. If you want something that tells you exactly what you need to do when you go into the gym, which is what I want, then go to trainingbeta.com and you’ll see the tab for training programs and you can check them all out there.
So stay tuned for the podcast. I just interviewed Esther Smith again, the physical therapist that I’m always talking to on the podcast. She’s awesome, super smart, and she just talked about her finger protocols. She just healed her own finger injury, and she’s helped hundreds of climbers heal their own finger injuries. She has this protocol and she laid it out for you, for free, which I think is amazing. It’s really, really effective, and very clear to follow. So stay tuned for that. I will probably get it out in the next week. So that’s it- thanks for listening all the way to the end, and I’ll talk to you soon!