How Athlete Ridge Davis Optimizes His Mind And Body For Peak Performance

I believe fitness experts serve our community. It is so easy to get caught up in letting your ego take control and try to get followers and generate notoriety and celebrity for your ego. But honestly, that will only get you so so far and not create true fulfillment. Your career is a constant piece of development that is the beauty and fun in it!

I had the pleasure to interview Ridge Davis. Ridge Davis, of RIDGID Fitness, is the man responsible for keeping Hollywood trimmed and toned. With over a decade of fitness experience, 20,000 clocked personal training hours, a PUMA endorsed athlete — he has no plans of slowing down. Ridge is highly sought after by high profile clients and Hollywood’s top executives, Ridge prides himself on the fundamentals of fitness — eat clean and train dirty! From weightless to weight training, his training approach delivers sustainable transformations by educating clients on fitness, nutrition and wellness to get you the results you’ve always dreamed of — and you can get exclusive workouts, moves of the day, meal prep ideas, the hottest trends in men’s activewear, directly through his fitness-filled feed on Instagram @ridgedavis or in POPSUGAR Fitness, Men’s Journal, and Muscle & Fitness.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is a great honor. Our readers would love to learn more about your personal background. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in a small suburb of Atlanta, GA called Fayetteville (20 minutes south of Atlanta). I was a kid with a strong love for learning, music, and fitness. Math class, practicing flute and doing neighborhood sprinting races with friends always made me happy. I earned respect from my peers in high school by receiving numerous academic, music, and athletic awards and features but still remained humble and lead by example. I was fortunate to have parents to full heartedly support me in the things that I truly love. And with that, I developed a deep passion for fitness and music which turned into my two careers.

I was always balancing track practice, school work, and music practice and rehearsals. But for me, it never seemed like too much because they were always things I absolutely loved! (except writing history papers…still have anxiety about that). I absolutely loved music because it was fun to see how far I could push my ability and it was just a thrill to perform and make people happy through my performances.

Some accolades I earned from a young age and it hit me that this was definitely a gift that I can’t waste. Some include being featured on NPR radio’s From The Top, winning competitions that allowed me to solo with professional orchestras, qualifying for USA Track Nationals and placing top 5, and graduating top 5% in high school.

But while I was heavily invested in music, I always loved fitness and working out. I felt that it was a symbiotic relationship. Fitness helped me escape from the obsession with perfection from hours of music practice. But it also helped me stay injury free and have better performance endurance and ability. And music intuitively taught me discipline, focus, and analytical abilities that fitness requires.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career as a high level professional athlete? We’d love to hear the story.

It was less of a person or a particular thing. Instead, It was a path of finding what makes me truly happy and making a difference in the world. I have many selfish goals and aspirations but they all build to a higher purpose of making the world a greater place because of me. I believe that is the human mantra.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

  1. My parents are my number one heroes and my everything. They’ve instilled amazing qualities of love, perseverance, kindness, and wisdom into my character. Every year that goes by, I reflect and uncover more and more ways they’ve made such a positive and impact on me. I couldn’t be more grateful or blessed for such amazing parents.
  2. Lee Haney is the 8x Mr. Olympia and trained frequently at my hometown gym in Fayetteville, Ga! I admired his physique and his generosity in small tips he would give me at such a young age. Funny thing, I had no idea he was Mr. Olympia until much later when I decided to compete in a Men’s Physique Bodybuilding competition. But I always respected the detail and precision he gave all his clients. He was such a warm and kind man, but still created intensity and expectations. You could really tell his clients didn’t want to let him down. I attribute my training style with my clients to that type of coaching.
  3. Paula Robison is a true legend in the classical music arena. She was the first major American flute soloist to perform solo with major American Orchestras. She was my absolute idol growing up. I had all of her albums and loved her energy and virtuosic playing. Also, I was so fortunate to have her as my college professor for my undergraduate studies at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, MA. She has taught me how to think and analyze music through analyzing my own self awareness and psyche. I attribute my ability to mentally connect and challenge my clients to her.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your sports career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

Believe it or not, I used to be so against group classes and told myself that I woud never teach them because it is impossible to effectively coach 30+ people in one space. Then one day, I was met with a challenge of having to substitute a class at my local gym due to an instructor cancelling last minute. The group fitness instructor manager said “you’re big shot trainer, this should be a piece of cake”. Well, that was the most embarrassing moment in my career and it was disappointing because I felt like I let the people in the class down. The experience woke me up to a challenge. That challenge was to have the skillset of teaching a group class and being the best source of energy and motivation possible. 3 months later, I audition for THE WALL (a boutique bootcamp and spin studio) and after a year there, I became there Master Instructor and I absolutely love the platform to inspire and change so many more lives than I would from just private training.

What advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your career?

Focus on how you can serve your community with joy and the rest of your journey will follow suit.

I believe fitness experts serve our community. It is so easy to get caught up in letting your ego take control and try to get followers and generate notoriety and celebrity for your ego. But honestly, that will only get you so so far and not create true fulfillment. Your career is a constant piece of development that is the beauty and fun in it! Enjoying the process and respecting the hustle. If you’re consistently seeking to improve others lives and enrich their health, then that impact is infectious and will generate the happiness to keep you doing what you love. That is a legacy and reputation that inspires me to wake up and be excited for my job!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I just recently partnered with Playbook App and that allows everyone to have constant access to my training programs. Right now I have six different training programs available ranging from strength training, fat loss, abs, booty, arms, and fundamentals. Also, I have pre recorded live classes that you can just press play just follow along with me.

Also I have my meal plans and recipes available on the app as well.

I’m looking into putting private playlists on my channel as well so people can workout to only the best workout jams.

MY ultimate goal is to create a community of people committed to unity, love, and togetherness. We are all put on this earth to connect and grow with each other. That is the human experience.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. As an athlete, you often face high stakes situations that involve a lot of pressure. Most of us tend to wither in the face of such pressure and stress. Can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to optimize your mind for peak performance before high pressure, high stress situations?

Absolutely! I’m a firm believer of setting up habits throughout my day. That way, the skill and ability to focus becomes second nature despite the occasion.

  1. A morning routine is my way of getting in the zone for my day. My routine consists of journaling with some writing prompts that me of your core values, goals, qualities I want to exhibit and be. In short, setting up my day to be as intentional as possible. I personally keep a list of these questions in a google doc folder. I’ll open up the document and just write my pure thoughts.
  2. My belief is to be proactive instead of reactive. We can’t control our emotions, but we can definitely be prepared on how to handle them when they come. When doing my routine, I anticipate events that will cause me stress, anxiety, and/or frustration. With this, I close my eyes and visualize how I will handle particular situations. After that, I write down how I will be successful and the feelings that will come from that. Boom!
  3. I don’t focus on myself. I ask how I can be my best for a bigger purpose. For me, I push myself to be the best provider for my parents because I love them so much and they’ve gifted me with so many opportunities and want to be able to give back to them and be the best son I can!

Do you use any special or particular breathing techniques to help optimize yourself?

Breathing techniques are a huge fitness trend right now and it is for a great reason. They help calm the nervous system, enhance blood flow, and improve thoughtfulness in stressful situations.

While spending majority of my life training as a professional orchestral flutist, a major topic I had to learn was breath control and awareness of breath. It has taught me how to breathe properly with awareness of the diaphragm and minimizing tension in the neck and throat. The biggest lesson about breathing is to relax your abdomen. Many of us try to suck in our bellies to appear slimmer in the waist. This actually creates unnecessary tension and reduces the quality of your breathwork.

Do you have a special technique to develop a strong focus, and clear away distractions?

Yes, it is simple. Plan your time, plan your time, plan your time. If you look at my calendar on my phone/computer, I have all my tasks scheduled in my calendar. It doesn’t matter how big or small the task is; I always schedule it. My calendar displays where I’m giving time and value in that particular day and week. This little trick served more productive for me than traditional “to-do” lists.I challenge myself to start and complete each time block of a tasks with 100% of intent. Once I start a task, I put my timer on and strictly focus on the task. I love this because it keeps me accountable and I’m clear where my focus needs to be set.

Also,I turn off ALL my notifications on my phone except for phone calls. In my opinion, nothing is ever so urgent that you need to constantly check your notifications. I’ve found that it is a common trap that spirals me out of focus.

How about your body? Can you share a few strategies that you use to optimize your body for peak performance?

Yes! Currently I’m using a sleep tracker by WHOOP to monitor my sleep and recovery. It is a great tool to make sure that I’m not overtraining and that my body is prepared for the workload. Rest and recovery are often overlooked, but they are key factors in being able to performant at your highest potential.

Also my night routine is pivotal for setting up for the next days performance. I learned this from Brendon Burchard in “High Performance Habits”. Three hours before bed, I end my food consumption and I shut off all work and unplug from social media, text messages, my computer, and work in general. Two hours before bed, I read while soaking in an epsom salt bath and stretch right after, and one hour before bed, I write in my gratitude journal while drinking turmeric tea.

These ideas are excellent, but for most of us in order for them to become integrated into our lives and really put them to use, we have to turn them into habits and make them become ‘second nature’. Has this been true in your life? How have habits played a role in your success?

I’m a very habit oriented person and I love structure. So I definitely think it is important to establish structure and habits because habit behavior will save you in those times when motivation is lacking. You’ll be looped into a routine that will pull you to stay on track.

Can you share some of the strategies you have used to turn the ideas above into habits? What is the best way to develop great habits for optimal performance? How can one stop bad habits?

On Sunday, I make a list of daily tasks that you must do. Then put those tasks in your calendar for whatever length of time you think it will take. For me, I never block out more than one hour because I know that I’m unable to focus longer than 50 minutes before needing a break. Especially if it is something that I’m dreading to do.

As a high performance athlete, you likely experience times when things are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a mind state of Flow more often in our lives?

Yes! I believe FLOW comes from attaining the peak balance between the Art and the Craft. The art is the expression of your voice and your passion. The Craft is the technique required to facilitate your Art. Both depend on each other, but when both are meant, there is a certain freedom that is pure bliss and joy.

Do you have any meditation practices that you use to help you in your life? We’d love to hear about it.

Listening to music while going for a walk outside is my ultimate medication and escape. I always get centered, my mind is sharp, and I’m ready to handle my more rigorous and cognitive tasks.

Many of us are limited by our self talk, or by negative mind chatter, such as regrets, and feelings of inferiority. Do you have any suggestions about how to “change the channel” of our thoughts? What is the best way to change our thoughts?

I always defer to the person I want to become. Would thoughts about doubt, fear, sadness serve me to become the best version of myself? Hell no! We are all humans and that means we are constantly growing and we are blessed to have the ability to grow. It is our choice to let our thoughts change us or let them keep us stagnant.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are by all accounts a very successful person. How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I’ve always been taught “Service to others, is the rent you pay for your service here on Earth” by Mohammed Ali.

I always try to find ways to mentor other instructor in a studio where I teach. I use my classes a place to establish community but also have teachable moments about ourselves as humans.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

I have two:

From my mom: Don’t get too high on the highs and don’t get too low on the lows.

— This has helped me stay focused and ride the wave of success without letting my ego the best of me. I think we all have a tendency to get in our own way. It can be a matter of questioning “am i good enough?” “Is this beyond my ability” “what did I get myself into?”. OR the quite opposite: arrogance — that moment when you get so inflated and elated from your success that you get lazy and stop putting in the work. The mission is to be of service to others and let that be your driving force and measure of success.

MLK “Darkness cannot drive about darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that”

— A quote from MLK that my mom that my mom introduced me to when I was in high school. There are so many times when people will mistreat you on things out of your control. But the biggest way to overcome it and grow from it is to still show love and kindness, even in your worst enemies.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Oh for sure, the icon and legend, Naomi Campbell! She is my top inspiration in character, tenacity, and branding. Her life story and how she has used her platform to improve our world and change the traditional beliefs of black people in my community. Her global humanitarian efforts in Africa, her relationship with Nelson Mandela, her charities across the globe, her trailblazing modeling career, and how she mentors young black girls across the globe! She is unstoppable and is the quintessential powerful black woman. Also, she is absolutely stunning and gorgeous! And when I say that, the meaning is far past the physical meaning. Her career and her character and what she stands for is so beautiful. What captivates me the most about her is that it is obvious that she is living her purpose and that is such a blessing to see and be able to witness. I would love to pick her brain on her mindset in particular adverse parts of her life and how she continually pushes herself to new limits despite society’s doubt.

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