It’s about having the right mindset that maps out one’s day… It’s being present and relishing in your life now… it’s taking pressure off of yourself and not setting multiple goals that become unrealistic to achieve. I’ll of course have my good and bad days, but there are these practices I try to follow in my everyday life that help me clear away negative thoughts and self-doubt.
As a part of our series about “How Athletes Optimize Their Mind & Body For Peak Performance”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Peloton Instructor Chase Tucker.
Growing up in Chicago, in a household of athletes, and later majoring in kinesiology in college, Chase knew that fitness and movement would play a big role in his life. But it wasn’t until he started working in physical therapy, at a sports medicine clinic, that Chase fell in love with helping people improve their lives through fitness. As he pursued his dream career, Chase worked as a personal trainer, bootcamp instructor and lifestyle coach, and is now a Peloton Tread Instructor, bringing his positive outlook and passion for helping people improve their confidence and stride.
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 Chicago with my parents and two younger siblings. I’m really close with my family. Growing up, my greatest joys came from playing sports and being a part of a team. My life has pretty much revolved around athletics, it goes back to my early life and being on those sports teams that helped shape me into the man I am today.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career as a high level professional athlete? We’d love to hear the story.
There wasn’t one key moment in which I knew sports was for me, but I would say it was a culmination of a series of events that led me to discover the career I wanted to pursue. I come from a family of medical professionals, and growing up, I thought I wanted to follow in their footsteps. Throughout high school, and as I looked towards college, it made the most sense to me that I would go down a similar medical path like my parents. However, I soon realized — in my freshman year, as a pre-med student — that my passions were elsewhere. I still very much wanted to enter a career where I could help people, like my parents do, but knew that there was another way for me to do it.
This required me to take a look back at moments in my life that made me the happiest — such as my experience playing on sports teams for soccer, basketball, baseball, football, etc. You name a sport and I’ve probably played it. Because of these experiences, I found a career where I could help heal and optimize people’s performance.
So, I shifted my studies to fit in line with my athletic passions, which — after a series of different jobs — ultimately led me towards becoming a fitness instructor where I could help people achieve their personal goals. What I love most about my career, and why I love being a part of the Peloton family, is that I have the ability to help others in a holistic way, and on a massive scale — being able to coach to a virtual audience and reach that many people is so rewarding.
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?
My parents are by far my biggest supporters. My mom, for one, has been a constant motivator for me (I’m a bit of a mama’s boy if you will). She’s helped me to keep focus of my passions and what I want to pursue in this life, even before I could dream up those things for myself. As for my dad, he provided the tough love in the family, and while I may not have enjoyed it as much as a kid, I am so grateful for it now. It’s humbling to look at where my parents came from and see how far they’ve come in their lives — my mom grew up in Haiti and moved to America for a better life; my dad was raised in the west side of Chicago, and pulled himself up and out of a rough neighborhood. They inspire me every day.
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?
There’s one story that definitely comes to mind — this goes back to my club soccer years in high school. I was travelling to a game with my team, and it was nearing the finals where if we won this tournament, we’d move on to championships. On the road, my teammates and I stopped in what was a CVS or Walgreens to pick up snacks for the drive. Scanning the aisles for things to buy, I came across one of those Five Hour Energy drinks. I was never one to drink high sugar beverages, and before this, I had never tried a Five Hour Energy. However, this time felt different and there felt like a lot at stake to win this game. I wanted to make sure I was at my best performance. I ended up purchasing the drink and took it a few hours ahead of the game, just to give me a little boost. Cut to us on the field, moments before the start of the game, and all of the sudden I got very shaky and my stomach felt weird. My teammates could tell something was off, and as much as I tried to move past this feeling, I couldn’t get the jitters away — I knew it had to be some late after-effects of the drink. It was a horrible feeling and it caused me to play poorly and not be there for my team when they needed me at my best.
What this situation taught me is that with whatever you’re doing, just trust in yourself and your abilities — the phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind. That particular moment taught me that the biggest motivator is in myself, and there is no foreign source that will accomplish or mimic that feeling.
What advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your career?
I didn’t grow up thinking I’d become a fitness instructor, but I always knew I wanted to do something that helped people. What I would say to a young person seeking career advice — of any kind — is to just always trust yourself and your instincts. I followed my passions, which is why I am where I am today, and it is trusting my instincts that led me here. Furthermore, I would tell that person to just pay attention to what keeps them curious, what ignites their passion, and follow those breadcrumbs to see where they may lead.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
At this moment, I’m really focused on connecting with my followers through social media — whether that be sharing words of encouragement, a glimpse at my home life routines and workouts, etc. Having a platform like my Instagram (@chasetucker) has been a powerful outlet to connect with Members at Peloton who participate in my classes, as well as other fitness enthusiasts. I’m so excited to get moving into the new studio at Hudson Yards, and I can’t wait to interact face to face — and virtually — with our Members. In the meantime, I’ve been taking part in a lot of the classes offered on the Peloton App, such as outdoor running, strength and meditation.
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?
Some strategies I would share with people, that I personally follow, are:
(1) Prepare — If there’s an event or initiative coming up that’s high pressure for you, it’s important to feel ready for that moment. For me, as I prep for any live Peloton classes, I make sure I have the groundwork set — this includes mapping out a music playlist, structuring the workouts to fit within the allotted time, and keeping up the enthusiasm throughout the class.
(2) Get in the right mindset — It’s important to feel energized and motivated in order to optimize peak performance. I teach live classes on a weekly basis to often hundreds and thousands of Members, so I always make sure I am in the right mindset before entering the studio. Some days can be hard, and it will be difficult to find that energy — that’s why I make sure to find little ways to better myself so I may be able to better others. Things like listening to your favorite song, doing a little dance to get you moving, or meditating are some helpful ways to get in a better mindset.
(3) Be present — So many experience performance anxiety, largely due to the fact that they’re not really present. It’s easy to get lost in the worries of ‘am I doing this right? Is there more I could be doing? How quickly will I see results?’ Being hyper focused on what you can do now will help drive toward that desired outcome and better optimize performance.
Are there routines you follow? Do you have a special technique to develop a strong focus, and clear away distractions? How about your body? Can you share a few strategies that you use to optimize your body for peak performance?
The routine I have is what I like to call my ‘ideal day.’ I don’t always have the same start or end to my day, so the habits I tend to follow are identity based goals — what I know I want to do for the day, what my purpose for the day is, etc. When I find something that excites me, my routine is then built around that.
As for clearing my head, I’m a big believer in meditation. I’ve been meditating for years and it’s something that I am really proud I brought into my everyday life. Meditating came in very handy when I moved to New York, and when I started at Peloton, as it allowed me to clear my mind of distractions and stay focused on my goals. I’ve also become a big proponent of the mediation classes available on the Peloton App. It’s fun to take other instructors’ classes, especially the ones outside of my own discipline.
When it comes to optimizing my body for peak performance, I do best when I set a goal in my head and I have that sense of what skill I want to achieve. With that, my fitness routine does vary based off of how I am looking ahead of what I want to accomplish for the day or week.
Overall, fitness and health is truly a mind, body and spirit trifecta. When I teach, I hope to encourage people to be mindful of their mind and spirit, and to nourish it well as that makes the physical part of training easier.
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 think people can be too hard on themselves when it comes to setting a routine, as they try to balance too many goals in one day. How I look at it is if you set the intention for when you wake up, and stick to that goal, it’s easier to achieve what you want. I’m not strict in my self-care habits, and I do what feels right for me. Over time, as you work towards your internal goals — and not put so much pressure on yourself — it becomes easier to make a (good) habit of things.
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?
Some of the other points I think can be reflected here too. It’s about having the right mindset that maps out one’s day… It’s being present and relishing in your life now… it’s taking pressure off of yourself and not setting multiple goals that become unrealistic to achieve. I’ll of course have my good and bad days, but there are these practices I try to follow in my everyday life that help me clear away negative thoughts and self-doubt.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
One that comes to mind right now is a quote that’s stuck with me for a while — “It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light.” I love that one. There’s layers to it that really resonate with me.
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 🙂
Someone I follow on social media and find myself quoting more than anybody else is Gary Vaynerchuk. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time, and as I’ve followed his entrepreneurial journey over the years, I’m inspired by his way to lead with such intent. He has a voice and uses it so well to speak to so many — it’s very inspiring.