Gretchen: You know, rebels want to do things in an unconventional way. So the thing about InForm Fitness that appeals to rebels is like oh, everybody else is on the treadmill for ninety minutes, and they’re pedaling away and doing the Stairmaster, and like we know the secret way. We’ve figured it out, we’re doing it this unconventional way. Everyone tells you have to do this, and we’re telling you, no you don’t. You don’t have to listen to all of them because we know the secret arcane way to fitness and even your doctor — your doctor’s orders don’t know what they’re talking about, we’ve figured it out.
Tim: Hey InForm Nation, that was best-selling author and award winning podcaster, Gretchen Rubin, who is our guest for the next two episodes here on the InForm Fitness podcast. Twenty minutes with New York Times bestselling author, Adam Zickerman and friends. Thanks again for joining us. I’m Tim Edwards, the founder of the InBound podcasting network and a client of InForm Fitness. Now in just a minute, the found of InForm Fitness himself, Adam Zickerman will be joined by Sheila Melody, who is the co-owner of the InForm Fitness in Toluca Lake, California, Mike Rogers, the general manager of InForm Fitness in New York City, and of course our guest, Gretchen Rubin. Gretchen has a very popular weekly podcast titled Happier, with Gretchen Rubin, where she discusses good habits and happiness with her sister Elizabeth Craft. Her podcast was named in iTunes’ lists of Best Podcasts of 2015, and was also named in the Academy of Podcasters Best Podcasts of 2016, so we’re delighted to have her today.
Gretchen Rubin is also the author of several books, including the blockbuster New York Times best sellers, Better than Before, the Happiness Project, Happier at Home, and her fourth coming book to be released later this summer, titled The Four Tendencies: Learn How To Understand Yourself Better, and Also How to Influence Others More Effectively.
Now in this episode, we will be discussing what those four tendencies are, and how you can find out what your tendencies are, and how those tendencies might affect how clients of InForm Fitness could approach their workout. This is pretty cool, Gretchen Rubin has been interviewed by Oprah, eating dinner with Nobel Prize Winner Daniel Kahneman, and has actually walked arm and arm with the Dalai Lama. Now is interviewed by Adam Zickerman. Looks like Adam is in good company. Let’s get to it, here is Gretchen Rubin, on the InForm Fitness Podcast.
Adam: Gretchen, thank you so much for coming on our show. It’s been a long time coming. So Mike, since you’re the one who has been working with Gretchen all these years, why don’t you introduce her a little bit.
Mike: Okay, well I just looked through out database and I just found out that she’s on her 498th session, in twelve years, eleven years I think? 2005, so almost twelve years. She is by far our biggest referrer, she’s consistent except for when she’s on her book tour, or on vacation or something like that. It’s been such a pleasure to have Gretchen as a client here, she’s become a great friend. Her husband works out here, her father in law, her mother in law, her children. So we’re very, very grateful to have you as a client and a friend, and to have you on the podcast as well. It’s such a pleasure to see her every week because first of all, she is very easy to train because she’s always on time, she works very, very hard. She follows directions —
Adam: That’s because she’s an upholder.
Mike: Classic upholder, which we’ll talk about later. In the thirty minutes we have together, we are really able to get out the very intense workout. I always look forward to it because we have the most engaging conversations about sugar and fitness and psychology, and I look forward to it all the time. It really doesn’t feel like work to me. I just wanted to welcome you to the podcast, and it’s so great to have you here.
Adam: That was very sweet.
Gretchen: It’s so fun to be here! As I was walking here, I was like it’s so fun to be coming here and getting to talk to you without actually having to work out.
Mike: I thought you enjoyed it.
Gretchen: I enjoy the talking part, I don’t enjoy the weightlifting part — it’s less enjoyable than your conversation. Its fine, but when I’m ready for it to be over, it’s over, and that’s the great advantage of InForm Fitness.
Adam: I did some quick math by the way, and 498 workouts in twelve years, that’s 41 workouts a year. So that is as consistent as it can get.
Mike: That’s fantastic.
Adam: So think about that. That’s twenty hours of work, that’s twenty hours a year of working out.
Gretchen: That is the thing. Whenever I’m trying to sell InForm Fitness on people, I always say, its twenty minutes, like do you have twenty minutes a week. There’s no music, no mirror, no sweating, no waiting. It’s not going to get better than that, you’re not going to find something that you like better than that.
Tim: Gretchen, you were one of the first people that we wanted to have on this show because Sheila has been listening to your podcast for quite some time, and of course with your relationship at InForm Fitness — it ties in nicely to what you’re doing, but if you could, before we dive into your workout, tell us about what you do and what led you to InForm Fitness.
Gretchen: I’m a writer principally. I’ve written books about happiness and good habits and human nature, so probably best known for my books, the Happiness Project, and I have a podcast called Happier that I do with my sister, Liz Craft. I found out about InForm Fitness because basically a friend told me. She was describing her workout to me and I thought this is fantastic. I had been reading a lot of research about why people were increasingly thinking that high intensity workouts were more effective than the — I always thought that you were supposed to do three sets of twelve repetitions at a medium weight, and this was like no, that’s not actually the way to work out efficiently. So I was intrigued by it, and one of my favorite saying is a Zen saying, that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. It’s like I was out to lunch with this friend, and she was describing her workout to me and I was like bang, I’m in, where is this place. I found out it’s a walk, a long walk but actually a walk from my apartment so that’s part of my exercise is to walk here. It’s exactly what I was looking for, because I had become so convinced about the logic and the research behind high intensity workouts.
Tim: Sheila, when you and I first met and we were talking about podcasting, you brought up Gretchen because you’ve been listening, like you said, since the beginning.
Sheila: First of all, Gretchen, I just want to say that I am a huge fan, but I also want to thank you for being so open. You reveal a lot about yourself, it’s a courageous thing in my opinion. You reveal a lot about yourself and your personal life and everything, and it helps people. Whenever I start to read your books, I get all oh my gosh, this is so — there are guidelines to getting to know yourself and how do you do that. How is that going to then lead to good habits, changing your habits, or making your life better or happier.
Gretchen: That’s so nice to hear, thank you.
Sheila: Yeah, thank you so much, and yeah. I just wanted to say that, thank you so much for being courageous about revealing a lot of yourself in all of your work.
Adam: It’s powerful to hear someone talk that way, so honestly.
Gretchen: I think what it is that sometimes you can read about a study, or you can read great advice, and you’re sort of nodding your head and you think yeah, that seems right, that seems true. When you read how somebody else has kind of put it into their own life, put it into action, sometimes then it’s easier to imagine how you would then put it into your life. Maybe you would do something differently, but you can sort of imagine how to concretely apply it more easily because you don’t have to make that jump from the theoretical to the practical. I’m all about, how do you actually do something tomorrow morning, because we can all read stuff that sounds great, but then what do people actually do differently, and that’s what’s hard. I think sometimes just an example is helpful to people.
Adam: So let’s talk about the book. Name of the book is called Better Than Before.
Gretchen: So I’d been writing about happiness, and I found that when people were talking about a happiness challenge they face, a lot of times it was a problem with a habit. Like I’m exhausted all the time because I’m in the habit of not going to bed at time. So Better Than Before was an attempt to help people understand how to change their habits. Like how do you actually change a habit, and what I found is that there is actually 21 strategies that people can use to break their habits. 21 sounds like a lot, but the fact is that some of these strategies work for some people and not for other people, and some strategies are available to us at some times in our lives, and not at other times in our lives. So it’s good that there’s so many, because you can really pick and choose the ones that are going to work for you, because some absolutely do not work for some people. This is important because a lot of times when people are trying to help other people change their habits, or when you’re trying to change your own habits, you think what’s the best way? I’m going to start small, I’m going to do it for thirty days, I’m going to give myself a cheat day, I’m going to do it first thing in the morning. These can work for some people, but they don’t work for everybody all of the time, so it’s good to know all of the options so that you can really begin by saying what is the right thing for you? So I try to really lay out the whole framework so that people can start saying, yeah, I remember when I was in college I did that and that worked really well, or oh yeah, I remembered when I tried it that way, it didn’t work last time, maybe it’s not going to work that way this time, maybe I should try a different way.
Adam: To help figure out which habits will work best for you, you came up with the four tendencies.
Gretchen: I stumbled across this four tendencies framework when I was writing Better Than Before, because I was very struck by these different patterns that I saw and how people could successfully make or break habits, or particular challenges they faced. My next book is called The Four Tendencies because since I’ve introduced it, people have been [Inaudible: 00:10:13] me with questions about it, so I though okay, I’m going to write a book about the four tendencies and figure it all out for myself. So the four tendencies, and Mike, you and I have talked about this endlessly because I’m always picking your brain. The four tendencies are upholder, questioner, obliger, and rebel, and I argue that everybody is one of these their whole life, in all contexts. It has to do with how you deal with an expectation. So there are outer expectations, like work deadlines or a request from a spouse, and then there are inner expectations, like your own desire to keep a New Year’s resolution, your own desire to start meditating. So upholders readily meet outer and inner expectations, so they meet the work deadline, they keep the New Year’s resolution without that much fuss. Questioners question all expectations. They’ll do something if they think it makes sense, so they hate anything arbitrary or inefficient or irrational. Their first question is why should I listen to you, so essentially they make everything an inner expectation, because if it meets their criteria, they’ll do it, and if it doesn’t meet their criteria, they’ll resist it Then there are obligers. Obligers readily meet outer expectations, but they struggle to meet inner expectations, and I grasped this when a friend of mine said this. I don’t understand it, I know I would be happier if I exercised, and when I was in high school I was on the track team, and I never missed track practice, so why can’t I go running now? I would say that when she had a team and a coach waiting for her, she had no trouble, but when it’s just her own desire to run, she struggles. Then there are rebels, rebels resist all expectations outer and inner alike. They want to do what they want to do in their own way, in their own time. If you ask or tell them to do something, they’re very likely to resist, and they don’t even like to tell themselves what to do. I know that Mike is a questioner because he’s proved this to me over and over again in our conversations, but I don’t know if you guys know what your tendencies are?
Sheila: Yeah, we all took it.
Adam: I’m definitely a questioner. I think anybody that knows me also would agree with that. I do feel myself kind of in a grey area of rebel. I do find myself being very — because you told me to do it, I’m going to question it, which makes me a questioning rebel? I don’t know.
Mike: Nobody who creates The Power of Ten or develops this type of weight training is not a rebel a little bit, I think.
Adam: Well I didn’t develop it, I kind of popularized it if anything, which is what we’re doing on this podcast. So Sheila, what are you?
Sheila: Well, I’m an obliger and I knew I was an obliger when I first heard the tendencies, but I’ve taken the test several times. Please let me not be an obliger! I reread the chapter just the other day, and it’s so true as you say. Obligers don’t really like their tendency because they tend to get overwhelmed because they’re meeting other people’s expectations and not their own.
Gretchen: I would say this about the obligers. First of all it’s the largest tendency, it’s the one that people tend to belong to, so you’re in good company because 40% of the world, men and women are obliger. They’re the ones that pair up the most easily, so they get along with other people the best. Also I think the advantage of the obliger tendency is — well all of the tendencies have strengths and weaknesses. The weakness of the obliger tendency is the easiest to fix, it’s the easiest buttress to put in because all they need is outer accountability. If they have outer accountability, they can meet an inner expectation, that’s very easy. The limitations and weaknesses of my tendency, upholder tendency, is very abstract. It’s a very abstract, difficult to put your finger on thing to fix, so it’s much harder to offset it. I feel with obligers, it’s plain as day how to offset it, so I think they have this thing to deal with, but it’s easy for them to deal with. Whereas a questioner or a rebel or an upholder, it’s just trickier to handle the weaknesses.
Sheila: One thing I read, and I’m so excited about this now because I’m rereading this and thinking, obligers pair up really well with rebels. So now I’m like —
Gretchen: So you’re with a rebel?
Sheila: Well, I’m not, but now I know what I need to look for.
Tim: She likes the bad boy.
Adam: Your friends are rebels.
Sheila: Actually yes, but as far as a personal relationship, that’s what I think I’m going to start looking for now.
Mike: When you sit back and think about all of the tendencies, I think when you collect the virtues of all of them, to me, I actually like the idea of the obliger because I feel like the biggest trait that accompanies that is people pleasing, and obviously that can be very, very bad sometimes, but I feel like in the world that we live in, to have that sort of outlook that you want to help other people. I think the fact that we’re fitness practitioners, health practitioners, I feel like it’s fitting. Sometimes when I realize that I am an obliger, I don’t hate that trait, I think also because I know that I fit into other categories as well, but that’s what I think.
Gretchen: It’s interesting because I’ve had several companies say to me that they wanted to only hire obligers. They’re like, our company is client first, customer always, and we want people who are going to bring this outer expectation that is going to be paramount to them. The fact is, with an upholder, they’re like I’ve got my own problems. I know the client wants to talk to me at 8 PM on a Friday but I’ve got to be in my son’s recital and he’s just going to have to wait, and in some places that work, and in some places they’re like nope. That’s not to say that other tendencies can’t accommodate that culture, because everybody can learn to deal with it, but it’s certainly true for obligers, several people have said to me that in my profession, it’s a big advantage to have an obliger outlook.
Mike: I think especially if you’re a new employee somewhere, because when you’re new, you want to do more, impress more, be more available. I think especially when you’re starting a job or something like that, that’s what an employer wants to see after they hire you, is that you are that type of person.
Adam: Or an upholder.
Gretchen: It’s interesting, because one of the things that I should say about the tendencies is that this is just one aspect of somebody’s personality. So some problems I have with some personality frameworks is that they try to explain too much about you. You’re these fifteen things, and I’m like, no I’m not. This is one kind of thing, so we can take fifty questionnaires and line them up, and they would look very different depending on how ambitious they were, how intellectual they were, how curious they were, how considerate they were, how extroverted they were. So they would be very different, but in this way, how did they respond to an expectation, they would be the same. So it doesn’t explain everything about you, but it does explain this one thing. By the way, if somebody doesn’t know what they are from this discussion, Sheila you mentioned the quiz. You can take the quiz at happiercast.com/quiz, it’s a short quiz that will tell you are. A lot of times people can just tell what they are from the description.
Adam: Can you repeat that again, where you can find it?
Gretchen: It’s happiercast.com/quiz.
Sheila: I’m going to have all my trainers take the quiz. I am, because I want to know how it’ll help me to manage them, and them to relate to their clients.
Gretchen: I think it has huge implications for a lot of it. If I was training somebody, what would I think about? I think one of the things that working out this way gives is that it does give accountability. Somebody has an appointment with you, and I know if I don’t show up, I’ve wasted Mike’s time because I’ve taken that slot. One thing that I’ve proposed, because to up the accountability, because I’ve proposed this before, see what you think. A lot of obligers know that they need accountability. I think, if I were you, I would offer people the option to say, if you choose, we will charge you triple if you do not show within a day of canceling. You can choose to opt into that. I would bet that some people would choose that, because they would want to make the accountability greater.
Adam: I bet we would never have to do that.
Gretchen: That’s what people would want. Accountability is something that is very important for obligers, this kind of accountability. There’s other aspects of InForm that are suited to other tendencies that are not, but for an upholder and a questioner, outer accountability doesn’t matter that much. We don’t need a lot of outer accountability, because we have our inner expectations. For a questioner, one of the things that’s true about questioners is that they love to customize and they love for things to be efficient and rational. So one of the things that — my father is a questioner, he lives in Kansas City, and he’s working out with a trainer now, and he loves talking about, why are we working out this way? Why is this muscle important? Why are you shifting the chair this way, why are you repositioning my arms? The idea that I’m customizing it for you, these are your strengths, these are your former injuries, this is where you want to improve performance. It’s customized, it’s efficient, it’s like the cutting edge research. That is what is compelling to a questioner, more than the accountability. They can make themselves do anything that they decide is what should be done, what they need is to really be convinced. They need to be convinced that this is what I should be doing, I trust your judgment, I trust your knowledge, and this is the right thing for me right now, so that’s a different message. Then for the rebel, rebels want to do things in an unconventional way. If they quit something, they don’t join the usual cessation program, they do it in some bizarre way, or some unusual form of yoga. So what I was thinking about InForm Fitness that appeals to rebels is like, oh everybody else is on the treadmill for ninety minutes, and they’re pedaling away and doing the Stair-master, and like we know the secret way. We’ve figured it out, we’re doing it this unconventional way. Everyone tells you have to do this, and we’re telling you, no you don’t. You don’t have to listen to all of them because we know the secret arcane way to fitness and even your doctor — your doctor’s orders don’t know what they’re talking about, we’ve figured it out. So that’s a very kind of rebel. They can do anything they want to do, and Mike, I know one of the things you’ve mentioned is that it’s fun for people when they start working out. They’ll go skiing and they’ll be like, oh my gosh, I’m skiing so much better. Their performance is so much better. A rebel might do it because they’re like, I want to be stronger, I want to feel younger or more energetic. I want my skiing or my golf game or my tennis game to improve, that’s what I want. I can do anything I want, I choose to do this because this is going to get me what I want. You can see how different messages will resonate with people, depending on what their tendency is.
Adam: So as an upholder, you probably don’t question, you just say tell me what to do and I’ll do it.
Gretchen: One of the things that I love about InForm as an upholder I realized is that one of the things that is very striking about this gym is that there’s nothing else to do. There’s no options of going on the treadmill or having a bike; there’s nothing else that you can do. You come in, you work out with a trainer, you leave. You can’t opt to workout for two hours. It’s like you’re going to do this, and then you’re out. Can you do it three days a week, no, we won’t train you three days a week.
Mike: You don’t get many choices.
Gretchen: So for me, it’s very satisfying because it’s like I come in, I do it. It’s done, I have a feeling of total fulfillment and like I’ve actually done everything I can do. I’ve earned my gold star. Check that box, it’s done, and there is no lingering feeling of should I be doing more or whatever. You’ve done the most that you can do.
Tim: For those members of our audience who might be hearing you for the first time Gretchen, if you would, just give us a little history on what led you to your award winning podcast. I saw you picked up an award at Podcast Movement in Chicago last year, and that had to be thrilling, and you’ve been doing this for just a couple of years? Lead us into what led you to the podcast, did you write your books first and figured it would be a good idea to support it with your podcast? Tell us about your journey with your podcast.
Gretchen: So I’ve been writing and talking to people about happiness and good habits for years, and then I had the opportunity to start a podcast, and I thought this would be great. First of all, I’ve always wanted to collaborate with my sister, Elizabeth Craft. She’s a TV writer and a producer living in L.A, so I’m very far away from her, but she’s one of the most important people in my life, and we’ve always wanted to collaborate together, so this seemed like a great opportunity. It was a different way to connect with my audience. I wrote books, I have a daily blog, but the podcast is a very different medium. It’s a very intimate medium because you’re talking right into people’s heads. It’s conversational, so one of the things I love about writing is that you can get the words exactly right, but then you lose the spontaneity and the sort of fun that comes from conversation. It’s been fantastic because we’ve engaged with a whole new group of people, and because I’m always trying to understand human nature better, that’s great, because I learn so much from our listeners who get in touch all the time. It’s just been really, really fun to explore happiness and good habits and human nature, and to every week, hang out, in an audio way, with my sister.
Tim: You’re spearheading a community.
Gretchen: It’s really fun.
Tim: Tell us, how about a plug for Liz’s new podcast which is coming off of yours, right?
Gretchen: Yes, Liz is starting a podcast called Happier in Hollywood which she is co-hosting with her writing partner, Sara Feign who is her longtime writing partner and also one of her good friends from high school, so she’s known her forever. They are doing a podcast that’s all about how to be happier in Hollywood, which is all about the crazy show business life. I have to say, I’ve heard the first couple of episodes preview, and it is so great. They have some crazy, crazy stories, and it’s interesting stuff even if you aren’t a Hollywood person.
Adam: You know, I have all of these habits and techniques in my head now after reading your book, and what you were just saying, what lead to the podcast, you have a whole new audience. So in other words, there are some people who read your blog, there might be some people who read your books, there are some people that listen to your podcast. They might not be doing all three. There are some tendencies to listen to podcast because it’s easier for them to listen to a podcast. For some people, it’s easier for them to read your blog, so it’s really interesting that you’re expanding your universe, and however they find you, they find you.
Gretchen: I think that’s really important, because different media work for different people. Like you said, a podcast you can listen to while you’re walking your dog, you can’t read a book or watch a video. Then if you want to mark something up, you want a written version, so it’s good to have a lot of different forms or ways for people to connect, because then they can choose what works for them.
Mike: And more and more people nowadays, like I love reading books, but sometimes I’ll catch myself reading four or five at a time and getting very slowly through some and very quickly through others. Sometimes it’s like I’ve got the podcast so I just don’t have time to read another book or whatever, so that’s the way it is.
Gretchen: If you’re doing dishes or driving, you can listen to a podcast.
Mike: I never would have gotten through the biography of Alexander Hamilton without the
audio. I had the book, I had the audio, but literally I probably did 75% of it in the car.
Adam: I tried audiobooks, I couldn’t stand the voice. No matter whose voice it is, I didn’t want to hear this person anymore.
Mike: Even if it was like Christopher Walken?
Tim: I’m in the car all the time, so I’m pleased to know that your books are also available on
Sheila: Did you narrate the books on Audible, is that you?
Gretchen: Well that’s an interesting question, because I did The Happiness Project and Better Than Before, and I’m going in a month to do The Four Tendencies. I did not do Happier at Home because a friend of mine — actually an acquaintance who I later found out has a husband who’s an actor, had argued in a group very persuasively that you really owed it to your listening audience to have a professional actor record your book, because they were the ones who could really read. I was like wow, she’s right, so thinking that that was serving my audience better, I had somebody else do it, even though I liked doing the audio, and boy I have heard from so many people, to the point where I’m actually thinking if I can rerecord the audio for Happier at Home because people really do not like it. If it’s a first person narrative and you’re not reading it, they really, really feel like that is not what they want.
Tim: It’s a disconnect.
Gretchen: It is a disconnect, so I learned my lesson, so from now on, I always read the audio. It’s fun. When I read one of my books, Better Than Before, Jim Dale had just been there recording Harry Potter, and they were telling me about all of the security measures that they had to put into place for dealing with the Harry Potter file. So it’s fun, it’s like a whole different world to be a part of it, so I do record them now.
Tim: Thank you Gretchen Rubin for joining us here on the InForm Fitness podcast. In the show notes, we will include a link to all of Gretchen’s books on Audible just like she mentioned, and of course to her website, gretchenrubin.com. There you can purchase hardback copies of all of her books, listen to her podcast, and even take the online quiz that we all took to discover which of the four tendencies rings true with you. Gretchen joins us again next week as we continue discussing the framework for the four tendencies. We’ll also be chatting about managing four foundational habits that we all share, so make sure that you join us for that. Also we are winding down our month long contest here in May of 2017. Remember we want to reward all of you for listening to the InForm Fitness podcast by offering a free training session at an InForm Fitness location nearest you. All you have to do is leave InForm Fitness a review on Yelp, Google,
Facebook, Amazon, or iTunes. Screenshot that review and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org to claim your free session, and to qualify for the grand prize, which includes a personally autographed copy of Adam’s book, Power of Ten: The Once a Week, Slow Motion, Fitness Revolution. You’ll also receive an InForm Fitness T-Shirt, hat, and a hoodie jacket, and we’ll top off the prize pack with a device to listen to all of the InForm Fitness podcasts, Amazon music, audiobooks from Audible, and more using the Alexa voice service with your very own Amazon Echo. If you haven’t seen the Amazon Echo yet, check out the link in the show notes for a full description and videos explaining what it does and how it works. Here are the rules, you can only receive one free training session for your reviews, however, you get an entry into the grand prize drawing for each review that you submit. For instance, if you leave us a review in Yelp, iTunes, and Facebook, you still get one free training session overall, but three entries into the grand prize.
So again, submit those reviews, screenshot it, and email it to email@example.com. You must get those emails to us by 11:59 PM Eastern Time on Wednesday, May 31st, 2017, to qualify for the free session and the grand prize drawing. The winner will be announced on our Monday, June 5th episode, right here on the InForm Fitness podcast. I’m done yapping until next week. Thanks so much for listening. For Adam Zickerman, Sheila Melody and Mike Rogers, I’m Tim Edwards with the InBound Podcasting Network.