Vail Daily column: Managing interference to achieve greater fitness results |

Vail Daily column: Managing interference to achieve greater fitness results

“The mind is primary.”

Mark Twight, world-class climber, author and gym owner has this statement plastered number one in his philosophy that lists a number of great qualities that should exist in an organized training system. Recently, I have been discussing the holistic model to achieving great fitness; today I want to explore the characteristics of those who attain greatness.

Dr. David Cook, a sports psychologist, author of the “Mindset of a Champion,” details the ingredients to rise to the top. Cook confirms that performance is more than potential. Performance is getting the potential out of people when it matters the most.


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The problem is, every day we are confronted with interference. We lead hectic lives that involves loss, chaos, business, doubt, lies, recessions, wars, communication breakdowns and appointments that conflict with powder days. Performance is potential minus interference.

However, interference is out of our control. We can’t control life-changing physical ailments or avoid death. The only thing we can manage is our mind and how we handle the interference.


What is the greatest single predictor of success when facing interference? Dr. Rick Snyder, professor of psychology at the University of Kansas, performed a study that investigated four classifications of human qualities and related success. He researched personality, physical traits, IQ and attitude. He concluded that personality, physical traits and IQ are largely inherent and don’t contribute to the success or failure of people’s actions.

On the other hand, attitude is the only quality that is controllable, and largely predicts success. Attitude reigns supreme in champions, and specifically goal orientation and mental toughness are highlighted characteristics that define high achievers in life. Snyder concluded that goal orientation plus mental toughness equal hope and that hope is absolutely necessary in creating greatness.


Why is this so important for achieving your fitness results?

Every time I enter the gym to train, I ask myself if this workout is building on the last and is this workout contributing to a specific goal I have written down and told others about?

The first question you must ask yourself before engaging in an exercise routine is what are you trying to accomplish? It needs to be specific. Not something like, “I just want to get in better shape” or “I just want to tone up and get stronger.” Toning up and getting stronger is too vague and it becomes difficult to stay focused on vague concepts. “I want to lose 2 inches off my waist, weigh 125 pounds and run my first marathon” is what we’re after. Goal-setting groups in business and life always outperform non-goal setting groups.

I encourage you to write down your goals and give a copy to a few people who care about you and who will hold you accountable. This is the first step to achieving greatness in respect to your fitness training.


Mental toughness is the other highlighted characteristic of high achievers. Mentally tough people have goals written down, and they achieve their goals if they have to jump over, go around or run right through the interference I discussed earlier.

Successful gym enthusiasts don’t quit. They don’t quit performing certain exercises because they are too difficult, boring or painful. Mentally tough gym goers like the company of discipline and aren’t afraid to say no when offered an extra glass of wine at a party.

These individuals don’t follow the herd either. If something isn’t working for them, as popular as it is, they try something else.

Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting a fun, revitalizing workout program. There is also nothing wrong with not setting specific goals and exercising only because it’s good for you and it helps reduce stress. But if you aren’t getting the results you desire, it’s time to ask if you haven’t been specific enough or have you been avoiding the discomfort required to make changes?

Largely, the problem facing our inability to achieve fitness stardom is a combination of interference, not being able to manage that adversity and our complacency with staying out of the fight against all the nonsense.

Stay tuned; next week I will discuss the defining differences between merely high achievers and the elite champions. Let’s keep talking!

Ryan Richards has a B.S. from Ohio University and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is the personal trainer at the Sonnenalp Golf Club and the owner of R2HP, an athlete consulting and personal training company. Richards’ passion comes from overcoming childhood obesity and a T1-L3 spinal fusion. Contact him at or 970-401-0720.

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