Interview with Olympic Medalist Gretchen Bleiler:
In the next few weeks I'm going to be talking a lot about how to use movement training as the ultimate plateau buster in your fitness and fat loss. That's why this interview is so super cool. Olympic Snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler, who got a silver medal at the Olympics in 2006 and is looking to kick serious butt in 2010, talking about her experience with Z-Health, my favorite movement system. Also, I added pictures 'cause it's always more fun with pictures! -Josh
On the heels of opening the Z–Health Performance Training Center last month, Gretchen Bleiler was the first professional athlete to fly in and train at the center with Dr. Cobb. While she was here, she sat down for an interview with Z–Health co-owner Kathy Mauck.
Gretchen Bleiler, X-Games gold medalist and 2006 Olympic silver medalist, is both a world-renowned athlete and highly successful businesswoman. She was introduced to Z–Health by her long-time family friend and Z–Health Practitioner Kathy Lemieux-Rodman in 2009 after an injury sustained during a nationally televised X-Games competition. During her recent training visit, Gretchen was gracious enough to sit down with me to share her story, her passions, and how Z–Health has made her a better athlete.
At 28, Gretchen enjoys a wonderful life as a wife and athlete, is an advocate for the environment, and an inspiration to young female athletes around the world. She lives in Aspen/Snowmass, Colorado, during the training year, is a three-time X-Games gold medalist, a 2006 Winter Olympic silver medalist, and the 2008 winner of ESPN's ESPY Award for Best Female Action Sports Athlete. Her current goals as an athlete are to make the 2010 US Olympic Half Pipe Team, truly enjoy the entire Olympic experience, and land a perfect run with style, amplitude, and grace.
I asked her how the upcoming Olympic Games will differ from her previous Olympic experience. "In 2006, the Olympics were about pure drive and competitiveness. It got me to Silver with sheer hard work and goal setting, but this time around I am going with SO MANY MORE tools, physically, mentally, and emotionally — and with an even more amazing support group. I feel more prepared then I have ever been before. I have had 15 years on the snowboard, and with each year had more life experiences. With everything I know and all the preparation off the mountain as well as on, I am going to have an amazing experience."
She shared that after the 2006 Olympics she hadn’t taken the time to set new goals, and was going through the motions. After a certain amount of success, her life began to be run for her and she didn't yet have the knowledge or experience to know when to say no, or even to know that saying no — and saving some time for herself — was necessary.
Ultimately, she believes that is what caused her big crash in January. "It was a wake up call to figure out my priorities, re-evaluate my snowboard strategy, and generally reacquire balance in my life. There were things along the way that almost got my attention but it was that trauma and the rest of the season that were necessary for me to make the changes I needed."
This is where Z–Health comes in. "Z–Health helps me visualize, be in the moment in my body, and be aware of what I am doing and where I am in time and space, so that I can bring the best of my hard work and training to every moment."
The crash and what followed caused her to re-evaluate, "why am I doing this and who is it for. When I started snowboarding, I was looking for results to give me self worth and to fill me. Now I know who I am, I know my value and my worth. Win, lose, or draw, who I am is much more then the medals I win. I truly desire to pass on this knowledge and these experiences to other young female athletes. It takes a great deal of courage and risk to not go to college and pursue professional athletics as a career, and I hope that my learning and experience can offer some insight to anyone willing to listen. Now when I compete, I know who I am and why I compete."
Gretchen’s words resonated with me and made me think of John Candy in the movie Cool Runnings when he told the Olympic Captain of the Bobsled team, "If you are not enough without the Gold Medal, you will never be enough with it." It seems as if Gretchen's experiences taught her this vital lesson at a very opportune time in her life.
As an athlete, Gretchen has seen tremendous improvements in her performance due to Z–Health. "I can't believe I have gone this far without Z–Health in my life, it seems like it should be the foundation of what everyone in the world should be doing before everything else. Why go lift 200lbs at the gym if you can't walk properly before that? Z–Health training is helping get my body back into the right place and feel good and prepared before I throw myself upside down in a half pipe. Things are getting easier, more connected, and more balanced then ever before — and I know it is because of all the exercises I have been doing. Every time I come in I have been blown away by the results I get. I am just getting started, but I am seeing such great results that are giving me the timing, balance, and connectedness on the mountain."
In addition to her tremendous athletic achievements, I also learned that Gretchen is a successful businesswoman off the mountain as well. She has a Signature Collection with Oakley, a Signature Snowboard with K2, co-founded Mission Skincare and has a Signature Lip Balm, and has helped create an event The Aspen/Snowmass CoverGirl Snow Angels Invitational. The Invitational has a very progressive format, hosting all the best half pipe female riders in the world, and is designed to bring attention and awareness to the environment, women's snowboarding events, and the difference we can all make. It is a weekend with a holistic component of health, education, yoga workshops, facials, fun, and much more — all for the purpose of making a difference.
Despite all of Gretchen's personal success, it was very interesting to see that the environment is the cause that she talks about the most. She works with her sponsors directly so that within her signature collections there is a jacket and pants made from recycled and recyclable materials that can be broken down and made into something else, a growing number of sustainably manufactured cotton shirts, and an eco-pop board by K2.
Having learned the hard way to say no and take time for herself, Gretchen now starts each day with books and yoga, and then email and the gym. She invests each day in her spiritual and emotional energy first, and then everything else. She loves Z–Health and she loves studying the psychology behind sports because she wants to live it and inspire others to do the same. She loves it and the fun of it all.
Gretchen is a beautiful example of a Z–Health athlete, and is a true representation of the principles we encourage everyone to embrace. Her success and hard work have given her amazing opportunities to improve both her sport and the world around her — tasks that she approaches with great intensity and class. She also is committed to a lifetime of healthy athleticism and ongoing improvement, which is what makes her such an excellent example of a Z–Health athlete. As a top contender for the gold in 2010, Gretchen is definitely one athlete to watch, and as a young woman who is living the "dream" with style and grace she serves as a tremendous role model for others.
If you want to know more about Gretchen and her adventures you can follow her online at:
Thank you for taking the time to sit down and talk with me. We look forward to our ongoing work with you and all your success both professionally and personally in the years ahead.