Roster Series: An Interview with Chad Wiedmaier
Posted on April 07 2016
Chad Wiedmaier's the first member of The Roster. This is intentional. Chad's been a part of the WOLACO Team since the start.
In short, Chad's an athlete with a big heart and a big brain. And he probably squats more than you do, too. When we joined Chad on the West Side Highway early one Friday morning to ask him a medley of tough, personal questions, we knew he'd be ready. Here's what he had to say.
WC: What keeps you up at night?
CW: Being mediocre. Being mediocre at anything. Which, mediocre, I define as not being fully invested. I think if you're fully invested in whatever it is that you're doing, then you're never going to be average. By saying I don't want to be mediocre, that's not to saying that I need to be the most successful person who has ever lived. I want to be successful, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be in a way that changes the world forever and goes down in the history books. I think that if you go after whatever it is that you want to do in life with reckless abandonment, then you're gonna do pretty well at it. You're gonna find out more about yourself, and you're going to be a happier person.
With playing professional lacrosse, for example, I wouldn't even question playing if I wasn't mentally completely invested. If I just worked out once a week and went and tried to play a game, I wouldn't be okay with having shitty performance after shitty performance on the field. That doesn’t make any sense to me personally. And it's the same thing within business, within relationships. If you're not fully invested, then what's the point? There's no point, in my opinion.
WC: What’s the first ninety minutes of your day look like?
CW: I wake up, usually between 6 and 6:30, so I can get in at least a 45 minute workout in. I definitely try not to hit the snooze button. I get up, get my workout gear on, and have maybe a cup of coffee or stuff called Vega Sport, which I'm a really big fan of. It's like having a green tea, a coffee, and a power bar right before going for a run.
So I'm having a Vega and then either heading out to the turf, which is two blocks away, or I’m going to my gym, which, if I jog, takes me maybe two minutes to get to. Then I’m heading back home, getting changed, and hopping on my bike for work.
WC: Why do you work out? Big picture...other than the beach.
CW: This goes a couple ways. Obviously, as an athlete, performance is something I have to work on. And two, I generally want to be healthy and keep my body in good shape. But three, and I think probably the more unique part of it, is that if I don't exercise or really physically push myself, my general mood is noticeably not as positive as it usually is. I need the physical activity. That's something I know about myself. I need to challenge myself and push myself on a daily basis to places where I’m uncomfortable.
Working out also gets me outside. Living in NYC, everybody works long and hard hours. When I work out, I stay outside as much as I possibly can. As a human being living in a city, you almost forget the fact that you're supposed to be outside engaging with nature to some degree.
WC: If you could have any person in the world as a mentor, who would it be?
CW: This is tough. I think it would probably be Kevin Plank, the CEO of Under Armour. I really admire his story. He’s a guy who went from being a walk-on football player at College Park in Maryland to running one of the biggest companies and brands, that's been doing historic things in the marketing space. A lot of people doubted him early, but he had a clear-cut vision, and he stuck to it.
I definitely like the underdog about him. I like his scrappiness—that's something he really preaches. Even though they've grown into this massive company, he's like I don't want us to ever think like a big, giant corporate company. I always want us to think like a start-up, think active, think innovatively. And I think the integrity he's had from when he started the business to what he's doing now speaks volumes about him as a person. And then his tenacity. It's a clear-cut passion where every time you talk to him, like, you can tell that his brain is always thinking about Under Armour. You can feel his tenacity about going after Nike. That keeps him up at night.
WC: What’s the best (affordable) purchase you’ve made in the last year?
CW: It’s not in the last year, but I'd still say it's my bike. It was the first major purchase I made when I moved to NYC. I think having a bike is better than having a monthly subway pass. You're gonna go more places; you're gonna see more things; you're gonna have more fun doing it. Some people say you're crazy for riding a bike around New York City, but once you figure it out, it can dramatically improve your life. I experience the city from a different perspective. And it makes me more willing to go places because I’m not relying on a subway schedule, which everyone knows is a crap shoot.
I make my own schedule. If I took the subway from where I am right now to where I need to be for work and I timed the trains perfectly, it would take me twenty-five minutes. If I hop on my bike and not even push it, I'm there in seven or eight minutes. Wouldn’t even break a sweat.
WC: Do you remember the toughest moment in your life? How’d it shape you?
CW: The second divorce my family went through. The divorce happened the day before my Sophomore year of high school. Some of the most important things in life are your relationships, and that was a tough period to go through and figure out how to restructure it all. There was a big severance of a lot of people in my life who meant a lot to me, and as a teenager, I didn’t really know how to make sense of it all.
I channeled all of that anger and sadness towards what I was doing in the weight room or out on the playing field, and this is why I think of sports and fitness as medicine in a lot of ways. I found a way to put all of that negative energy towards something else that I really cared about. I put it into a positive aspect and it really helped to define who I was and who I’ve become today.
I took this mindset where I said it doesn't matter what kind of shitty things happen to me in life, if I can find a way to learn and channel that energy into something positive, then I can't ever lose. If you have that perspective going through life, then you're going to be pretty happy. That was definitely the toughest time in my life, but it was awesome to have sports as a way to cope and get through that period of my life.
WC: What’s a workout every guy should be doing (but which few are)?
CW: Yoga. I got lucky from a young age because my mom has been an instructor now for I think ten to fifteen years. And, obviously, back then, it was a very female segregated exercise arena. Like, only the chicks would be doing that. I didn't have a choice. My mom would bring me in on weekends. But when I showed up, I really began to see how it fit in with all the other athletic training I was doing. It honestly brought everything together.
It's great to be doing weights to help improve your strength. It's great to be doing sprints and agilities to improve your wind. But I think of doing yoga versus not doing yoga this way: It’s the difference between an engine that needs oil and an engine that's just a well-oiled machine. You have all of your joints and your range of motion and everything you need to add strength and muscle to those movements, but if you don't keep that loose and fluid, all of that power is compromised. You’re limiting yourself in a strength aspect because you don’t have that full range of motion. When it comes to your aerobic, you know, your endurance, you're extremely tight which means you’re working much harder with each step. And that adds up. When you're loose and fluid, it becomes effortless. So from a physical perspective, yoga just brings that all together in a huge way.
And, obviously, from a mental aspect, if you've never done yoga, go try it. Some people joke about doing “ohms” in the yoga room with 60 strangers, but if you really buy into it, you walk out of there every time feeling recentered about your life and all the chaos that entails.
One studio I really like is Modo Yoga in the West Village.
WC: What’s the single most valuable book you’ve ever read? Why?
CW: I've read a lot of good books, but one of the recent books I’ve read that I really liked is David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell. Everything Gladwell writes is interesting and thought-provoking, but this, it's kind of the way that I think, and it goes with the quote I've been living my life by a lot recently, which is "An unexamined life is not worth living.” I try to ask questions about everything that I experience in life, and this guy takes every single underdog situation and breaks it down to Is a disadvantage really a disadvantage? And is an advantage really an advantage?
David and Goliath is the pinnacle of that explanation and that comparison. And he goes through so many different things throughout the course of history. Everything from business to education to civil rights to sports, and he breaks that down with a bunch of really great examples. Then he backs it all up with facts and numbers. Some of it will make your jaw drop.
WC: If you could give advice to a younger version of yourself, what would it be?
CW: It's the same thing I've been hearing from my mom since I was a kid, which is to “slow down.” It's a double-edged sword to my personality. I like to operate at a fast pace and make fast decisions, which for the most part—like ninety-five percent of the time—has led to great outcomes. Sometimes, though, I wish I maybe stopped for a second, really thought about the situation beyond making a quick gut judgment call. There were times when I got too focused on grinding and didn't take the time to step back for a second when I hit those big cross-roads or milestones and say alright, this is a big decision, let's think long-term about this.
WC: They say you’re the average of the five (or fewer than five) people you spend the most time with. What characteristics do those people have in your life?
CW: Without a doubt, the number one person is my mom. From her the thing that I’ve admired is she's never been afraid to make a decision that she was passionate about and go with it. She never thought twice about Can I really do this? She's just done it. She's done whatever she's wanted to do and that's really had a huge influence on my life. She doesn’t look like it, but she is as fierce as they come.
My lady friend, who I've been dating for a while, she's a big inspiration to me as well. I've always been a hard worker and a passionate person, but I think she's really brought that out of me even more. She just goes after whatever she’s doing. She works extremely, extremely hard. She works to the point where she'll fall asleep at her computer. Not because she wants to fall asleep, but because she simply doesn’t have anything left in the tank. A lot of people say they want to try things and do things throughout their whole lives, but to actually go ahead and do it with reckless abandonment, I'd say that takes some balls. My mom and Sus both have that passion and fierce commitment to pursue exactly what they want to do in their lives.
WC: Favorite place to work out in NYC?
CW: I love the turf right next to my apartment on the West Side Highway. I like the West Side Highway, if I ever just want to actually go for a run. But in terms of a studio to work out, a place that I went to recently for the first time is Tone House in Union Square.
I've done Barry's, I've had Class Pass, I've done hundreds of classes in NYC, and Tone House is by far the best bang for your buck. It's no joke. Like, if you're not walking in there with the expectations of putting yourself through a lot of pain, then you're gonna hate it. I loved it. It was with a lot of really intense people. Some of them were fucking insane.
And the pricing isn’t crazy either. It’s like $30-35 a class, but you're getting so much more for your dollar.
Chad’s Pick: The Fulton .75
Follow Chad's journey on Instagram: @LeChad45.