Emily Abbate: What We Need in Fitness Journalism

Emily Abbate is a veteran fitness journalist who walks the walk (okay, more like runs). She’s best known as the creator and host of Hurdle, one of the most popular fitness podcasts in the world. Emily has interviewed fitness icons like Tia-Clair Toomey, spent a day in the life of Rich Froning, and asked tough questions of sports celebrities like Alex Morgan. And she’s only getting started.

But her fitness cred goes beyond the podcast space. A contributor to Women’s Health, Men’s Health, GQ, SELF, and many more, Emily has covered almost everything hot, new, and relevant in wellness. That makes her INCREDIBLY good at seeing through the smoke and mirrors to determine what’s legit — and what’s fluff — in fitness and nutrition. 

Emily joins the BarBend podcast to discuss the past, present, and future of fitness journalism. She also gives us tips on how to separate the real from the hype online, including which types of fitness influencers to avoid. Emily also opens up about her personal struggles, and how leaning into wellness inspired the creation of Hurdle and fueled its growth.

In this episode of The BarBend Podcast, guest Emily Abbate and host David Thomas Tao discuss:

  • Emily’s background in fitness and journalism (2:30)
  • The most important differentiators in health & fitness journalism (4:47)
  • Why fitness journalists have to play “defense AND offense” (6:45)
  • Misconceptions in health & fitness journalism (7:20)
  • Emily’s personal fitness goals and journey (9:02)
  • Balancing personal fitness goals with the requirements of writing on the space and “walking the walk” with athletes (12:06)
  • Emily’s time with Rich Froning in Cookeville, TN (14:45)
  • The double-edged sword of strength influencers on social media (19:15)
  • How to determine who you should trust online (21:45)
  • Is strength training leaving any communities behind? (22:25)
  • What’s still missing in fitness media (25:55)
  • The Hurdle Podcast and how creativity can stem from personal struggle (28:19)

Relevant links and further reading:

Transcription

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

 We are bigger than just these click-for-SEO stories. I think it’s our responsibility to look for the gems in this field of so many impressive people and stories and keep leaning into that…what I like to call them the “non-athlete athlete.”

David TaoDavid Tao

Welcome to the “BarBend Podcast” where we talk to the smartest athletes, coaches and minds from around the world of strength. I’m your host, David Thomas Tao, and this podcast is presented by barbend.com.

Today I’m talking to writer, editor and podcaster Emily Abbate. You can find Emily’s byline in “Women’s Health,” “Men’s Health,” “GQ,” “Runner’s World,” “SELF.” The list goes on and on. She’s definitely prolific.

Though she’s especially passionate about running, as a journalist, Emily has profiled some of the world’s top strength athletes, as well. She definitely knows her stuff.

These days, Emily is probably better known as the creator and host of the “Hurdle” podcast, one of the most popular podcast series in the health, fitness, and wellness space. Hurdle focuses on sharing stories from and I quote, “Badasses who got through tough times by leaning into wellness.”

Her guests have included athletes like three-time CrossFit games champ Tia-Clair Toomey and soccer superstar Alex Morgan. Celebrity trainers like Don Saladino and inspiring names from all corners of the wellness arena.

With all that experience making content, Emily has a unique perspective on fitness journalism, and what we owe to people as content creators. Our conversation had me thinking long and hard about a lot of how we approach the day-to-day work in the BarBend office.

Emily’s thoughts on the modern landscape of fitness journalism and content are relevant to us all. Regardless of whether your passion is power lifting, weight lifting, CrossFit, or sports, some I consider a little more mainstream.

Just a quick reminder, if you’re enjoying the BarBend Podcast, make sure to leave a rating and review in your podcast app of choice. This helps us stay on track in bringing you the best content possible week after week.

All right Emily. Thanks so much for joining us today. Just to give listeners a little bit of a background, you’ve a very interesting fitness story and your background in fitness journalism and wellness journalism is extensive. Give us the elevator pitch. Who is Emily and how did you end up where you are today?

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

The elevator pitch. OK. Emily is a woman in her 30-somethings from Connecticut. She has been in New York for eight years. All eight of which she has been a journalist. Firstly, she started covering all areas of journalism. Everything from news and entertainment, to healthy living, food and party, all the lifestyle categories.

Then went to Rodale, where I did my first stint as a fitness editor. Left Rodale to become the fitness editor at SELF Magazine at Condé Nast. Left SELF Magazine after the fold to be a freelance journalist. Now, these days, I am tapping words to laptop for everyone from GQ to Men’s Health and Women’s Health.

When I’m not doing that, I am creating content for my podcast called, Hurdle. On Hurdle — which you should all check out David’s episode of [laughs] — I talk to everyone from entrepreneurs to top CEOs and athletes about how they’ve gotten through tough times, hurdles of sorts, by leaning into wellness. I’m a journalist, I’m a podcaster, I’m also a certified trainer, a run coach, the whole shebang.

David TaoDavid Tao

I want to get more into Hurdle later on in this podcast. By the way, your intro is so down pat. I can always tell someone is a seasoned pro when it comes to audio recording. In giving the description, they can just go right into their podcast intro, and then right back out of it.

It’s so impressive. I want to talk about fitness and wellness or health and fitness journalism. You had a background in general journalism covering everything under the sun — lifestyle, you named it. What is different about health and fitness or wellness journalism? Was there a steeper learning curve for that in any way for you?

I know a lot of people have made that transition. They always talk about, “It was just so different than I thought it was going to be.” Everyone has a different perspective on what exactly surprised them about becoming a health and fitness journalist.

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

I think what’s important about health and fitness journalism is making sure that your facts are right. When I was at Rodale, after about six months of creating content, I knew that I wanted to be really smart in the way that I was going about my execution.

That’s why I become a certified personal trainer, just to make sure that when I was working with athletes, coaches, and different trainers, that when we were creating things like workouts or they were giving me their opinion, that I could co-sign it with a solid knowledge base. I think that’s what’s so important about health and fitness journalism is just our responsibility to make sure that we’re putting out really smart fact-based content.

A lot of people are going to the Internet, especially they’re opening at an issue of a magazine, and they’re looking for advice on topics that they just don’t know anything about.

David TaoDavid Tao

I agree with all of that. I think there’s a component of speaking the language too and making it accessible. When you talk to a trainer or a researcher and you’re working on a program, you know your audience better than they will.

You’re the bridge between. You have to translate it to be a layman’s terms in a way that’s going to make it accessible. If you don’t understand that language and where they’re coming from and have a little bit of background in that, you’re not going to be able to voice those thoughts.

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

Totally. I always, as a journalist, would rather do in-person interviews, especially when it comes to program design and workout design with trainers. Man, I can’t tell you how many email exchanges I’ve had where I’m like, “Can we just hop on the phone or just sit down in person?” It doesn’t translate to your point about like layman speak.

That’s like, yeah, I have to be the person that can translate like, “You’re very smart with sets, and reps, and movement patterns. You can show me things so well.” When it comes to me translating that for a bigger audience, that’s where my skill set comes in. I have to be able to play both sides of the defense and offense,

David TaoDavid Tao

[laughs] Both sides of the field. What misconceptions do you think exist around wellness or health and fitness journalism? I’m not even sure the right term there. There’s wellness journalism, health and fitness journalism.

At BarBend, we’re solidly in the more fitness journalism side of things. What misconceptions do you think exist, whether it’s in that community or among your readership or the larger mainstream audience?

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

A lot of light right now is being shed on this idea that there is not one definition of fitness, or there is not one way that everyone is supposed to look. Obviously, the body acceptance movement is a true movement.

A lot of brands — definitely, I would highlight SELF here — are getting into this space where they’re talking about being your healthiest version of yourself. That can mean so many different things for so many different people.

It’s not about necessarily working out to lose weight, although weight loss is one of your goals. That’s a great thing, but we’re working out to become better. We’re working out to be better at life. That’s a beautiful thing.

Granted, you’re still going to get a ton of the content from a lot of different sites, especially a lot of the ones that I write for as well, that are talking about specific workouts or different strategies. I know, obviously, spot reduction isn’t possible, but if you’re doing Pilates, that is a spot-targeted workout.

It’s just making fitness and wellness knowledge accessible in a way that everyone can then take that, and digest it, and implement it and how it works for them. The old way of fitness journalism, the old like, “This is your beach body workout. This is how we’re going to blast fat,” very few brands editorially are speaking like that anymore. Thank God.

David TaoDavid Tao

Speaking of health and fitness goals — and everyone has a different health and fitness goals — let’s talk about you. What are your health and fitness goals? What are some that you’ve achieved? What are some that you’re working toward now? What is achieving a greater level of fitness mean for you? What does it mean for Emily?

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

Totally. Back in college, I weighed 70 pounds more than I do now. I did that in two phases. The first phase was learning how to eat better. The second phase was learning to love running. At the time after losing about 30 pounds, I was working at a summer camp and didn’t have the option to go to a big box gym, like a plan of fitness.

I knew that I had to do something, and that something was run. I never had a good relationship with running growing up. My brother was the track athlete of the family. I was the one who just couldn’t run a mile in under 10 minutes. It was something that actually kept me from making my JV volleyball team in high school.

For me, running was super, super intimidating at first. What I did to ease into it was, every day, I just committed to running the exact same distance. I did it for about seven weeks in one summer. At the end of the summer, I went to measure the distance that I thought was a mile, and it was only a half-mile.

Running that half-mile every day for the summer took me about 14 minutes. I’m sure, 100 percent, that I could walk a half-mile in 14 minutes. Where that time amount was coming from, we’re just going to wipe that off. What happened that summer, which was really valuable, was that I learned to love running.

It didn’t matter how far I was going. All that mattered was that I became better. That enabled me to feel more empowered in other areas of my life. Since then, running has taken a whole new meaning for me.

I’m now a seven-time marathoner. I’m training for Chicago, which will be my eighth in October. I’m also a triathlete. I’ve done one Olympic triathlon. I swam in the Hudson. I’m probably still radioactive.

David TaoDavid Tao

We’re actually sitting a distance away. We’re recording this live, but there’s a gap between us.

 Just because of that. No, I’m kidding.

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

Just because, just to be safe. I’m a triathlete. Like I had mentioned, I’m also a certified run coach and a certified trainer. My goals right now, obviously, Chicago. I feel like you never really train for a marathon and, in the back of your head, think it would be nice to PR.

Maybe a nice little PR on the flat course in Chicago. Other than that, what’s important and what I try to constantly communicate with my audience is, the journey is never done.

Yes, I’ve lost 70 pounds. I’ve run a slew of marathons. I love to workout. It’s part of my DNA, but I always feel like there’s room for improvement, not in a supercritical way but just in a what’s-going-to-make-me-happy way. There’s always, as you get older, those 5 to 10 pounds you go back and forth with.

Everyone messes with that a little bit. I’m always messing with that a little bit. Maybe my goal would be to lean down a little. Other than that, I don’t have any big strength goals. I’m just trying to be better every single day and enjoy the journey.

David TaoDavid Tao

 Let’s talk about balance when it comes to fitness. As a fitness journalist — and I know this is specifically relevant to you — you are bombarded with events, workouts, “Let’s work out in the park. Let’s go to a CrossFit gym and work out this CrossFit athlete, because a brand is hosting that.”

There are a ton of events that I know our team at BarBend has run into you at. You have a lot of different options. Maybe there’s an expectation in the field that you’ll show up and participate, whether it’s more strength-based. Running, you obviously have down pat.

How are you balancing that over the course of a week or a month with your running goals but also understanding that the demands of your job might require you to hop into MetCon with a top CrossFit athlete or something like that?

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

What a hard day.

All of those things. I did once do a WOD with Patrick Vellner. He was my partner. I was slightly concerned about letting him down, [laughs] but he was a really good sport.

We actually handled it pretty well. We deadlifted the same amount for the WOD. I just want to put that into the universe. He was going a little bit faster than me, but we were deading the exact same amount.

What I will say is that when it comes to the constant slew of events and balancing it all, I’m a really big planner. I think you have to be when you have so many invites flying. Also, you have to be a really big planner when it comes to being strict with a training schedule and maintaining that.

It’s all about plugging things into the calendar and being honest with yourself. This idea of being kind is so important, not just how you deal with everyone but also how you deal with yourself and your body.

For example, last night, I went to an event. There was a run as a part of the event. That morning, I had already done an eight-mile interval running workout with a girlfriend of mine around the reservoir uptown.

I got to the event. I looked at a colleague of mine. We’re so lucky in this industry that we’ve grown such great friendships with people that work at so many different brands. I looked at one of the women that I work with quite frequently.

She looked at me, and she’s like, “You look tired.” I was like, “I am tired. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed.” She looked at, and she’s like, “Maybe you should just say no.”

It hit me in that moment, it’s something that I tell myself time and time again, just to own your no. Yes and no are two of the most powerful words that we have in the English language. Sometimes, we’re so hesitant to use them.

For me, I owned the no. I changed right back out of the workout clothes. I said thank-you to the brand who was putting on the event. I left, and went and met my girlfriend, and had a cocktail. It’s just being aware, and listening, and not feeling like every single thing has to be a yes.

David TaoDavid Tao

Are there any memories that stick out, going to one of these events or participating in one of these events? It could be something that a brand put on. It could be something that an organization put on where you got to connect with an athlete, and it changed your perspective, either on fitness in general or in particular on their niche within that?

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

Not necessarily an event, but I went to Cookeville to hang out with Rich Froning for 48 hours for a piece of branded content for Men’s Health. It was arguably one of the coolest things I’ve done in my career.

I had been a CrossFit fan for some time, probably four or five years. At that point, I had done CrossFit very strictly for about two or three years. I stopped doing that after I did one too many overhead squat snatches and triggered some arthritis in my lower back.

I went down there after watching Rich for many years, after seeing him at the games, having one thought about how it could go. He just blew me out of the water with his kindness and genuine compassion for his family.

He welcomed us into his home. We worked out in the barn with the whole Mayhem crew. It was enlightening to see the relationships and how important they are to that whole team.

Outside of that, the idea of lifting like that was never something that Emily would have thought about doing when she was staring at a scale, in her freshman dorm room that said 204 pounds. Never. The more and more events that I go to that have a strength component…

I know I was at a Nike event the other day. We were climbing up ropes and slamming med balls, and doing all of these things, and just the integration of more strength into specifically female workouts, and the importance of building strength in that it’s demystifying the big-weights-equal-dangerous stuff.

All of that, every time I see it when I go to these events, I’m like, “Yes, let’s do this stuff. Let’s get into the good stuff.”

David TaoDavid Tao

I got to ask. This is something that I’ve never done. I’ve been to Cookeville, Tennessee, but it was pre-CrossFit to date me. It was before CrossFit was a phenomenon. I’m curious, what does Rich Froning eat over the course of a day?

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

It’s nothing like Fikowski, very strict with what he eats. I’ve interviewed him and asked him all about these things. He literally makes pig tongue for lunch.

David TaoDavid Tao

 The Canadian CrossFit athletes, I’ve found to be extremely nice. You never want to let them down. Like Patrick Vellner, I would never want to disappoint him on a workout.

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

He’s so sweet.

David TaoDavid Tao

 And so regimented.

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

Very regimented. Vellner’s another good example. He is a chicken-and-rice guy all day, every day. Rich is not like that at all. They have very good doughnuts in Cookeville. He might eat a doughnut at one time. Then he’ll have a protein shake. Then he’ll drink some chocolate milk.

The guy literally has a fridge stocked full of chocolate milk at all times like a keg…like chocolate milk, I don’t know. I don’t remember if it was a keg, but there was a ton of chocolate milk.

David TaoDavid Tao

 I was like, “Can you have milk in a keg?” I don’t even…

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

That’s a great question. He probably drinks it fast enough to keep it in a keg. They go through a lot of chocolate milk down there. Then maybe he’ll have a real lunch, and then he’ll sit down and have dinner with his family.

Maybe the kids are getting one type of thing from the Mexican takeout place and Rich is eating something else. Regardless, he is nowhere near as regimented as everybody else that he surrounds himself with. [laughs]

David TaoDavid Tao

He’s clearly found a way to make it work.

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

Yeah.

David TaoDavid Tao

Something we’ve talked a little bit about off-camera is the impact CrossFit’s had on the broader fitness world. The proliferation, growth and popularization of strength athletics, like weightlifting in the US.

Definitely not where it would be now without CrossFit. Same with powerlifting, Strongman and Strongwoman competitions, kind of feeling that as well as people move from CrossFit to those sports.

Are there any other factors beyond CrossFit that you would attribute the growth or mainstream-ization, it’s not really a word but you know what I’m saying, mainstream growth of strength at least in America, anything else you would attribute to that?

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

They’re a double-edged sword. What I’m talking about are a lot of the Instagram strength-training programs that are becoming super viral. The Kayla Itsines, the Kelsey Wells, the women that are really making strength-training programs popular both body weight and then with some light weights, and then some cardio and things like that.

For the first time in my career, I’m seeing more and more women actually just going by themselves into the gym and following these women’s programs and seeing really great results. They’re opening themselves up to a type of training that they felt was inaccessible before.

Now with the rise of these insta-celebrity trainers, you just have to be smart with who you are taking advice from. A lot of these women that have these really big followings, they definitely are certified trainers. They know what they’re talking about.

There are always going to be the copycats, the women that want to be just like these other women. They want to grow these big followings. They want to make money like these women.

What I would say on this trend, which can be both positive and negative is just really make sure that you do some background Intel research on the people that you want to take advice from. That’s again, talking about being a fitness and health journalists. We are the gatekeepers of this. We have the responsibility to air out when something like that could be catching steam, and it’s not safe.

David TaoDavid Tao

What are some things that the average listener at home who maybe is not the experienced fitness journalist can do, or what are some criteria they can look forward to sniff out BS that they may see on Instagram?

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

I think the thing that’s always super important to look for first and foremost is does this person list any certifications. I’m not saying that you can’t get a lot of real-world experience working out that make you some sort of an expert in your field.

If there is no letter after the name, CPT, CSCS, some sort of masters and exercise science or movement, then I would just say like maybe take a step back and just really dig into what else you can find out about this person before you want to take their advice.

I mean, for example, I had run six marathons before I was a certified run coach with about 8 to 10 years of running experience under my belt. Does that mean that I’m not qualified to offer up my opinion? No, it doesn’t mean that but until I became a certified run coach, it didn’t make me qualified necessarily to teach other people the foundations of running.

While I could offer them, “Hey, this is what worked for my experience.” I can’t be like, “This is what you should do.” until I studied to be at a point where I was more responsible about diagnosing, about working with people, about just like being smart about their body.

David TaoDavid Tao

We’ve talked a lot about again, both in this podcast, on the hurdle podcast, off of the recording about how strength training has become more popular in various communities, especially among women, which I think we all agree is a net positive, at least we both do.

Are there any communities getting left behind when it comes to the mainstream growth of fitness, particularly strength training?

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

Good question. Getting left behind. I feel like what happens is the health and fitness industry can be one of price. Some individuals feel like if they don’t have the money to invest in health and fitness, whether that be going to classes or buying who knows like a Peloton Bike or Peloton Tread or to spend on an app that if they don’t have money, that’s a barrier to entry. But in actuality, I would argue that that’s just an excuse.

I run every day. It costs nothing, except maybe the occasional $18 for some Hanes white V-necks and some junky Target black leggings. That was my way to find fitness that worked for me.

It can feel overwhelming when we are so surrounded, especially on social media, of all these jazzy, exciting options which do come with a price point, including gym memberships as well.

The reality is that you don’t have to get left behind if you’re willing to put in the work on your own, and so not using these higher price points as an excuse to get to what you want, to set goals and handle them in a smart way.

David TaoDavid Tao

We’ve gotten a lot of questions through social media on BarBend. When people say, “Oh, we’ve gotten a lot of questions,” they normally mean we’ve got no questions. I just want to talk about this.

We legitimately do get a lot of questions.

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

Yeah.

David TaoDavid Tao

People say, “Oh, I really want to start strength training, but I can’t afford weights. I can’t afford to go to the gym,” as if those are the two gates. You have to either buy a weight set, which can be astronomically expensive for some people and depending where you are, or you have to pay a pricey membership for a CrossFit gym, a powerlifting gym.

These things are not cheap. The more niche you get, the more expensive these things tend to be. The first thing we do when people reach out to us about this, whether it’s a question or whether they’re just airing some grievances, is we direct them towards bodyweight training contests, some on BarBend, some not, because you can get insanely strong.

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

 Oh, yeah.

David TaoDavid Tao

Insanely strong. Working out in a park, with a pull-up bar at your home, working on basic gymnastic body weights movements. If you can get to the point where you’re doing strict bar muscle-ups at a park on a jungle gym, you’re pretty darn strong.

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

 You’re pretty strong. Two times this year, I felt like I was in the best shape. The first time was when I did hot yoga every single day for a month. I felt so strong. Then the second time was when I was writing down everything that I was eating for a month. They’re obviously two very different extremes.

The bodyweight training that I was doing with the yoga made me feel so much stronger than I had in years, probably since I’d been doing CrossFit.

David TaoDavid Tao

The athletes who often excel transitioning from one sport to strength sports, especially when it comes to weightlifting just because of the mobility aspect and the kinesthetic awareness aspect, it’s pretty much always gymnasts.

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

Always gymnasts.

David TaoDavid Tao

It’s gymnast or cheerleaders who are former gymnasts, oftentimes.

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

Exactly.

David TaoDavid Tao

What do you think is still missing when it comes to fitness media?

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

Emily: Fitness media, what are we missing? We’re seeing more and more in-depth reporting, which is really important. There’s nothing I love more than profiles and features in the health and wellness and fitness arena when it comes to journalism.

I mentioned that “48 hours with Rich Froning” article that I wrote for Men’s Health. That is the kind of reporting that I would love to read, and edit, and work on every single day. That’s a big reason why I started Hurdle.

I feel as though we have the opportunity as journalist to get in depth and get away from a lot of like 12 different squats to build your butt, 8 different ways to press overhead. There’s room for that as well.

We are bigger than just these click-for-SEO stories. It’s our responsibility to look for the gems in this field of so many impressive people and stories and keep leaning into that. I like to call them the non-athlete athlete.

What is your story? Just because you’re not on the podium at the CrossFit games doesn’t mean that you don’t have some big milestones and some big takeaways to offer a broader audience.

David TaoDavid Tao

Let’s talk about Hurdle.

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

Let’s do it.

David TaoDavid Tao

You released Episode 71 this week. I know that because, as of this recording, that was my episode where I came on the show.

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

Yeah.

David TaoDavid Tao

 It was an awesome experience. You’ve interviewed some fantastic people and a really diverse body of people. In addition, it’s doing well. It’s doing well online, ratings, reviews. I always see people tagging Hurdle, talking about Hurdle moments, getting inspiration from the podcast.

How did that come about? What have been some of your keys for success there? As I learned firsthand, you have a lot of people contributing and contributing their expertise, but it’s very much a one-woman show as far as you driving the ship, doing the interviews, sourcing the guests, and really teasing out these lessons from everyone who joins.

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

Yeah. Hurdle can be a little overwhelming at times, but it is my baby.

David TaoDavid Tao

It’s your own hurdle.

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

It certainly is. I started Hurdle at the very end of 2017, going into 2018. I’m over a year and a half in now which is crazy to me. I was going through some personal and emotional hurdles with myself. I had left my last full-time job about a year before this. I was a freelancer, still am a freelancer, and was just looking for another outlet to channel my energy.

I had been thinking about starting a podcast for a really long time, but I just couldn’t really home in on exactly what I wanted it to be about. Simultaneously at the time, I was getting out of a relationship and I was sitting with a girlfriend of mine on my couch eating Ramen and I looked at her with so much sincerity and I said, “I just want to get over this hurdle.”

It was literally like tunnel vision in that moment. It was like everything just started to click. Like, this is what it’s about. This is where I want to talk to. Like, let me combine all of my interests as an entrepreneur, but also as someone who has a vested interest in health and wellness.

I had a hypothesis as we’ve heard time and time again that so many people that are mixing passion with purpose and creating their own businesses and starting from the ground up, they have a vested interest in health and wellness as well. They have a relationship with that side of their lifestyle and it was so true.

As you’ve noted, I’ve talked to a very diverse guest list ranging from Dr. Jason Wersland of the TheraGun, Andy Puddicombe of Headspace to Marcus Antebi from the Juice Press. Those are just three men. We also have like Candice Huffines. She’s a model. Then Sadie Lincoln, the founder of Barre3. The roster is endless.

David TaoDavid Tao

Tia-Clair Toomey, three-time CrossFit Games winner.

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

Three-time CrossFit Games champion, yeah. A lot of really outstanding entrepreneurs, CEOs, athletes, and what I learned from all of them is that, again, each of them has a different way that they interpret wellness and they implement it into their lives. On Hurdle, obviously talking through, getting through some of the hard stuff.

Even Tia-Clair, she literally went from hardly working out to three years later like being at the CrossFit Games and being an ultimate superstar. She went from not knowing what she wanted to do with her life and like being in school realizing she needed to get out of this path that she was on, left school, and found a completely new source of happiness in CrossFit.

I think I am lucky in that I get to with Hurdle every single day work on something that I am so passionate about. I truly feel like it’s the most valuable content that I have created in my career, and it’s really empowering that it is mine. With that said, it definitely comes again with its own fair share of challenges.

I’m booking the guests, doing the reach out, doing the prep, doing the interview, doing the editing, doing the producing, uploading it into the Interweb, learning how to do all of these things on my own by watching YouTube tutorials, and emailing people and asking people to talk to me and have phone calls and yada, yada, yada.

It’s a lot, but I am so much better for it. It is already bigger than I could have imagined and I just have so much hope for it going forward.

David TaoDavid Tao

 If people wanted to get into the Hurdle podcast, if they wanted to become hurdlers, if they listen to this interview, and they feel I need to check that out, what is the one episode you would recommend BarBend readers or listeners start with?

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

Tia-Clair’s episode is really great and I obviously think that that’s something that a lot of your readership and listenership would really relate with. Other than that, let’s see. I did an interview with a man whose name is Omar ‘Crispy’ Avila. He is a war veteran who his unit was driving in a combat and went over an IED and his vehicle blew up.

He had suffered burns to what I think was 85 percent of his body, but I might have that statistic wrong right now. His interview which I launched this year on Veterans Day was just unbelievable. He’s now a Paralympic powerlifter and obscenely strong. His deadlift is greater than Fraser’s. It’s greater than Vellner’s. It’s up there, and this guy has one functioning leg.

I just think that his story was just really special and his outlook is just like unbelievable unrivaled.

David TaoDavid Tao

You’ve interviewed some very big names, and I know you even surprised yourself with the guests you’ve been able to get on. Are there any big names or any one in particular, they don’t have to be a celebrity that you would love to interview that’s a bit of a reach for you that you’d be willing to admit to or talk about now? The will it into existence?

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

Will it into existence. I definitely have a dream list. Like you said, I have been able to cross some people off of it. When Andy Puddicombe came into my studio, it was like mind blowing to sit with him and hear the voice that I hear so often in my headphones on the subway in real life.

Andy was a big deal. Jillian Michaels was a really big deal. Some people in a very different scope are also a big deal. I had my former boss, Liz Plosser. She’s now the Editor in Chief of Women’s Health. When I sat down with her, it was just really special because, again, it’s coming full circle and working on something that’s just so important to me.

It’s my thing now and to have these people that root for me and that believe in me and want to come team up to do something with me, I think that’s just really valuable and I’m so appreciative of it. As far as who I want to have on the pod, Serena Williams is a dream get for sure. I definitely want to sit down with her.

Ibtihaj is a big get that I want to have and I’m in that conversation, so that’s a fun one to be a part of. Outside of that and you don’t want to put too many spoiler alerts into the world because I feel like I have very high hopes. I would love, love, love to talk to Ashley Graham.

If anyone listening to this is friends with Ashley Graham, [laughs] I’ve been reading some of those feelers out into the universe too. She’s such a badass. She has a great attitude and I listened to her on Jay Z’s podcast and just really thought what she had to say was so valuable and a lot of which I really want to bring to my audience.

David TaoDavid Tao

Where can people keep up to date with what you’re doing and with Hurdle?

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

You can keep up with me and Hurdle probably best on Instagram. I am @emilyabbate. That’s A-B-B-A-T-E. Hurdle is @hurdlepodcast. Of course, if you listen to the BarBend podcast, then you can find Hurdle wherever you checklist for now.

David TaoDavid Tao

Awesome. Emily, thanks so much for joining us today.

Emily AbbateEmily Abbate

Thanks so much for having me.

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