In this episode, I have the director of mindset and nutrition at Adaptive Training Foundation – Mo Brossette. ATF empowers people with physical disabilities to transform their lives through exercise and community. We took a deep dive into their world at ATF and discuss what they do, their upcoming certification program, how you can be involved, and so much more. Enjoy!
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Table Of Contents
- Episode Introduction
- What Is Adaptive Training Foundation
- From Endurance Coaching To Mindset Coaching
- Why 22 Veterans
- Working Around Their Identity
- The Common Fears Of People
- Adaptive Training Certification in November
- How Much Does The ATF Program Cost
- How To Donate To Adaptive Training Foundation
Mike: I'm hanging out here with Mo Brossette.
Mo: What's up?
Mike: We met at Paleo FX briefly. You got into the Enlifted Program and then it's funny because I then went to … I had my strong coach summit a couple of months ago and I shared with the group that I wanted to get more involved with … Part of my 10-year vision is to be intimately involved with a nonprofit that helps military veterans transition.
Mike: And I got hit by a ton of people sharing that. It was like oh, I got something for you, I got something for you, I got something for you. One of those things was sent by Cassie Jakes from True Coach. He's like, "Hey, check out ATF."
Mike: Yeah. He said, "Go check out Adaptive Training Foundation." And introduced me to is it Hunter?
Mo: Yeah. Hunter Clark.
Mike: Introduced me to Hunter. We started emailing back and forth. Then I was talking to someone and they go, "You know that's what Mo … Mo's working with those guys." I go … and then all of a sudden a dot started connecting I was like okay.
Mike: I started emailing with Hunter and then I said you know what, I'll just talk to Mo.
Mo: That's the funny thing is Hunter was talking to me about that. He goes, we were sitting in our conference room and he was banging away on his computer and he just stops and looks at me and he goes, "Hey, you know Mike Bledsoe, right?" I was like, "Yes, of course I do." Then same thing, he was like, "We've been having a conversation together."
What Is Adaptive Training Foundation
Mo: So, ATF stands for the Adaptive Training Foundation. Adaptive Training Foundation. So, we work with critically wounded veterans and civilians that have been … That have suffered amputations, spinal cord injuries, neurological diseases like Parkinson's or stroke.
And of any way, shape or form. Like veterans that have been blown up in a country by IEDs or suicide bombers to people that have been injured in car accidents, right? So, it's all across the board if you are adaptive … if you have an amputation or adaptive in any way, that's the population we work with.
We have our flagship program called Redefine and it's a nine-week program where we train our athletes Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and we work with them both physically, mentally and emotionally.
And what we like to say is the physical part is market entry. That's what gets you in the door, that's what starts it, right? Because you move, you sweat, things start to happen, you start to loosen up.
the prize in this and the key to it is what we do with the mindset side of it, and that's my role as director of mindset and nutrition at ATF.
So, when the athletes come in, I work with them for 15 minutes before their workout and we work with a specific type of breathing and using breath as the anchor and then give them visual cues to overcome specific objects around fear, around failure, around objections, right?
Because as a wheelchair athlete, as someone that just suffered a spinal cord injury either recently or 15 years ago or an amputee, you come in and you've got all these things that have been told to you by experts in white coats.
Breaking the false narratives for disabled vets or civilians
Mo: But all those things, unfortunately, are all the things that you "can never do again" or you won't be able to do this or you're always going to need assistance with these things.
And most of the things are just not true, but these people have been led to believe that here's your new version of life, get used to it. Here's the best it's going to be, right
Mo: The best it's going to be for you is this wheelchair, get used to it.
Mike: Somebody who the experts in the white coats create a new narrative for them.
Mo: Correct, exactly, right.
Mo: They create this new narrative and it's a false narrative, right? So, our job is to show them that look, yes you have this injury but that injury does not define you. You define who you are and who you want to be.
What got Mo into Adaptive Training Foundation
Mike: Right. What got you into this?
Mo: IIn Adaptive Training Foundation, it's funny I was personal training and doing endurance coaching and working in holistic nutrition and I was co-hosting a radio show on the ticket, Sports Radio in Dallas.
And one of the guests on the show one morning was David Vobora, the founder of Adaptive Training Foundation, and I feel this bump in the back of my jeep. He rear-ends my jeep and he gets out and there's this big 6'3" guy all jerked up on a free workout.
But you know we got in, we got in the studio and start talking and his transition, he was a former NFL player, he was Mr. Irrelevant in the 2008 Draft, ended up starting his rookie season for the Rams. Played three seasons for the Rams, three seasons for the Seahawks before getting an injury and having to retire.
But anyways, he started this foundation and we were on the radio show together and just started connecting and clicking with what he was doing, what I was doing and I was coaching Triathlon full time at that point.
And he had an army veteran come through his program that had been blown up by an RPG, it had been shot at him, he had shielded himself and when it exploded it blew off majority of his left hand so he was left with his pinky, his index finger and part of his thumb, blind in one eye, and deaf.
And he was like, "Hey, I've got this guy." He told me that story. "He wants to do an iron man, can you help me?" I'm like, "Hell yeah."
From Endurance Coaching To Mindset Coaching
Mike: How did you become the mindset guy?
Mo: Yeah. Well, so I've been working with my endurance athletes like iron man, right? There's a lot of psychology that goes into racing an iron man or an obstacle course race, but specifically the longer stuff like iron man, right? So, before a race, you would have to-
Mike: How long does an iron man last for most people?
Mo: Average? Most people around 12 1/2 to 14 hours. Of just continuous movement, exercising. But you know, so you go through a checklist, right? Mentally what are you going to do if you get kicked in the face in a swim? If your goggles fill up? If you cramp? Let's go through that right now, solve the problem in your mind so that way when it happens you know how to already execute it, right?
And I was doing that with that and we weren't really working in that space with our adaptive athletes. And we were working more the physical. And what happened was we have our program and we were working. We have one specific program where we do … We just have veterans only.
And at the end of that nine-week program we take them to Lake Tahoe here in the spring and do adaptive skiing and snowboarding, et cetera.
So, it's kind of that church camp feeling. You're here, you're there, everything is going, everybody is jiving together. And then we came home from it, and one of our veterans who lived in Arizona at the time was on the phone with his wife and got in an argument.
They don't know how to handle life after the program
Mo: Hang up the phone with her, called one of our other guys that was in the program and said, "Hey bro, I'm out." And had his pistol in his hand, chambered a round and was about to just take himself out.
The guy on the other end of the line was able to talk him down. We got him in a treatment facility that night and from that two of our other veterans that same week that were in the program said, "Hey man, I'm not right either."
So, from that we were at the gym and we were like man we got to figure this out. We've got to do something about this, because we're doing a great job, these guys are getting strong, right? They're losing some weight. They need to, whatever, they're learning to walk again with prosthetics or they're transferring in and out their wheelchairs like they've never done before. But we're missing the biggest piece of the puzzle because when they leave these walls they don't know how to handle life.
Mo: And it almost cost us one of our dear guys right here, right? So, that's … And I've been studying, I had been doing meditation that I learned actually from Paleo FX. I've been doing meditation for about a year myself. I started to study Joe Dispenza.
So, I was already in that space of meditation mindset, sport psychology and understanding what the brain does when you put those elements in to the puzzle.
And that's how we created the mindset portion of it. It was out of the necessity of our guy Cue about to take his own life.
Reframing the language for people with PTSDs
Mike: Was it one of those things where you were getting it and you were just able to have a better conversation with them or were you using some of those techniques directly?
Mo: I was getting it so I was able to have a better conversation with them, yes. But I was actually … And I was already starting to use reframing of the language like what we learned in the Enlifted Program, right?
I was using switching have-to, to get-to. Cans versus can't and things like that, and helping them to understand that look, it's not about not going back into that space. It's not about not going back into when you have that PTS moment and you're back in there, it's going to happen.
So, let's get you ready for when that happens and create a solution for you to come out of it, because I would say look, brother, you're safe, you're here now, you're surrounded by people that love you.So, when you go back in that space, realize it. Have the awareness that the moment you realize you're going back there, that that's a thought. That's the past. That's a memory. There's nothing you can do about that. We can't change that but what we can change is how you respond to it now.
So, by using that and showing them how to safely go into those spaces and come out of it, and then purge it with physical movement, that was the game-changer. And we had a couple of guys, one of our athletes from our last military class came in one day and he's usually like this jovial guy, this all over the place bouncing all around.
Creating a safe space for them to be vulnerable
Mo: And one day he walks in and he just had this look like this glazed look over his eyes. And it wasn't his alive day but it was the day that his unit just got lit up. I'd never seen that he looked like a zombie.
So, we had a conversation about it. We talked through some of these things. And then when he was lifting that day, I was like, "All right bro, let's purge this shit. Let's go. Get it out. Get your head there and go. Realize you're here and just …"
He got after it and was verbally purging it. Just baa, getting after it. From that and allowing himself to go back in there and not trying to fight it and not trying to not think about it, he was able to go and release it and just let it be.
Mike: You have an entire space to create that safety, right?
Mike: So, this would be … I would have a really, I would say it's impossible to do this in a public gym environment. If you would take-
Mike: You have a general pop.
Mike: Crossfit class going on over here.
Mike: You could be in the corner doing this shit.
Mike: It's not going to work.
Mike: Because you got to create an environment where they feel safe to express themselves and really be vulnerable.
Mike: And that means that every person in the room has to trust them to not be judged. To judge whatever's going on.
Why 22 Veterans
Mike: And really know what's happening. Yeah. What … So, you guys do work with … You do a thing every year where it's 22 veterans?
Mike: Can you talk about 22?
Mo: Yeah. So, the foundation 22Kill, right, the pushup challenge, it was made famous a couple of years ago, right? That's our good friend Jacob Schick who's the CEO and founder of 22Kill.
They're one of our partners and one of the partners at ATF. So we … That was that military group I was talking about earlier. So, we take 15 veterans that we train in Dallas and we partner with a group at Reno, Tahoe here and they have seven, so together we make 22.
Then we come together at the end of that nine-week program. So, in the military, right, you have nine weeks of basic and then you get deployed.
Mo: Well, we do nine weeks of training and then we redeploy and we go do some fun shit, nobody shooting at you. All right? We come here and we do … we snowboard.
Mike: Tahoe is pretty chill.
Mo: Yeah, yeah, it is. Yeah, yeah. And it's fun. So, that's one of the things we do on an annual basis just to make sure that those guys and girls that were in it together they come back because as you know there's a special bond when you're in that most … that you don't have.
So, when you come out of that. And what we try to do or not what we try to do, what we do at ATF as well is most of our classes are a mixture of veterans and civilians.
22 veterans a day were taking their lives because of PTS
Mo: So, that way they learn to interact with each other and just communicate and bond as humans not as well you weren't in, you don't understand this, you'll never get it. That is not important. You're both missing your legs.
Let's come together as humans over that and get creative. But the 22, yeah, that's … Because the sad reality is that there are … the statistic was when this was started that 22 veterans a day were taking their lives because of PTS, right, and traumatic brain injury.
And it wasn't being treated properly. They were being fed opioids. They were being fed these drugs and they were saying, hey, nothing's wrong with you, here take these. What we're learning now is that-
Mike: They don't know how to do it.
Mo: Right. But the part … So, what we're learning now is that yes you have PTS but you have a traumatic brain injury. You've got a TBI that we have to address. That's what we have to focus on. That's what we have to fix, and that's what kicking in the PTS constantly.
So, if you can correct, if you can mitigate the inflammation of the brain with proper nutrition, then you can implement things like mindset and meditation that's going to allow them to get more in that parasympathetic nervous system state that's going to allow them to sleep more and recover more.
So, then the thought processes are clear, their communication is better. That traumatic brain injury is going to start to decrease. So, that's what we have to work on. That's one of the things that we're working on with them a lot.
Making them go into fear
Mike: Yeah. What are you developing as far as techniques? These guys like … So, you bring them in, you do 15 minutes with them, breathing and have a conversation.
Mo: We built our own yard inside the walls of ATF complete with lights and everything. So, what it is, is throughout the course of the nine-week program I've got it structured out. So, we work on fear.
So, what I've created is a way for them to go into fear, not overcome it because being fearless is complete bullshit. I want them to be afraid. I want them to feel anxiety because you are, every human being does, right?
Mo: It's what you do with that fear, it's what you do with that anxiety that counts. So, what I do with them is take them like week one we work on okay, what is the first fear? It's a failure. You're afraid to fail. Whatever the case may be, you don't want to fall down out of your wheelchair. You don't want to not to be able to do something.
You used to be able to do all these things, now you're not there yet. So, what's going to happen the first day we go out there and we do an assessment? You're going to get frustrated. Bullshit, you are not going to get frustrated. Don't allow yourself to do that.
So, instead of the second that you see yourself begin to "fail" smile and think about what you can do at that moment versus what you're not able to do and what you used to be able to do.
So, reframing their thought and their language at the onset of the class. Then when they're done with the workout, they come back in for another 15 minutes.
6 weeks in…
Mo: And inevitably it's around week six in our nine-week program where it happens. Then they just fall apart. I'm like, what do you expect? This is where you're getting your ass kicked man.
This is the fun part. You've got to be a beginner all the time. This is what it's about because this is going to happen in life and then I'll translate it into getting your ass kicked outside the walls of the gym.
When you come home and your wife is just hammering on you or your husband or whatever, you're getting your ass kicked. But I want you to go out there and now you do it with gratitude. Now you're like instead of reacting and withdrawing, you look at that situation and you go, okay, what can I learn from this?
Mike: Yeah. As soon as they'll be that six week period, can you get into anything new?
Mo: Yeah, yeah.
Mike: The wheels are coming off.
Mike: And people … I definitely want to highlight this because so many people walk away at that point. They go fuck this, I'm out.
Mo: Yeah, it's not working for me.
Mike: And if you can plow through that on the other side it's really, really beautiful.
Mo: Yeah, yeah, there is always going to be resistance, right? There's going to be resistance in any type of gain or growth that you are trying to accumulate.
There's always going to be that moment where everything just kind of settles in but you got to be ready for it. You got to power through it.
Mo: It's going to … You will grow but it's not going to be as fast as it was initially.
Working Around Their Identity
Mike: Yeah. Are you doing any work with the athletes around identity? How are they?
Mo: Really it's, yeah, it's more about acceptance. That's where I use that, right? Again, that's one of the things I say on day one in the program when I talk to them is look, I don't care who you used to be. It's really irrelevant. Yes, you used to be a badass or you used to be able to do these things. But you can't stick yourself now in the identity of who you were or who you think you should be.
And you know we were talking on a panel yesterday with Dr. Don with just some other folks and we were saying kind of the same thing is you have to be able, with your identity, you've got to be able to accept who you are right now in this present moment.
And if you can accept that, then you can do the absolute best that you can today in this moment without false expectation, creating a false narrative and without judgment, that is who you are, that is your identity and that is your 100%.
And when they accept that and they understand that, then they really start to learn it. We reinforce that on a daily basis. Then it starts to sink in. Then they start to reframe their brain and their neurons start to fire a little bit differently and they can accept this is who I am, right? I'm not defined by my accident.
Mike: And if you're using anything else as the foundation, it's going to fall to pieces.
Mike: Yeah, you have to start with reality.
The Common Fears Of People
Mike: But what else, what are the common fears that people are coming in with?
Mo: It's a common fear … The fear of falling is the greatest one for most of them just because as an amputee when you fall off you fall on that stump, it really hurts.
As a spinal cord injury a lot of them, some of them have from the surgeries they have cages and they're afraid if they fall they're going to re-damage that cage and it could make it worse. So, that is the major one that people are afraid of is the fear of falling.
Outside of that, it's really, it's more of the psychological not the physical that they can't. Like I can't get out of my chair.
They're afraid because, again, they've been told by the white coat experts that you can't do these things.
Man, we had an army veteran come in through our program and he had been injured for, I think he got his injury in 2011, he had been in a chair since then. This was last year he came through our program.
And day he was like, "I can't get out of this chair." His doctors told him if I get out of this chair I'm going to get sores, I'm going to do this and that. He literally spend a good five minutes telling us why he couldn't get out of that chair. I'm like, okay.
We rolled him over and his coach was like, "Let's get out of the chair." He was like, looked in his face with why. "Get out of the chair, we're going to get you out the chair." He didn't know what to do and he was so afraid of it.
Adaptive Training Certification in November
Mike: Yeah. What's next for ATF? What are you guys? What's the next evolution?
Mo: So, we have … We've created a certification that we have two phenomenal manual therapists that have come on as part of directors in what we call our recalibrate program. We like a lot of rewords in ATF. We have redefine, recalibrate, reengages.
They've created the first adaptive training certification and we're going to be rolling that out and we'll do the first run of it in the first weekend in November.
But the goal with that is to certify anyone to be an adaptive personal trainer. So, the goal and what we want to do at ATF with this certification is have an adaptive certified personal trainer or coach in every gym in America, because dude there are over 10 million adaptive athletes in the United States alone.
So, that's what we're looking for as far as the evolution of what we can do to sharpen the sword of everybody around us.
What we're doing in-house is just continuing to grow. I mean every time we have a new class it's just a building on what we've done before and we're trying to … We're always evolving. So, the big picture is that certification.
Mike: What's that training going to look like?
Mo: You know honestly we're going to find out on November 8th and 9th. It's a two day certification program that we'll do. And at the end of it you'll yeah.
Mike: Yeah, I know how it is.
Mike: You got all this knowledge and you go how am I going to package this where it's going to be as meaningful as possible.
Upcoming storytelling piece for ATF
Mo: Right, a lot. Yeah, so Gina, our director that wrote this certification to me, she spent the latter part of June, July and August writing this thing. She has been in the trenches writing this stuff.
And she is just a genius when it comes to the human body and everything about it. So, she's rolling out that.
One of the other great things that we have coming up is just … is the storytelling piece because the way we get our message out, the way that we get other people involved is to tell the story.
So, our founder and CEO David Vobora he's created this studio in the back of the gym that's a podcast studio. We have a videographer. So when people are going through the class, you see all these great things happen, you see these people change and you see them walking for the first time in 10 years.
You see people that are … we've got athletes that are able to shut down Parkinson's tremors within 60 seconds by breathing and meditation. And we've got this on video and we tell the story about it, but it's not raw and in the moment.
So, now what we have, we have the capacity to do this in the moment. So the first time that Mike walks across the floor in 10 years or David, the guy I was just telling you about that gets out of his chair and is now sitting on a ball, we ring a bell, everybody celebrates it. They're going to go in the back and you're going to get that raw emotion and be like hey man, what did you just do? Tell us what just happened, and you're going to get that.
Watching someone transform right in front of you
Mo: We see it, and now we're going to be able to share it with everybody and you're going to see the rawness and the realness when a human being changes. When you see that life-changing moment happens, it's going to light you up.
Mike: Watching somebody transform right in front of you that, I don't think most people have seen that before. It's not something I really started encountering until the last five or six years. The way I describe it, people are like they don't know what it means, they don't know what it looks like. It's like literally they fucking change.
Mo: I worked with an athlete a couple of classes ago, he had fallen off a mountain 10 years ago, broke every bone in his back. Had hip replacement and knee replacement because of it.
And was using a walker, and his greatest fear was falling because he was 6'4" and real skinny. So, if he falls he's on bone and prosthetic. So, day two in the program I had him take two steps without his walker and then the next day he came in, which was two days later I took him over to the turf in our gym and had him take a couple of more steps and then I took him walker and walked to the other side of the gym and stood there and said, "Okay, come here." He just looks at me. I was like, "Come here, walk."
And you could see his fear just go through his body. And I'm like that's what you need. So, use that to pick up your fucking knees and walk to me. And he walked 15 feet across the gym floor, the first 15 feet he's walked by himself in 10 years.
How Much Does The ATF Program Cost
Mo: I think when it comes to ATF and what we get to do, one of the things that's important for people to know because they always ask this, well how does an athlete come to the program? What does it cost them to come through the program?
Our athletes it's cost free, 100%. The only thing they have to pay for is transportation to and from the gym. If we have athletes, we have athletes that have come to us from all over the country. We have our actual first international athlete from England that's in this class.
So, we pay for flights, we pay for room and board, we pay for three meals a week, and for the rest of their life they pay not a dime. So, we are funded through donations. We're funded through private donors. Just friends who want to give, they want to step into the story of ATF because we always see … People will always ask, like hey, I love what you're doing, how can I get involved?
You can get involved by helping us by donating. That's what we need. It costs around $10,000 for an athlete to go through our program, for one athlete, because of what we're providing for them. And all of that money goes to them.
Mo: So, again, the biggest thing people can do to step into our story, number one, come visit but … And we would love for you to see what we get to do on a daily basis. But that's how we operate.
It's cost-free for our athletes and it's because of people that want to step in and donate. And if you donate a dollar, cool, that helps. Whatever you can donate would be amazing.
How To Donate To Adaptive Training Foundation
Mike: Love it. All right. So if people want to donate, where do they go?
Mike: If people want to get certified where do they go
Mo: AdaptiveTrainingFoundatio.org and we will have it. We're a one-stop-shop man.
Mike: If people want to see your pretty face where do they go?
Mo: You go to AdaptiveTrainingFoundation.org or you can go to BrossettePerformanceCoaching.org. Yes.