Disclaimer: This is transcribed using AI. Expect (funny) errors.
Mindy Peterson: [00:00:00] I’m Mindy Peterson, and this is Enhance Life with Music, a holistic look at the power of music in our everyday lives. My guest today is right here in the Twin Cities. Dr. Adam Gallenberg is a licensed psychologist with Premier Sports Psychology, a sport and performance practice that works with professional, Olympic, collegiate, high school and youth athletes, as well as musicians, performers and business professionals. In addition to his psychology practice, Dr. Adam is also a musician and a USA boxing certified coach. He has trained a range of boxers and mixed martial arts fighters, from youth amateur fighters to world champion boxers in California, Illinois, Iowa and now Minnesota. Welcome to enhance life with music, Adam.
Adam Gallenberg: [00:00:52] Thank you so much. I have been looking forward to this for so long and excited to be here.
Mindy Peterson: [00:00:57] Well, I always look forward to these conversations, but I’m especially looking forward to this one because I absolutely know nothing about boxing. So usually I know a little bit about the subjects that I’m discussing going in, but I really don’t know anything about the world of boxing. So I’m really intrigued to hear about where these worlds collide of the music world and boxing. So I know I’m going to learn a ton not to put the pressure on you, but just because my knowledge bar in this area is really low.
Adam Gallenberg: [00:01:30] Well, hopefully I can share some insights here and how these worlds really collide.
Mindy Peterson: [00:01:35] I’m sure you can. Well, Adam, you were active in sports, but really focused on music performance and high school in college. And you’ve said that music got you into boxing, which I don’t hear that sentence very often. So tell us how you first connected with the world of boxing and we’re introduced to music use in the boxing context.
Adam Gallenberg: [00:01:56] Yeah, I would say my introduction to boxing was very indirect and and really my love and drive for the sport started because of music. So it goes back to freshman year when I was at Drake University, I went to school for psychology as well as saxophone performance. So nothing to do with boxing, no idea what the sport really was or what it entailed. But I’m at all the orientation freshman year stuff on campus getting to know people in the residence hall meeting, a lot of friendly students meeting other students in my classes. And at that time, my friend Kylie introduced me to her then boyfriend at the time, Victor. And, you know, it’s like the first week or two of classes and orientation. So I just assumed he was a student. So were there hanging out for a couple of weeks. And one day I asked if he was around and a friend of mine told me he had to go home. He’s training. And I said, what for? And she said, well, he’s a boxer. And I kid you not. I did not believe it. And the only reason why I say that is, again, I knew nothing about boxing, but this individual was one of the nicest, most genuine guys I’ve ever met. So my stereotype about the boxer was clearly, how can this nice guy be a boxer? So I called him up right away. I said, Yo, Vick, I hear that you’re home, but I’m told you’re a boxer. So I’m thinking this is just a joke. Something’s going on. And his response was, hey, type my name into YouTube and you’ll see some cool stuff.
Mindy Peterson: [00:03:48] Yeah.
Adam Gallenberg: [00:03:49] So I typed his name in and there he is, knockout after knockout highlight reels that fans put together.
Mindy Peterson: [00:03:58] And I like that level of boxing is this.
Adam Gallenberg: [00:04:01] At that time, he won his first national championship and right around 2011 won his first world title.
Mindy Peterson: [00:04:10] So. So what’s his last name?
Adam Gallenberg: [00:04:11] Victor Ortiz. OK, and it was just such a wild experience to watch this guy do what he loves, but something that I just had no idea. Yeah. Anything about. And really from there, it’s history. So he was so kind enough to train with me, teach me about the sport. And he also knew that I was at Drake for music and for one of his fights. He asked me if I could put some of his entrance music together. So I put together a couple songs. And this weekend it was the same week his fight was in L.A. It was at the Staples Center. And this was the same week that Michael Jackson was worth. On his tour, and this was the week that he passed away.
Mindy Peterson: [00:05:04] Ok. And this is the very first boxing meet. Is this thing called a
Adam Gallenberg: [00:05:12] Boxing event, man? OK.
Mindy Peterson: [00:05:14] Sorry, my kids are swimmers, so I got it. So the first boxing event that you had put the music together for him. Yep.
Adam Gallenberg: [00:05:22] And we were all ready to go. And then it was that Wednesday we were at the hotel. It’s right across from the Staples Center and it was just packed. And that’s when we found out the news that Michael Jackson passed away. And I had about 36 hours to get different songs from MJ and put it together. And we were able to put a nice little medley of sorts to honor Michael Jackson at his fight. And that was my introduction to what music can mean for the fighter taking that ring walk, jumping in that ring, and how much influence music can have on preparing for a really tough sport.
Mindy Peterson: [00:06:13] Yeah. Did you get much feedback on the impact that using that Michael Jackson music had on either Victor or the audience?
Adam Gallenberg: [00:06:23] It was so interesting because since we were at the Staples Center, I would say 80 percent of the fighters that night walked out to a Michael Jackson song just to show their support for the family and everyone there. So it was just that alone was just such a unique cultural experience to see how much respect athletes have for for musicians and artists and the influence of musicians and artists have on our daily lives. So it was a very unique experience. And I just remember sitting in the hotel room on a on a MacBook trying to edit Billie Jean with Thriller and Victor and I just kind of sitting there and and sharing stories about growing up with, you know, listening to the Jackson five, listening to Michael Jackson and like, oh, I really want I want to make sure I take the ring when when when Thriller comes on because. Oh, my gosh, like, I love that music video. And we were just able to talk about music
Mindy Peterson: [00:07:33] After that event. Did you continue putting entrance music together for Victor?
Adam Gallenberg: [00:07:39] Yeah. Ever since that moment, any opportunity I had to be at his fights or visit him over training camps, I would always ask, what do you want put together? And I love the guy. We’re best friends, but he is a very last minute kind of kind of person. So it was usually the couple of days before I would get the final song or songs that he wanted. And I’m happy to work under pressure. So I’d say it always worked out. But yeah, it was usually like, you know, the night before or two days before we put it together and make it work.
Mindy Peterson: [00:08:19] Yeah, well, I want to hear some more about that process of how you do that if you work with the box or if you do it more on your own. But first, for those of us who aren’t in the boxing world, don’t watch it. Can you just let the stage kind of a pun there? I guess unintended, but just going to set the stage of what the context this environment is? Is it called the boxing ring walk? Is that what it’s called when they walk out to their entrance music?
Adam Gallenberg: [00:08:45] Yep. The ring walk.
Mindy Peterson: [00:08:46] Ok, so just set the stage in terms of like how many people are usually there? What what’s going on? The stuff that I watched last night on YouTube was really over the top, I imagine, in terms of like lights and smoke. And I mean, some of these are choreographed so much with costumes. It looks like it could be a Broadway show. But I imagine there’s quite a spectrum. So just off the stage and just kind of explain what’s going on when this music is played.
Adam Gallenberg: [00:09:13] That’s a great question. And I think you’re absolutely right, Mindy. It’s it’s a spectrum, at least in professional boxing, someone just starting their career. You might have it at a full arena at the Staples Center, at MGM Grand or at Dallas Stadium. And thousands of people might be there for the main event. And yet when you’re first starting as one of the first fights to go, there might be 50 people there. There might be a smaller arena or bar or club that’s hosting a fight and there might be twenty people there. And yet that music is. Consistent, and it really gives the fighter an opportunity to choose something that they want to walk out to something that’s meaningful to them. The stage for these main events, we’re talking about thousands of people, both pre covid. And now I think we’re starting to see events with capacity limits and things start to fill up. And the lights, the smoke, the the dancing, the the videos that go along with the entrance to music is just outstanding that the production behind it is an event in itself.
Mindy Peterson: [00:10:33] Yeah. I mean, I have to imagine there’s going to be businesses that just do all of that. Is that right?
Adam Gallenberg: [00:10:41] Yeah. So like, if there’s a fight that’s being televised, whether it’s like ESPN or Showtime, they have production teams putting these videos together, there might be management teams putting the the ring music or the choreography together. I know recently I saw a fight entrance that had a mariachi band and dancers just setting the stage and this fighter walking out. It was it was just fun to watch because you could tell for this individual it was a cultural experience that he wanted to share with his fans.
Mindy Peterson: [00:11:20] Ok, now that’s a purpose I hadn’t thought about. But talk to us a little bit more about what the purpose of this ring walk and the music that goes along with it, what that purpose is in terms of establishing someone’s persona, fan development, like what’s the purpose of the music in the ring?
Adam Gallenberg: [00:11:38] Mark, that’s a great question. I think that the purpose varies from fighter to fighter. I know just mostly working with Victor and we talked about this a lot. For him, it was a way to show others his message, his his purpose, his drive behind the fight game. And I remember for one of his one of his fights, he wanted to use the song from this artist. I can’t remember his name, but it was about proving doubters wrong. And it was a reggae song. OK, so usually when we think about entrance music, it’s all about the pump up pop music, maybe rap or hard rock to get the blood go and get that adrenaline going. And he wanted to walk out to this very chill, relaxing song. And it wasn’t so much about the tempo or the instruments used to create that amping up sense for for the crowd. For him, it was the meaning behind the lyrics. And this was after one of his losses. And just wanted to showcase how you all are saying something about me. I’m here to prove you wrong and also to show what this really means to me. And it was just really cool to hear him describe that. And for me, it just kind of opened my eyes to how meaningful the ring walk is, is not just to get amped up to take the ring. It can mean so many different things for different individuals.
Mindy Peterson: [00:13:21] Wow. I guess so. Yeah, that’s really interesting. So it really depends on the the person, the boxer and the situation, whether there’s something else going on like Michael Jackson’s dad or like you just described a recent loss. And so sort of the purpose and meaning going into that particular fight for that boxer, it could be that somebody up, which is probably often what’s done or to, like, intimidate the opponent in terms of the music.
Adam Gallenberg: [00:13:51] Yes, some of these and I’ll call them productions. You’ll have a championship fight and the challenger walks into all their music and lights and and the fireworks, sometimes a lot of fireworks. And then a lot of times all the lights will shut off and the crowd starts screaming and going wild. And then you’ll hear that that heartbeat over over across the stadium. And it is just so intense. And the the defending champion has their video on the screen. And when their face pops up, the crowd starts going wild. And it is just I mean, I get chills. A lot of times and I’m not even in the ring. So I can’t imagine what the opponent is thinking when all of this is going on and the champion walks down the ring. And with everything going on, it’s it’s it’s just so fun to watch. And an amazing experience that’s
Mindy Peterson: [00:14:55] Really fascinating because that ring is such a combination of. Things I mean, the boxers establishing their persona, they’re connecting with fans, they’re in character, a lot of them to some extent, and yet there’s all this other meaning that can go into it as well in terms of the purpose and meaning that’s behind that particular fight, the cultural meaning that they want to sort of imbue in that and embed. And that’s something that may have happened in the news like Michael Jackson’s death. And I imagine their own personal ways of dealing with stress can really play into that, too. Like I think about musicians or other performers, some of us need to get amped up for a performance. And so we choose certain music that will do that. Some of us have no problem being just like take it down a notch, like we need music. That’s just going to sort of dial it back a little bit. So I imagine all of these things are factors. When you come to that ring, walk in the music that’s chosen
Adam Gallenberg: [00:16:00] One hundred percent. Mindy, I love that you share that piece because we call that the anxiety curve. And so often for the same event, whether it’s a wind ensemble performance or or a fight, we can all potentially experience the same situation. And yet music is what allows us to put ourselves in the best position possible to perform at our best. So so like you just said, it might be if I’m preparing for a jazz band performance, I might be listening to some queen and amping myself up right before the show. And my fellow saxophonist is listening to the second piece that we’re going to play because they’re really wanting to focus in on the musicality of showcasing their skill set. And that’s a piece that they’re really focused on. So they’re locking in on their pre performance routine. Or someone else might be listening to relaxing music because their nerves, and rightfully so, it’s OK to feel nervous before a performance. They might be listening to something that allows their body to take that deep breath, to take that step back and calm the shoulders down and release that tension that might be in their hands. Sure. Yet all doing the same performance. Yet music provides that context to prepare in different ways.
Mindy Peterson: [00:17:34] Yeah, you mentioned a pre performance ritual or routine. To what extent does that play into the boxing, the music that’s chosen for the ring? So, for example, you look at swimmers or other Olympic athletes, some of them have these really consistent, sometimes really quirky, very performance routines that they go through. And I imagine there’s it allows them a sense of control when they know that there are going to be things without their control. And you’re the psychologist. I’m sure there’s a lot more you could tell us about the reasons that people have those routines. But is there any sense of that that factors into the ring walk music where people will use the same music or the same style or genre repeatedly so that they it becomes part of their pre performance ritual for whatever reason works for them?
Adam Gallenberg: [00:18:27] Yes, I loved that you said that word control. And with any pre fight or performance routine, the ring walk, the music, the warm up is all within that athlete’s control or that performer’s control. So a lot of times you will see certain athletes choose the same song every time for their own walk, because that’s what’s familiar to them. They have control to say, I want this played for for my ring walk. They have that control. It gives a sense of autonomy and ownership and the ability to reflect on that moment and know even with the music, even with when I take that first step that’s in my control and I’m making that decision. So I think control is a is a very big factor. And yeah, you’ll see some fighters play the same song every time you’ll see others again, change it depending on what’s going on, what’s the situation, what’s been maybe something has been going on in their life outside of boxing that they want to showcase or dedicate to to someone else. So, again, it varies from individual to individual. And yet there’s always a story there.
Mindy Peterson: [00:19:51] It’s interesting when you talk about you mentioned the tool box and finding what works for you and right before I. At record, you and I were just talking about this book chatter that I read recently by Ethan Cross, a phenomenal book, but I was just reviewing some of my notes this afternoon from when I read that. And one thing that he really talks about a lot in the conclusion of the book is these are all tools that have been presented in this book of ways to control that voice in your head, that chatter, that mental chatter that we all have. But you need to develop your own toolbox in your own set of tools, depending on what works for you. And you kind of mentioned when you first met Victor, you couldn’t believe that he was a boxer because he didn’t necessarily fit your stereotype image of a boxer. And I think those of us for sure, me who’s not in that world, probably I do have that that stereotype of a boxer as being someone who’s very tough and aggressive. And I don’t picture a gentle giant or I don’t picture someone small either. But some of the videos I watched last night, I’m like, those are real big people. So, you know, some of these boxers, we may think that they’re going to want this amped up, intimidate the other person music. But yes, after our conversation right now, it makes sense that some of them may find it much more helpful to have the more mellow dial it back type music. And it may just depend on the situation. So being aware of what tools are out there and how it affects each of us individually is so crucial.
Adam Gallenberg: [00:21:27] One hundred percent. And I love using the tool box analogy with a lot of my athletes, a lot of my performers, and I try to emphasize the same thing. I may be able to offer an idea, a strategy, a coping skill, and yet it’s really going to be up to them to refine that tool for them and to note, well, when is it best for me to amp up or what situation am I going to need to feel more relaxed? Or what’s the situation where this focused strategy is really helpful and there might be times where it’s not as helpful and that’s OK, just knowing that there are different tools, strategies that that we can use in various situations, it’s all about gaining that experience to help us continue to refine those tools. Yeah, walk
Mindy Peterson: [00:22:19] Us through the process of selecting the music. It sounds like with the work you’ve done with Victor, he is very much hands on in terms of saying what style of music, what type of music, maybe even specific songs. Talk to us some more about how that process between the two of you works and what it looks like.
Adam Gallenberg: [00:22:37] I would say our process is pretty informal. Will, you know, it might be through a training camp will be there going through the motions of the training camps. And it might be at lunch. It might be at a morning breakfast. It might be during a morning run or afternoon run. Just talking about ideas. And I might throw a couple of things together and ask, hey, well, what is this transition like? And he might tell me, Oh, I want you to play this one just a little bit longer because I love this part. And what might not have made sense to me initially, just try to fade certain songs in and out. Hearing his his context and why that would be important to him is helpful for me to know. And I try to put that together and we just kind of go back and forth. Sometimes he makes my job easy and it’s just one song. So I just need to find the song and make sure that the sound engineer, whoever is running the event, that that day has the right copy and then then we’re set. So I always try to make it about who I’m working with. So there might be a fighter that doesn’t care or doesn’t have a particular song. So I might ask the coach. I might ask a training partner. It might be, hey, just here’s my iPhone. This is what I have on my playlist. I’m good with whatever. So it’s sometimes they like the surprise. And again, it’s all based on what they prefer because again, I think it’s so important to provide that autonomy, provide that control, that sense of control in any way possible.
Mindy Peterson: [00:24:19] Ok, and is that do you think that’s pretty typical of how this process works for a lot of boxers, or does it depend on what level they’re at? If they’re using individual people to work with you, to put their music in their interest, music together, or if they’re working with a business that kind of coordinates the music and the the tricks and the costumes and the choreography and all of that together?
Adam Gallenberg: [00:24:42] Yeah, I definitely think it varies on on level and person to person. But it really seems like for the majority that ring walk is their story. And if there’s something that they’re wanting to make sure that they hear before they take that. Step into the ring, it’s their opportunity to do so, and it’s just again, I think so interesting how music has that influence or that power to put us in that mindset that we’re wanting to put us in that that mindset where we know helps us be at our best.
Mindy Peterson: [00:25:18] Boy, that’s it’s fascinating that you do work with some boxers who say, I don’t care whatever is on my playlist because it does. I can totally see how that that music and that ring walk experience would really set the stage literally for their upcoming events. And in fact, I saw some quotes, I think, from George Foreman on the website last night where he was saying every ring walk is life changing for him. And I can see how it would be this really meaningful, powerful experience.
Adam Gallenberg: [00:25:52] Yeah, I get chills even just kind of thinking back to some recent fights where the music was just powerful and you could tell on the fighters face they were ready to go.
Mindy Peterson: [00:26:03] Yeah. Well, is there anything else? I haven’t already asked about that you think listeners would be interested in knowing about this intersection of music and boxing?
Adam Gallenberg: [00:26:13] That’s a great question. I just think that intersection between music and boxing, it’s the same for any other sport or or any other performance that someone is is showcasing. It’s really their story. It’s their moment. It’s it’s their fight. And it’s always, I think, a rewarding experience as as a coach, as a fan, as a as a trainer to get that look, just that little peek into someone’s life and aspects of their life that’s meaningful to them. And always interesting to hear the story behind what they chose.
Mindy Peterson: [00:26:53] Well, Adam, this has been fascinating. I ask all my guests to close out our conversation with a musical ending coda by sharing a song or story about a moment that music enhanced your life. Do you have a song or story you can share with us today as we close our conversation out?
Adam Gallenberg: [00:27:10] You know, Mindy, I struggled with this. I when you provided that context, I struggled with this question, one trying to find a specific song as well as a specific moment. And I really think that this struggle speaks to the power and influence music can have on our lives. I really believe music equals experiences, so I could not come up with one memorable musical moment. My mind didn’t go to a performance, whether it was throughout high school or college with marching band or jazz band or any ring walks that I put together. But rather my mind went to all the memories that I was able to share with others, taking my parents to Warped Tour or punk rock concerts. It wasn’t the bands that we saw, but just seeing that their face as well as their enjoyment with something they probably never thought they would enjoy thinking about. My sister, she used to dance and I remember she chose a song from one of my favorite bands at the time for her senior showcase, and my wife and I were laughing over what song to do for our first dance. These these are all moments that I believe enhanced my life because it was music that drew me closer to the people that I care about the most. And I think time and time again, music is what sets that foundation. So I feel truly blessed to continue to have these enhancing moments that are all based on music.
Mindy Peterson: [00:28:51] Mm hmm. Well, it’s funny, as you were talking about that, it reminded me how you’re describing music just kind of permeating all of these momentous occasions and the daily pleasures to and kind of elevating remise reminded me of how I and my sister sort of approach food in different ways. We’re both a little bit she’s a lot on the foodie side. I’m a little bit on the foodie side. But whenever we get together, we live in different states, so we don’t see each other regularly. But when we do get together and we’re eating at these restaurants, you know, we’re both really enjoying the food. But she has this approach where she’s like, oh, I just love how there’s that little tiny bit of cayenne in there. And, you know, and and I’m like, I’m just I don’t like this. To me, it’s more categories like you have the category of this is blowing my mind. This experience, you know, the food, the servers, the atmosphere. I’m on vacation with my sister. And then there’s kind of like the next year down like, oh, you know, this is good and. This was kind of the next tier down, like it could have been better. You know, I’m like, OK, I’m in the top tier. Like, this is blowing my mind. I don’t really want to, like, analyze the different notes of the floral notes and sorry, you know, so it’s just kind of funny how you’re describing your your experience of music is kind of like that, like it just makes everything better and it permeates everything. And trying to isolate it to one experience or one moment is really tough. And you don’t maybe even necessarily want to do that. You just want to recognize it’s incredible.
Adam Gallenberg: [00:30:33] It really is. And and yeah, I like like I said, that was the hardest question that you post today, because I was like, oh my gosh, am I really supposed to just come up with one?
Mindy Peterson: [00:30:47] Well, thank you so much for sharing with us today, Adam. I loved learning more about this really fascinating world. And I have to say with checking into it just a little bit, I’m like, I could really get into this. I have never gotten into boxing, but it was so fun researching it and watching some of the entrances. And I thought, oh, I want to check into this. Well, told listeners how they can connect with you more if they’re interested in connecting with you, either with your psychological services. I mean, you pretty much cover the gamut of performers, whether it’s musical performers, athletic performers, business professionals. Talk to us about how listeners can connect with you either. With that, I think you do offer virtual sessions and also if they want to connect with you in boxing related training or coaching.
Adam Gallenberg: [00:31:38] Yeah, great questions. Yes, we do sessions virtually. We’re a group practice at premier sports psychology. Easiest way to reach us is at our website, at Premier Sports Psychology Dotcom, and we work with athletes and performers across the country. So even pre covid, we were doing virtual sessions and meeting with athletes from youth athletes all the way to Olympians and professionals, as well as musicians across the spectrum and rock bands and wind ensembles and orchestras. Because when when it comes to performance and it comes to any performer, athlete or musician, I think there’s always this drive to be better and there’s always the strive to want to be at our best when we’re performing. What we strive to do at Premier is to unlock that potential with with the clients that we serve. If any listeners are wanting to throw hands or learn more about boxing, I train out of a title boxing club and Edina, Minnesota. And the best part for me is the premier sports like office. And the title boxing club that I work at are about two blocks away from each other. So it has made I’m a bit not the biggest believer in superstitions at all or faits, but I will say this just felt like a very fateful moment when I was driving into work at Premier for the first day and noticed a title boxing club that I was like, wow, this couldn’t have worked out any better. So the best way to reach me, I’ll either be at the premier office or two blocks down at the gym.