My first group ride: it included a burger and fries

Last week Matt Hanson invited me out for a Burger ride with his cycling team. I know what you’re thinking: Is a burger ride what I think it is? Yes. We ride to a burger joint, have the American classic, and ride home. I opted for the grilled chicken sandwich because I’m smart like that. But not so fast… I still had the fries. And I had my first Blue Moon in forever. With the warm temps in Madison lately, that beer went down just fine.

The ride was very short – six miles one way. I wanted to go faster but I had enough learning to do with the hand signals. I didn’t put up the “brake” sign and a lady right behind me almost rear-ended me – oops. Plus the bike path is a little narrow so with oncoming bikers it gets a little thin out there. Nonetheless it was a nice introduction to group riding.

Fit and Fabulous (part 1)

A couple weeks ago I was the first guest on a new segment on a local radio station here in Madison, 93.1 JAMZ. The segment is called Fit and Fabulous and it’s hosted by Krista, a client of mine, along with Corrina and Jessa from Girl Talk (channel 57). The idea is to bring in guests with an area of expertise that will help the (primarily female demographic) feel… you guessed it, fit and fabulous!

When I was asked to be a part of the segment I immediately anticipated the struggle of speaking to an audience I’d never met, that couldn’t see me, and that I couldn’t feed off. As a trainer I’m very comfortable with instruction, coaching and adjusting to clients. But this medium would be a new challenge. Sign me up!

I knew I needed to bring my training expertise to the table but at the same time I couldn’t assume that many listeners were necessary ready to jump on board with what I was suggesting (more on that later). So I decided to create a Facebook group so that interested listeners could immediately participate with me and ask additional questions. We already have ten members.

I’m scheduled to appear three more times on Fit and Fabulous. I structured the 4-part series to assume listeners were starting from ground zero. I introduced the Faithful Four, four exercises that are ‘faithful’ because they’re with you where ever you go: push-ups, sit-ups, squats and lunges. I shot a quick video for the Facebook group to demonstrate and put a face to their new trainer. We’re off to a great start!

You can watch the Facebook Live broadcast here. If you read this and want to join the Facebook group, please drop me a line and let me know this post closed the deal!

Goals in the right place

Today when I asked a client about her goals, she said she wants to lose weight and “lean out” in a certain body region. “Spot reduction is not possible. I know, not a popular statement but very true: your body (and his body and her body and my body) will burn fat wherever it wants. All you can do is get into a calorie deficit and repeat.”

You’ve been active for a long time. You’ve participated in sports. Or you’re just getting back into it after a few seasons (or years) off. Now there’s extra weight in areas you want to just zap away. You immediately implicate the muscles underneath that fat but that’s not how fat burning works. Caloric deficit is a systemic issue – your whole body takes in calories, burns calories, and the whole body will respond by shedding fat in its own unique way. Again, not popular but very true.

The solution? First, it’s important to build a great routine that just gets longer and stronger over the next six months. ”Six months, Hans??!!” That’s right, I’m trying to get all my clients to play the long game; be in this exercise and fitness to get results in December. I don’t care about summer and I certainly don’t care about the next few weeks of spring. This is a process, this is a grind, this will take serious work.

Once your routine is set, the second thing you need is to build into 4-6 days per week. Remember that phrase from earlier: caloric deficit. To expect weight loss we need to burn more calories than we consume. Seems obvious and even ‘easy’ but in my experience the “calories in” are more than we think, the calories burned are less than we think. The body does a great job finding homeostasis and resisting change. So let’s step up to the challenge and bring some serious change!

The third aspect is keep the challenge high. Switch things up. So many people come into a gym or into a workout and get their 30 minutes of cardio and call it a day. I’m not suggesting every workout kicks your butt, but you should be challenged each day. Strength training is more important than you’ve giving it credit for. Your steady state cardio can get 10% longer for ten straight weeks. That’s going from 30 minutes to 78! Try it! Adjust as necessary.

Spot reduction does not work. To see where you lose the weight first, let’s get into that caloric deficit. Try this template: each week includes three days of strength training, one day of intervals or shorter steady-state cardio, and one day of longer steady-state cardio.

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Workout Refresh

A group of four ladies have been taking classes and doing their own workouts here at Pinnacle for quite a few years. A couple weeks ago they decided they needed a refresh so they contacted me. We found a time that works for everyone and last week we started our first of ten sessions together.

The energy in this group is fantastic. I don’t do a lot of small groups but this is off to a great start! It certainly helps that they all know each other. I’ve asked them all to give me a briefing on where they’re at in their fitness journey and then consider what I can do to coach them to the next level as we move forward. That’s the one-on-one stuff. As a group, they do a nice job cheering each other on and there’s a silent motivation working also; when you’re sweating and grinding with your team, the goal is to get through the challenge Coach put out there and your teammates are all you have. Can you hear the athlete in me coming out? Every once in awhile we al need to tap into that competitive juice and see how far we can push.

One of my main responsibilities as an exercise specialist is to change up people’s workouts. Not just changing it up for the sake of change, but to keep them challenged and thus getting better. That’s where these ladies nailed it: they stepped out of their comfort zone, identified a need and made an adjustment.

Training Daily Vlog: In Pursuit of a Healthy and Discipined Lifestyle

I have a lot to say about health and fitness. Not everyone will listen. But if and when people are ready to start their pursuit of health, they can find my story here. I’m documenting my health journey in a vlog. Training Daily is my pursuit of a healthy and disciplined lifestyle. I have the education, the experience, and the desire to take exercise science to anyone who’s ready for the investment and subsequent reward. It will take hard work but it will be worth every ounce of effort.

Why a vlog? Maybe first I should define vlog. A vlog is simply a video log. My goal is to document what I do on a weekly basis – not everything, but the main story lines of exercise, nutrition, rest, and other aspects of a healthy lifestyle. I learned a long time ago that you can’t give away something you don’t have. I have my health and fitness but I’m constantly learning more, I’m always working on something new, and that journey is what I want to share. Our tools to communicate that journey are to the point where we can reach a lot of people with our message. And I’m fortunate enough to work in a field that is motivated by great stories, needs better coaches, and will thrive as the community gets healthier and stronger.

I’m a certified physical and health education teacher. I’m certified as a personal trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine. And I have decades of experience coaching people to improved health. What I am not is a film maker. But more and more I’m enjoying short and long-form video as a creative extension and expression of my passion for health.

By subscribing to Training Daily, you can expect to get an expert and authentic approach to exercise and fitness. This year I’m focusing on nutrition and strength training. This is not online personal training but rather a look over the shoulder of a trainer helping others and helping himself to the best versions possible.

Watch my pursuit and start your own by subscribing to Training Daily.

 

You can watch the first episode here.

Nothing Changes

I can’t lie – I’ve been thinking about Best of Madison a lot lately. I am one of six finalists in the personal trainer category for Madison Magazine’s Best of Madison awards. When you’re in a business like health and fitness, so much of your opportunities are the product of your marketing and exposure to the public. Winning this completion would help in the short term with immediate exposure and in the long term as I can always say I was voted Best of Madison (well at least for a couple years). After Googling the other candidates, I’ve realized I’m in good company. At the same time there’s at least two other candidates that could/should certainly have been included but for some reason are not (sorry Peter and Pat). This tells me that Dane County has plenty of talent and opportunities for people to pursue their health in 2018.

This process has forced me to think of what I would do if I win. Could I leverage the moment of attention to build my brand? Will the publicity make me a better trainer? And what if I don’t win? Losing sucks, will that be a downer? Or will I compare myself more critically to the competition and up my game? I’ve realized competitions like this are pretty subjective. Looking across the candidates in the top six and the other notables “left out” makes me realize how difficult it would be to really determine the best trainer in Madison. I mean really… what makes the best trainer and how is the public supposed to really vote on such a small (niche) category? Which means this is really a popularity contest – which trainer can get the most people from their tribe to vote for them? But then why did Pat (with 30,000 followers) and Peter (Mr. VIP boot camp where hundreds show up) not get in the top six? What I’m trying to say is that it’s hard to know how reliable and accurate this voting is which brings me to my conclusion.

Win or lose Best of Madison, nothing changes for me. Everyone likes to win. But often it’s losing that helps us the most in life. I love to win but I really want to do what helps most in life which may be losing; or you could call it “not winning”, as in places 2-6 didn’t lose, they just didn’t win. I’m not writing this as a pre-emotive excuse for losing. I have a great shot at winning this thing. Why? Because I’m a really good trainer. I know my stuff, I know my clients, I have my protocols and training philosophy in place and I’m on a great journey of mastering my craft. When you’re in the business of behavior change, that’s right where you need to be.

What this competition has done the most for me is keep me focused on getting better each week. It’s interesting timing since I’m currently cranking through some coninuing education credits for my ACSM certification. What’s best for my career is always learning, always getting better, always moving the ball down the field. But this drive can so easily fall away in the hustle and bustle of dozens of client sessions per week. That’s why this competition has been great – it’s forced me to reflect on what I’m doing, always improve, and be ready in case the spotlight shines in my direction.

But win or lose, nothing changes. I’ll still be in pursuit of a healthy and disciplined lifestyle.

Year in Review 2017

I will always look back on 2017 with fond memories. A lot happened personally and professionally and I wrote about a lot of it here on the blog. My blog is for documenting things in life so I remember them both here at the end of the year and for years to come. Leaders are readers, they’re thinkers, they reflect on how things are going according to their game plan. I need a tool like this blog to remember all the things that happened. I want to look back on the year and see if my family is telling a story of love, that my business and brand is reflected in my life, I want to tell a great story not for the sake of showing off a great life but rather to think deeply about my values and hopefully to inspire others to think deeply. We are better together.

2017: Becoming A Media Company

The past 363 days I have wrapped my mind around becoming a media company. So much of my time and effort is spent building my next career as an exercise and wellness specialist. Any business needs to brand, advertise, and market themselves but a service business like personal training especially lends itself to getting content and media out into the world to sell your services and build a business. In late 2016 I came across two entrepreneurs who would inspire my transition to a media company. Gary Vaynerchuk is the one who coined the phrase and Casey Neistat is the vlogger who gave me a vision of what I could do with video to tell a story. These two people were in my head every day in almost every decision I made in 2017 to take my brand to the next level.

This review isn’t about Gary and Casey; it’s about how they inspired the foundation of my brand. As most of you know I’ve hung up my arborist gear – no more climbing trees with chainsaws and running brush through a chipper. A significant part of me misses this manual labor, leadership, and productivity. But I was made to work with people to improve their health and their livelihood. I absolutely love what I do and I’m getting pretty good at it. Of course there’s room for improvement (more on that later) but I am confident in where the brand is at and where it’s going. Let’s get into the details.

Instagram

My second biggest accomplishment in 2017 was establishing my Instagram feed as a story about exercise and wellness. The Instagram account is a big deal because I went from personal posts and “any cool Instagram-worthy pic” to focusing on adding value as an exercise specialist and building an audience that expected this type of content. It was a strategic first step because it’s a platform I was already using and it’s a known network for this type of content. Numerous people asked what was behind the notable shift in content. I posted to Instagram numerous times per week, sometimes numerous times per day. It always feels good to put a plan together, execute well, and see the results.

Newsletter

Instagram was a win, but my number one accomplishment for 2017 was establishing a weekly newsletter called From The Training Desk of Hans Schiefelbein. As much as I believe in the power of social media, email is still a bedrock of our communication. We all have email and it’s still our primary means of subscribing to new information. Every week I read a lot of articles that help me in my career and so I thought ‘why not take that information and share it with my audience?’ I read a handful of newsletters each week and two in particular were the inspiration for my newsletter. Jocelyn Glei writes about ‘notes on work, life and creativity in the Age of Distraction.’ Chris Bowler writes a longer newsletter but the content is right up my alley: ‘a newsletter focused on cultivating the discipline and joy of living with intention.’ I took these two newsletters and realized I can take my content that I read each week and curate a newsletter that brings value to my readers. If you want to get a weekly update on what has my attention from a health and wellness point of view, I invite you to subscribe to From the Training Desk.

Love This Book: Vlogging

One of the mindsets I learned from Gary was testing new media. While he didn’t get into the details of his tactics, he constantly talked about ‘testing new platforms’, new side projects, new campaigns and themes in his work. In late 2016 my church announced that the entire year of 2017 was going to be dedicated to going through the Bible again. We had done a series called “Eat This Book” in 2012 and this year we’d be doing it again, this time in a four-part series through YouVersion (Bible app) which included embedded videos from Tim Mackie’s Bible Project. I naturally gravitate towards journals, devotional plans, and year-long studies like this so I was immediately asking what this would look like for me. I knew the church would so some social media around it but I wasn’t too hopeful it would work or ‘be a relevant part of the project.’ At the same time I was pondering the work of Gary and Casey and I landed on the idea that I would post a weekly vlog as I go through the Bible readings and subsequently reflect on what I was taking away from the series. This was an ambitious project. Again the goal here isn’t to recap the entire project but I’ll say this: I learned a lot about vlogging. It was a difficult project and in fact it fell apart in the fall and I couldn’t pick it back up – that’s a big regret of mine. But I also self-imposed a restriction on my vlog: I wanted to film, edit, and publish to YouTube end-to-end with an iOS device. The reason for this limitation was that I was thinking ahead to a health and fitness vlog and I wanted to be able to train other trainers on how to most efficiently use social media to improve their brand and tell their story. One of the downsides of this is the quality may be a little less than if I’d use a DSLR and also I now gravitate to Apple products and can come across as a ‘fan boy.’ But I’ve fully come to terms with the idea that you have to set boundaries of what you’ll be about and where you’ll say ‘no’. I can’t be all things to all people and I have chosen to be the resident expert on using iOS devices to build a health and fitness brand. I love this decision and I’m excited about building an iOS-only platform.

Training: HIIT and weight management

As an exercise specialist I’ve built a solid reputation for designing challenging and creative workouts using high intensity interval training (HIIT), namely the Tabata protocol. One downside is that I’ve experienced a handful of people at the club say that they don’t want to train with me because the intensity is too high, “I could never do that.” So then I have to go back and remind them that I train people to reach their goals, not mine. But if the eye-test is a downside to HIIT training, the advantage is that research is still on my side. Not only is HIIT safe for advanced and novice clients alike, it’s good for weight loss which has been a focus for a few clients in 2017. As my career develops HIIT training and a focus on weight loss continue to be where I spend most of my time. I’ve established an expertise with the exercise side of the equation but anyone who knows about weight loss knows that a bigger part of the equation needs to be nutrition. Which leads me to my next section…

Training Daily: The Year of Nutrition

So far I’ve reviewed what I did in 2017 but one of the most significant take-aways from the year was realizing what I need to do in 2018. This year I’m going to take my nutrition education and implementation to the next level. You’ve heard me talk about becoming a media company last year. My Love This Book vlog was really a testing ground for my next project as a fitness professional. I’ve decided to continue vlogging with nutrition as a storyline. In November I started filming Training Daily as my new media project, a vlog (for those that don’t know that’s a video log). The idea is this: Training Daily documents my life and career as a personal trainer which will include everything I do on any given week working with clients and maintaining my own fitness. Season 1 of Training Daily will focus on nutrition including the pros and cons of various diets, weight loss strategies, and all the recipes and tips that come with that progression of my career. I’m very excited to vlog this year and it’s so satisfying to look back on 2017 and see how so many things in life contribute to this decision to start Training Daily and take this media company to the next level.

A Few Highlights of 2017

A lot happened in 2017 and I documented a lot of it on the blog. It all started with starting in 2017. I created more than ever and had a giant focus on tech and health. I got Apple Watch Nike+ edition which got me thinking about my love for the original sport brand: Hello Nike! Speaking of running, I ran my fastest half marathon, fell in love with TRX again, and helped a client lose 45 pounds! It was a good year.

Happy Holidays

This week between Christmas and New Year is a special time. I’m finishing this post at the Java House in Cedarburg visiting Katie’s family for a few days. I’m ending the year with a satisfied soul that has a healthy anticipation and even eagerness to start 2018 with an ambitious plan. A great life can be achieved by anyone who’s willing to reflect on what has happened, make your adjustments, and put together a game plan for the next year. I encourage you to be intentional with your reflection and intentional with your plans and I believe good things will happen. Merry Christmas to you and your family and Happy New Year.

New Guildelines for High Blood Pressure

There’s a great scene in my favorite show of all time, West Wing. From Season 3 “The Indians in the Lobby” the episode opens with Sam starting the day informing his boss, Toby, that on President Bartlett’s watch there are now 4 million new poor people – never good for an administration.

Check out the scene (you can stop after 1:15, but the whole 4-minute clip is worth your time):

https/://m.youtube.com/watch?v=q9EehZlw-zk

This week The Wall Street Journal wrote that Nearly Half of U.S. Adults Have High Blood Pressure Under New Guidelines. So you can see the relevance of the West Wing clip – last week 135/80 wasn’t a thing and today it’s classified as high blood pressure.

Most of the people considered newly hypertensive—largely younger Americans—would be urged to eat healthier and exercise more rather than take medicine, according to the guidelines, published by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.

It breaks my heart that even language as clear as “eat healthier and exercise more” will fall on deaf ears. Of course that’s just fine for me as and exercise specialist – I’ll always have a population of people who could use my services. But my goal is still to help people pursue a healthy and disciplined lifestyle. High blood pressure is not healthy, and there’s plenty we can do about it.

“If we want to really capture the risk from high blood pressure and effectively reduce complications from high blood pressure in the United States, at this time the evidence is strong we need to be taking that lower, to 130/80,” said Paul Whelton, chair of the guidelines and a professor at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

A large hurdle for many people is that we do not worry about what we cannot see. By that I mean “out of sight, out of mind.” We can’t see high blood pressure, we can’t see clogged arteries. Heck we can see excess fat and adipose tissue and we struggle to fight that (establishted link, by the way). The struggle is real and if I’m honest with myself and my readers I’m guilty of this also. One of the first steps is to talk about it and then we need to take action.

What is your blood pressure? Do you fall into the hypertensive category? What are you going to do to get into the healthy category?

Best of Madison 2018

I am happy to announce that I’ve been selected as one of the top six personal trainers in Madison. Voting begins today and lasts for 30 days (September 18 through October 15). You can vote for me at Channel3000/Madison Magazine.

My case for top trainer in Madison

Three years ago I started my second career as a personal trainer and I couldn’t be happier. To use my college degree, to use my passion for people and their health, to get paid to do something I love is truly a blessing. Being a successful personal trainer often involves running your own business, even if you’re working at a health club like I am. This is certainly a challenge but it’s also an opportunity to push yourself to stay ahead of the competition.

Staying at the top of my game has forced me to create a few pillars for my business. In January I started a weekly newsletter, From the Training Desk of Hans Schiefelbein. The idea was simple: I read numerous articles every week to stay current. I’m a teacher at heart and so this was an excellent opportunity to share what I’m already reading with my readers (many of them who are also clients). I’m reading the articles for the benefit of my clients, so I might as well take them right to the source and maybe even ignite a fire for them to read more about health and wellness, too! Around the same time I started a series on Medium called Tech Trainer. This publication focuses on sharing what I’ve learned as a tech-savvy personal trainer. I believe being moderate- to high tech is very important in this industry and I use Medium to equip other trainers to leverage these tools to build their business and save time researching best practices (and best apps) on iOS.

Training is not all about what happens in the gym, at least not for this trainer. Later I’ll share some of my training philosophy and testimonials that get to the heart of me as a trainer.