Category Archives: Life

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.


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.


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.

Todd and Laci’s Wedding

This past weekend I was honored to stand up in Todd and Laci’s wedding. Todd and I have been friends now for almost 20 years.


Normally rehearsals are at the wedding venue but because the Bridal Barn had another wedding Friday night, they needed a different place for rehearsal. Todd and Laci decided to have the rehearsal dinner at the Mariner’s Inn and Betty Lou Cruise. What seemed like a decision they were forced into making turned out to be one of the best rehearsal evenings I’ve been a part of.

Me and James

Me and James

Ready to board the Betty Lou

Ready to board the Betty Lou


I simply don’t have the pics to fully explain how beautiful the Bridal Barn is for a wedding. We are so thankful that the weather cooperated for us. I always throughly enjoy dressing up but this event took the cake because we had no jackets or ties and instead classy suspenders.

As I said before, it’s an honor to stand up in a wedding. I take marriage very seriously. The relationship between a man and a woman takes a lot of hard work and serious love and grace. Todd and I have talked about marriage a lot over the years and his patience to find Laci has been fun to watch. This weekend was too short. I didn’t have enough time to hang with his friends from Indiana, Nashville and LA. But the time I did get was wonderful. He has great friend and their willingness to travel from literally all over the country is a testimony to his personality and friendship.

Friendship (visiting Nashville)

Katie and I are looking forward to visiting Todd and Laci in Nashville sooner than later. Life is rich when friendships are thriving. I look forward to the next years of Todd and Laci’s relationship.

Fathers Day 2017

Fathers Day 2017

In the fall of 2008 I became a father. Of course life hasn’t been the same since. But being a dad is not my greatest calling in life. My primary responsibility is to love and care for my wife; Katie is my priority. But God has blessed me with three wonderful children and the Bible speaks a lot about loving and providing for your family.

I love being a dad. I’m getting better at it each year. I still struggle in many ways – is it ok to say that? I know you only see Instagram pics when I am being a good dad but I assure you I have moments that are embarrassing at best, damaging at worst. Still I wake up every day to be better than I was the day before. I’m a teacher and I am a student. I learn from other men. I learn from my mistakes and I learn from my successes. If you’re not reflecting on your days then you’re not doing it right. Being a dad means being a student so that you can be a teacher.

Dad is an authority but dad is a servant. What does that look like? I’m working on it. This week I am at Fort Wilderness for family camp. So that means dad sets the rules (authority) and he also rocks the craft shop and makes homemade bug spray (servant) when he knows that’s what the kids love to do.

As I reflect on Father’s Day this year I want to highlight three points. First, being a father is a team game; do it along side other men (preferable better that you). Second, know your roles, be prepared to wear multiple hats. Sometimes you’re teaching, sometimes you’re a teddy bear, sometimes you’re a student, sometimes you’re a cheer leader. And third, model the love of God. Love and grace always win. If kids look up to dad and they see dad being obedient to God, how great will their understanding of God be?

My fastest half marathon

On Sunday I turned 40 years and proceeded to run my fastest half marathon ever, 1:42. As I’ve reflected on my run this week I’ve come to two conclusions about this particular race. First, PRs are a lot of hard work. Second, there is a lot of room for improvement.

Personal records are tough

While it may seem obvious, sometimes it helps to hear someone say that a goal will take a lot of work. Right now I’m just speaking about the actually race on Sunday. I started off very well as expected. At mile 8 I was feeling really good but the next mile I felt it get tough and mile 10 was just difficult. Sure, the Hill Challenge was in there and I walked after I got to the top, but that’s where I fell apart mentally. My splits don’t show it and I can’t fully explain that. But miles 11 through the finish felt like I was 0:30 off my pace. Not the case – here’s how I finished.

Hans' Splits Madison Half Marathon 05-28-2017

Hans' Splits Madison Half Marathon 05-28-2017

It has been quite a long time since I’ve worked that hard. Which is to be expected. I didn’t train the greatest for this race (see next section). But my training runs (including a very fast Crazylegs in April) got me thinking that the training I was doing was working to make me faster. I just didn’t get enough in.

What could I do if I trained well?

There’s a lot of room for improvement. As any athlete knows, life gets in the way. That’s a poor choice of words. It’s all life. Work, family, training all contribute to my happy life. But work has been difficult and for whatever reason training took a back seat too many times this spring. Which begs the question: What could I do if I trained well? Sunday I got away with being a good athlete. Katie asked me numerous times in the weeks leading up to the race: “Are you even training for this?” And I certainly was… just not well.

By keeping this public blog I get to process life and process training. I also get to hold myself accountable by writing these kinds of posts in an effort to be transparent and inspire others to train well. I have adversity just like my clients. I have training weeks (and seasons) that aren’t the greatest. So now I have another arrow in my quiver to say, “make your adjustment and get back to training.”


I do not have another race on the calendar yet. But for my personal health and for all the clients I am coaching, it is imperative for me to train well this summer so that at some point in 2017 I go faster than I did on Sunday. 1:39 doesn’t happen without hard work. And now if you’ll excuse me, I could be training.

Consuming and creating more than ever

Through the first five months of 2017 I’ve consumed and created more content than I have in all of last year. It has been a wonderul start to the year and I’m excited where it may go. While I certainly planned this out, I didn’t see it unfolding the way it has and I can only credit dedication (publishing a vlog every Saturday) and hard work (editing takes lots of time!) to my success thus far.

As my health and fitness career evolves, I’ve found myself asking new questions.

How do I help more people? What conversations need to happen to make people healthier? Is my social presence telling the story of fitness?

In January I started a weekly newsletter, From The Training Desk of Hans Schiefelbein. Each week I read a lot of articles and find myself chatting with clients throughout the week about them — why not share more formally! Two added benefits are (1) I would be kept accountable to keep reading and (2) I’d be forced to really know the articles I share because if clients bring it up you need to be able to have a discussion or clarfy the author or my position. For years I’ve subscribed to similar newsletters and finally this year I decided that I could produce the same content and value for my tribe.

At the time I started the newsletter, our church was starting a new year-long series called Love This Book (LTB). The idea is to read through select portions of the Bible. We did a similar challenge in 2012 but we read the entire Bible! So in December and January I had been getting into vlogs (“video blogs”) related to the fitness industry and entrapraneur/small business owners in general. A topic that bubbled to the top for me was “document, don’t create.” Since I started blogging in 2006, I’ve constantly felt pressure to blog and create content. But with the two of the biggest aspects of my life (faith and fitness) the story plays out better when you document your message rather than create content in the traditional sense of end-user material. So I thought to myself: what if I documented how I was reading and processing LTB? After two weeks of pondering, I decided to start the LTB vlog. Daily vlog posts seemed unpractical so I settle on a weekly episode. I haven’t missed a Saturday for 21 weeks.

The goal here today isn’t to describe any more details than what I’ve already shared. The goal is to get up to 30,000 feet and look at the landscape. I want to educate and inspire people and that doesn’t happen when I consume content. Consuming content is part of the equation but the impact happens when I create content, start a discussion, and help people pursue their healthy and disciplined lifestyle.

While all this consuming and creating hasn’t been without its challenges, it’s been worth it. I look back at my portfolio with pride in what I’ve been able to publish. That’s what people see. What people don’t see is the footage sitting on the editing room floor, the hours editing, but also (and this is closest to me) what I’m learning about publishing and building a business. I have objectives above and beyond hitting publish on the vlog and the newsletter and that is to create a tribe of followers and a brand of purpose that will sustain my business and life in the near future.

Giving Back

For 15 weeks this spring (college “spring semester”) I had Colin with me at Pinnacle as a practicum student from UW. It was very nice to be on this side of a practicum/internship experience having spent plenty of time where Colin was. Not only did I get to work with Colin but I also got reconnected with Ronnie Carda, an old instructor of my undergraduate days.

Colin is going to physical therapy school next year and he’s going to do very well. Since his practicum experience didn’t exactly line up with his career (or at least schooling) goals, it was a challenge to make his time at Pinnacle as relevant as possible. As a graduate student myself, I took every opportunity to customize my schooling to get the most out of the experience as I could; I took that same approach with Colin. This spring Colin grew in his comfort level working one-on-one with clients. He also put a nice program together for one of my clients with Parkinson’s.

Coaching my clients is fun and rewarding but working with peers, training new trainers and giving back is an under-appreciated part of my job. I know I added value and perspective to Colin’s experience and it kept me at the top of my game. It’s easy to get into a rut and not challenge yourself in this industry. Having my workflows in place and assessments and communications updated was a great thing for me and my clients.

I look forward to updates from Colin – I’m proud to have worked with him as he moves onwards and upwards to Northwestern.

Some birthday thoughts

Today I turned 40 years old. It has been a fanstastic weekend. Some thought: 

Family is the best

Norah made me an awesome card (and told me all about how she made the decision. Sorin tried to FaceTime us while we were on our half marathon today. My mom and my sister made it all around the half marathon course today. Then my sister and parents hosted a birthday gathering featuring two of my favorite treats: homemade Chex mix and peanut butter bars. 

Katie is a champ

She ran the Conquor the Captial this weekend: twilight 10k last night and half marathon today! She and her friend (and my client) Sue ran the two races together and killed it! This weekend started as “her races” and turned into all kinds of activities around me turning 40. She was so gracious and our plans turned out to be amazing. We had so much fun and this paragraph doesn’t begin to describe my happiness at the end of these couple days. 

Great friends matter

Sue’s husband and I spent last night tracking the ladies arising be the 10k course and had nice conversations and the four of us had some great laughs over the two races. Lunch today was with two families we love dearly, including baby Macie – what a diva! 

What’s next?

Today was good for the soul. Do you ever have those days? To be clear, it wasn’t about the birthday celebration, though it was part of it. It was about memories with family and friends, and great results in our races. Katie finished a 10k (6 miles!) at 9pm then ran an awesome, strong half marathon at 7am. You should have seen her sense of accomplishment at the finish line! I ran my best half marathon and worked hard for every minute I cut off my PR. The finish line was almost 60 minutes hanging out with family and friends celebrating the races. 

And Katie and I ended on the rooftop of the new AC Hotel at Eno Vino. What a meal, what a view, and what a conversation with my wife. 

Up next? Katie and I are very excited about our family, our businesses, and our next race. 

Donating my 40th

Tuesday 4:25pm

On Sunday I will be celebrating my 40th birthday running the Madison Half Marathon. It’s already Tuesday so I need to get this post out to give you guys time to buy my birthday present!

That’s right, I’m asking for a birthday gift. I’ve done this a few other times including when I ran the Monona 20k and when I participated in Save a Drink. More details this week.

The organization I’m running for is called Blood:Water. If you choose to support me by donating, click the button at the top and in the comment you can write #HansMadisonHalf and any other comment you’d like.

If you donate, I’d love to hear from you via email or Twitter/Facebook DM.

Thanks for considering!

Wednesday 4:02pm
Yesterday I ran a fast 4-mile route through Oregon – gotta love race week and the taper! It’s only a half marathon but resting this week is critical. At work today a member mentioned that he saw me running and said I looked strong, so that’s always nice! He’s a good runner himself so I appreciate the love.

Friday 1:52pm
In reality today is your last day to buy me a birthday gift! Let’s be honest, Facebook on the weekend is just casual – nothing really happens.

Gifts of $5 and $10 are awesome because they cost us nothing and help in such big ways. It’s really all I’m looking for – a way to crowd-source my efforts into getting people involved in a great cause (clean water, people!) while I put in all the hard work running those miles!

Sunday I’ll be running my 8th half marathon: 13.1 miles through our Capital city. I heard yesterday there’s a “hill challenge.” Based on people’s chip times from the bottom of the hill to the top, the top three men and top three women win prizes. Very tempting but I haven’t found out where (mile-marker) on the course this is happening, so no decision has been made yet. It sure will be tempting to get a running start on that thing and go for it but boy, that effort will take a lot of juice out of the legs for the rest of the race.

Thanks again for considering supporting Blood:Water as we build wells and provide clean water for millions who are without. I am very excited for this weekend – partly for the birthday but mostly for the two runs. Katie is doing a 10k on Saturday night and then we are both running the half marathon on Sunday.

I’ll try to post a pic on Saturday of what I’ll be racing in so that if you’re on the course you can find me. I should be around 7:45/8:00-minute miles.

Have a great Memorial Day Holiday weekend.

Taking mnml for a Test Drive

It has been an adventure keeping up with the work of John Saddington aka 8Bit (and formerly Tent Blogger). Yes, I’ve known John for many many years. He’s inspired me from a publishing perspective on many different fronts. John is all about blogging. He’s been doing it every day for over 15 years. Today I want to tell you about his latest project, mnml. MNML is a macOS app that is specifically for posting on John sent me a demo version so that I could review the app. While he sent me this product for free, I would not endorse it if I could not fully get behind it. I love mnml! It reminds me a lot of Desk, the macOS app for publishing to WordPress. Software can be a funny thing. I enjoy keeping up with certain developers and trends but not everyone is like me. So that’s why this review is here. I believe writing is essential to a personal pursuit of a healthy life. I also believe leaders (at all levels) benefit from publishing their words to the world – whether it’s on a blog, though an email newsletter, on Facebook, or even on Twitter (micro-blogging). Medium is still new to me (I’ve started a new publication called Tech Trainer) but it has so much potential. It’s very fun to see the great headlines about writing, productivity, and life-hacking. If you post on Medium or want to start this summer, pick up mnml so that the tech gets out of the way and you can focus on the words, not the details of publishing.

From the Training Desk of Hans

The purpose of this newsletter is to be a resource of articles for people interested in leading a healthy and disciplined lifestyle. My reading material focuses on health and wellness with occasional instances of personal productivity, discipline, and habits.

3 Treads worth tapping into – Harvard Health

I love these three but my mindfulness has been achieved listening to my Apple Watch and the Breathe app rather than Buddhist practices.

Top Cross-Training Workouts to Tune Up for Spring

Tabata, HIIT, and yoga? Yes please!

Why Do I Think Better after I Exercise?

The question I try to address each week with clients struggling with exercise adherence.

Adopting these tough morning routines will make you exceptionally successful

Easy for the morning guy (myself) to say. Morning routines – always worth considering. Could this be a training area for you in 2017?

From the blog:

One week with Apple Watch Nike+ TL;DR this device is fantastic

Love This Book: the vlog (first four episodes)