Category Archives: Training

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.

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.

Oregon 10K

Oregon 10K

The day after we got back from Fort Wilderness I ran in my first Oregon Summerfest race. While I have the miles for a 10-mile run I chose to run the 10K. Six miles felt about right after a nice vacation which included a couple runs with Katie and a Crossfit workout with some new friends.

The 10-milers went out at 8:30 which included my neighbor Jamie running in his first race and a longer distance than he’s ever run (he killed it by the way!) The 5K and 10K racers went out at 8:45. It was a very small race – probably about 80 people. My goal was just to run but at mile 2.5 Katie and the kids were cheering me on and mentioned that I was in fourth place. Ahead of me I could see exactly three runners. Katie yelled “you’re in this!” (with a little surprise in her voice) and that was all I needed. I picked off the third place guy 1.5 miles later but the first place guy was way out there and the second place guy looked strong, no sign of slowing down. It was at this point that I told myself that I wanted to go for it – I wanted my heart rate monitor and my splits to show that I went for 2nd place. With about 3/4 of a mile to go I passed him and held on. Full disclosure I met Bill after the race and found out he’s 57 years old. So don’t get me wrong, I’m not bragging about “winning” but rather happy with the way I competed – big difference.

2nd place in 10K at Oregon Summerfest Run

2nd place in 10K at Oregon Summerfest Run

After the finish line the family stuck around so Sorin and Norah could compete in the kids 1K race. How awesome! Especially cool because they did a fun run at school a couple weeks earlier and the didn’t do so well. This one was still challenging enough for them and Sorin even showed improvement in both speed and attitude about the event.

"Kids, for this to be official you need to get behind the start line" - Coach Hans

"Kids, for this to be official you need to get behind the start line" – Coach Hans

One of my goals for next year is to get more people to this race. Lots of Pinnacle people live in or near Oregon but some didn’t even know there was a race. Small community events like this are so powerful. Up next for my kids is the Oregon Kids Triathlon.

Three runners

Three runners

Healthy Fun on YouTube

Last week I wrote about my half marathon experience. That was the run from my perspective. Sometimes words don’t fully tell the story, so here’s a good video that I fully endorse. It should start at 2:30 but if it doesn’t go ahead and fast forward (the first 2:30 is worth your time for context and story-telling but some people are pressed for time).

I also had a fun conversation this week at work. A member who I chat with about triathlon pulled me aside this week and told me he was flying to San Fransisco later that morning to compete in the Escape Alcatraz Triathlon. I’m so pumped for him!

P.S. This is post #700 on my blog – pretty proud of that.

TRX FTW

TRX has a lot going for it. It’s popular, it’s portable and it’s challenging. It has become one of my favorite pieces of training equipment. TRX is not cheap but if you are a member of a gym they probably have one (or a few). If you have the money motivation I guarantee you will get your money out of it if you purchase one. Personally I’ve lead TRX classes and I use it with clients daily. And this summer you should start using TRX also!

Three reasons TRX is awesome

TRX is awesome for a few different reasons. First, before you even get on TRX you have preconceived notions of this original suspension trainer. Someone suggests you try it or asks if you have experience with TRX and you get a little wide-eyed and your heart rate goes up because you’ve never had the guts to grab those two handles and try something. So TRX is awesome because it has a reputation.

The reputation doesn’t disappoint. TRX is also awesome because it’s one of the most challenging pieces of equipment in the gym (not many people own their own straps). Have you been working on “regular” push-ups? Try them with your feet in the straps. How about the back, have you been doing rows? Try leaning on TRX and doing rows! Pretty good at a squat? Stand with the TRX and do jump-squats as you jump agains the straps and they pull you back for more. TRX has a great slogan: “all core all the time.” The challenge with TRX is keeping good posture throughout your movements while engaging your core.

TRX 101

TRX 101

While not many people own a TRX, those that do love the portability of it. While traveling for work is usually a challenge, it’s entirely possible to throw the TRX straps into even a carry-on and bring suspension training on your business trip. It may take a little research and time to get TRX set up on location, but one additional perk is you’ll probably be outside in a park, under a tree, or in some other green space that’s sure to grab some attention and (hopefully) encourage others to get their fitness the way you are.

My experience with TRX

In the last five years I’ve taught a TRX class at both of the gyms where I’ve worked. Here at Pinnacle I developed a TRX/KB class – 60 minutes of TRX and kettle bells in high-intensity interval format. It was very successful for about a year. I took a lot of that class and incorporated it into workouts with clients. As I noted earlier, I like to take exercise people already do (push-ups, rows, squats) and add the challenge of TRX. Adding a balance/stability component is great for functional training. So much of exercise adherence is about keeping clients engaged. TRX affords them new ways to move including getting into positions (low squat) that are literally impossible to do without TRX. One of my favorite stories is from a client of mine who admitted one morning that she had a dream about TRX burpees. That’s right: one foot in the TRX strap, hop (on the other foot), drop to a push-up (remember, one foot is in TRX and the other is “floating”), TRX push-up, stand on the one free leg, hop on one foot and repeat. From HIIT training, to classic intervals and strength to golf stretches and assisted yoga poses, TRX suspension trainer has become a staple in my training program for both me and my clients.

TRX is for you

When I introduce people to TRX, I start with TRX chest press. I tell them: “I have challenged a high-level triathlete with TRX Atomic push-ups and I have had a 75-year old former professor on TRX chest press because you can choose the level of difficulty. Parallel to the ground, the triathlete is pushed to the max. Standing almost vertical the former professor is practically doing a standing wall chest press with the added benefit of the instability of the straps. All this means that I can get any client or member to an appropriate level of challenge on the TRX suspension trainer.

One key I’ve realized with TRX is to not be intimidated by it or think that it’s a stand-alone piece of equipment. It’s a curve ball. It’s a change up from your normal exercises. Find a couple of your strengths and experiment how TRX can challenge you in new says. I’ve used “challenge” six times in this article. If a workout doesn’t challenge you it can’t change you – TRX will challenge you and that’s a good thing.

If you want a couple challenges beyond the TRX chest press, row, and squat mentioned in this post, hit me up on Twitter or email me and I’d be happy to contribute to your workouts.

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.”

Faster

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.