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.

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.

What’s Next in Tech and Health

This post is taken from my weekly newsletter which turned into a nice blog post. If tech and health interest you, subscribe to the Training Desk of Hans Schiefelbein.)


This week I want to share a brief insight into my vision as a fitness professional. Anyone who has worked with me for more than a couple months knows that I gravitate towards and leverage technology whenever possible. While technology is only a small part of my training, it is essential. The articles in this issue got me thinking deeper this week about the future of my training modalities and the direction of health care and the allied health industry.

My contribution to people’s health

When I am working with a client, my iPad is never more than a hop, skip, and a lunges away. I have all of my workouts on it and I’m always ready to take notes or take a picture to add to a client’s file. It is far from a perfect system and too much still falls through the cracks. But I recognize that with devices and enough apps that are fully customizable, there is continually less excuse to not have everything perfectly documented. When I do orientations for new members I want to send them their PDF as soon as our session is done so that they can start planning their next workout. When I need to see what a client did last week, where they struggled, where they won, or how they did a workout three months ago to today, I have that all on my iPad. In summary, technology makes my profession more thorough and more efficient. Hopefully this leads to increased trust and better results for the client.

Once members have started their fitness routine, I wanted to provide additional tools to help with exercise adherence and progressions. I developed a series called Fitness Tracker 2.0, the idea being that many of us have and use these trackers but don’t use them to their fullest or aren’t getting the results that we want. Since starting this series in 2016, I’ve learned that simply wearing a fitness tracker doesn’t guarantee success or even compliance and adherence. A combination of the client’s motivation, my coaching, and group (training) dynamics all contribute to this equation. But still there is so much potential for technology to not only educate us but prompt us to make better decisions. These are just a couple ways I use technology at Pinnacle on a daily basis to make things go well for me and my clients.

Apple’s contribution to people’s health

Trainers like myself have figured out how to help clients at the micro level of the industry. But there’s a lot happening at the macro level also. As I wrote about in the healthcare issue, companies will soon take information from wearable devices and integrate it with a person’s medical history to make healthcare more efficient and hopefully more successful. What if Apple Watch was more than a $400 over-priced notification gadget and half-baked fitness tracker? What if it was 97% effective at detecting irregular heart rates?! That’s what a study from the University of California, San Francisco reported last week. To be clear, I fully expect Apple and the fitness industry to have trouble getting patients to be compliant in wearing these devices in the same way that not everyone at Pinnacle is jumping into my FT2 classes. One thing I learned in graduate school was that getting people into scientific studies is a lot like exercise adherence – you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. As a result I made it my goal to be a professional that bridges the gap between cutting edge research and science and the general public that needs (and wants) increased health. Regarding the irregular heart rates, Apple has provided the same bridge between consumer and the scientists. We now (potentially) have tools that mean we no longer have to go into a clinic to check for our heart health and that may even predict if a person is going to have a heart episode. Of course Apple and the clinics cannot advertise this but writing is on the wall that this is the direction of wearables and the health care industry.

No one wants the symptoms of an irregular heart beat, but fluttering in the chest, chest pain, fainting, or dizziness are usually present and help determine when you need to seek help. What if there were no symptoms? That’s often the case with the silent killer: diabetes. If the body cannot turn blood sugar into energy, the result is damage to the heart, kidneys, and nerves. I am sure there is wonderful technology around diabetes management and in fact I know a couple friends who have blood glucose monitors. But Apple is testing continuous blood glucose monitors that are (or could be) connected to an Apple Watch that would communicate with doctors and diabetes educators. This makes me so excited! Yes, I know education and monitoring are only part of the equation, but if a program can demonstrate success with these tools we can fight the disease that affects almost 10% of our population. All of a sudden a $400 watch seems like a tool that opens the door to not only health measurements but prescription and coaching. I want in on that.

What’s Next?

I see myself always working one-on-one with clients and patients but increasingly I see myself putting systems and programs in place for population health causes like heart health monitoring and diabetes education. We need to get past the idea that tech is the solution; we can’t expect people to use these devices because they they will make them healthier. We need the human component in the form of group dynamics and coaching to help people use the right tools for the job. The tech is getting better, we are getting smarter and seeing the bigger picture, and coaches like me will continue to bridge that gap and help us realize a healthier society.