Tis the season to be jolly

      One and a half weeks before Christmas and the studio has never been busier. I’m not reporting this expecting a pat on the back, it’s more of an observation. I was trying to determine if it’s busier because I’m making a concentrated effort to reach people, is it due to the past promotions we’ve run (21 days unlimited training, Black Friday Special) or because we now have a physical location? I’ve always made an effort to create successful training programs. I’ve always put the goals and desires of my clients first. My motivation to train people has always been to help them. I’ve spent my life (literally since I’ve been 15 years old) reading and educating myself about exercise & fitness. If I feel I have a few proven methods, it only makes sense that I would want to share these with people desperately seeking them. Maybe it’s the 25 year culmination of everything that’s providing us with momentum.
      Times have changed. I can remember offering to train people for free if they would give me an opportunity. Fast forward to now and after training hundreds of people over 24 years and receiving multiple accolades I don’t have to validate my credibility to that extent anymore. Don’t get me wrong, my team and I have a responsibility to our members to prove ourselves every day in what we do, we just don’t have to give it away for free.
      I’ve also come to two realizations. First, people can’t hire you if they can’t find you. By having a studio, people can contact me pretty easily now. Accessibility is very important. Simply Google Personal Trainer in Las Vegas and you’ll find us. Twelve years ago, after my wife and I moved from NY to Vegas, my reach was whomever I spoke to that day. Maybe 2-5 people on a good day. Not very impressive numbers by any account. I didn’t realize how valuable having a location could be. Our studio is currently 1/10 of a mile from one of the busiest corners in Las Vegas.
      Second, people are desperately looking for professional, knowledgeable trainers who will listen to their needs. How do I know this? I ask them. There is so much confusion and people don’t know who to trust, where to go, and who will care about them. Mix in the clean slate mentality that starts to build within people’s mind around the holidays, and you can start to see why we’re getting pretty busy.
      Running the studio has forced me to be forward thinking. I have to schedule time away from writing routines, reading training articles, mentoring my team and think about how we can stay in a state of constant growth. It was in one of these think tank moments that I determined if I want to be the #1 resource of burning & dropping bodyfat that I needed a formal education in nutrition (Precision Nutrition Certification). That’s when watching someone else helped me make a decision. I found out that internationally recognized trainer and gym owner Alwynn Cosgrove, of Result’s Fitness in California, had gone the route of earning that certification to enhance his training studio. Result’s Fitness has earned the acclaim of being one of best training studios in the US multiple times. Another one of my big “aha” moments came when I decided that every Friday will be staff development day. Every week I select one of my instructors and we spend 45 minutes to 1 ½ hours working on exercise instruction, coaching, and cueing. I have observed too many health clubs that hire trainers and don’t provide adequate resources and education that will allow the trainers to continually grow. I enjoy the open discussions with my staff on program design and exercise selection. Watching and helping them to grow has helped me to grow as a leader. I remember hearing years ago that to truly understand something you need to teach it. I agree 100%. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve had to dig out an old text book or look up an article online to refresh my memory prior to meeting with one of my team members.
      Finally, I just determined that I’ll spend some time in the upcoming year visiting other studios. Some of the best learning can be achieved by observing others. If we get 1% better every week, that’s 50% growth in a year. Can we do it? I don’t know, but we’re going to give it a try. That will be the J & D Fitness Personal Training Studio’s goal for 2016.

Men's Health Next Top Trainer Finalist opens studio in Las Vegas

Doug Sheppard                                                                      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

J & D Fitness Group, Inc.
(702) 892-0400

      2015 Men’s Health Magazine “Next Top Trainer” finalist and nationally recognized Personal Trainer Doug Sheppard has opened the J & D Fitness Personal Training studio in Las Vegas. Sheppard has recruited a team of elite trainers to provide the best quality instruction in the Las Vegas valley. “If you walk into any gym in Las Vegas, the first thing they will show you is the equipment or the locker rooms. The last things the salesperson will mention are the trainers. Not in our place” states Sheppard. “It’s all about having a structured program and quality coaching.” Our studio is not general access, meaning you can’t just come and work out. Everyone is given a trainer either semi-private (3-5 people) or privately to guarantee you get results.
      Our most popular service is our semi-private training. Members work out in a small group of 3-5 people. The workout is catered to each person’s skill level. We meet you where you’re at. So in a given workout you can have 3 people with all different skill levels and the trainer will provide an exercise with the appropriate progression or regression. No one in Las Vegas does this. Most gyms follow a one size fits all mentality.
Sheppard’s studio features a workout named Torch for its high success rate of dropping inches for people. Torch burns fat, increases strength and improves mobility. The choice equipment used is the TRX suspension system, kettlebells, and the Ultimate sandbags. When someone becomes a member they are issued a Polar heart monitor so their exercise intensity can be monitored throughout their workout sessions. This eliminates all of the guess work.
     Stop by and check out Doug and his team at 4180 South Fort Apache Rd., suite E. Las Vegas. And be sure to ask them about their 21 Days of unlimited personal training.

About Doug Sheppard, CPT: Doug Sheppard is the owner of J & D Fitness Personal Training studio, and author/creator of the Torch Workout. Doug is a certified personal trainer (ACE, ACSM, NSCA, RKC, SFG, and TRX) with 23 years of experience in strength and conditioning. He has worked with athletes of the NFL, NBA, USTA, and the PGA. He currently is the Nevada state director of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

A New Benchmark in Las Vegas

      I’m finally catching my breath from this past weekend. Last week I hosted the Nevada National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) Annual state clinic. Last year I took the post as the state director representing the NSCA in Nevada (a blessing and a curse). I was on the advisory board prior to that. Our past director was a fellow associate from the local fitness community. Being on the board put a definite strain on our relationship. What I didn’t know was that he had appointed me to the board assuming I would like having the title without having to do anything. Once I was nominated to the board I questioned, “What’s the sense of having a board/ state director if we don’t do anything?” After pushing and prodding I got him to set up a state clinic for fellow trainers, strength coaches, ATCs, etc. offering them the opportunity to gain continued education locally. We were able to organize a panel of quality speakers, lock down a venue within our budget restraints, and get the word out in enough time to get people registered. All of this, only to have him resign his post 1 month prior to the event.
      I will admit that I did have an alternative motive. I was planning on opening a training studio in the near future. Freshly awarded certified personal trainers are a ripe pool from which to recruit trainers. It also fell on an emotional void I possessed. It bothered me that I had to travel outside of Las Vegas to find quality education in my field. Rarely did presenters come to Vegas. When I approached people about promoting an event in Las Vegas, they all said the same thing. Vegas doesn’t draw well. How could that be? How could the convention capital of the world be a poor draw? My attitude was that it was like any other business. It wouldn’t be the sexy overnight sensation; it would have to be nurtured and grow over time. After taking over the reigns as director, my approach was to do like I’ve done in many other aspects of my fitness business: over deliver, care about the little details & be patient. I would call in a few favors from a couple of quality presenters, work my butt off, and see what happens in 2-3 years. I’m proud to announce that in our 2nd year we broke even. The presenters over delivered. One of the highlights was having a gentleman from Arkansas say “I wish we had quality events like this in my state.” We’re moving in the right direction.
      At the same time this has helped me to fulfill another professional goal of making my studio more of a national name as opposed to just a successful studio in Las Vegas. When I was drafting my mission statement and vision for the studio, one of my goals was to have people refer to what my team and I are doing as high quality. I believe that in life when making decisions you need to be true to yourself. That was something I realized in the Men Health Next Top Trainer. Selling videos and doing workouts that people watch me in is not who I am. My goal is not to be entertaining; my goal is to make people better. In regards to my studio we’re not there yet, but we’re diligently working towards that goal. It makes me think about the scene from The Godfather when Michael tells his wife Kay, “we’ll be a legitimate business one day”. I know, bad analogy, but you get the picture. When you’re trying to make a big shift in an industry it takes time, especially if you’re trying to build it to withstand time.
I guess it brings out the Boy Scout in me to leave things better than how I found them. You know that mantra. I can remember cleaning up campsites as a kid, picking up garbage on the campsite from the previous campers so that we could maintain our status as good scouts. When I moved to Las Vegas there was a vast void of fitness education that traveled to Las Vegas. The fitness employee population was alive & growing. Many people complained that they didn’t have the resources to pay for airfare, hotels and registration for the larger out of town events. Well I’m proud to announce, they won’t have to do that anymore.

What I've learned in my first 2 weeks at the studio

     It’s been a while since I blogged. We just finished our 2nd week of being open at our new training studio. The dust hasn’t settled, but I’m slowly trying to get back into my normal routine. I typically like to write about observations that I experience in my training practice. As we get new members in the studio I explain that we’re a semi-private training facility. We specialize in having small groups of 3-6 people work out together. They may have a similar program focusing on mobility, strength and fat loss, but we preach that every routine/ exercise can either be regressed or progressed to fit that person’s skill level. I will admit that 80% of the time everyone is doing similar type movements. I did start to think am I a hypocrite? I’ll explain.
      The more people I work with, the more I realize that a lot of my clientele float somewhere around the middle of the fitness pendulum. Because of that, most of them tend to do similar exercises in their workouts. Many of them have workout inconsistently. They want to lose 15-25 pounds, and desperately would like to have the casual observer come up to them and ask “where do you work-out?” Many of them have tight hips, shoulders & ankles. Most of them need better core strength. And across the board they all enjoy working out with someone, even if it’s someone they only see at the gym. I’ve had someone tell me “Doug I love you know what you’re talking about, but it’s the comraderie that keeps me coming back”. That last point is one of the biggest services I think we bring to the Las Vegas valley. If you’re smiling and having fun I believe that you’ll continue to work out.
      A couple observations that I’ve made at the new place is how powerful it is for a gal to feel herself get stronger as she presses a 10kg kettlebell, or any weight, overhead. I didn’t realize how important it is for a guy who lives in constant pain to work-out and feel muscle burn & fatigue, not joint pain. Sometimes as a fitness professional I think I get a little disconnected from the general population. I’ve worked out my entire life. If I’ve ever had pain, I’ve sought out professional to address it. Sometimes I forget that this behavior isn’t the norm. Bottom line, it’s cool to change lives and be the solution for people. That has been very rewarding. Hopefully I’ll see at the studio.

Take the Shot

      It feels great to be back in the saddle. I’m a pretty organized guy, borderline OCD, but three weeks ago I was notified that I was selected as a finalist in the Men’s Health Next Top Trainer competition. I had 1 week to organize everything at home, work and prepare to fly to Allentown, Pennsylvania for a week. I would compete against 7 other elite trainers from throughout the US in physical & mental challenges. Here’s the funny part; I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I had entered the challenge on a whim. I saw an ad in Men’s Health magazine. I uploaded a headshot, filmed a quick 2 minute video challenge, and posted my entry link on my Facebook page so that people could vote for me. Another funny thing was that the fan voting only accounted for 5% of your score. This pretty much meant they could pick whomever they wanted. I was selected from over 300 trainers. Fast forward three weeks, and I’m back from the challenge. Due to a confidential agreement I had to sign, I can’t reveal how I did. The winner will be announced on their website and in the magazine in August. I can share that it was a life changing experience. The challenge will be aired in an 8-part episode program on Men’s starting in June. I promise to share the episodes on my Facebook page once they start to air (“Like” J and D Fitness for updates). The challenges were pretty unique. Without giving away too much, in one challenge we had to oversee a photo shoot for the magazine. We were given a list of exercises and had 5 minutes to complete as many quality photos for the magazine. We were given a professional photo shoot set, female model, and 1 cameraman. The challenge is that photographers don’t know good form in an exercise. As the trainer you had to direct the model to get in the best position that visually depicts the exercise, make it look attractive, and be efficient at it. In this challenge I started out slow, but quickly got into a rhythm. Racing the clock, I literally jumped out of camera view yelling to the cameraman to “Take the shot” as time ticked down… 3, 2, and 1. After all, it was a competition. My camera antics quickly became one of the big laughs of the week. One of the judges, fitness celebrity and Reebok trainer, David Jack, teased me the remainder of the week. Below is a picture we took to remember the moment.

     My reason for telling this drawn out story is that sometimes we think we know what it takes to perform a task. For many of you, it’s dropping 20 pounds. You feel that you’re pretty intelligent. You read all the fitness magazines, like Shape & Men’s Health (selfless plug). Dropping a dress size shouldn’t be a problem, until you try. How many days a week should I lift weights? How long? Should I do free weights or bodyweight exercises? 10 or 15 reps per exercise? Will getting stronger make me bulk up? I haven’t even mentioned eating yet. That’s why I believe you should hire a professional. When my son started tennis I didn’t try to teach him. My wife & I found a clinic specific for young kids just starting out. Why would I want to possibly ruin his experience in learning a great sport, along with hinder his learning?So next time you're venturing into something you may not be too familiar with, remember this picture above and hire a professional.

Your Workout Is Going to Be Featured in Men’s Health Magazine

      This week we complete 8 months at our new studio. We’re capping the week on Saturday with the Torch Challenge. The Challenge consists of 3 events: The gobblet squat, the TRX row, and the overhead press with a sandbag. These three exercises are foundational exercises in the Torch Workout. I believe that the Torch Workout should improve you in all three. I can’t think of a better way to prove that than to have an open competition. It is open to non-members so if you would like to participate it will only cost $20 and breakfast is included. We will have separate categories for men & women. Stop by and take the challenge.
      As some of you may know last Thursday I was notified that I’m one of eight finalists in the Men’s Health Next Top Trainer competition. This competition started a couple months back, and had hundreds of entries. I was honored to be selected as a finalist. Next week they’re flying me to the Rodale publishing headquarters in Allentown Pennsylvania. I will have five days of filming various workouts on set to prove to them I have what it takes to be the face of their upcoming DVD. I’m told that they will provide a script of various scenarios and then on the fly I will have to create a program and then go through the workout. This will all be monitored by a celebrity judging panel. Each day 2 trainers will be eliminated, until the winner is announced on Friday. Think survivor! Last week, I had posted on Facebook a big thank you to every current & past client that I’ve ever worked with. I’ve been training people for 23 years. In that time I’ve worked with literally hundreds of people. People who possess different goals, have different current fitness levels, and carry diverse personalities. I’ve had to create safe, effective and fun workouts, while keeping a smile and sharing a few laughs. In essence, I’ve been training for this the last 23 years of my life. The cool thing is that along with my entry I had to send in a 2 minute video demonstrating a fitness challenge. They wanted to see how I instruct on video. It’s a popular combination that I use in the Torch workout, so it was the combination of my delivery and the content of the Torch workout that sparked their interest. Pretty cool. Keep your fingers crossed for me and I’ll keep you posted on how I do.
      Finally, it’s getting pretty warm out there, and as the shirts go from long sleeve to short sleeve, I’m expecting a few panicked phone calls. Don’t worry, I gotcha! There’s still time to take advantage of our 21-Day Quick start program. This program cost $189 and includes 6 Torch workouts, a full assessment, and a Polar Bluetooth heart monitor. That’s enough to help tighten up anyone. You don’t have much time left, so stop procrastinating. If you’re interested, shoot me an e-mail at or call (702) 892-0400 and I’ll take care of you. See you at the studio.

J & D Fitness
4180 South Fort Apache Rd,
Las Vegas, NV 89147