This is What Happended When I Went to a Local Studio for a Workout

    It’s going to get to 109 degrees today in Las Vegas. We are officially in the dog days of summer. I compare summers in the Vegas valley to winters when I was back on the east coast. The weather can affect the outcome of your day. You tend to minimize any time outside and it definitely can drain any additional motivational juice you may have. I’m very blessed because, at the studio, we’re still experiencing consistent growth and things are actually busier. Nine months in, and we’re at that point where people have been passing by our store front for months. They have decided to actually stop in, even if it’s just to get in the cool a/c.

     One of the business books I read stated that you need to always be aware of who & what your competitors are doing. I’m fully aware that we’re not the only small group/ semi-private training studio in the area. Last week, I decided to drop-in as a guest and try a workout at one of my local competitors. They are located in a high traffic shopping center and I’ve been aware of them since they opened. I arrived 5 minutes before the workout time ready to go. One of their trainers greeted me once I entered and introduced himself. I’m hoping he assumed I was a trainer checking out the place, because he never told me what to do. After a few awkward minutes of just standing in the corner as I watched people come in, I asked “is there something I should be doing?” He looked up from his phone and said, “no, we’ll start in a few, so just hang out”. I looked around and saw suspension trainers, sandbags, and kettlebells… similar to my place. They also had turf and sleds. The room was probably the same dimensions, if not very close to my studio in size. I watched others gather. In the back, I could see a few who were noticeably scared & clearly expressed signs of anxiety. I see that sometimes at my place. People come to gyms with preconceived ideas that they’re about to be put through hell, and just be crushed. I always try to make people laugh and let them know you’re going to work, but laugh and have fun also. As a coach & trainer you need to show compassion for people. They should be applauded for just showing up. No one approached these people in the back to ease their anxiety.

     The bell sounds and the workout is officially on. The trainer goes to the front of the room and begins to demonstrate 18, yes, 18 exercises, one after another. It was like going to friend’s wedding and having them introduce you to everyone in their family. This is Uncle Joey, Aunt Millie, cousin JP… I’m in the fitness game and I was confused! Then he lined us up. So far I wasn’t impressed with their hospitality or teaching prowess. The next part is what shocked me. They had 3 large screen TVs. I thought this is where they could monitor heart rate intensities like we do at our studio. No. They had 6 video loops playing on each TV demonstrating the exercises. Remember those 18 exercises that we were shown? Well,  there they were. That’s not personal training. That’s P90x. That’s Ripsanity by Men’s Health. Last year when I competed in the Men’s Health Next Top Trainer competition, the 1 large nugget I got out of that experience is that I enjoy teaching & working with people. Demonstrating an exercise on video and hoping a person can watch and follow along is not for me. Workouts on DVD and streamed online is a big market, just not for me. I also never heard Tony Horton market his videos as personal training. What if I’m a kinesthetic learner? That means I learn by doing and feeling and touching, not watching which is visual. I was never told what weight to use or how to adjust yourself in the suspension straps. No coaching. The trainer just blew a whistle and said “Next!”.

     After about 10 minutes, I decided I’d seen enough. I made up an excuse and told the trainer I had to leave for work. As I walked out of the studio, my initial reaction was to do a fist pump. We offer so much more value. My trip was well validated. Then as I drove away a feeling of sadness came upon me. Is that what people think personal training is? I didn’t even observe if the demonstrations of the exercises were correct. That could be a whole other blog post. That’s why when people call or email me for prices, I hesitate to answer. I always like people to have an experience before we discuss price. I like to make the analogy of buying a car. Call a Nissan dealer and ask for the price of a car. They may quote you $12,825 which is the price of the Nissan Versa. Then call a Lexus dealer and ask the same question. If they give you a price over the phone it could be over $50,000. Both dealers sell cars. One prioritizes price, the other “The Best of Quality”. I like to consider myself in the class of the Lexus dealer, that we offer the best, not the most inexpensive.

     Stay out of the heat, drink plenty of water, and if you’re in the vicinity of the studio stop by and say Hi, even if it’s to escape the heat for a few minutes.

-See you at the studio.


     This is a big week for me personally. I celebrate my 46th birthday this Saturday. Like many of you reading this post, when passing another milestone I like to reflect on my current status - physically, mentally, and spiritually. This Saturday I will also be participating in the Dynamic Variable Resistance Training (DVRT) certification, which I am hosting at my studio. Immediately following 8 hours of instruction (on the system behind sandbag training) you have to complete a clean and press test using a sandbag. This is to receive the certification. The weight of the bag is determined by your weight. So weighing a lean 205lbs I will have to use an 80lb sandbag. The test will require me to clean and press the bag 40 times in a time period of 5 minutes. This test is a challenge in muscular endurance, strength and precision. Similar to the snatch test I had to complete when I earned my Russian Kettlebell (RKC) certification in 2012, you have to prepare for this type of test which requires specific skills. One of the reasons behind including a physical test with the certification is to guarantee that participants have spent some time training with the bags. People sometimes think it’s an ego-driven component. Not at all, the people who administer these certifications want to guarantee that people carrying their certification earned it, not just paid for it.

     If you’re not aware, I use the Ultimate Sandbag (USB) as a main tool in my studio. I’ve incorporated sandbag training in my training protocol for the last 3 years. I do not consider myself a master in sandbag training, but I do consider myself competent in the instruction of this tool. Along with learning from the inventor of the DVRT system Josh Henkin, I wanted to give myself a physical challenge. I give myself a few goals annually that force me outside my everyday comfort zone. I wanted something which would require me to plan & prepare. It was in the fall of last year when I started mapping out a few goals for 2016 and this one seemed very appropriate. This satisfies my physical goal in the same manner reading a book a month is currently challenging my mental/educational goal.

     This also fulfills an objective I came up with when I opened the studio. I wanted to become a pillar of education for personal trainers. I’m happy & proud to announce that I will be taking the course alongside 3 of my team members. I think this may the biggest highlight. I’ve successfully conquered physical challenges before, but this feeds my hunger to be a mentor for other trainers. When I entered the personal training ranks early on I was not aware how challenging it could be furthering your training knowledge. I wish at that point, I had guidance on how to invest my educational dollars. The cost of these workshop/seminars/certifications can be in the thousands. Depending on where you live, you may have to travel which can add expenses like airfare and lodging. Finally, the time off from work. For most trainers, you don’t get paid when you’re not working. Add all of these factors up and it shouldn’t come as any surprise that less than 10% of the personal training industry participates in events like this. Along with hosting the event, I’m paying for half of the certification fee for each of my team members. The way I see it, investing in education is a way of investing in yourself. That’s consistent in every industry. I wanted to teach them that lesson early in their careers. If possible, I want to plant a thirst to always want to learn. That’s a lesson that I wish I learned earlier in my career. It’s been crucial in my growth as a personal trainer & as a professional the last 15 years. Another way I view it is that by investing in my team, I’m investing in the studio. Many studio owners say they want the most knowledgeable staff, but do nothing to support that statement.

     There are birthday rituals all over the world. In Mexico they have the Birthday Piñata. The birthday piñata is filled with candy. Grab a blindfold and a broomstick, and let the celebration begin. I don’t know about you, but I certainly would trade my birthday cake for a piñata any day.  Then there’s this Irish tradition I heard about. I think the Irish had a few when coming up with this one? Tradition maintains that a child is held upside down and is “bumped” on the floor, once for every year of their age plus one for good luck. We’re guessing lawyers would have something to say about this in the United States! Chinese birthday tradition maintains that one should symbolize their longevity by eating a plate of long noodles, slurping them in as far as possible before biting. As far as I’m concerned, I’ll stick to cleaning and pressing an 80lb sandbag overhead 40 times this Saturday. Wish me luck.
See you at the studio.

In Celebration of March Madness

     I was recently reading a great book called The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born, It’s Grown by Daniel Coyle. It gives multiple examples of how practice can make you good. Quality practice will make you GREAT! Experts study these talent hotbeds throughout the world to determine that we shouldn’t be surprised by the consistent out pouring of talent from these sources. They discuss that it’s not just practice, but the quality of practice. When they started reviewing practice and what determined a “good” practice they sited one of their monumental studies by two psychologists Ron Gallimore and Roland Tharp. It was when they studied legendary basketball coach John Wooden, nicknamed the “Wizard of Westwood”. I thought it was appropriate to mention this as we’re about to start the NCAA Basketball Tournament this Thursday. Rightfully so, Coach Wooden won ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period, including an unprecedented seven in a row. One of the things that they thought was unique was that Coach Wooden was very open with his players that he would treat and coach each one of them differently. You would expect that with a coach that obviously had a winning style of coaching that he may have a very rigid way of teaching his players. He didn’t. He gave them what they each needed to be successful. What he was able to do was quickly assess where they were skill-wise and met them there. If a particular player needed more coaching on being a better team mate, sharing the ball more, he focused on that. If he thought a player was lacking confidence late in a game, which could be costly at the foul line late in a game, he then worked on building his confidence. God made us all unique and Wooden truly embraced that in his coaching style.

      I bring this up because I have gravitated towards making my training business more and more personalized to each person. My goal is that the only thing consistent in my business is that my team & I provide quality based workouts, are always professional, and each member always has a good experience at our studio. The way I teach an exercise is going to differ from person to person. Let’s take a sandbag hang clean. This requires a bit of explosive power from both the hips and upper back to get the bag moving. Let’s say I’m dealing with a stay-at-home mom who is experiencing formal strength training for the 1st time since she played sports in high school. An Olympic lift like a clean is a whole new world for her, let alone using a sandbag. I may start with teaching a deadlift with a sandbag by giving the analogy of picking up a big bag of dog kibble at Costco. Provide a visual, paint a picture less intimidating, and have some fun with it. Right next to her may be a gal who has seen her girlfriend share an exercise video on Facebook featuring the exercise, her motivation to learn the exercise is high, so I’ll jump right in to teaching her a clean with the bag.

      The more I work with people the more I realize it’s about figuring out how each person learns, and how to motivate them. Some need visual cues, some need you to explain how they should feel while doing it. Others may need you to physically get them in the right position. When I was designing the layout of my studio, I was going back & forth whether or not to put up mirrors. I’ve heard some coaches say that by constantly looking at yourself in the mirror as you perform some strengthening exercises can hinder the development of your proprioception (body awareness in space). I may agree with that for some, but some may simply need that mirror at first. After they get the drill you can have them turn away from the mirror. There can’t just be one way to teach. I’ve spoken to school teachers that have told me that by the 2nd month of the school year they will know how they will be able to teach to each student. Yes, I did say to each student, at least that’s the approach the good teachers take.

      I like the Precision Nutrition program. I’m a certified coach with that organization. The research they provide is great, but it’s their coaching model that I like having in my toolbox. They teach that you must collect a thorough assessment of each person nutritionally before you just jump in and give them a nutrition plan. That includes a kitchen assessment, a scale of their appetite awareness, the social support they may or may not get at home and work, and a base of their knowledge of nutrition. Not everyone should use a Paleo diet. Even if Kim Kardasian used it to drop the babyfat, it matters. I say that tongue in cheek, because I have had someone tell me that. What works for some may not work for others. That goes for teaching, motivating, and nutrition. So next time you try something new in your fitness plan and don’t get the results you were expecting, don’t get discouraged. Maybe it wasn’t the right plan for you. Keep trying until you get the right recipe. Isn’t that half the fun anyway? Remember practice will make you better, and good practice will make you great.

See you at the studio.

My first yoga workout

      I recently completed my first formal yoga workout at the studio. It was an amazing experience. I’m a little quirky with my workouts. When I experiment with a new type of workout and it really challenges me… I love it. I’ve made a concentrated effort to work on my mobility the last three years, I’ve shown big improvements, but yoga was like putting kerosene on a fire for me.
      When I was mapping out my business plan for the semi-private program at the studio 6 months ago, I knew I wanted to add other services such as yoga & nutrition (to add more value to our personal training services). I understand yoga but knew I wasn’t qualified to teach it, so I recruited my good friend Karen Lane who has over 20 years of teaching in the valley and is a very good instructor. I know I had to get someone that really wanted to see people get better, not just randomly show up for workouts, and Karen does that. One of her beefs with teaching Yoga throughout the valley was that you never know who was showing up, and it was hard to work on progressions because the people who took instruction from her would vary so much. Forget trying to tie together 3 months of workouts, how about 3 weeks! So when I approached her and told her that our studio was a membership based studio, and that the briefest membership was 3 months, she agreed to come on board.
      I’ve known Karen for over 10 years, and have trained many people that have taken instruction from her. On several occasions we’ve had deep discussions on movement. Her thoughts on movement were in alignment, no pun intended, with those of the studio, so having her on my team has been a big plus. One of the things I do periodically with all of my instructors & coaches after they come on board is to sit in on a workout. On a personal level I’ve wanted to start yoga, so this was a perfect reason to jump in. I’ve written about it in my book the Torch Workout (if you haven’t read it, download it for free from the link below).

In it I discuss my bodybuilding career when I was 198lbs with less than 5% body-fat, had just won the NPC Jr. National Championships as a light-heavy weight and could barely move. As a bodybuilder, I had built a nice foundation of strength (routinely performed rear squats with over 500lbs and could deadlift over 500lbs), but sacrificed mobility. That changed after I stopped competing and began working on functional strength. I truly didn’t realize how poorly I moved until I started using kettlebells in 2011. Soon after getting my Russian Kettlebell Certification (RKC) in 2012, I started down the path of improving my mobility along with that of my clients. I’m happy that it has happened this way because it’s allowed me understand how people feel when I assess them at our studio, I understand them not having the ability to move well. One of my issues with the personal training industry is that many trainers truly lack compassion. Having to deal with my own mobility struggles has allowed me to be a better coach.
      Let’s fast forward to my 1st yoga session. Having muscular and well developed quads has affected my knee flexion and I also have experienced a past hamstring strain resulting in some scar tissue. Sitting on your heels with flexed knees is a big challenge for me. Karen was quick to show me a regression using the blocks. As we progressed through many of the postures, I felt some instant improvement in my knee mobility. Like many new workouts, I had a few strengths that were always followed by something I strongly needed to work on. The bottom line is it was great to experience yoga in a semi-private format that allowed me to make improvements in my 1st workout. I don’t see being a Yogi in my horizon, but I look forward to the benefits of improved mobility in the near future.

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.

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