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Scott Shetler
I’m a Vegan Strength Coach. This is How Fitness Has Been Part of My Life for 28 Years

Scott Shetlers Stats When We Talked with Him 💪

United States
44 years
178 cm
(5 ’10)
88 kg
(195 lbs)

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👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training

My name is Scott Shetler. I am 44 years old and currently living with my wife Lisa, our two dogs, and five cats in Atlanta, Georgia. I am originally from Geneva, Ohio. I am a veteran of the US Navy and have a degree in Health and Physical Education.

I have worked in the health and fitness industry since May of 1998 and currently own a private strength training facility, Extreme Performance Training Systems, where I work with motivated fitness enthusiasts and athletes from many sports competing at all levels, particularly Olympic sports athletes and combat sports athletes.

In addition to my degree, I am a certified personal trainer through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and have the following specialty certifications: Westside Barbell Special Strengths Coach, Tai Chi Healthways Standard Tai Chi Instructor, and World Kettlebell Club Kettlebell Coach.

I am a vegan and do as much as I can to support animal welfare including my Plant-Based Performance project where I self-published two books that 100% of sales go to benefit animal welfare organizations.

I was mostly into music, skateboarding and BMX as a kid but became interested in training mainly through bodybuilding and as time went on, I ended up competing in powerlifting and kettlebell sport.

I got tired of carrying the extra bodyweight for powerlifting and ended up leaning down about 50lbs and in 2011 started training in Taijiquan and practicing qigong, particularly as my goals began shifting away from performance and more toward health and longevity.

I still enjoy strength training but have reduced the intensity dramatically to reduce the stress on my body and joints and have been training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for about a year now.

In addition, I have self-published many books on strength training and health and fitness and co-authored a book entitled, “Eat Plants, Lift Iron” which was a collaboration with Stic of the hip-hop duo Dead Prez and his wife Afya.

The book details what Stic went through to gain 20lbs of muscle on a whole food, plant-based diet without supplements, pills or protein powders with Afya handling his nutrition plan and me his strength training.

Outside of training and my business, I am a big supporter of animal welfare, I still try to do a little skateboarding, and am a huge music fan (punk rock and metal mainly) and try to get to concerts whenever possible.

⏱ Describe a typical day of training

My primary focus is on recovery.

My training varies day to day but is consistent weekly and my programming is based on Louie Simmons’ conjugate method. Due to a shoulder injury, I don’t do much barbell pressing or barbell squatting. My pressing is usually done with the Bandbell Earthquake Bar, kettlebells, or push-ups.

Squatting is usually bodyweight for reps or in my belt squat machine. The deadlift is the main focus of my strength training and in addition my favorite exercises are pull-ups, rows, kettlebell swings and reverse hypers. My primary focus is on recovery.

A normal training week is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu two to three times per week, strength training two to three times per week, cardiovascular training two times per week, and I practice qigong and Taijiquan four to five times per week.

I try to meditate daily as well. I keep my higher intensity/anaerobic training sessions, jiu jitsu and strength training, together on the same day that way I can get lower intensity aerobic training on the other days to assist with recovery and improving cardiovascular efficiency. I am trying to incorporate more flexibility and mobility work daily as well.

I don’t really take many supplements. I use Sprouts Vegetarian Glucosamine, Complement Plus (a combination of B12, D3, and a vegan sourced EPA/DHA), and MRM Creatine.

To monitor physical readiness, I use Joel Jamieson’s Morpheus recovery device which measures heart rate variability and taking into account things like sleep habits, daily activity and training provides recommendations for daily training intensity.

Here is what my training week generally looks like:

  • Monday: Nogi BJJ class, followed by strength training. Strength work is usually dynamic effort deadlift where I use 50-60% of my one rep max along with about 25-35% band tension for about 20-25 reps (8×3 and 5×5 are common set and rep schemes). Accessory work is usually belt squats or Hindu squats, pulldowns, glute/ham raises, reverse hypers, neck/traps, and lots of torso work. Later in the day I do some stretching, qigong and Taiji practice.
  • Tuesday: Low intensity cardiovascular training, stretching, qigong and Taiji practice.
  • Wednesday: Gi BJJ class, followed by strength training. Strength work is usually push ups or kettlebell presses, pull-ups or pulldowns, rows, some direct arm work for the triceps and biceps and some shoulder work, usually some shoulder raises and Indian club swinging. I do some more torso work and later in the day I stretch and do qigong and Taiji practice.
  • Thursday: Occasionally do some open mat BJJ with any of my training partners that come by to train, otherwise it is the same as Tuesday, low intensity cardiovascular training, stretching, qigong and Taiji practice.
  • Friday: Gi BJJ class and strength training is focused on heavy deadlifting. After max effort deadlift I usually hit some back extensions, reverse hypers, pulldowns, neck/traps and a lot of torso work.
  • Saturdays and Sundays are off from training, but I still try to do some stretching, qigong, etc. In addition, I try to meditate daily.

👊 How do you keep going and push harder?

I wouldn’t say that pushing harder is something I worry about, but rather consistency. I’ve become more aware of monitoring my training intensity and how it affects my recovery.

Training is something that I simply have to do daily and I try to make my motivation internal. I do not take my health for granted and just having the physical ability to be able to lift and train in the martial arts is a blessing to me.

At this point in my life, I don’t care about intensity or trying to break any records, my goal is longevity and I plan to do this until I die. For me the key to longevity in training has been making rest and recovery a priority, good consistent sleep and a healthy plant-based diet have been key.

Since I own my own training facility making time to train is not an issue. My BJJ coach runs his academy under the same roof so I have the ability to train martial arts and do my strength and conditioning at the same place I train my clients. I literally have no excuse to miss a training session.

🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Currently, my training is going very well. I have the normal minor pains and joints issues that go along with years of powerlifting and training martial arts, but it is something I can manage and as long as I pay attention to my recovery, training frequency, and intensity I feel like I’ve hit a pretty good stride.

My goals for the next five years are to keep this consistency with my training and to explore the martial arts I practice at a deeper level.

Businesswise since I am at my capacity for one on one clients, I plan to continue to build my group athlete training sessions, my Taiji class that I teach, and will continue to take people remotely in my online coaching program.

In addition, I would like to do more seminars and speaking engagements, finish the current book projects I am working on, and continue to publish content online through my blog, YouTube channel, and podcast.

🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?

Nutrition is critical for recovery.

Recovery and restoration have become my primary focus. I know it is cliché but once I hit my early 40’s it has become much more difficult to recover from intense training.

For training, I try to put my strength training sessions on the days that I train jiu jitsu, since both are quite stressful to my body and joints this allows me to have recovery days in between these higher intensity days.

As mentioned earlier, I use Joel Jamieson’s Morpheus recovery program to monitor my daily readiness and adjust my daily training accordingly. Getting enough consistent sleep has always been a problem for me as I end up working late into the night doing research or working on my writing projects, both of which are difficult to do during the day due to my hectic schedule.

I’ve found that to feel good and perform well I need to get seven to eight hours of sleep, but much of the time I am only getting 6-6.5 hours. Adding in a couple low intensity cardiovascular training sessions weekly and increasing my stretching and mobility work helps tremendously.

I have noticed a big improvement with recovery due to my qigong and meditation practice and see huge decreases in my resting heart rate after these practices.

Nutrition is critical for recovery. I try to eat a mostly whole food plant-based diet, but I do eat some junk food on occasion. Sometimes a little too much but what can I say? I’m a sucker for vegan donuts!

I have been pretty lucky in that I have never suffered a catastrophic injury due to training or competition, but I do deal with a lot of joint pain almost daily.

My shoulders, elbows, lower back and one of my knees tend to bother me pretty regularly and I can usually manage this with some high rep band exercises for joint integrity, and other therapeutic modalities such as ice, heat, massage, etc.

Unfortunately, joint pain is something nearly everyone I know who has a strength sport or competitive athletic background suffers from.

My advice is to be smart about your training and competitive endeavors and place a great deal of emphasis on restoration and recovery.

🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?

I have been affectionately referred to as the “hungry caterpillar”

My diet is 100% vegan and I try to eat as much whole plant-based foods as possible. A typical day is usually coffee on my way to the gym. I usually have some overnight oats or high fiber cereal prepared with nuts, raisins, cinnamon, chia seeds, oat milk and flax meal.

I always have a green smoothie every day usually made with oat milk, two to four cups of mixed greens (kale, spinach, chard, and dandelion greens are commonly used), one cup of mixed berries and a banana.

I drink a protein/carb drink as a post workout recovery meal and it is about 20-30 grams of plant-based protein (Plantfusion, Vega, and Orgain are my most commonly used brands) mixed in 2 cups of chocolate non-dairy milk (usually oat, almond or soy). I take creatine with it as well.

In addition to the creatine, I use a vegan glucosamine and Complement Plus (which is a vegan sourced combo B12, D3, EPA/DHA).

In addition to all of this, I usually eat two meals a day, which are usually a mix of vegetables, beans and grains and snack on fruit and nuts, hummus, or peanut butter sandwiches throughout the day as well.

I have been affectionately referred to as the “hungry caterpillar” by a lifter I train named Sarah due to my constant snacking habits. I drink water, tea, and coffee most of the time but like to drink some kombucha as well.

My favorite junk foods are donuts, cookies, and dark chocolate-all vegan of course. My wife and I eat out often and I am a big fan of Ethiopian food, Asian food, and there are a ton of great specialty vegan restaurants in Atlanta that we frequent as well.

👍 What has inspired and motivated you?

Many people have inspired me over the years, and I am an avid reader. Some of my favorite books are Hardcore Zen by Brad Warner, Musashi’s Dokkodo by Miyamoto Musashi, The Shaolin Monastary by Meir Shahar, The Way of Zen by Alan Watts, Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki, and Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. I was also a huge fan of the late Steve Jeck’s writings for Ironmind publications.

In the gym I listen mostly to punk, hardcore and metal but when I run, I usually listen to audiobooks or podcasts.

I have received a lot of great advice during my nearly 45 laps around the sun, but this paraphrased quote from Brad Warner’s book Hardcore Zen is something I often fall back on, “You can only attain liberation by clearly seeing there is nothing to attain… Enlightenment is reality itself… And reality is you-naked, stinky, and phony as all get-out… Reality is the basis of every booger up your nose, every pit-stain in your dad’s t-shirts, and every dingleberry on your ass… Reality is this momenty.”

✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?

If you want to improve yourself do it holistically. Find something you are passionate about. Always try to make yourself better, no matter what you do, never settle. Find a way to benefit others, particularly those who can’t help themselves. Question everything.

Don’t just go to the gym to get bigger guns or a six-pack. Make your health a priority and strengthen the mind as well as the body. As Henry Rollins said, “Keep your blood clean, your body lean, and your mind sharp.”

🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?

I am currently at capacity with my personal training clients and no longer taking one-on-one clients. I do have room to take people in my group athlete training program and my Taijiquan classes that I teach.

In addition, I am currently accepting clients for my online coaching program and am available for consultation for athletes and fitness enthusiasts looking to adopt a plant-based diet.

📝 Where can we learn more about you?

People can find more information about my gym and my in-person and online training services by visiting my website at There are pages dedicated to my blog, podcast, books, and my plant-based performance project on my site as well.

If anyone has any questions about my coaching program or is interested in setting up a training seminar or speaking engagement they can contact me directly at [email protected]

I am active on social media and people can follow me on Facebook, linked In, Instagram, and YouTube at the following links:
Facebook: @eptsgym and @sshetlerfitness
YouTube: @sshetler13
Linked In: @sshetler
Instagram: @sshetler613 and @eptsgym

See also  How I Train and Work as a Nomad Personal Trainer and Podcaster

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