Everyday Warrior Podcast Episode 11: Former Competitive Bodybuilder Nick Shaw

Men’s Journal’s Everyday Warrior With Mike Sarraille is a new podcast that inspires individuals to live more fulfilling lives by having conversations with disrupters and high performers in all walks of life. In our eleventh episode, we spoke to Nick Shaw, founder and CEO of Renaissance Periodization, a training and nutrition company. The former competitive powerlifter and bodybuilder has personally coached world-class athletes from all disciplines, including CrossFit Games champions, Olympians, UFC fighters, and Navy SEALs.

Listen to the full episode above (scroll down for the transcript) and see more from this series below.

This interview has not been edited for length or clarity.


Mike Sarraille:
And welcome to the Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior Podcast, I’m Mike Sarraille, your host. Today, we’re joined by Nick Shaw. I was about to say fitness influencer, but he’s not a fitness influencer, he is a fitness expert. And you guys will see as we get further into the episode that he is. And personally, I’ve utilized his services, because again, he puts out science-based, not only training regimens, but diet.
But Nick is the co-founder and current CEO of Renaissance Periodization, also known on social media as RP Strength. Again, go check out the website at the end of this podcast. If you’re looking for a training program you’re already serious into the sport, or intermediate to advanced, they can definitely take you to the next level as well, as nutrition is the sweet spot. But Nick, thank you for joining us.

Nick Shaw:
Awesome, man. Thanks for having me. This is really great to be here down in Austin.

Mike Sarraille:
Of course. And we already hooked you up with a pair of boots, which we’ll show at the end.

Nick Shaw:
Dude, this is awesome. I can’t wait to wear them, check them out.

Mike Sarraille:
So for the listeners, let’s get into your background, where you’re born and raised, what led you down this path into the fitness industry?

Nick Shaw:
Yeah, I was born in the great state of Michigan. So born and raised there, I went to school at the university of Michigan. I have an older brother, an older sister. And my brother’s four years older than me and was always into high school sports. And I watched him train, go to practice, and it was just something that I always wanted to do. And we had one of these… You might appreciate this. In our basement, we had one of those weight sets, one of those real skinny benches.

Mike Sarraille:
Yeah.

Nick Shaw:
You know what I’m talking about?

Mike Sarraille:
The old skinny…

Nick Shaw:
Oh yeah. Sand weights, all that. The bar that maybe weighed like five pounds. So a funny story, I remember thinking that I was kind of a big deal, because I could put a 45 on each side of that. It weighs nothing though. And then going into the weight room at school for the first time ever, and the actual 45 pound bar, I just get buried. And I’m like, “Oh, snap.” So yeah, I’ve just always been into it, I guess. I think it helps being a younger sibling, you have kind of someone to look up to, someone that you want to emulate.

Mike Sarraille:
So you were the youngest?

Nick Shaw:
Yep.

Mike Sarraille:
What did you folks do?

Nick Shaw:
Oh man, my dad worked tool and die his whole life, just always working on his feet. One of the hardest working people in the entire world, very blue collar. My mom worked a lot of different various jobs, waitress, to receptionist, to stay-at-home mom. Kind of always doing whatever she could for her kids. So yeah, man I had a really great growing up, I guess. Just really hardworking parents set a really great example for us.

Mike Sarraille:
What I’m hearing is a good American family.

Nick Shaw:
Hell yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
All right. So what in particular did you rather play in high school that…

Nick Shaw:
Baseball and basketball. Yeah, baseball and basketball, that’s about right. Yeah, and I just remember him lifting, and watching him work out, and I was like, “Man, that seems really cool. How do I do that?” And he just kind of got me involved early and I was kind of hooked. I was really fascinated with the whole idea of, you can start out with really nothing, and if you work really hard, and you just keep showing up, keep being consistent, keep putting in the work. You can very visibly change yourself and you can make yourself better. And I’m really kind of fascinated with that whole idea of getting better, self improvement.

Mike Sarraille:
What age did you start, would you say, you started lifting weights?

Nick Shaw:
About 13.

Mike Sarraille:
That’s interesting. I’ve always heard, well within our family, this is growing up in the ’80s, ’90s. Yeah, I just dated myself. We were always told you can’t lift weights until you’re 18, because it stunts your growth. Any truth to that whatsoever?

Nick Shaw:
Yeah, I don’t think so. Not if you’re really doing it responsibly, and not going too crazy. And I mean, let’s be honest, if I’m 13 years old, it’s not like I’m doing anything super crazy. I’m probably mostly just doing bench press and curls, right? That’s what everyone wants to do, you just want to show off.

Mike Sarraille:
The glamor muscles.

Nick Shaw:
Of course, of course.

Mike Sarraille:
So did you play any sports in high school as well?

Nick Shaw:
Yeah. It’s really funny because most people look at me now and they’re like, “Oh, you played football right?” And I was like, “Well actually, I was a distance runner.” Yeah. So I was a distance runner, did some basketball, did track. That was probably my main thing, was track.
So a funny story about the distance running, and this is kind of really, I think maybe, when I figured out the whole idea of hard work, and how it relates to success. I was a terrible distance runner my freshman year. I think our top seven were “varsity” and we had nine people. I did not run varsity my freshman year. And then our coach told us after a track ended before the… I guess cross country season started in the fall. He’s like, “All right, your goal is to run 100 miles in total.”
And I was like, “Oh, okay.” I’m just someone that, if there’s a plan laid out, I’m going to do it, right? That’s what you do, if there’s a plan, you do it. Duh. And I showed up the first day of cross country my sophomore year, and I was running with the top people from the year before, and I’m just looking around and, “What the hell is going on here?” And come to find out, I was basically one of two people on the entire team that actually did what they were supposed to.
And then something kind of clicked that day for me, I’m like, “Huh. Well I definitely am not genetically blessed, but if I do the things that other people aren’t willing to do, maybe I have a chance.” And that was a light bulb moment for me, that really kind of flipped the switch for me, of just loving the gym. And I remember the greatest compliment I probably ever received was, I was called a gym rat by my high school track coach.

Mike Sarraille:
So gym rat in the sense that you were unlike a lot of track athletes lifting heavy weight… No, well, I mean, lifting weights, doing bench press, squats, things along those lines?

Nick Shaw:
Yeah. I was always the biggest cross country runner. Usually these folks would be 130, 140 pounds. And here I am like, 160, 170. I could probably bench like two plates, which in high school, that’s a really big deal.

Mike Sarraille:
That’s a huge deal.

Nick Shaw:
And so, yeah, I wasn’t a great distance runner, because I weighed 25 pounds heavier than everyone else. It’s like carrying a weight vest, I mean, you know how that is. And I wasn’t a super fast sprinter either. So I kind of made my living in the middle distance events, which are more or less the events that really suck, and no one really wants to do. So I was like, “Well, sign me up for that.” So…

Mike Sarraille:
With middle distance we’re talking 800m?

Nick Shaw:
400m and 800m, yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
All right. When did the bug hit you? When did you know you were hooked on weight lifting?

Nick Shaw:
I don’t know, when I was about 15, or 16. And I remember, because one Christmas I requested from my parents, an actual bench and barbell set. You know, 300 pounds of weights. And I remember getting that for Christmas and thinking like, “Holy shit, this is the best Christmas present I could ever imagine.” And those weights are still in my parents’ basement, so.

Mike Sarraille:
Were you one of those kids that were picking up the magazines? Remember in the day when the fitness magazines were huge? Yeah.

Nick Shaw:
Yes. 100% man. And it’s really funny, because I remember there was an ESPN magazine of David Boston. Do you remember David Boston?

Mike Sarraille:
No.

Nick Shaw:
So he was a wide receiver for Ohio State, which is really funny, because I’m a Michigan guy, so you’d think I wouldn’t really be interested in Ohio State people. He was a genetic freak. 6’5″, 220lb, ran a 4.3 second 40 yard, 5% body fat. And I just remember reading an article and seeing his picture. And I basically, I cut that out and I put it down in my parents’ basement and I’m like, “I’m probably never going to reach that, but I want to do whatever I can to look anything like that.”

Mike Sarraille:
To look like that, in terms of physique?

Nick Shaw:
Yep. Oh yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
Well did you get there?

Nick Shaw:
No. No. Never.

Mike Sarraille:
And his name again, was?

Nick Shaw:
David Boston. Yeah, he was a wide receiver. Played in the NFL for like a decade for, I think the Chargers, Arizona Cardinals.

Mike Sarraille:
I’m going to have to look this up. Pictures. I always think that’s one of the worst things. It’s great to have a role model, but to understand that their genetics are so drastically different, that you will never look like that. You’ve got to figure out genetically where you can get.

Nick Shaw:
Yeah. And that just goes back to the whole idea of like, “Yeah, I may not ever look like that, but how far can I get? How far can I push myself to my own limits? And I don’t necessarily know what that answer is, but I want to try to find out.”

Mike Sarraille:
So eventually high school comes to an end and you choose Michigan. Is the University of Michigan in your blood, is that a family thing?

Nick Shaw:
It’s in my blood. I’m the first person in my family, I think, to ever go to U of M, but it’s absolutely in my blood.

Mike Sarraille:
Oh, I can tell. If you follow your Instagram, you are a die hard Wolverine.

Nick Shaw:
Yes, sir.

Mike Sarraille:
And you guys finally beat Ohio State, right, this year? Was that the…

Nick Shaw:
Hell yes we did. Finally.

Mike Sarraille:
Were you at that game?

Nick Shaw:
I wasn’t at it, I was actually… We have a mountain house up in North Carolina, and I kind of jokingly said, “I think we’re going to have to go there every single year now.” So, sorry family, but we’re going to be up there every single year for the Michigan Ohio State game, so.

Mike Sarraille:
Because it’s the tradition now. It was the fact that you guys were there…

Nick Shaw:
Knock on wood, yeah. Got to do what we can.

Mike Sarraille:
So you chose to major in sports management.

Nick Shaw:
Yep.

Mike Sarraille:
Was a good portion of that major also… I know some majors, they call it kinesiology. Was the fitness component a big part of the sports management?

Nick Shaw:
Totally. I just always grew up sports fan, knew I wanted to do something involved in sports. And it wasn’t until, probably about my junior year, that rather than sports related, I wanted to do something specifically in fitness. Just because I just really got hooked on… Michigan’s where I met my buddy, co-founder of RP. We met in the weight room and he kind of got me hooked. He’s like, “Hey, you should try out this club that I’m running. I just set up our Michigan power lifting club.” Did that, and man, I mean, I was hooked from day one. I already kind of had the bug where I just loved training in general. But that was when the bug for sort of, specifically power lifting, body building, whatever you want to call it, really hit me. It was like my sophomore year in college.

Mike Sarraille:
So that’s when you turned it on.

Nick Shaw:
Yeah, that’s when I was like, that’s my calling, that’s what I want to do the rest of my life. Something fitness related, absolutely.

Mike Sarraille:
And did you actually start competing in college?

Nick Shaw:
Yeah, a little bit. I competed. I don’t want to say I competed well, but I competed.

Mike Sarraille:
Both power lifting, physique competitions, or was there a specific focus?

Nick Shaw:
Yeah, both. Yep.

Mike Sarraille:
Both?

Nick Shaw:
Yep.

Mike Sarraille:
Do those usually go hand-in-hand?

Nick Shaw:
No, not necessarily, but I just wanted to kind of try out both and see what I liked more. And they’re both hard, but in sort of equally different ways.

Mike Sarraille:
Because the guys who do physique, often you go down that path, you’re sacrificing strength to some regard.

Nick Shaw:
Little bit. It’s very hard in the sense that you just… Power lifting is really just, it’s hard, because you’re training and you’re in the gym for a couple hours a day. Don’t get me wrong, that’s hard. But body building is 24/7, because you have to so closely monitor what you eat, that there’s no ever getting away from it. Because if you don’t, it’s going to show up. It’s very, very evident, right? You’re standing on stage, you don’t have much there to hide, so you can’t do too much about it.

Mike Sarraille:
It’s amazing how the workout regimen, or generally accepted workout regimen, is different for just whatever your focus is. You’ve heard the phrase, the worst thing a football player can do is look in the mirror?

Nick Shaw:
Yeah. Yeah, no. I mean, that’s actually a really big component of training, is specificity. And you have to train specifically for what you want to actually compete in. So there’s a reason, if you look at all the different sports, folks are probably training a little bit differently. That’s because if you want to be really good at sprinting, well you’re probably doing a lot of sprinting, and you’re probably training specifically for that. If you want to be very good at distance running, your training is a heck of a lot different. The idea, the principle, the training principle of specificity.

Mike Sarraille:
Very, very, very interesting. So, college comes in, and you’ve met your future co-founder. I mean, were you guys discussing a business plan at that point, or you just went your separate ways? Because you eventually ended up in New York City.

Nick Shaw:
Yeah. So, he was a couple years ahead me in school, but he had graduated with his master’s in strength and conditioning from Appalachian State, and said, “Hey, I’m moving to New York City, I’m going to be a trainer. You have any interest in this?” I said, “I don’t know what I want to do, but yeah.”
And I’d never been to New York. Went out there, interviewed, got the job. We both moved out there. And I just knew that we would help be helping people train, and then we could sort of dedicate ourselves to training. And I’m 21 years old, so I’m like, “New York City? Sure. Let’s do it.” And that’s it.

Mike Sarraille:
And what was the job?

Nick Shaw:
It was personal trainer.

Mike Sarraille:
At, where?

Nick Shaw:
Ah, well a little gym, private gym, in New York City.

Mike Sarraille:
No, were you living in the city?

Nick Shaw:
Oh yeah. Oh yeah. In our first apartment, we had three people living in a one bedroom apartment.

Mike Sarraille:
Because I was going to say, making a personal fitness trainer salary living in New York, that’s got to be a little hard.

Nick Shaw:
Yeah. So, my buddy slept on the couch. There was one bedroom, and then there was a home office, where you could put up one of those little mini walls, and that’s where our other roommate slept. So we kind of had three distinct parts, and that’s how we lived for a year.

Mike Sarraille:
Some of the best years of your life.

Nick Shaw:
I don’t have any regrets about that. I got to do exactly what I wanted to do, so it was awesome.

Mike Sarraille:
Isn’t it amazing how simple your life is when you’re young? Because I remember living in the barracks in the Marines. And we did not make much money as a Marine, but those were some of the best times, where somebody had a car, you would all pile in, leave the base on Friday and come back on Sunday. And you would watch cautiously how much you spent on alcohol at the bars, because you’d run through your paycheck quickly.

Nick Shaw:
I remember one time I lost my Metro card, or I lost my wallet, actually. And I legitimately didn’t know, I was like, “I don’t know how I’m actually going to get a new Metro card.” And I somehow was able to get a refund or something, but yeah there was no extra money. It was tight. Very tight.

Mike Sarraille:
That reminds me of the Marines. I lost my one debit card… This is 1998. Put it in the machine, the machine never gave it back. Called the number, which I had to go to a pay phone to call the number. No one answered. And you have to get a haircut every Sunday for the Marines. Well, I had no money to pay for a haircut, so a buddy just shaved my head completely. Those were first world problems in the early days.
So, how long did you live in New York?

Nick Shaw:
So I lived in New York for about six years, but I want to say maybe after about a year or two, I left the gym that I was at and started training people on my own. And not too long after that is when we actually officially started RP. My buddy was… He had left, he was going to get his PhD. And he was training people online, which, this is circa 2010, let’s call it. So a long time ago, not a lot of people were doing online coaching back then. But he’s like, “Hey, you should help me out, because I have too many people wanting my help. I need your help.”
And so we joined forces, and that’s really more or less when RP started. And there were no grand intentions of thinking we’d ever become remotely well known. I mean, look at our name. Why would we ever choose a name like that if we thought we were going to be even a tiny bit successful? So yeah, honestly it just goes back to, we knew that we loved fitness, we wanted to help people. And that was it. We kind of figured out the rest as we went along.

Mike Sarraille:
So I’ve got to ask, where did the name… Who came up with the name, where did it come from?

Nick Shaw:
Yeah, we kind of both came up with it. So there’s two parts, Renaissance, we wanted to be sort of like the rebirth of evidence-based practices in fitness. Because back then, there was just a lot of people kind of just doing random shit in the gym.

Mike Sarraille:
Bro science.

Nick Shaw:
Bro science. And we would see that, but we would see these people had… Obviously they were doing something right. But we just thought, well, what if we took these people with really good genetics and had them do evidence-based nutrition and training. Because if you take someone with good genetics, and they have crappy maybe, diet and training practices… They could still do very, very well, don’t get me wrong. But maybe to get to that next level, to really become the elite of the elite, there’s something more that can be done. And so that’s what really interested us.
So that’s the Renaissance part. And the Periodization part refers to, in sport science it’s, you take one phase to successfully set up the next phase to be more productive. So for example, the Winter Olympics were just not too long ago this year. You can imagine that the way these folks are training in the months leading up to the Olympics, is a lot different than how they’re training a year or two before. That’s the idea of periodization, you don’t just train the same year round. And we thought we could do the same with training and nutrition. So, that’s that part.
And I’ll also give a shout out. There’s a hedge fund in Long Island called Renaissance Technologies, and that was really kind of one of our inspirations, because they didn’t do what everyone else did in finance. They hired PhDs, they hired mathematicians, they hired some of the brightest and smartest people in the entire world. And they’ve sort of consistently beat the market and outperformed everyone else, almost every single year, since like 1990. Jim Simons is the founder of RenTech.
So we kind of drew upon that, where we didn’t want to just hire anyone to be a coach at RP. It’s like, “No, no, no. All of our coaches are either PhDs in a field that relates to nutrition or training, or they’re a registered dietician themselves.” That was our differentiator.

Mike Sarraille:
You know, you bring up a good point of… Especially with [inaudible] of social media and what we see now. I mean, there’s some people on social media that are… They’re beasts. I’ll give it. Physique wise, they’re beasts. And whatever method they have, or system they have, works for them. But then when you see your workouts, or they design a workout for you, you’re like, “What? This is either unsustainable, I’m going to get hurt. There’s no rhyme or reason to it.” And so at the end of the day, it just doesn’t work for anyone else.

Nick Shaw:
Yeah. There’s a difference between being able to get results for yourself, and some people are successful in spite of what they do. And some people don’t necessarily grasp that, because they just see the end result of, “Oh, well look at them.” But can they explain why it is that they’re doing what they’re doing? That’s maybe an important test, can they actually explain it? If not, well, maybe you should be a little skeptical.
And then two, you could look at it well, can they duplicate those same results with other people that are not blessed with as good genetics? And if they can get results for other people, that’s a pretty good sign. And then if they can explain the why, and sort of, well, why are they doing the things that they’re doing to themselves, and for their clients. If they can start checking all those boxes, now the chances of them really knowing what they’re doing are much, much higher.

Mike Sarraille:
So I’ve got a issue. While I do believe a trainer has to look the part, they have to practice what they preach, they have to live by example. And you go to a lot of these chain gyms, and the certifications for the trainers are the certifications they get in what, a week, over a weekend? How for those that are listening, when they choose a trainer… And I’m all about choosing a trainer. I mean, you’ve worked with SEALs. We always go out and find the civilians that are the best. The best shooters, the best climbers, the best parachutists, and we go train with them.
So for a beginner, yeah, absolutely use a great coach, mentor, trainer. How do you vet someone in whether they truly know what the hell they’re fucking talking about?

Nick Shaw:
It’s really tough. And I always like to say, I don’t know anything about cars. I don’t know anything about engines, whatever. I could very easily go to a mechanic and they could feed me a line of complete BS, I wouldn’t know. I wouldn’t know the difference. So when I think about folks out there that are looking at all these fitness influencers out there, that kind of look like they know what they’re doing. How do you really decipher that, how do you break down?
Well one, can they duplicate their results that they’re getting? If they’re a coach, do they have proven results, do they have testimonials, all that stuff? That’s principle, social proof, that’s probably a good checkbox there. Two, do they have any formal education around it? If they do, that’s probably another good thing. Those are probably two good areas to start looking into of, should I trust this person, or should I be a little bit skeptical about what it is they’re doing?

Mike Sarraille:
So I want to get back to New York. Six years, while you were there you met your wife, Lori.

Nick Shaw:
Yeah. And so, it’s funny that you’re saying that, because if you want to hire a trainer, usually you want to hire someone that’s very fit. And at the time, I probably wasn’t the most fit person in the world, when I met my wife. But obviously we could probably talk a good game, and sort of knew what we were doing. So as you were saying that I was kind of laughing in my head, because I was like, “Well maybe, luckily, my wife didn’t have that same mindset.” Because I wouldn’t be where I am right now if that was the case.

Mike Sarraille:
So if I’m understanding this, Lori was a client?

Nick Shaw:
Yes, that’s actually how I first met her, yeah. She was a client, yep.

Mike Sarraille:
Doesn’t that violate some sort of principles? No, that’s the Hippocratic Oath…

Nick Shaw:
I don’t think so? In fitness, I don’t think there’s any rule like that. It’s probably fairly common, so. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but.

Mike Sarraille:
We’re going to dissect this one. So how did she approach you, how did she find you as a trainer?

Nick Shaw:
Oh, you know, I actually remember she invited me to see Yankees games. And I was like, “Yeah, I want to go watch some Yankees games, of course.” And I’m sort of hanging outside.

Nick Shaw:
… go watch some Yankees games, of course. Started hanging outside of the professional setting, and I was like, “Yeah.”

Mike Sarraille:
So you started with the training and then she invited you to some Yankees games. She crossed the line first, the red line in the sand.

Nick Shaw:
I like that story, let’s go with that.

Mike Sarraille:
Let’s go with that.

Nick Shaw:
Let’s go with that. It was her, sure. Yeah, yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
Lori’s not here to defend herself, so we’ll have to do a second podcast and have Lori join us. So, even then though, the fitness industry, whether online or not, it’s saturated. That is a saturated market. You guys are now a, I’m not one to get into numbers, but a multimillion dollar company.
Talk to me about starting out in building it to where it is today, and as you’re thinking about that, what advice are you given to those young entrepreneurs, whether regardless of any industry, especially the fitness industry who are trying to break in and build their own legacy?

Nick Shaw:
Yeah, so really our differentiator was the idea of combining not only the academics, but the athletics. So the coaches that we hired, it wasn’t good enough that you just had the academic credentials, you had to be an athlete yourself. So a lot of our coaches are world class grapplers, they are professional strongman, they compete themselves. So it’s one thing to walk the walk or to talk the talk, and there’s kind of easy ways to poke holes in arguments one way or the other if you only have one. But when you have both, I mean, you have no argument against those folks, because they’re academically qualified, but they also are athletes themselves, they understand exactly what it takes to get results. That is always what we wanted to do.
That was essentially what RP was founded on, being evidence-based, being able to walk the walk and talk the talk. We live, eat, and breathe this stuff ourselves. For example, I use our app every single day, it is just part of who I am. It is incredibly authentic, because I love this stuff. So it’s very easy to go out there and showcase it with other people, because it’s just part of who I am and what I do.

Mike Sarraille:
So, that’s the differentiator? That was the differentiator for you guys, is that you actually, basically created a team of one… I know you’ve got some PhDs and a lot of masters within your coaching staff.

Nick Shaw:
20+ PhDs, five or six registered dieticians. It’s the best staff in the fitness industry hands down.

Mike Sarraille:
Damn. You say that with confidence, because-

Nick Shaw:
100%.

Mike Sarraille:
There’s something to say to that, especially if you’re tracking those type of folks, but the fact that they beyond academia, those who don’t do, teach, but they’ve also lived the life.

Nick Shaw:
Yeah, exactly. That’s what we want. Also, I mean, I will say that, again, if we go back, we’ve been in business about a decade now, we’re coming up on our 10 year anniversary. We were maybe a little early on the scene in the whole social media game. I remember late 2012, early 2013, someone telling me, “Hey, you should start an RP Instagram account.” I remember thinking, “No, I don’t want to. Who’s going to do that? Who’s going to care?”
And then I did, and here we are, we’ve got 600,000+ followers and I’m like, “I guess that was a pretty good idea.” So there’s maybe something to that, in that it’s incredibly saturated now, so really have to think how are you going to stand out? And again, this goes back to our differentiator was that combination of academics and athletics and not everyone has that. It’s a multitude of factors, of course, but I think those are two of the, maybe two of the bigger ones.

Mike Sarraille:
Now it seems like you’re judged on the quality of your content. I’m not saying the words that are coming out, but almost the background music, and that’s what drives followers for a lot of this fitness influence, is not the fitness part, it’s the artistic part.

Nick Shaw:
Yeah, it’s an interesting game out there right now. It’s interesting social media dynamic that’s for sure, and you just got to be able to change and adjust and adapt and what are you going to be doing next?

Mike Sarraille:
It’s been an adjustment for me, because as you know, Dan Luna is a mutual friend. Dan was at dev Group as well, and you didn’t have social media accounts.
It’s not that you weren’t allowed, maybe it was frowned upon, but you didn’t care. That’s not what we did. And then you get into the business world and you do realize it is a mechanism, it is a sales funnel, it is a brand builder.

Nick Shaw:
So I actually ran our Instagram account for the longest time up until about a year ago, and I was just sort of approached it as a puzzle. Because you’ll think that something is going to be the best content in the world and then you post it and it just tanks. And then you post something that you’re like, “Man, this is just really silly,” and it takes off. I don’t know, I just always kind of had a fun and a game approach to it of trial and error. Let’s just trial and error and let’s see what sticks. Man, I don’t know if it’s going to stick or not, but I keep doing little tests and all the feedback that I get is going to kind of point me in the right direction. So you can’t be too set in your ways, and you got to be able to lean into certain things, and not be too caught up of, “Oh, I have to do this,” because it might not work. What are you going to do, just keep forcing it?

Mike Sarraille:
It’s almost like everything is an A/B test.

Nick Shaw:
Yeah [inaudible] yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
I had a great leader and he’s still in the SEAL teams. In fact, he’s leading the SEAL teams now. He said, “Hey, here’s our key to success. We test a little, we learned a lot and we just keep on testing.” He’s like, “The second you stop testing, that’s when you become irrelevant. That’s when you become complacent and that’s when you’re no longer a value to your organization.”
But I mean, this is the reason why for my companies we all use Will Sharman. I’ve got two amazing women in their early 20s, Michelle Ballistrows and Nara Gonzalez. And they are studying the algorithms. Because I guess, correct me if I’m wrong, Will, the algorithms are changing almost weekly and every day. And so they’re always paying attention to that. So I just follow their lead. You tell me what to film. I’ll do it. And they do the rest. But I will never be able to gain an expertise in that arena. So I just rely on the people that know what the hell they’re fucking doing.

Nick Shaw:
Yeah, and I mean, that’s really how the whole social media advertising works. You’re going to have 10, 15, 20, 30 different creatives. For someone to say, or to think that they know definitively what is going to work and what’s not going to work out, they’re full of it. That’s why you have so many different creatives and you just put them out there and you just test because you might not think this one will work, but it does the best out of all of them.
Well, you’re not going to get rid of that one. But some of the ones you think might work and they tank, those go to the wayside. You use the ones that work, you start funneling that way. And then you keep kind of just repeating that process every few months, you just kind of keep using the stuff that does work.

Mike Sarraille:
Would you say that’s the key to your business model as well? You guys just were always testing the model, your approach, bringing on people that knew what the hell they’re talking about?

Nick Shaw:
Well, I think this is a good analogy to fitness and I know fitness pretty well. I think maybe-

Mike Sarraille:
I would hope, at this point.

Nick Shaw:
Knock on wood. But what’s the main thing you do in fitness, you’re always trying to get better. There’s always a little bit more you can do. You can always run a little faster. You can get a little bit stronger. You can add another rep, all that stuff. It’s kind of the same approach that we use, or hopefully is kind of the culture of RP is let’s not settle, let’s not be complacent, let’s always just try to keep getting a little bit better.
And that’s how we approach our app. It’s not like we just released an app and then we never updated it again. It’s no, no, no. It’s very much out there in the real world. We get real world feedback from our clients, we’ve got a giant Facebook group where people can give us feedback literally instantly. So we have to be willing to listen to what they have to say. We have to be willing to change and adapt, go back to the drawing board, keep iterating, keep it new versions out, more upgrades, more new features, all that stuff. Because that’s kind of how the subscription model works. We’re not going to just sit there. We’re going to keep going. We’re going to keep getting better. That’s in our DNA.

Mike Sarraille:
From what I’ve seen and, starting a couple companies now is that you get emotionally attached. I’m sure you guys were emotionally attached to version one of the diet app. I mean, I mean that probably was the hardest phase to get it from a back of a napkin, a concept to actually out in the market. But I see so many people get so emotionally attached to their idea that they totally look past the customer feedback. And if 80% of the customers are saying, “Hey, we don’t like this.” They’re like, “Well, the customers are wrong.”
You guys had to probably initially fight that sense of one, you knew what the hell you’re talking about, but the customers are saying they don’t like this aspect but the customers’ wrong.

Nick Shaw:
Yeah, I feel like that’s almost the idea of, if you are not sort of laughing at what you were doing a couple years ago, maybe you’re not on the right track. Because I look back at our version one, our beta version of our app and yeah, it’s kind of comical. But we had to get it out there to test it, to see if this was something people would actually like. And then of course we went back and we kept iterating and kept updating and that’s just how it is. And I remember thinking, we came out with this update that was supposed to be… All the feedback was from night shift folks and they’re like, “Hey, we want to be able to program our schedules in a little bit easier.” So we’re like, “Oh okay, awesome.”
We spent a lot of time working on that. And then we came out with that, and it kind of turns out that we had catered too much to that. And now it’s kind of the 80/20 rule, right? So the 80% of people that had “normal schedules”, well now we made it harder for them and we’re like, “Oh, well, oh shit. That probably wasn’t the right idea.”
So we had to figure out a way to navigate that and be able to do both. And so, yeah, there’s always something more to do and yeah, you can’t get too caught up in thinking that it’s one particular way, that’s just not how it works. And maybe that’s one of the pros of social media is I don’t think companies can kind of hide anymore. You have to be very willing and able to listen to what people have to say, change and adapt, because if not, I mean, that’s a great thing for customers. You can voice your concerns. Of course, it’s a double-edged sword, but you have to be very mindful of it as a business.

Mike Sarraille:
So I like that. You got to write a second book on the fitness model and how it pertains or how it translates to running a business.

Nick Shaw:
Yeah, I mean, there’s a books, it’s called The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries, but that’s kind of the whole idea of you get out an MVP, a minimum viable product.

Mike Sarraille:
Iterate, iterate.

Nick Shaw:
Yeah, the whole idea is to get something out there to test it and to get feedback. And you just keep doing that. You just keep going back to the drawing board. It’s just this continual cycle of innovation and updates and new features. And it really never stops because that’s how the subscription model works. If you’re a subscriber to something, why would you keep subscribing if they’re not getting better?

Mike Sarraille:
That’s an amazing book by the way. And I do prescribe to his method of so many products or services die because they just never get to market. The paralysis through analysis, and people just never make that leap to just say, “Hey, right now, it’s good enough to get to the market.” You’ve got to iterate rapidly as that feedback is coming back. And again, that’s the same thing with fitness, I’m not losing weight the way I thought I would, so I need to change something up, reiterate until-

Nick Shaw:
Oh yeah, oh yeah. Yeah, there’s a lot of, I think, folks that are maybe scared of failure, they think it has to be perfect before they release something and you have to be okay with accepting some of that failure or negative feedback. Because if you keep waiting around for something to “be perfect”, I mean that day’s literally never going to come.

Mike Sarraille:
I read it somewhere and I can’t remember, but it’s something like 80% of good ideas never make it to market because they just die, paralysis through analysis, or the risk aversion to just take that final leap and get into the arena. So you eventually leave New York, are you married to Lori by this point?

Nick Shaw:
Yeah, at that point we had two small kids. And two small kids living in New York city kind of not super comfortable or great. And the beautiful thing about RP is I could kind of live wherever as long as I have internet. So we’re like, “Why are we here?”

Mike Sarraille:
And so this is what, 2000-

Nick Shaw:
15.

Mike Sarraille:
2015, by this point, the model’s almost completely online.

Nick Shaw:
Yeah, we had probably 10 or 15 coaches. And at that point we had released an ebook which allowed us to reach more people, help more people. And that was another light bulb moment for us. This was several years before we had an app and we wanted to figure out a way to scale the coaching model. So my buddy created these Excel diet templates, that again, they were by no means perfect. If we look back, it’s sort of comical to look at them, but man oh man did that prove the model that people wanted this.
People wanted something like this. So instead of having to pay a coach several hundred dollars a month, you could go buy a digital product that costs a hundred dollars and you could use it and you could get phenomenal results. And a few months after we released those, people started posting their results on social media. And that’s kind of when things really started to take off because we went from being able to help a couple hundred people let’s say, or maybe a thousand if we had 15 coaches, to now we could help tens of thousands of people. And it really kind of changed the game.

Mike Sarraille:
I have that PDF on my computer at home that I had that long before I met you.

Nick Shaw:
I appreciate the support man.

Mike Sarraille:
But I think, well, I think we were supposed to pay for it. You made it to the SEAL community, made its way around the SEAL community. But I can’t remember, it was a seal that sent it to me and they’re like, “Bro, you need to read this.”

Nick Shaw:
Yeah, and that really doesn’t even bother me because some people say, “Oh, aren’t you mad? They didn’t pay for it.” Well, not really, because guess what? Here I am, how many years later, how many people did we help that if we didn’t have that, probably would’ve never even heard of RP, but maybe yeah, they got it for free for somehow. All right. Whatever. But now we went from a circle of this many people. So now we had this many people.

Mike Sarraille:
Well, you guys had to know that, once you put it into the innerwebs, that it was going to get pirated, but it’s almost like a freemium model. And it worked, it had its intended effect of driving people for the paid programs.

Nick Shaw:
It’s a trade-off of digital products. And there are trade-offs with everything, incredibly low cost to digital products, so higher margins. But one of the downsides is, yeah, it’s very easily shareable. But I mean, half of our business is built around giving people free stuff. We give away hundreds of hours of free content on our YouTube channel, for example, of our own internal podcast. You could go program all of your own diet or training yourself through all of this stuff.
But people love that. People love that we’re helping them. So it’s one of those things you got to kind of give in order to receive. So we’re not worried about kind of giving away our trade secrets because we know that we’re going to help so many more people by giving away all this free content that, I don’t know, we’re putting hopefully so much good stuff out there that hopefully someday it’s maybe going to come back.

Mike Sarraille:
Smart. You can watch all the YouTube content you want on your channel, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t replace the human behind. And I think that’s what a lot of people, I mean, come on, let’s be honest, we hire a trainer, not only for the technical aspect, but for the inspirational aspect.

Nick Shaw:
Accountability, yeah.

Mike Sarraille:
There you go, accountabilities. And it’s not bad for you to want somebody to help hold you accountable.

Nick Shaw:
No, no, not at all. I mean, if I was going to compete again, I would hire a coach. I mean, I can use our app %100, for 99% of it. But at the end of the day, usually you kind of just want someone to, I don’t know, to sanity check yourself. Does this sound right? There’s nothing wrong with that. Think of all the business leaders out there that have coaches. I mean, there’s a reason that you hire coaches, you want to learn more. You want to make sure that you’re doing the best and think about, especially when it comes to fitness, I don’t know about you, but do you ever do your own programming?

Mike Sarraille:
Do I do my own programming?

Nick Shaw:
Yeah, every now and again?

Mike Sarraille:
No, I go off your stuff, the Excel spreadsheets you’ve sent me, in how I can plug and play, yeah.

Nick Shaw:
So I’ll do my own programming, but I don’t know about you, but sometimes if I’m in charge of picking the exercises, it’s really easy for me to pick the stuff that I don’t like. If you have a coach, that’s not the same because you’re just going to follow their plan. So there’s a ton of benefits to having a coach. Again, that’s not just fitness, it goes for so many other things out there.

Mike Sarraille:
I remember. So I had a trainer here in Austin. It was early when I arrived here. What I appreciated about him is, he basically said at one point, he said, “Hey man, you’re paying for this? And I’ll drop you as a client if you’re not going to take this seriously.” And I was sort of offended at first. I’m like, “How dare you? I’m a paying client.” But I mean, he had people lined up for his services and he would only take so much, but if the person was not taking it seriously in demonstrating some self-accountability and commitment and discipline consistency, then he didn’t want to work with.

Nick Shaw:
Yeah. And I think it’s probably not something he can do when you first start out, because you kind of just need whatever. But yeah, as you get more well known, you can maybe be a little choosier. And I think that’s fine, because think about how much you’re investing into a client. If they’re not willing to reciprocate, then man, there’s probably other people out there if your demand is high enough. I enjoy working with top level athletes because it’s very cool watching them and all the work they put into it, it’s very rewarding. If you’re putting your own time and effort into something and someone’s not giving that back, I don’t know why are you doing it?

Mike Sarraille:
Yeah. Well we’re about at the mid roll break as we call it. And so we ask two questions, as you know, you’ve listened to the previous podcasts. So first one before we take the mid roll break, biggest regret of your life.

Nick Shaw:
Yeah. So luckily you gave me a little heads up today and you’re like, “Hey, think about these a little bit.” So honestly, maybe one of my biggest regrets was as RP was just starting to kind of take off, it required so much of my time that I wasn’t able to devote any time to self-improvement, continued education. And I think that maybe some of that success kind of went to my ego a little bit, kind of went to my head.
And I was maybe not as receptive to feedback and I don’t know exactly when that changed or maybe I just got a little older and hopefully more mature, knock on wood. I just realized that was really backwards. And so looking back, I’m now so much on the self-improvement bandwagon that I kind of kicked myself that I missed a several year gap in there. So I would say that’s one of my biggest regret.

Mike Sarraille:
Did you want to get your PhD?

Nick Shaw:
You know what’s funny? Sometimes, because we have so many PhDs, I’ve been called doctor before and I just laugh because I’m like, “I’m not a PhD.” You know the old saying, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” That’s never been the case for me because we have so many smart people.

Mike Sarraille:
I’m glad to hear that, that makes two of us

Nick Shaw:
Yeah. So that’s never going to be the case, so. Yeah, I don’t necessarily have interest in that because my interests lie in other areas now.

Mike Sarraille:
From following you, man, I know your busy so I don’t reach out, but are you guest lecturing at the University of Michigan for the kinesiology students?

Nick Shaw:
Every now and again, I’ve been asked and it’s not really a guest lecturer per se. It’s more of a share your experience.

Mike Sarraille:
Oh, that’s a lecture.

Nick Shaw:
And in some respects, yeah I guess.

Mike Sarraille:
So are you pretty heavily involved with the University of Michigan in the Sports Management program?

Nick Shaw:
We have a scholarship set up at the University of Michigan in the Kinesiology program. That’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. I had to take out student loans to get through college and all that stuff, had to work multiple jobs. So to be able to give back and help students, several students per semester, per year now we’re able to do is incredibly fulfilling. And there’s a computer laboratory in their new kinesiology building that I was able to help with. It’s Nick Shaw RP, it’s honestly, man, it’s so fulfilling that I can’t even maybe describe it.

Mike Sarraille:
That is freaking awesome. Let me ask this then. I mean, not that this would be the purpose, do you guys use the university of Michigan as a talent pool?

Nick Shaw:
Most of our hires come from referrals of our people anyways, but we’ve definitely I’ve had known people anyways. I’ve had numerous people reach out that were students after I’ve done some guest lectures. It absolutely could be a thing. Several of our coaches or folks that help in customer service were actually students of my colleague, Dr. Mike when he taught at Temple. Well, guess what? If you know that there’s a few standout students that get good grades or always turning their work in on time, who do you think you’re going to reach out to when you need some help? It’s going to be those kids that are crushing it.

Mike Sarraille:
For the kids listening, do you do internships for college kids?

Nick Shaw:
Sometimes. It really just depends. And it’s just a case-by-case basis. Usually, it’s my buddy Dr. Mike, who will need some help doing some content for social media or something like that.

Mike Sarraille:
No better place. I mean, we poach out of St. Edward’s. Again, Will, Michelle, Nira all went to St. Edward’s. Last question before the mid-rule break. Hardest decision you’ve ever had to make?

Nick Shaw:
Man, that one’s tough.

Mike Sarraille:
It ain’t meant to be easy. That’s why we call them the hard questions.

Nick Shaw:
I would say, anytime we’ve ever had to let someone go at RP, I hate that. It never makes me feel good. It’s one of the worst feelings in the world that you can have I think so I would say anytime we have to do that.

Mike Sarraille:
You know George Silva well. George Silva is my right-hand man. And we talk about this all the time is, I’ve told him I never want to let another person go. Which means one, we need to be thorough on who we bring in, but if they don’t work out the first place I look is the mirror. Was I involved enough? Did I mentor and coach? Did I put enough time into that person? If they were displaying let’s say less than desirable effort then how come we didn’t inspire them to action. I’m with you, man, because at the end of the day that’s the mechanism people use to put food on their table, it never sits well with me.

Nick Shaw:
No, I mean, it’s terrible. I can’t think of a worse feeling in the world.

Mike Sarraille:
Well, that’s one of the most honest answers we’ve had. We’re going to take a mid-rule break and we’ll be right back. And we are back with Nick Shaw. Well, when we take a break, for those listening, and you can also watch this on YouTube, usually, it’s a bathroom break. Nick and I were using the bathroom and we continue to talk, where most ideas happen. You bring up a point because your last answer about the hardest decision you’ve ever had to make is letting someone go and you brought up some great points. One of the things that I’ve learned and reflected on is why is the Army, the Marine Corps, the military services so successful with basically … And I don’t want to say brainwashing, it’s not. I hate when people say that about the military.
It’s basically the boot camps or Officer Candidate Schools are the ultimate form of an onboarding process where they fully explain … Of course, they have the luxury of three months for 24/7 to explain, here are the behaviors and the values of our organization. This is how you must behave, this is how you will be evaluated, here are the expectations on you. If you don’t meet these, they hold them accountable almost instantaneously. There is no better form than accountability to get somebody to assimilate to the organization very early on. That may seem to them, in my opinion, micromanagement. If you explain that you’re doing it for a reason, that’s not micromanagement. I think that, and this is my humble opinion, it curbs great onboarding programs, a lot of attention early on, a lot of accountability up front. Curbs that need to let people go unless you got the wild incidents like COVID where just certain industries had to shut down because sales stopped, and I understand the need to cut overhead in those situations.

Nick Shaw:
I mean, that makes a lot of sense. And just as you’re saying that it … I don’t know it makes me reflect of we … You had chatted about how do we recruit people in? As I hear you say that, I’m just like man, I don’t know how good of a job we do at that, obviously, we can always do better. Because we hire a lot from referrals and folks that already know other folks that are working at RP, there may be a lot of that. Because if you’re working with someone that you were referred to and they’re a friend, man, I feel like the accountability is going to be higher. You don’t want to let that person down because you have that already established connection with them. It’s a little bit different if it’s a random person, there’s maybe a little bit less of that, but it’s that-

Mike Sarraille:
It’s a known factor to some degree. The referral program is the best form of hiring.

Nick Shaw:
It would be like if you referred me to work with one of your friends or a colleague, man, I’m going to make sure that I’m doing everything in my power to deliver the best service, the best results that I can because otherwise, I feel like I’m letting you down. I don’t know. It’s no secret to our success or anything, but I think that could be a pretty big element because we do hire so much from referrals.

Mike Sarraille:
When you get to a point as a business where you don’t have to go look for talent, talent comes to you. And I’m sure you guys are getting constant emails “Hey, I’d love to be part of your staff.” I’ll use the phrase, you’ve arrived but don’t get cocky. That’s when-

Nick Shaw:
No, I mean, never. Did you ever watch The Last Dance, the Michael Jordan documentary?

Mike Sarraille:
Oh, one of the best documentaries I’ve seen.

Nick Shaw:
I’m never really worried about being content because I sort of always … I don’t know whether it’s because I’m the youngest child or I’m from a small town or whatever it is, but I always feel like I have that proverbial chip on my shoulder. I’m not too worried about becoming too content. And I always just think back to Michael Jordan. He would always just look for something to … Whatever edge he could get. I mean, he was never short for motivation, let’s just say that.

Mike Sarraille:
No. I don’t want to use the word hate, but somebody would say something and he would have to take it as a form of hate to get motivated which if that drove him. I’ve got to get him on the podcast, especially him and Phil Jackson. Those two were inspirational and got … They’re icons of the sport.

Nick Shaw:
I grew up in the Midwest, and I’m actually from Michigan so you would think oh, well, he probably liked the Pistons. No, no, no, no, no. I was a Bulls Jordan fan all the way, man. I had the jersey, I had the shorts, I had the warm up. I was the biggest MJ fan. That was the best documentary in the world, it brought back so much nostalgia from the ’90s. I could watch that again and again.

Mike Sarraille:
Well, and the thing too is, we grew up in that era but watching the documentary you find out so many of the details that were going on behind the scenes that you just weren’t privy to at that age. I never knew the rivalry between that era of the Bill Laimbeer Pistons and the Bulls was that.

Nick Shaw:
Oh, I remember. I mean, I hated the Pistons, hated them, and I’m from Michigan. It seems weird. Where I grew up was literally halfway between Detroit and Chicago, and in every other sport, I rooted for the Detroit team. Obviously, as a eight, 10, 12-year-old kid, I mean, it’s probably the Steph Curry effect now or LeBron James effect. It doesn’t matter where you live, you’re probably a fan of them because they do so well and they win. So I was team Jordan all the way.

Mike Sarraille:
You threw out the names Curry and the other players in this era. In my book, they’re still not Michael Jordan, man. They broke the mold with that one. It’s like Tiger Woods. There will never be another Tiger Woods.

Nick Shaw:
I mean, I’m biased too but I would agree with that. When people are talking about the GOAT or whatever in NBA, I’m like listen, it’s MJ number one, everyone else is fighting for … At the best, we’ll give them 1B. But there’s only one A.

Mike Sarraille:
We were talking with George Silva today and he’s like I hated Tom Brady. The question was why? It’s because he was so good. People hate him because he was so good.

Nick Shaw:
By the way, I love Tom Brady because he’s a Michigan guy.

Mike Sarraille:
That’s that’s true. My nephews went to the same high school, Serra High School. A lot of the listeners want to get into that, just the hard facts, the basic principles of diet and training. But before we do, I’ve got two questions for you, man. One, people see you now and all they see is the success. They see the tip of the iceberg, man. Talk to me about some of the trying times that nobody knew or saw you go through, as well as Lori and your partner, that you probably don’t talk about much. Was there ever a moment you’re like God, this business model’s going to fold or it’s not growing as quickly as we need?

Nick Shaw:
I mean, there’s probably no times where I thought oh, we need to fold this up because even if the digital product thing would’ve never taken off I was still just doing what I loved and that was coaching people. That would be an absolute worst-case option. We’ve had so many different products that we’ve tried to release that just tanked. I mean, I remember my buddy telling me these Evening Hunger Diet Templates were going to change the world. Or, we had an eBook called Understanding Healthy Eating, and as it was getting ready to release we’re like man, are we going to be able to handle all the Oprah appearances? No one gives a crap about quote-unquote healthy eating.
A lot of people, they want to know what do I do to sort of look better, feel better, perform better, all that? And that’s always going to be the case. There’s just always more slipups and failures and all that, that people don’t see. And I think we talked about this earlier, but you really only see the highlight reel on social media. And it’s a really weird effect because I think a lot … It just skews people’s perceptions. If you really want to break it down and be vulnerable, man, we’ve failed so many times I can’t even count them.

Mike Sarraille:
That begs the question, dude. Do you feel like you’ve arrived yet? Or do you feel like there’s so much work left to be done?

Nick Shaw:
I’m a big fan of the mastery mindset and I-

Mike Sarraille:
Growth mindset.

Nick Shaw:
What does arrived mean? I don’t know.

Mike Sarraille:
Oh, yes.

Nick Shaw:
I love the process. I love what I’m doing. There’s no point at which I’ll ever feel that I really arrived. Now that being said, there’s an interesting dichotomy there where does that mean I’m not grateful? No, man, I’m so grateful for where we’re at, and what we’ve been able to do, and all the people we’ve been able to help. I’m so incredibly grateful for that. On the flip side, it’s the mastery mindset. There’s no real set outcome or goal. Do I have goals? Yes, of course, I do, right, but it’s … I love the process as much as anything so it’s not like I’m ever going to stop.

Mike Sarraille:
I’ve always found, and amongst all the high performers I’ve served with whether in, the SEAL teams or any other profession or industry, a common trait. We make audacious, big goals. When they got to the goal there may be a quick little celebration but it’s almost like you could see them just get quiet, and there was no real value in that end state. They almost instantaneously went to, what’s the next ridge line? It was the journey that was, you learned so much about yourself of whether you’re going to quit, you’re going to persevere if you have resiliency, but once you actually get to that end state of oh, I’m at 6% body fat, it’s almost like okay, well what do I do now?

Nick Shaw:
Man, I mean, that’s exactly what happened because I just did a little diet for quote-unquote fun and I mean, it was cool to see the end results and you see all that hard work pay off, but I immediately went to, but now what’s next? What else can I do? Well, how do I keep this? How do I maintain this? And I thought to myself, damn, that was fun, what can I do next? That’s just how it is.

Mike Sarraille:
It’s insane. I want to talk about COVID, man. And you just talked about vulnerability. The COVID period was a little different for you. I know everyone struggled in some degree, some people were isolated. You one, you’re finishing up a book, Fit for Success, which is … I was impressed, man. It is not what I thought the book was going to be. I mean, you focus on tying fitness to just overall positive habits and living well. Living a fulfilling purpose-driven impactful life, a high achieving life. During that same timeframe, Lori comes down with a … You say an aggressive form of breast cancer.

Nick Shaw:
She’s fine now, by the way, which I think really changes the story a little bit. It was a lot, man. It was right around my son’s eighth birthday, he’s 10 now, she was diagnosed. She had surgery, she started chemo. I was able to go with her to the very first treatment and then no joke, and actually, you … Dan Luna was the last person at our house. I think literally the day I took him back to the airport was March 12th, 2020, and that’s right when basically, the whole U.S. shut down. And man, it was just a really trying time because my wife had to go to chemo by herself. Our kids were being quarantined, couldn’t go to school, we had to homeschool them. How the hell are we going to navigate an online fitness company during a pandemic? What’s next? It was a snowball effect of, anything that could go wrong seemingly was going wrong. And looking back, man, I’m really pretty proud of the way that our family was able to navigate all that.

Mike Sarraille:
Was there ever a pivotal moment where you just broke down? Maybe you’re by yourself. Fortunately at home, you just sort of …

Nick Shaw:
I mean, not necessarily but there’s one moment that stands out above all the others. And we knew my wife was going to lose her hair so we took more of a proactive approach because we couldn’t control that aspect of it but we all came together. I shaved my head, which whatever, my son shaved his head, I shaved my wife’s head, which is an interesting thing to say and look back on. And then my daughter, she was six at the time, I’m not going to shave her head because she’s six, but we just did a little strip along the side of her head and that just … It flipped the script for us because it was no longer we’re not the victims of external circumstances.
No, we have a real control. We have a say over what’s going on in our lives. I just always look back at that as the moment where there was a lot of bad stuff going on but that didn’t … That wasn’t going to dictate our lives. I never want external stuff to really dictate my life. No, no, no, I’m not a victim, I’m not going to sit back. I always have a say in what is going to happen or what the outcome’s going to be. And even if that’s just changing my own personal attitude, man, that’s enough sometimes.

Mike Sarraille:
Did that experience help solidify certain things in the book? I mean, not necessarily that you talked about that, but did that situation and what you learned about yourself and your family?

Nick Shaw:
Absolutely. I had become obsessed with studying what made people successful. Whether it’s working with high-level athletes or reading books on success in any field, you name it, it’s one thing to think about all these things and all that but it’s another when you really have to truly live it every single day. And that’s when I realized whereas I was … I’m quarantined, I can’t go anywhere for a few months, but I’m not going to let that sort of define me. It’s like no, this has happened, what can I do? How can I make some good come of this? And that’s when I sat down and basically wrote out the rough draft and handed it over to an editor and I’m like let’s rock and roll. This is going to get out this year. This is going to be released before 2020 ends because I know or I hope that … It’s helped me, and knowing that so many other … Literally everyone else in the entire world was impacted by COVID too, that I know it has the potential to help other people.

Mike Sarraille:
Two themes in the book that I loved. You talk about the external and internal locus of control. The external being very particular, or very interesting to me because I think this is what a lot of people struggle with. With the external locus of control, there’s a little bit of parallel in terms of stoicism of don’t spend bandwidth on the things you can’t control and focus on what you can.

Nick Shaw:
I remember reading many books about stoicism and that was one of the big things that led me down that whole internal locus of control idea because there’s just going to be things you can’t control at times so why let it stress you out? Why let it bother you too much? Again, even if you change your attitude about something. Maybe you can’t actually take action in a physical sense to change whatever’s going on but you can change how you view it, and sometimes that’s enough.

Mike Sarraille:
A lot of people suffer from that, especially with the … Again, social media driving some people crazy. I think the term is doom scrolling where people will just sit on news scrolling the whole day just within the negativity. I’ve stopped.

Nick Shaw:
Do you watch the news?

Mike Sarraille:
No, I don’t. In the military we did. They always said it was part of the professional loop. Your professionalism is staying abreast of current events, international events. I’ve got to turn it off.

Nick Shaw:
No, no. I mean, I don’t even watch the news because it’s like I don’t know why do you want to be tuned into so much negativity?

Mike Sarraille:
I couldn’t agree more. For a lot of these people and for the listeners again, I’ve convinced Nick to come on as a main contributor for Men’s Journal, The Everyday Warrior, really on the lifestyle, the self-help, and, of course, the fitness and diet, which is … I’ll say it, national subject matter expert. I want to dive in shortly to diet and training. I want you to approach this from a standpoint of … Well here’s even the thing. Some people who would consider themselves intermediate in the gym still don’t have the foundational aspects of diet and training. There is so much bad information out there, Broscience, because a lot of people have followers on Instagram. I mean, they look great and I’m going to give that to them, and I would never rob somebody of a compliment. They look good. I mean, hell, I even seen one guy who’s eating pine cones and nothing but liver, and that’s great. You know who I’m talking about?

Nick Shaw:
Yeah, I think so.

Mike Sarraille:
What are the foundational aspects of a training regimen, and especially diet, for our listeners to just … To start to do some investigative work on their own and start to lay the foundation to get back in shape?

Nick Shaw:
We like to approach things from a pyramid aspect of what’s the most important, that goes on the bottom and then you build from that. When it comes to nutrition there’s a few. I would say, start with consistency. It’s just like with training. If you’re not being consistent, you’re not showing up, you’re not following your plan, you’re not showing up to the gym and training, all this means nothing. So you have to be consistent, that’s number one.
Beyond that on the nutrition side, it’s really calorie balance. How much are you consuming? How much you’re burning? There’s more nuance than that, right, don’t get me wrong. Then you can get into the quality of foods that you’re eating, that’s another variable. And for a lot of people, if you’re just trying to eat healthy, if you eat higher-quality foods you control your calories by default. So I would say, start with those few, and if you can get those mostly right, man, you’re very much on the right track. And some of the rest is really just minor details after that. You could get into things like nutrient timing, supplements, hydration, but if you can nail those first couple I really think you’re on the right track.

Mike Sarraille:
A lot of people don’t know about macros. Explain briefly for the audience. I mean, how crucial this is to understand the concept of macros as it relates to your caloric intake and why they matter? Again, everyone’s defaulting to just eating. It’s almost like people are on a food drip these days and they’re just constantly eating, they don’t know what they’re eating. They’re eating fast food and they’re just constantly eating, they don’t know what they’re eating. They’re eating fast food and I mean, their caloric intake is just through the roof.

Nick Shaw:
Yeah. A lot of people don’t even know what macros is. So we’ll try to keep it pretty short and simple. Macros 101, so there’s three main macronutrients, protein, carbs, and fats. A good place to start is probably under proteins. Think of mostly lean meats, dairy products, fish, soy, things like that. That’s kind of where you want to start. Carbohydrates would be next. They get a lot of bad wrap out there. A lot of people think you can’t eat them. That makes you fat or whatever. That’s not the case. It’s really that calorie balance is the bigger driver there. Your carbohydrates are things like fruits and veggies, your whole grains. That’s usually where we want to start, the foundation. And then healthy fats are foods like your nuts, avocados, olive oils. And those tend to be a little bit more calorically dense. But again, you usually want to start with those basics, because we always want to start with the basics first, grasp the basics first, before you start to move, higher up into the more minor details. And that’s macros 101.

Mike Sarraille:
So, you said carbs get a bad rap, but when somebody’s not really tracking a diet, usually their intake is overwhelmingly carbohydrates. Is that pretty accurate?

Nick Shaw:
Well carbs and fats. So what happens is… I don’t think is going to be a shocker to you, but people enjoy eating tasty foods. What usually is tasty foods, it’s not necessarily carbs by themselves. It’s not necessarily just sugar by itself, but what are the really tasty foods? Think of a donut, think of processed foods like cake and pastries and all that stuff. Well, they usually have a lot of carbs and sugar. They also have a lot of fat in them. They also usually have a lot of salt. They’re designed to taste good. There’s a reason for that. So let’s sort of eliminate that as much as we can. Let’s eat higher quality foods, your basic foods that we already listed. And if you start there, like I said, do that and you more or less control for your calorie balance by default.
So that’s why a lot of diets say, don’t eat X, don’t eat Y, don’t eat Z. Well it’s because they’re mostly just chopping out those foods, those hyper palpable foods that taste really good. Those are incredibly easy to overeat. Think, you go out and you get a cheeseburger with fries and nachos and a couple beers. And all of a sudden how many calories is that? All that stuff tastes delicious. It’s designed to taste like that. Restaurants aren’t stupid. They want to make money. They want to keep you coming back. So again, I’m not saying don’t ever eat that stuff. You can and should, in moderation. But if you want to control for your body weight, control for calories, focus on higher quality foods.

Mike Sarraille:
I’ve got to assume that the overwhelming majority of people fail to reach their fitness goals not because of their training regimen, but because of the diet.

Nick Shaw:
Yeah. And I think I touched on it earlier, the body building is hard because it never leaves you. Because what you eat is something you have to monitor around the clock. And it’s the same, I mean, just think of the kind of environment we live in where everything’s instant gratification and every corner you see… Well, I mean here you see bars.

Mike Sarraille:
Fast food.

Nick Shaw:
Yeah. Fast food or all these delicious tasting foods. And setting your environment up in a way that makes you more likely to succeed is a huge component of fitness. I mean, if you have a bag of Oreos or you have junk food sitting out on your counter all day long at home, man, I don’t care if you have the world’s strongest, greatest willpower, over time, it’s going to wear you down.
So try to set your environment up to be as productive and hopefully in a way that makes you more likely to succeed. So a lot of times they give the examples of, if you’re a morning workout person set your workout stuff next to your bed. It doesn’t make or break it, but it’s just going to make it a little bit easier when you wake up in the morning and your first thought is, oh shit, I don’t want to go work out. But your stuff’s right there. And you see it as kind of just this little cue that just helps. It just helps. It makes things a little bit easier, just a little bit easier.

Mike Sarraille:
You just used two words, instant gratification, which automatically I’m sure you’re like me, you call that the hack. People are always looking for the hack, the shortcut to how can I lose 30 pounds in 30 days? Which, I talked to you this morning, now I’m starting to get these robot texts we’re going to call them, the auto text that says, “Hey, lose 50 pounds in 60 days.” Have you ever heard of the marshmallow experiment?

Nick Shaw:
Oh yeah. I’m very familiar with that. There’s a book that followed up. Yeah. I mean it’s kind of the, can you delay that gratification? Can you have two marshmallows later if you give up the one now in front of you? Yeah. It’s Walter Mischele I believe is the guy’s name.

Mike Sarraille:
And so for the listeners, basically they started with children and they told the children, “Hey, I’m going to leave the room. This marshmallow is right here. If you don’t eat it. And I come back, you’ll get a second marshmallow.” And some kids ate the marshmallow, others waited and received the reward. They demonstrated delayed gratification. Well, they followed them for years. And what they found were those that had the willpower or the discipline to demonstrate delayed gratification were ultimately more successful in life.

Nick Shaw:
Yeah. So if you have the ability to think a little bit longer term, so to me, instant versus delayed gratification comes down to your time horizons. Do you think in the span of right here right now, or do you think in the span of what’s actually going to be best for me in a few months or a few years from now. And I think that successful people in general tend to view things with a longer term time horizon. They’re willing to delay gratification a bit more and they’re willing to make the trade offs that come with yeah, I’m okay taking a little less now because I know in the long run I’m going to get more. And when you approach it like that, I think it changes the game in a huge way.

Mike Sarraille:
Well, it’s funny with fitness, because in my opinion, you see people who want to get in shape, which is a great thing. I love that when somebody makes the commitment to getting shape, but they’ve done damage to their body for 5, 3, 2 years. And they think they’re going to get back to where they were previous to that within two months, three months, four months. And that’s just not the case. I’ve often said to people, part of, and I know you’re all about this, because you talked heavily about positive habits within Fit for Success, your book, which people, you got to pick this thing up. And basically part of the journey is learning those positive habits so that when you have it, because if somebody offered you a pill said, “Hey, if you take this, you’re going to look like this guy in the magazine, you’re going to have six pack abs.” But they would lose it as quickly as they got it with that pill because they did not establish the lifestyle. They haven’t established the positive habits. And they’ll just resort back to stopping at the fast food joint.

Nick Shaw:
It’s kind of like, I think they say that a lot of times lottery winners go broke again. Because nothing really changes. They just happen to get a bunch of money, but the underlying habits and sort of mindset and attitudes that they have doesn’t really change. So again, it goes back to the time horizon. If it took you five years to get out of shape, is it going to take you five weeks to get back in shape? No. And I love that people get really motivated and they want to get back into it, but just come in with a mindset and an approach that it’s going to take a little bit longer than you might think. But you’re going to be so much better off in the long term because you’re going to establish those good habits. And so if you can hopefully establish good habits after a while, it kind of seeps into just more of your identity. And then I think when you can make that shift of going from maybe you have to remind yourself to go work out. But then when you start to say to yourself, I’m the type of person that enjoys working out or I’m the type of person that goes through the gym. It’s a subtle shift. It’s a subtle difference. But man, it makes a big difference. And the ability to sustain that consistently for months and years to come.

Mike Sarraille:
I was talking with a friend last week and we were talking about… Because I’ve always defaulted to now with my hip injuries, I can still be extremely lean. So I focus on lean muscle mass in reducing my body fat. And he is like, yeah, well I’m not into that vanity thing. And, my reply to that was bullshit. Who does not want to look their very best? Anyone who says otherwise in my book that doesn’t want their physique to look that good is… I’ll say it, lying.

Nick Shaw:
Listen, I think it’s totally fine to want to look good. So that’s an interesting thing because sometimes people kind of fit shame folks, almost like it’s a bad thing to want to look better or perform better or something. Well, why? Why? Because if you ever did the opposite, oh boy, you’re going to get in trouble. So why is it okay to fit shame? But it doesn’t go both ways, but if you want to get better and look better.

Mike Sarraille:
Good. Yeah. Good, awesome.

Nick Shaw:
Good.

Mike Sarraille:
Because you’ll carry yourself different. You will act differently. Your confidence will increase. Now you talked about specificity. Now if you’re a marathon runner, when I trained forever, I stopped almost upper body I don’t want to say entirely, but it wasn’t the focus for my last three months before leaving. I lost a lot of muscle mass, but I was very focused on lower body strength, especially with my hip and my glutes. So I get it when that doesn’t match up with your specific goals. That’s absolutely fine.

Nick Shaw:
Yeah, sure. But you made the conscious choice to have the trade offs. You were training for a specific purpose and you made the choice that, I’m okay willing to trade off upper body strength because I need more time to devote to lower body. And it’s the same. I just recently did a pretty kind of tough diet and I had to make the choice where some of my running for cardio, I had to give that up and training jujitsu, I kind of had to give that up for the last month or so. And I was fine making that trade off because I knew the goal that I wanted to achieve. And I was fine making those choices and trade offs. And it wasn’t really a big deal to me.

Mike Sarraille:
Absolutely. Let’s let’s get into training. And I think we’ve hit that diet is… I don’t want to put percentages off and here people put percentages that it’s 70% diet, 30% your training regimen. But what can you say again for a beginner and intermediate person with their workouts? What are some of the biggest mistakes that you see people make with their training regimen?

Nick Shaw:
Not training with proper form and technique would be one and not training with a full range of motion. So if you can do those things, you’re going to be better off and you’re going to be on the right track. And I would say, if you’re a beginner, there’s no reason to think you have to be perfect or you have to be in the gym every day. If you can consistently make it into the gym two, three times a week. I mean, let’s actually be honest, you don’t even need to get to the gym. I mean, for folks that are following Everyday Warrior, we’re going to have some gym free workouts that you can do from RP. I think people get caught up and thinking everything has to be perfect sometimes. That’s not the case. Consistency is more important than perfection.

Mike Sarraille:
One of the things I see for people that are in the gym often, and I mean, you talk about progressive overload, periodization, is that they’re switching up their workouts. They’ll get a new workout from some influencer. They’ll stick with it for three weeks. They don’t see results and they switch it again. What can you say about the process of training and sticking with a certain regimen?

Nick Shaw:
Yeah. You have to be consistent. You have to keep showing up. I don’t think you could judge a workout program after three weeks, maybe after three months. But if you’re hopping between stuff every three weeks, the chances of you seeing success overall, I think are pretty low.

Mike Sarraille:
What are some of the cycles? And I know it varies again on people’s goals, but what are your standard periodization cycles for workouts? I mean, one month, two months, three months?

Nick Shaw:
Yeah. There’s a lot of variability there depending on where someone is. But I mean, I would say as maybe a general rule of thumb, four to six weeks probably. Something like that where you kind of train, kind of doing the same stuff, but adding a little bit over time each week. You can only do that for so long before you need to take a little bit of a break and then you kind of reset, choose some new exercises or whatever. And then you kind of keep repeating that same process.

Mike Sarraille:
Could, in theory, I stick with the same core workouts and just use progressive overload with again, those periodized sort of cycles?

Nick Shaw:
Yeah. And again, if you have a barbell at home or you have a couple dumbbells, there’s just some little things that you can do to make some really minor tweaks for variation. For example, the way you turn your feet in a squat or the width of your grip on certain presses. So it’s not like you have to do anything crazy or you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can make some really easy, minor tweaks and you can still get some of those, those variation benefits.

Mike Sarraille:
Interesting. So again, you said we’re going to be posting a work out from RP. That’s your contribution to a lot of people that are just looking to get started out there. Maybe the home gym centric. I will say personally for those that are in the gym, who consider themselves to be in the intermediate to advance range, check out RP Strength. The website is… Where can they find you?

Nick Shaw:
RPstrength.com is our website. I would say before that give us a follow on social media, check out RP Strength on Instagram. There’s just a lot of great content, some cool transformations, a lot of educational content, some funny memes, a little bit of humor goes a long way. And myself is @Nick.Shaw.RP on Instagram.

Mike Sarraille:
Thank God you didn’t have www.renaissanceperiodization.com. That would have-

Nick Shaw:
We did for a time.

Mike Sarraille:
I’ve been stuck on Renaissance for quite a while.

Nick Shaw:
Yeah. It’s funny because thank goodness for Google. So if you try typing it in again, I can barely spell it myself. So you just try typing it in. Usually Google will kind of know what you’re trying to get to and they’ll kind of auto fill it for you. So that helps.

Mike Sarraille:
Funny story, when you tried out for Marine recon, they had the psychological screening, the physical test, which was long and at the very end, they made you spell out reconnaissance and people knew that going in, but people still screwed it up. And it wouldn’t necessarily get somebody kicked out of the process, but they would get hazed quite a bit if they screwed that up, that piece up. Funny. What are the resources your YouTube has over what 300,000 followers you said Instagram has over 600,000?

Nick Shaw:
Yeah. Yeah. Those are both great spots. I mean, you can basically get a college level education on our YouTube channel for free. It’s my buddy, Dr. Mike Israetel, he’s such a character. He is such a entertainer, but he’s just, he’s a great teacher as well. Man, you can learn so much that it’s ridiculous. We talk sometimes about the bad of the internet and stuff, but just picture 20 years ago, thinking that you could do all this stuff, how grateful are we for technology and just all the good things that has come from it, where you can go learn anything you want to online now for free most of the time.

Mike Sarraille:
Oh, the good and the bad of access to information and the responsibility of utilizing it. Where can people find the book Fit for Success? Is Amazon usually the best?

Nick Shaw:
Yeah. It’s on Amazon and it’s on audible.

Mike Sarraille:
Okay. Pick it up. I think you guys will be wildly surprised. I took a lot of value reading it.T.

Nick Shaw:
Thank you. I appreciate it.

Mike Sarraille:
So Nick, similar to the mid role, we end this with two additional questions, questions that are dear to me, questions I still struggle with dude and I probably will struggle with until the day I die. But how will Nick Shaw evaluate whether he’s lived a purpose filled, fulfilling and impactful life?

Nick Shaw:
Yeah, that’s actually a really easy one. If I’m able to help as many people as I possibly can then kind of the number that I have in my head is at least a million people. And if I can do that, I know I’ve made a difference. I truly believe that I was kind of put here to help people, to give back. And I think I’m doing that. I’m trying to do that to the best of my ability and that’s kind of one of my goals. So if I can get there, then I know it’s all been worth it.

Mike Sarraille:
Dude, I’ve got to imagine that you guys get personal emails from your clients that lost 50, 100 pounds and are like, “You guys have literally changed my life.”

Nick Shaw:
Well, funny enough, when we took our little mid break, there was a lady that had come down and she showed me her before picture and where she is now. You wouldn’t believe it was the same person. And she started last February. So 14 months ago, probably 30, 40 pounds different. And she was like, “I used to have some blood sugar issues.” And now she’s in perfect health. I mean, there’s honestly no greater feeling than seeing someone… Because it’s one thing to read that online, which is cool. Don’t get me wrong. But when you meet someone in person that you’ve helped kind of by proxy or by default, literally changed their life, that’s how I know that I’m at least hopefully on the right track for living life the right way.

Mike Sarraille:
So you wrote a book called Fit for Success. What are those one to three sort of tenants, those non-negotiables, your keys to success? And if it’s five, it’s five.

Nick Shaw:
Personally?

Mike Sarraille:
No, no, no, no, just publicly. Yes, personally.

Nick Shaw:
So…

Mike Sarraille:
Can I be honest with you?

Nick Shaw:
One is internal versus external locus of control. That’s obviously a big one to me. I just try to stay focused on what I can actually have some say over. Two would be having a longer term time horizon, not getting caught up in the here and now, more so than the long term. And number three is I really try to live by the idea and the principle of the Slight Edge. And that just says, you keep showing up, you keep doing these little things day after day, even when it feels like you’re not making any progress, but you keep doing them anyways, because you know in the long term that it’s going to sort of compound over time. And the tricky part is, and I don’t know what the timeline is exactly, but the hardest part is early on when you’re doing these little things, but it feels like you’re not making any progress whatsoever. Or even it feels like you’re going backwards, but you keep treking forward because you know in the long term, whatever that is three years from now, five years from now, 10 years from now, if you keep going, you’re going to start to hit that point where it starts to become more exponential. And that might be the biggest thing that I really try to truly live, eat, breathe, sleep every single day.

Mike Sarraille:
Slight Edge.

Nick Shaw:
Slight Edge, it’s actually a great book. I’d recommend it. It’s written by Jeff Olson. If everyone read that I think it has potential to change the world.

Mike Sarraille:
Change lives. Well, Nick, I can’t thank you enough. I’m looking forward to the future and all the content we’re going to produce. I really hope with the Everyday Warrior, we can take a different approach to what you see in a lot of the magazines. It’s just recycled content. It’s hitting the basics and the foundations and not having an article that says get six pack abs with these six exercises. So I’m going to depend and lean on you to keep us honest with that content.

Nick Shaw:
Play the long game.

Mike Sarraille:
Long game. All right guys. Well again to our listeners, we cannot thank you enough. This was the Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior podcast with Mike Sarraille. Our guest, Nick Shaw will post all the links, where you can find them, all the valuable content that they do on YouTube and his company. Please, please go check him out. And for those that love to read, pick up the book, Fit for Success. All right. That’s live here from Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Nick, did you have one more thing to say?

Nick Shaw:
Thanks for having me out, man. I really appreciate it.

Mike Sarraille:
Right on brother. Okay. We’ll see you again. Thanks for joining us. Out of here.

Episode 12

Everyday Warrior Podcast Episode 12: Shannon Sharpe
In our twelfth episode of the Everyday Warrior podcast, we spoke to Shannon Sharpe, sports analyst and former professional football player.
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Episode 13

Everyday Warrior Podcast Episode 13: Tecovas Founder Paul Hedrick
In our thirteenth episode of the Everyday Warrior podcast, we spoke to Paul Hedrick, founder of Tecovas, Austin-based cowboy boot retailer.
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