Athlete and trainer Steve Shlens is a paddleboard/surfing/water enthusiast. Steve’s sport of choice is Endurance Paddleboarding, and he boasts an impressive record in the sport. He was the 2012 winner of the Catalina Classic 32-mile Paddleboard Race (and the oldest ever stock class winner at 42), and the winner of his division in the June Lake Triathlon in 2017. In the 2018 Molokai-to-Oahu Paddleboard World Championship, Steve and his partner Morgan Hoesterey won their division decisively in a race many were calling the hardest Moloki-to-Oahu in many years. Following that, at age 48, Steve once again took on the Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race. In that race, he pulled himself into second place in the toughest division, stock, coming in second by just a few minutes to a racer 20 years his junior! This means Steve is now on the Catalina Classic trophy three times, an impressive feat. Steve is also the coach of the US Paddleboard Team. His strength and conditioning remain in the upper echelon of those who compete and train others. Steve is currently a trainer at Platinum Fitness in Summerland, and very happily married to athlete, nutritionist, and all-around stud and fitness model Chris Latham.
Q&A with Steve Shlens
- What supplements do you take and why? When/how do you take them? (i.e., morning/night, with/without food)Take fish oil, adaptogens, and a teaspoon of Solé salt every morning, as well as a high quality multi-vitamin. I take other recommended (by my wife and nutritionist) supplements as needed.
- How would you characterize your diet? Keto, vegan, or vegetarian, Paleo, Mediterranean, restricted eating, or ‘I do my own damn thing?’ Elaborate, if needed.
Paleo/pegan. I avoid dairy (including Whey and Casein) for the most part and have a lot of vegetables and high quality organic meats/fats. I eat organic fruits that are in season but mainly focus on high quality proteins. Very very little in the way of added sugars, so for a treat I’ll eat Lily’s Chocolates since they’re sugar-free.
- Do you fast? If so, what kind of fast? 5-day? Intermittent? How long and how often?
Intermittent fasting of 12-14 hours/day. Meaning if I stop eating at 7 p.m., I won’t eat the next day until around 7 a.m. (12 hours) to 9 a.m. (14 hours). It’s not an exact science and sometimes I cheat on the weekends.
- Do you drink coffee? If so, how much and what do you put in it? (Cream, half and half, butter, MCT oil, sugar or artificial sweetener?)
I do, but switched to decaf in early November and haven’t gone back. I usually make mine Bulletproof and never use sugar. In a pinch, I’ll just have my coffee with organic soy milk. Most important to me is using a high quality mold-free coffee like Purity brand or Bulletproof brand.
- Do you have a morning ritual? What do you do the first hour you are awake?
I do, but it’s mainly because of the dog. The first 30 to 60 minutes of each day is spent walking him… as is the last 30 to 60, plus about 2 other times during the day. I also love sunlight and getting outside ASAP.
- Do you train on your own or with a coach/trainer?
I am a personal trainer, so usually do my own thing. Last year I had to really sit down and think about my goals (Catalina and Molokai races) so structured my training to focus on those. I also workout a lot with Peter Park, so we’ll push each other in-and-out of the gym.
- Describe your weekly training regimen. (Lift weights, run trails, track, cycle trails or road?) How often? How far/long?
In the fall and winter:
-Monday-Rest day. Sometimes I’ll swim to stretch it out.
-Tuesday-Morning weights for an hour, afternoon cardio for 1-1.5 hours
-Thursday-morning weights for about an hour, afternoon cardio for 1-1.5 hours.
-Saturday-Usually morning weights for 1-1.5 hours then straight into cardio for 1.5 hours.
-Sunday-I used to do a recovery run for 6 miles with friends but lately it’s been long hard trail riding with Peter.
In the spring and summer, which is paddleboard season:
-I’ll add in a paddle Tuesday and Thursday nights for 1-1.5 hours, swim a bit more, and do long paddles on Saturday.
- What do you do for recovery after training? Stretch, roll/smash, ice, cryo, compression, eat a glazed donut with those little pink sprinkles? Nothing?
I foam roll/smash every night for about 30 minutes. I also stretch daily and work on mobility. In addition, I invested in Normatech boots which have been invaluable in recovering and feeling great. Last, I’ve lately become a big fan of infra-red sauna, and do that about 1-2x per week. Oh yeah – massages, too!
- How many rest/recovery days do you take per week?
Per the above (#7), about 3-4.
- Athletes hate injuries. What do you do that helps you avoid getting hurt?
Rolling/smashing/stretching/mobility/massage… and RELAX & RECOVER when I need to recover.
- Do you meditate? If so, do you attend classes, use an app like Headspace?
I wish I did. I tried Headspace and it worked, but I’m too ADD to stick to it.
- Do you practice yoga? If so, what kind of yoga?
Not really, but I do practice Foundation. Have been for years.
- Do you have a nighttime shut-down routine? If so, what’s that look like?
One hour before bedtime, I put on blue blocking glasses to allow my brain to relax. I try to read about 1/2 hour before bedtime and then, when the lights go out, I like it dark.
- 3 books you wish everyone would read about fitness or health?
Becoming a Supple Leopard; The Way of the Peaceful Warrior; Outliers.
- What’s your favorite sports movie of all time?
Just one?! I can’t name just one. There’s Big Wednesday, Breaking Away, Field of Dreams, The Natural, Free Solo, Tin Cup, The Big Lebowski (it’s a bowling movie, dude) and so many others – I can’t name them all.
- Health/fitness advice you wish someone had given you when you were 21 years old?
You get faster and stronger on days you don’t train and let yourself recover.
- Do you wear a heart rate monitor during cardio exercise? If you don’t, why?
Definitely. Love it and swear by it. It’s objective data anyone can use to their advantage.
- How often do you get your blood/urine/saliva work done?
Every 6 months to one year
- What’s still on your bucket list of fitness goals?
Leadville 100 MTB, an Xterra off-road triathlon, crossing the Alps with my wife, 24 hours of Death to Whitney (something some friends and I made up but none of us has yet done), and a few others I don’t want to mention
- Who inspires you the most?
My wife Chris because of her no BS way
- In the world of sports and fitness, who is your hero, guru, or mentor?
Duke Kahanamoku, Lance Armstrong (putting aside the doping issues), Michael Jordan, and Peter Park as a mentor & partner in training
- Top 3 favorite health or fitness podcasts?
I don’t really listen to fitness/health podcasts other than This Ocean Life by Josh Pederson. I like to listen to podcasts that inspire me and make me question things I believe like: Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History, Guy Raz’s How I Built This, and Shankar Vedantum’s Hidden Brain.
- Favorite Santa Barbara trail for running and/or mountain biking?
Romero. Period. There are tons of other fun ones (Tequepis, Cold Springs, etc), but Romero is the king of the trails in my opinion.
- On average, how may hours do you sleep each night?
At least 8. I can’t function with less than optimal sleep.
- Who’s your favorite fictional superhero and why?
- You compete. Or used to. What drives you? Or drove you back in the day? If “Because I love it and I’m good at it” is your answer, great! But if there’s more to it, and you’re willing to divulge, we’d love to know.
I’ve always been crazy competitive, but I’m trying to tone that down and be happy while still testing myself. I figured part of that out this year, but it’s a never ending mystery. I try to focus now on the process, not the outcome. If I ever figure out the secret to maintaining this, I’ll let you know.