“Hydration / Drinking water”, Shannon Decker of Shred and Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

I really believe in healthy habits. To me, healthy habits mean consistency and consistency equals results in anything you do. You can’t learn to play the piano overnight, it takes lots and lots of practice. The same goes for athletic and health goals. Habits will not only help you get to your goals, but stay […]

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I really believe in healthy habits. To me, healthy habits mean consistency and consistency equals results in anything you do. You can’t learn to play the piano overnight, it takes lots and lots of practice. The same goes for athletic and health goals. Habits will not only help you get to your goals, but stay there too. Some of my best habits have recently become more widely acceptable and that’s prioritizing oneself otherwise known as self-care. Since fitness gives me so much joy, I had to make sure to stay healthy so that I could keep finding that joy. For example, when I was playing basketball on the varsity team, I had to prioritize sleep and water, and practice, which means I often had to say no to partying or other social invites.


As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shannon Decker, Fitness Community Ambassador at Shred.

With the spirit of a mermaid and the resilience of a professional athlete, Shannon Decker was raised on the shores of the Pacific Northwest and Santa Barbara, CA. Participating in various varsity sports with an optimistic and pragmatic mindset, Decker would eventually incorporate her athletic prowess with her innate business savvy to become a sought after personal trainer.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

My childhood was a bit tumultuous. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest with an older brother and our mom, who worked two jobs and was on welfare. Our dad lived in a small fishing town four hours away and was considered a “derelict surfer”. But, I was able to get everything I needed and found joy and passion within organized sports. I especially excelled at basketball from an early age. I would spend summers with my aunt and uncle in southern California, and after being emancipated, some foster care, and friend’s houses, I ended up finishing my senior year of high school with them and their two little kids.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

Fitness was always a huge part of me, but something that was also very personal. I was a natural with kids, so I was encouraged to pursue my BA in Elementary Education. From there I thought I could pursue a higher income and still work with kids by attending nursing school. I completed one year and knew emphatically that it wasn’t for me. Throughout it all I worked as a waitress, nanny and also a busy, successful model based out of Los Angeles. My family’s house burned down, I lost both my grandparents, and my brother passed away after a long couple years battling a traumatic brain injury. I felt lost and low, and fitness was the only thing that I felt like I had any control over. I would push myself past my emotional roadblocks in the gym and I started seeing results physically. From here, my friends and family started to ask me to work them out.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

This is so true and I often think about all the people who helped me more than they even know. There have been so many coaches who pushed me and believed in me along the way, but I want to mention the owner of a coffee shop and a boss of mine, Eric Parsons. I was a sophomore at my second high school. This one was a graduating class of 22 versus the one of 500 that I had come from. Eric made such an impact on me during a crucial age and time in my life simply because he believed in me. He gave me a job at his coffee shop, he gave me my own keys, he didn’t question if I would show up or not, he let me count cash, and learn as I went. He held me to a high standard and by doing so allowed me to elevate to meet him there.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

I love this question, and I’m sure there will be many more to come! I’m thinking…about all the large groups I’ve been in front of leading fitness classes…all the celebrities I’ve trained…but a moment that really sticks out occurred while I was teaching indoor cycling in L.A. I showed up like I did every morning at 645am for the 7am class. But this morning was different because the power was completely out in the whole building. I couldn’t get a hold of the owner or anyone that could help me. People were filing in expecting my typical high energy, and sweat inducing class. I was so mortified, a spin class with no music? Spin class basically IS music. I had no other option but to be honest and make an announcement in front of the packed class that there was no music, lights or mic and they were all free to go. What happened next still shocks and humbles me. Every single person stayed, and we made it work. I put music on my phone so I would have something to guide us and just did my best. Everyone got a good workout in and left happy. Made me realize that sometimes our most “embarrassing” moments shape and inspire us the most.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

My advice would actually to NOT try to emulate me. I truly believe our superpower is our own unique story and experiences. I went to three different schools and had to learn to make friends quickly. Now, being able to be comfortable in any social setting is a super power of mine. An insecurity of mine is feeling like I found my career too late in life. I love being a trainer so much, I often think, what could I have accomplished if I would have known I wanted to do this sooner? But you can’t think like that! I needed to get my teaching credential and try nursing school before I found training. Your path is your own, so don’t compare it to anyone else’s.One of my favorite sayings is to not let your food get cold, worrying about what’s on someone else’s plate. If you’re good at what you do, you’re passionate, and you put in the time, you will find your success.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

I personally apply a statement I came up with as I was trying to explain to someone why I work out so hard: “For the sanity, not the vanity”. There is a true correlation with your work ethic and mindset within the gym or your workout with how you approach everything else in your life. This statement reminds me to do things because they’re the right things to do. If your intentions are in the right place and pure, I believe things will fall into and stay in place easier and longer.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I am partnered with a really incredible app called Shred. (https://www.shred.app/) They are the best at home and gym fitness app I’ve ever come across and the only one I’ve ever partnered with. We’re also working on an exciting new platform that will allow people to experience the magic of group fitness at home. I also just launched a passion project I’ve been working on for a long time called Gospel Ride. We have stationary cycling bikes on the physical sand in Santa Monica, and the class was to a gospel mix I made in a recording studio.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples? How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

I really believe in healthy habits. To me, healthy habits mean consistency and consistency equals results in anything you do. You can’t learn to play the piano overnight, it takes lots and lots of practice. The same goes for athletic and health goals. Habits will not only help you get to your goals, but stay there too. Some of my best habits have recently become more widely acceptable and that’s prioritizing oneself otherwise known as self-care. Since fitness gives me so much joy, I had to make sure to stay healthy so that I could keep finding that joy. For example, when I was playing basketball on the varsity team, I had to prioritize sleep and water, and practice, which means I often had to say no to partying or other social invites.

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

This is a great question…I have a couple different things that come to mind. In terms of health and fitness I highly suggest using tangible tools. That could mean hiring a personal trainer to help keep you accountable. It could be making a plan with a friend who you won’t want to disappoint by not showing up for a workout or even choosing an unhealthy food option over a healthy one. It could be keeping a food journal, or signing up for some kind of nutrition program. I personally like to keep a calendar at home to log my workouts. I highlight them and if I see too many days without a highlight mark, it motivates me to get a workout in so that I get a highlight mark. Also, I want to say that creating habits is not easy and takes time. So many people are too hard on themselves and quit too soon if they make one mistake. Just because you “fall off the wagon” one day doesn’t mean that all is lost. It’s important to know that creating a habit will be an up and down journey, not a straight line. But that just makes it so much more enjoyable and so much more special when you get there.

Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.

Wellness — You can’t do it all. You have to prioritize otherwise you will burn out and be no good to anyone, especially yourself. When I was younger I thought I could “burn the candle at both ends” as my mom liked to say. That’s when I would get sick or so worn down that not only would I not get to do everything, I wouldn’t get to do anything. Now I know it’s okay to say no, and to prioritize my wellness so that I can keep going

Performance- My whole outlook changed a couple years ago. I really believe too many people are working out too hard, too long and too often. I hurt my hamstring running one day, and was forced to prioritize mobility work. In retrospect this was the best thing that could have happened to me. I was still able to work but I was forced to slow down. I exercise 5 days a week max and I won’t have a panic attack if I take a week off of physical activity. I now work out more efficiently and smarter, and I love how my body looks and feels.

Focus- easier said than done, but I will say putting away your electronic devices when faced with work on the computer, or anything similar, definitely helps. I have texts coming in almost non-stop and I can get so distracted. If I have my devices out, it will take me twice as long to complete a task. I also highly recommend not trying to multitask.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

I think creating these good habits can actually be fun because it means trying new things. There are so many ways that you can prioritize your health…taking baths, keeping a food journal, trying a new workout style. I have found that I tend to make habits out of things I actually like to do. If I enjoy something, I’m going to do it often. But if I hate going to the gym, chances are, I’m probably not going to go. There are lots of different ways to exercise, plenty of recovery methods, and many ways to find focus, you just have to find the right one for you personally.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.

SLEEP! I think the importance of sleep is not discussed enough. There are so many ways that a person can be affected if they’re not getting enough sleep. I think that people are often so sleep deprived it becomes their normal and they live in a fog without realizing all they’re missing out on and could be. As a trainer, I have been known to send a client away because they show up to their session on too little sleep. Lack of sleep can make your brain not function properly, affect your coordination, make you depressed, affect your immune system negatively. I want to teach my clients to prioritize their sleep and thus their health.

Hydration / Drinking water — this is another everyday habit that tends to be underrated. Most people are dehydrated and don’t even realize how it’s negatively affecting them. Headaches, being tired, dizziness, muscle cramping and many other feelings are often caused by dehydration. I often get asked how much water a day someone should be drinking and I answer 2–3 Liters!

Mobility — As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to prioritize my mobility practice. This can look like a whole mobility session or 20 mins before a workout. What is mobility? The “ability of a joint to move actively through a range of motion”.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

As far as sleep goes, there are some apps and even the Apple alarm that can let you set reminders of when you should start winding down/ getting ready for bed. For me it helps if I set my alarm and then leave my phone away from the bed. Also, probably most importantly, saying no to things that will prevent you from getting enough sleep!

Starting the day off with a glass of water before anything else is always helpful. Having a water bottle that you refill throughout the day can help you track the amount you are drinking. Also have done some competitions with friends which can be fun! Another thing that has helped some of my clients that might love coffee or Diet Coke too much is to make sure you have at least 3 glasses of water per any other liquid.

Stretching and asking your trainer for some routines, I have an older client that does 15 minutes of stretching first thing every morning. Have a glass of water and do your stretching!

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.

Exercise!!

Put away distractions (phones, tv, etc…)

Stretching and breathing

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Have someone who helps you feel accountable. Or hold yourself accountable. I like having a paper calendar that I highlight each day I work out. When I finish a workout I highlight it. Once I am on a streak I don’t ever want to miss a day, even if it is a rest, stretching day

Track your screen time. Delete apps that take a lot of your time.

Make this a morning or evening (your choice) routine. If you love coffee in the morning don’t have it until after you do your stretching/ breathing routine. If you love wine at night don’t have it until after you finish your stretching / breathing routine. It is all about balance!

As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

I think the best way I can describe this state of Flow is when I feel prepared for any opportunity that presents itself. One of the ways that I do that is to practice gratitude. When I am feeling grateful for the success I have had and the good things in my life, as opposed to worrying about what else I could be doing, I promise, opportunities find me. Most of the successes I have had, from growing my client base to being involved in some of the amazing partnerships I have were natural and came at times I wasn’t necessarily out looking for them, I was simply doing the things that I was passionate about and feeling grateful to be able to do those things!

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

As I mentioned in an earlier question, I love the motto “For the Sanity not the Vanity” I would like more people to exercise and take care of themselves for their wellbeing, physical and mental. Especially being in LA I find a lot of people leaning into the vanity. It is natural but I would love to help spread the message that it is about so much more than that, especially to girls and teenagers.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

I would love to meet Michelle Obama. I love that she is both a strong woman and a wife and mother. Sometimes society makes us feel like it is one or the other so I love it when people prove that wrong. Through writing her book, speaking engagements, and all of her initiatives she has been so influential to so many while still prioritizing her family and I really respect that.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Shannonshape.com

Shred.app

Instagram: shannonshape

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