When you train with TRX Master Trainer Shana Verstegen, you’ll probably hear the Backstreet Boys during class. “I have a very unhealthy obsession with the Backstreet Boys. Anybody who knows me even a little bit knows that it’s pretty bad,” she said. As for her favorite BSB track? That would be the 1997 anthem, “Everybody.” “I could listen to that on repeat for a week straight and not have a problem,” Verstegen admits.
In addition to being Madison, Wisc.’s most loyal Backstreet Boys fan, Verstegen is a six-time world champion women’s professional log roller and boom runner, a gymnast, a Huntington’s Disease advocate, a wife, and a mom. To describe her as active is an understatement.
Verstegen’s march toward perpetual movement started as a kid. Her mother was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease when Shana was 5, and her parents wanted to make sure that Shana carved out time that was all her own—unrelated to caregiving for her mother. “I had gymnastics practice, I had log rolling practice, swimming practice, and that was kind of my time to be me and be physical. Through that, and through my parents encouraging me in that, I really fell in love with movements and sports.“
Verstegen remembers her father, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, telling her that helping other people move was a real job she could pursue. As a child, she was skeptical. “I always said, ‘Oh, you’re kidding. That’s not a real thing. That would be way too much fun. You can’t get paid to help people exercise.’“
On Take Your Daughter to Work Day, her father proved her wrong. “After watching him teach, he took me to the kinesiology department at the University of Wisconsin, and introduced me to several kinesiology professors and [physical education] professors in that department. From that day on, at a very early age, I knew that I wanted to help people be active, because I knew of all the benefits it already had for me.”
Years later, Verstegen returned to the same building at the University and got a degree in kinesiology from some of the same professors. “Movement and fitness and sports and exercise—and the science behind it—has always been my passion,” she said.
Post-college—in addition to competing professionally in lumberjack sports—Verstegen coached track at Wesleyan University, and worked as a personal trainer in Beverly Hills. But Wisconsin was calling her home. Now back in Madison, Shana is still helping other people move.
“I love teaching the sport of log rolling to people. It is a sport that’s kind of a great equalizer, and everybody gets a chance to feel successful. It’s just fun to see people be outside challenging their balance, their strength, and acting as a community,” she said.
When it comes to coaching indoors, Verstegen says TRX can’t be beat.
“TRX is absolutely my favorite class to teach, because I can work with all levels. My classes are so much fun, because I have people who are every age. Our gym has a very diverse population: I have some senior citizens in there; I’ve got people that are coming from universities, who are athletes that are in there. It’s so fun to be able to come in with one class plan and be able to modify it for all of those people in one hour, and give them all a really, really good workout.”
As for her own workout routine, it varies according to the time of year and which sport she’s training for. As a competitive lumberjack athlete and log roller, Shana spends a fair amount of time on a log in the water, either on the lake in Madison or at the pool in her gym. Year round, she lifts at least three times a week, and trains with her TRX Suspension Trainer, plus she runs, and she’s involved with an adult gymnastics program.
Between coaching, training, competing, and chasing her one- and four-year-old boys, Verstegen doesn’t have much free time, but she loves her fast-paced life. “I am loving, loving, loving watching them grow and learn and explore. There’s been nothing more rewarding than doing things with them.”
Want to train with Shana Verstegen? Find her live and on-demand classes at TRXTraining.com/live