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About Shane Heins

Shane Heins is the Director of Fitness Education at the Onnit Academy in Austin, TX where he lives with his wife and 3 kids. He is the creator of all the Steel Club Evolution workout programs and the co-creator and producer of all the Onnit 6 workout programsOnnit Academy education courses and certifications.


Prior to joining Onnit, Shane Heins founded and owned Dare To Evolve, a coaching business offering transformational training programs that use fitness as a vehicle to support the process. Unconventional tools & methods, have played a major role in the delivery of his services through a variety of formats including; in person, online, downloadable products, workshops & seminars and the international education team of another organization.

An Interview with Shane Heins

Did I hear that right, you grew up in the Arctic?

Yep, that is keeeerect. My family moved to a small, isolated Dene community of 750 people when I was 5 yrs old. Fly in fly out only, except in the winter for a few months with the winter road. I consider having grown up there one of the most incredible experiences of my life. And having access to that kind of wild space was invaluable.

Though, much to the chagrin of friends and family (during any activity that has distance involved), my sense of how far an objective is, is a little skewed. “Just over there.” tends to be….a liiiittle further than not.

You seem to be training all the time. Do you ever do any other physical activities like sports, martial arts, etc?

Absolutely. This is one of the greatest gifts of training and exercise. It can be a big part of connecting to a deeper level of ourselves while giving us physical vitality. That combo, should we choose to employ it, is huge for then being able to go after what you love doing in your life, no matter what age we are at.

I’m an avid outdoorsman, and while I used to play alot of organized sports and train in the martial arts, things have been quiet on that front the last 7-8 years. My big ones right now are hiking the local mountains, stand-up paddle boarding (absolutely love this) and ocean swimming. Getting out in “big spaces” does my soul good.

And during those times when things get hectic with life and work, I have my training that keeps me moving and ready to jump back in to my activities as soon as I’m able to do so.

Some of the stuff you do can seem pretty hardcore. I’m not really the “hardcore” type. Can I really benefit from the resources you offer, let alone access them?

Absolutely! In all I share, I give an example level to strive for, but my first priority is always meeting you where you are at and ensuring you have the means to turn desire into action. Because in the end where you go can only be determined by you. You carve your path. I just support YOUR continuing discovery of where it leads.

Besides, I’m not really the “hardcore” type either…

What would you say is the ideal physique?

Yours. When it is strong, healthy, mobile, free of pain and allows you to take on life with ease and grace, you have the ideal physique.

Catering to the “ideal physique” is a multi-BILLION dollar industry. It is based on an ideal that is created and perpetuated by that very industry. It seeks to funnel everyone into this particular model. By it’s very nature it is restrictive, limiting and sets many up for failure, instigating a vicious cycle that keeps many down and hopelessly doling out more and more money without lasting progress or fulfillment.

It’s like saying “What is the ideal race of human being?” Answer that one.

Nope, not an extreme example in the least. It’s asking the same thing. We have

  • so many different body types,
  • so many different proportions,
  • so many varying genetic factors (even within a single race).

To try and whittle down the perfect physique to a single ideal would be to deny the very diversity, in all it’s beauty and grandeur, that is characteristic of the world…galaxy….universe, we live in.

Why is it you never seem to be listening to music when you exercise? Are you against it?

Not at all. Music can be a great source of motivation and energy when you need it (which has it’s pro’s and con’s). About 13 years ago, I was training outside of the gym and didn’t have access to music for a period of time. I fell out of the habit of always putting something on and have since trained mostly without music. And very seldom do I feel a need, because of the focus of my exercise sessions, which is intertwined with development of my inner qualities. It’s quite profound the impact that can have in keeping you motivated and consistent.

But when I do feel the urge to put something on, my favourite music to exercise to are movie soundtracks. Epic, instrumental movie soundtracks.

So who does all the filming and editing of your videos?

Yours truly. It’s something I’ve enjoyed since we used to make the home videos as kids. While there will come a time when I will have to hand off alot of those duties, I will continue to do so for the more….creative projects. It’s a big part of who I am.

When do we get to learn more about the other guy?

Other guy? What other gu…..ooohhh, right. Haw haw, very funny.

You’re pretty open and straight up with where you are at in your life and fitness. Kind of odd isn’t it, for a “fitness trainer”?

In general, yes. When I first got into the health and fitness industry, I was taken aback a bit by this seeming necessity to always present a “perfect front” that permeated the ranks. The clients were given the impression that you:

  • always trained
  • always ate immaculately.

It was thought (by trainers) that as a trainer you needed to:

  • wear the latest fitness gear.
  • have a brand spanking new pair of running shoes or cross-trainers on.

I often got looks and comments (like “Are you nuts? You’ll never get clients if you do that!”) from other trainers when they found out I wear a pair for years until they are completely worn-out before getting a new set. What can I say, they are way more comfortable that way.

The reality is, fitness trainers go through peaks and valleys just like everyone else. While trying to give an example of what we are striving for in our health and fitness, this particular standard inadvertently stifles their ability to connect with those they serve. Because most of us can’t relate to having to maintain perfection. It is in fact one of the biggest obstacles in moving forward towards better health and higher quality of living.

It also stifles a trainers ability to be genuine. I’m not saying they should be crying out their woes from the bell tower, but the ability to be real, in the moment, true to where they are and the challenges they face, sharing from the success’s gained through the inevitable “failures” along the path, has immense power to support those they are assisting to do the same.

While I have all the qualifications, knowledge and expertise of a “Fitness/Personal Trainer”, I’ve always struggled referring to myself as one. Because while your physical health and optimal fitness are part of the package, I’m not here for just that. I’m here for your LIFE EVOLUTION! To give you the means to live a fulling life with vigour and vitality as you shed the layers of limitation and pain, to reveal the heights of your utmost capacity, however that uniquely manifests for you.

When travelling with a GUIDE, you put your trust in them that they are able to take you to where you want to go (often times to where you have never been). Thus I continually scout the path ahead “naked”, wide open to what I may face along the way, to ensure you have the very best of guides, at your side.

Alot of your videos are hilarious! Though don’t you run the risk of people not taking you seriously when acting like a goof?

I sure hope so!

It’s a strange balance, digging deep while being able to laugh and hold on to the joy of it. When it comes to creating those major changes, overcoming years of inertia, it is often serious business. And there are times when we have to put up a “fight” to get through it.

But if all we do is fight, it begins to  wear on us. It makes it more difficult for us to connect to qualities such as:

  • Detachment
  • Forgiveness
  • Grace
  • Compassion
  • Joy

all of which are just as valid and key to our growth, to our continued progress. Qualities that are just as important as:

  • Strength
  • Courage
  • Determination
  • Sacrifice
  • Commitment

While the process’s of :

  • push yourself constantly to greater heights


  • enjoy your life and what it has to offer

seem to be in contention with each other, they are in fact complimentary. I share:

  • that it IS possible to push ourselves and be able to have fun.
  • that there is validity in both driving action and reflectively letting it all sink in.
  • that to not take ourselves so seriously provides the humility necessary for giant leaps in our evolution.

More?! Wow. Hey, if you’re still here, you got it. Here’s some of the more official bio stuff:

My background encompasses a variety of experiences and disciplines all leading to being here now, assisting people worldwide to spark and re-invigorate their personal life evolution.
Growing up in the Northwest Territories was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. But that didn’t mean it was easy (the most rewarding experiences never are). I grew up, in a small, isolated Native community of 750 people (with a one year stint in the Eastern Arctic) until I was 14 years old with my parents and 3 younger sisters. It established within me an irrepressible belief that each and every one of us is an incredible human being. That our capacities to create the very best for our lives and contribute to the world around us, are beyond what we can even comprehend. And it helped me recognize, and see for what it is, the “fog” that keeps us from it, with tools and fortitude to traverse the unknown.

I then went on to high school further south, having been accepted into the Western Arctic Leadership Program (WALP). There, the reprieve from the intensity of my time growing up came as a bit of a surprise. I had access to so much I never had before and I ate it up with an insatiable appetite. On top of all the extracurricular programs we took part in with WALP, I was in nearly every sport offered. Hockey, soccer, volleyball, track and field, cross-country running, including Tae Kwon Do. I started weight lifting and training at this time as well. During the summers I worked as a camp counsellor for kids aged 2-14.

After graduating High school, I moved to the Northeast of Thailand for a year and a half, teaching english at an elementary school. With responsibilities ranging from curriculum development, overseas volunteer coordinator, extra-curricular youth activity initiatives, school promotions (and of course spending an hour at the end of everyday in the nursery singing songs and reading stories to the wee ones) in a total immersion environment (I was one of the only foreigners, let alone english speakers in the community), an ability to bridge for others the unknown to the known became significantly strengthened.

Upon my return to Canada, I attended college for an Environmental studies program (in the Northwest Territories, and which had international recognition for the top quality natural resource technicians it produced). After completing the program I became a Conservation Officer. Growing up in the Arctic and having built a strong relationship with nature, law enforcement for regulation and protection of wildlife and the environment was right up my alley.

I eventually decided to go back to University for my degree in marine biology and pursue a more specific role through working with the ocean. This landed me in Vancouver, BC. I’d also passed my requirements to enter the Canadian Naval Reserves, with qualifying scores to becoming a Port Inspection Diver (which was the intention of signing up). With 2 weeks prior to shipping off to bootcamp, I blew my knee out playing in a soccer tournament, tearing my ACL. This would put bootcamp off for a little over a year, having me enter for the winter session, which was said to be harder….and much colder. I’ll admit, I got a little excited at the prospect. Something about growing up in the Arctic hard-wired a particular switch in me. When it gets cold and difficult, I get giddy.

But bootcamp never came. While in my first semester at school, I was struck by a powerful notion. I didn’t want to be in school. Strange, after all the time and energy I put in over the last year and a half to getting to University. Especially when it wasn’t coming from anyone else. I had felt driven to be there. Alas, I wasn’t going to force myself through school for the next 4-5 years, if in the end it turned out it wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing.

Side note: I’ve long since accepted that I’m a very intuitive beast. I can plan, strategize, execute lines of action, push hard to see through to my goals, etc., but when it’s all said and done, that internal guiding force, has final say. Mastering my ability to read and act upon the “nudges” is one of my priorities, seeing as it’s never failed me once.

So I finished out the semester as I reflected upon what my next course of action would be. It only made perfect sense that I would become….. an actor! Right? Well it came at me out of left field, too (my bride to be was a little shocked, but supported me every step of the way. This is part of what makes Juliet such an amazing woman). But as I said before, it’s never failed me.

Upon completing a 2 week intro to acting (I’d never done any before), I auditioned for and received a Full Scholarship to the Vancouver Academy of Dramatic Arts, for it’s full time program. The next 4 years saw me immersed, learning and working in the film and theatre industry. During this time saw the acceleration of my process for digging deep. While having always done so,  it got kicked up a whole other notch. To understand, empathize, believe in and inhabit the characters I was creating and playing, I needed to know myself to a greater degree. I needed to be able to dig around and access areas of myself that had long been shut down (part of the survival mechanism for getting through the experiences of my earlier childhood). I also had to understand what made others tick. Understand what barriers, challenges, and obstacles they would be facing for them to react the way they do in the situations they find themselves.

And throughout all these years, living a very physical and active lifestyle which was very tied into my mental, emotional and spiritual growth, remained front and center. As the process of “digging deep” intensified, so did the depth of my understanding in how I tied it to my physical training. With that, I started making progress in refining the process.

After 4 years of acting, I hit a point that I realized, with where I was at in my life, being in that industry no longer jived. I still love acting and the whole process of creating a movie or play, but the environment of the industry itself and what it engendered did not click. I knew it was time to move on. I was going to take some time and work to figure out what direction I would now move in. It didn’t take long.

6 months prior to stepping back from acting, my brother-in-law and I started the blog Gym Jane. He’d been hiking the local mountains with me the last year and was joining me in my regular training. The end of our 6 months focus turned out to aligned with my transition out of the acting. It was in fact my wife and my sister-in-law who then said “Shane, why don’t you become a personal trainer? You’re always exercising, you’re always researching up on the newest programs, you train your family, create programs for your friends. And you do this all in your spare time. For free. Why don’t you get paid for it?” “You know, I’d never even considered that.” When what you do in your spare time is motivated out of a pure passion, interest and enthusiasm, one does not always see the correlation to making it what you “do”. But it rang true. While I was new to the fitness industry as a career path, my 15 years of experience including:

  • all the sports I’d done
  • martial arts
  • power lifting
  • military calisthenics
  • conventional weight lifting
  • having to rehabilitate from a number of sports injuries
  • plyometrics
  • ‘functional’ training
  • yoga
  • nutrition testing
  • kettlebells
  • joint mobility
  • CrossFit
  • and teaching

easily prepared me to come in at a more advanced stage than if I was coming in green.

Within 3 weeks, having been a big kettlebell enthusiast for a few years, I was down in Las Vegas training with the likes of Mike Mahler, Steve Cotter and Steve Maxwell. Within a few months I went on to train with Valery Fedorenko and certify as a Kettlebell Lifting Coach with the American Kettlebell Club, followed by a certification as a Kettlebell Fitness Trainer.

It was around this time, urged by my need to recover from a major back injury, I discovered Circular Strength Training (CST) and it’s creator Scott Sonnon. I had never run into any system that had brought the elements of physical fitness and health, into such balance with one another. I knew immediately I would be pursuing a deeper level of understanding in the realm of movement and its relationship to the overall condition of the body.

In my first year in the industry I worked at a fitness center, before launching my company, Gymnos Evolution (the precursor to, and whose slogan was, ‘Dare To Evolve’).

Over the next couple years, I went on to certify (through RMAX International) as a CST Instructor, CST Coach, TACFIT Field Instructor, CST Kettlebell Specialist, TACFIT Team Leader and CST Head Coach. I was then extended an invitation to the RMAX Board of Directors as the National Director of Education for Canada. Soon to follow was an appointment to the CST International Education Committee.

Pleasantly, this focus and drive has also seen me become a leading authority in Club training and the creator of the Steel Club Evolution and Onnit 6 workout programs .

But most importantly, all these years and experiences, this unorthodox path, this unquenchable thirst to uncover a means to accessing the greatest heights of our potential, this passion and unquestionable ‘nudge’ to share it, has brought me….to you.  That I may support and provide the tools, no matter how large or small that turns out to be, that will assist you to unlocking continually greater depths of the vibrant life you strive for. The vibrant life you deserve.

Dare To Evolve,
Shane Heins.