Nov. 9, 2023

Maximizing Your Potential: The Impact of Coaching and Fitness with Jeff Seckendorf

Maximizing Your Potential: The Impact of Coaching and Fitness with Jeff Seckendorf

In this podcast episode, Dr. Fitness talks to Jeff Seckendorf, a national-class athlete and world record holder in cycling. Listen in as they discuss the value of coaching and being coachable, as well as Jeff's transition from cycling coaching to scuba diving coaching. And stay tuned to hear Jeff emphasize the importance of finding a coach or trainer to help you improve your health and fitness, why you should explore new activities like scuba diving to inspire fitness and motivation and as he explains the benefits of working with someone who can guide you and prevent injuries.

Jeff Seckendorf has a deep passion for education and training. In each iteration of his career, he has always been driven by an element of training: in the film industry where he spent many years teaching workshops and developed a mentoring program for emerging directors; in scuba, where he created the industry’s first online education program and built a SAS web platform to deliver it; with the Training Cycle, where he trains the trainers; then at Korn Ferry where he created and managed a library of content for those in career transition. Jeff also has a very fun life. He races a bicycle on the track and on the road, is a former triathlete, flight instructor, competition aerobatic pilot, and big mountain trekker.

• [4:13] Jeff discusses the benefits of coaching in cycling and scuba diving, highlighting personalized input and guidance on recovery, training, and mental preparation.
• [7:33] Jeff talks about his program which focuses on slowing down the coaching process for endurance athletes, with customized workouts and exercises for each client.
• [11:32] Jeff shares his belief that adding a teaching or coaching element to his work has been important and has helped him to excel in his various pursuits.
• [20:25] “Having a coach or personal trainer is crucial for health and fitness, as they can provide valuable guidance and help prevent injuries.”

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Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  0:04  
Hello, and welcome to Your Health Moment podcast. I'm your host Max Sturdivant better known as Dr. Fitness. On this podcast, I want to give you the tools to start, continue and never give up on your journey towards health. Now whether you struggle with your weight, eating the right food, hydration, exercise, or even time management, you're in the right place and I'm here for you. Now let's dive right into this episode. 

Welcome back to Your Health Moment. If you don't have a coach, but you're thinking, you know, you might need one, or you don't really quite understand the value of being coached. Today, you're going to walk away from this conversation with a new appreciation for what it means to coach or to be coached and to be coachable. Okay, so our guest is Jeff Seckendorf, and he's a national class athlete and current world record holder for the six hour time trial for the 2020 and 2022, course record holder for at San Diego Velodrome. Now, a lot of people don't really know what a velodrome is. And I'm going to give our wonderful guest, Jeff, the opportunity to explain what's a Veldrome and also explain all the exciting things that he's doing in his life. So what's now, what's new and what's next for Mr. Jeff Seckendorf. And welcome, Jeff, how are you today? 

Jeff Seckendorf  1:40  
Great, Max, thanks so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  1:44  
Now, I'm really excited to have you on because, you know, as I get older, I feel like I'm slowing down a bit, you know, but then I look at people like you look like they're beating up a bit. And I'm like, Darn it, what am I doing wrong? Nothing. So this is my opportunity to get some really great insights. So if you think you're slowing down or speeding up and you want to know more about it, and so my go to is coaching, and you've created some really great coaching programming.

Jeff Seckendorf  2:17  
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So both on the bicycle and in my company UTD. Scuba diving, we actually took a coaching model that I've been using for decades as an athlete on the bike, and applied it to something completely different that no one's ever done before. And that's been been really interesting. But just to answer your earlier question, about a velodrome. This is just a track and oval track for bicycles. Like imagine the track behind your high school that you ran on, but it's banked, and it's maybe shorter, and we ride our bike on it.

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  2:58  
Now, I used to see races, you know, years ago, they were really, you know, writing in Villa domes was huge, huge. I mean, it meant it was on television, it was everywhere. You and me and, and you know, it looks kind of dangerous compared to I kept thinking roller derby.

Jeff Seckendorf  3:21  
This the opposite of roller derby. We're trying not to hit each other. Yeah, no. And when you think about it, you know, there's no cars, no traffic, everybody's going the same direction. Everybody has a bike with one gear, and no coasting. The pedals are hooked to the wheel, and no brakes. Oh, so everybody's in the same boat. And wow. Oh, it's great. I mean, I just literally just finished a five hour ride on the road. And I got passed by 1000 cars. If I do a ride on the track, I get passed by nobody. Maybe a couple of bikes. So yeah, that's

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  3:57  
pretty impressive. Really cool. So Dad, can you tell me a little bit more about the coaching model? Because yeah, yeah. I mean, I think it's fantastic that you've, you've what you you created the coaching model, and then you move to scuba.

Jeff Seckendorf  4:13  
So, you know, I've been a coached athlete forever. Right. I, I, I raced the bike at a pretty high level for a Master's athlete. You know, I'm 68. And I think the only way to be successful for me is to have a coach and I had this amazing coach. And the thing that I know about coaching on the bicycle, and this is where it crosses over is that being coached doesn't just make me faster. It makes me better because it you know, I could get faster if I did some online, structured training program, but I would never get better. I would never get the input on managing my very specific situations how I feel that day, you know, I recently got COVID. And coming out of that I've been guided by coaching through the recovery and getting back to full speed training, the mental aspects nutrition, hydration, race strategy, all this kind of stuff is what makes for me being coached on the bike so much more than just oh, let's go faster. So I own a company called UTD. Scuba diving, I've had it since 2008. It's a scuba certification and training agency. For those of you who are scuba trained. You've heard of these other agencies, Patty now the iantd TDI SDI is a whole alphabet soup of training agencies of which we're one UTD scooping, but we're a little bit unique in that we're boutique, we're focused on kind of a higher end model. And like everybody else, we sell transactional classes, you buy online course, you study the course material, you go to instructors, a weekend, two weekends a week, whatever it takes to finish your class, you complete the class, you learn what you had to learn, and you get a certification card. And I got thinking about the fact that's being coached on the bike makes me both faster and better. And I started thinking about these transactional these weekend classes in scuba diving, that what we were doing was making people certified. But I wasn't sure we were making them better. So yeah,

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  6:42  
it's as you say that I always think that as you certify them, intuitively, I would think they would get be getting better to a degree of course, by default,

Jeff Seckendorf  6:54  
but the bar in a very short class like that is make them safe, and teach them how to practice. Right, we can't teach you everything about the level of diving you're trying to attain in four days, five days, six days, something like that, well we can do is give you the tools to be safe. And to move to this next level, and then go practice properly. You know, as everybody you've heard this a million times, right? Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. So that's what we work on in the classes. But what I wanted to do is give students the benefit of what I get out of the bike being coached. And that is slower, stretched out timing, focusing on the peripheral stuff around in my case, either cycling or scuba diving. And in scuba, it's been really interesting, because now we've changed the semantics a little bit. We have instructors, we call them coaches. And this is just a small segment of the business. It's not the whole thing. We have instructors, we call them coaches. We have students, we call them clients. And they come into a program and they pay for it monthly. And the the coaches the instructors provide each client student, a calendar of workouts. If you're listening and not watching, I'm making air quotes, workouts. And each day, it's all customized. We do it very specifically for that particular client what they're working on. So they may get their workout, maybe an academic class, a video podcast, some exercises homework, work on their scuba gear, get ready for a dive, do a critique with video from their prior dive. And every week, we just program another week for each of these clients. It has been insanely successful. I mean, crazy successful. People are advancing so fast in a program that is focused on slowing down the process. And now it's been amazing. It's been amazing to just take something simple like endurance athletic coaching, pick it up exactly. And just lay it down on another modality it's super cool.

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  9:31  
It really sounds like it and how you're because the lake you say everyone's going to be a little bit different. You know, from I don't know, how young can you be to get your scuba certification for us? 15. Okay, so Wow. So from 15 to 7580 90 or

Jeff Seckendorf  9:52  
whatever. We don't care. Oh, yeah. Yeah, but we don't change things. That's the thing. I don't think kids have enough have a brain to help somebody else get out of trouble. So we don't we don't drink. It's

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  10:07  
interesting. What brought you to scuba? What do you have you always been? Why? That's a

Jeff Seckendorf  10:17  
good question for a billion dollar question. I was in the film industry for about 35 years. And, you know, film industry is a tough industry, right. And I always said that my, my part time job was making movies and my full time job was looking for work. And so I was trying to I spent years trying to get out of the film business, after I spent years trying to get in. And then one day somebody walked up to me and one of one of my scuba instructors and said, Hey, I'm thinking about starting a Training Agency, it's like, well, I'll help. I know a lot about education. I'm a flight instructor, I'm a scuba instructor, I've been doing this for years, you know, I teach in the film industry, and I thought it would be a fun model to have an educational program that I could build from scratch, and really focus on how to make the education amazing for adults. And so 2008 We started this thing and 2018 I bought it out, bought out my partner. And, ya know, it's been incredible, ever since we just this week added a director of development. So now we have a little deeper management team in the company. And, you know, we're expanding, and it's been incredibly successful, but it was just, you know, it's funny with me. It could have been, you know, teaching brain surgery, or auto mechanics, or, you know, I don't know, podcasting, it didn't really matter. I just wanted an education project that I could get my teeth into and write content and develop programming and develop a teaching methodology. And it turned out scuba was perfect for that.

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  11:59  
That is incredible. So you've always done it sounds like you've just naturally moved into coaching and in, you know, being coached but but coaching people as well. Had you you always knew this was going to be the a large part of your life. And and when did you when did you realize that? You know, you keep asking natural coach, really good

Jeff Seckendorf  12:23  
questions. Everything I've done has always had a teaching element. It's interesting, right? I learned to fly as a kid,

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  12:32  
which is not everyone learns,

Jeff Seckendorf  12:34  
oh, no, but it was federal, I went to the airport, took lessons and I got a pilot's rate. But you know, over the years, as I got better at it, and we're interested in it, I thought that, you know, I should teach. So I just went to the process and became an instructor in the film industry. I was heavily benefited by taking workshops in this particular workshop program. So I went back and started helping on workshops, and eventually it started a 25 year relationship with the company where I was teaching film workshops every summer for weeks and weeks and weeks. And just, you know, just giving back and then scuba, I became an instructor and, you know, in cycling, you know, I, I teach at our track, and I coach athletes, and, you know, it's always been a percentage of each of the few professions and applications that I've had, it sounds like it's crazy. And all over the place. I've

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  13:31  
done Oh, it sounds really awesome.

Jeff Seckendorf  13:33  
It's like, you know, I'm very focused on having done, you know, three or four or five things and done them all really well. But always added a teaching or coaching element to it. I just think that's important. You know,

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  13:45  
wow, it's the, I can't wait to you write the book is the memoirs. I've started on the project. You

Jeff Seckendorf  13:52  
know, I have a poem, I have a podcast, it's easy. You gotta tell everyone's easier to target than it is for me to go in a cave for a year and write it. So tell

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  14:02  
us about your podcast, or the UTD. Scuba diving podcast

Jeff Seckendorf  14:05  
is 80% about scuba diving. And it's a really cool podcast. It's very focused on skills and training. And we have a thing called the most obscure questions in scuba diving, we do that. But it's also got another elements. It's about 10% of the of the episodes that I've been recording in the car. And I'm calling them it's interest car casts. You know, I wish thought of it. My car is like my little ashram right. It's like my little private space. So, but I've been recording podcasts in the car, about the mindset of training. The struggles in learning. I did one the other day on quitting, which I think is really important. You know why people quit things. So I've got a whole series cuz there's maybe eight or 10 of these episodes in the 100 scuba episodes. So if people want to learn a little bit more about, you know what I really think, then it's the UTD scuba diving podcast. And you can just go back and look at the episodes that are called car casts.

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  15:18  
That's kind of cool, too.

Jeff Seckendorf  15:19  
And that's, that's my memoir, I

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  15:21  
guess. So, you've just done a lot of really cool stuff. I mean, as an outsider, I am not like, I am not scuba certified. And for years, I've always wanted to be like, I go on a vacation, and need to offer this two day in pool certification. And I never took him up on it,

Jeff Seckendorf  15:44  
you're probably safer not to.

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  15:47  
I always thought, you know, a, I'm not a fan of sharks. And I think I look a little too much like a seal to be swimming around in a wetsuit. But I always wanted, you know, of course, to be more mindful of, you know, the dangers of the sea in that regard. And as does your program, cover that. So people with major anxiety like me, maybe would feel a lot more comfortable getting scuba certified and feeling safer. Under under the water. Is there any of those aspects included in your coaching program? Yeah,

Jeff Seckendorf  16:27  
I mean, the whole the whole piece of it right to get people comfortable in the water, and I wouldn't worry too much about the sharks, they tend to not like to eat things their size, they do tend to like to eat things smaller. But, you know, safety and scuba diving is related to comfort. And, and a feeling of I am under control. If you're under control, it adds comfort, if you're comfortable, it adds safety. So, you know, through the training program, whether you take a weekend class, a transactional class, or you take, go into the coaching program and do it that way. Either way, we're focused on making you the best possible diver that we can, right, because that makes you the most comfortable in the water, which makes you the safest in the water. So that's what we do. I mean, we start everybody out in a bathing suit, and nothing else in a pool. And we teach you first how to breathe. And then once you know how to breathe, then we start adding a regulator and the mask and fins and all that kind of stuff. But, you know, I think one of the things that that many of the training agencies tend to do when when you walk into your local dive shop and say I want to be scuba certified, they teach you to use the equipment first, and we teach you to dive first and use the equipment second. So I think that that's really the differentiator. And I think if you're going to eventually look for a program, that's the thing to look for is look for someone who will teach you how to dive, which means teaching them how to breathe underwater, and then put gear on top of that. But don't worry about sharks, sharks will kill you. They got a million. Yeah, it's you know, driving to the dive site is way more dangerous than diving.

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  18:26  
And being in the water. Yeah, for sure.

Jeff Seckendorf  18:28  
We always said that. Flying to right most dangerous. Getting to the airport.

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  18:34  
Yeah, that's definitely some comfort. But. But this is from someone who flies regularly, yourself, and you've probably been diving for a really long time. So there's just no anxiety when it comes to that you've never been in a situation where you felt anxious about her just naturally brave.

Jeff Seckendorf  18:56  
No, I think I'm definitely not naturally brave. I think I'm naturally really cautious, and really careful and understand the value of really powerful training.

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  19:10  
Wow, no, that is yeah, that's the message. That's

Jeff Seckendorf  19:15  
the whole thing, right? Because, you know, in flying and scuba, and filmmaking, you know, riding a bike, you know, 30 miles an hour on a track all of that. If the training was good, then the risk goes away. Not I shouldn't say it goes away, then the risk is reduced. And that's the thing about scuba too. I mean, we look at risk in scuba. That's another whole podcast, right? The risk in scuba is where's the risk versus where what are the consequences of something going wrong? Right. Something with very low risk may have very high consequences if it goes sideways. Right? It's like, you know, driving a car is very low risk. If you go into a telephone pole at 60 miles an hour, which is very low risk that'll ever happen, but the consequences are high. Right? And that's Oh, yeah, that's how we look at scuba diving, let's get the risk down. But let's look at where we can manage the risk inside of situations where the consequences of a problem are very high.

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  20:25  
Now, I know we have a lot of listeners who they're not feeling that they're getting where they want to go when it comes to their health. And what can you suggest to them when it comes to coaching? Helping them to get where they want to go? When it comes to their health? Any suggestions? Yeah, so

Jeff Seckendorf  20:50  
that's another really good question. You're asking really good questions, Max. I'm a firm believer that you can't do it alone, firm believer that you can't do it alone. The periods of my life between coaches where I've been self coached have been the worst. You know, the times where I've performed the worst and progress the worst. So I really believe that the best scenario for anybody, and I think this is cross cultural, cross fitness cross everything is get guidance. And this guidance could be as simple as going to a weekly class, you know, or, you know, as calm as I don't want to say complex, but as complete, as, you know, engaging a coach or a personal trainer to guide you through fitness, because health and fitness are completely different. You know, they're related, but they're completely different health. I think that that's just something that we all have to manage, right. And we manage it through diet, we manage it through, you know, good nutrition, good hydration, you know, I try not to eat packaged food, I try not to eat anything I can't pronounce. I tried to cook my all my foods, so I know what's going in, you know, and I get a lot of exercise. So I mean, that's health, fitness is a whole different thing, right? Fitness, you can take to whatever level you want. But in order to be healthy, I think you need some level of fitness. And I think it's very hard to acquire an increasing level of fitness on your own. Hmm. So, you know, do some research. Look around who are the personal trainers in your town who have great reviews, who are, you know, go to the gym you like and see what they can do? Join a running club, you know, do something where you can actually get with somebody who will make you stronger, maybe make you faster? And probably the most important thing is not get you injured?

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  23:02  
Oh, you know? Wow, that's a great point. Yeah. Um, and I think that is a lot to do with it. I think keeping you safe. Yeah, is a large part of what coaching can do. So man, I really appreciate this time. Unfortunately, we're running out of time. So, Jeff, is there anything that we should touch on that we missed about the scuba program? Or about the cycling activities that are coming up?

Jeff Seckendorf  23:35  
No, I think I think, you know, the thing for me is always helping guide people to working with somebody who's amazing. You know, and finding that trainer or that coach or that guide, to get you to your next level, whatever that next level might be. And, you know, the interesting thing about that is you just start where you are, you know, you don't have to become world class, you just have to become 1% Better than you were two months ago. And then that small increases go a long, long way. So,

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  24:16  
yeah, and what I love about scuba too, it's an opportunity for someone to explore another way to be fit and another activity that they can do. That might, you know, inspire them on some level to be more active. Yeah, sometimes just being introduced to something different. Yeah, absolutely. And kind of spur something in you to make you a bit more active. And then you have a goal, like, oh, I want to be able to do this. So it kind of motivates you to get out of your comfort zone. I think it's about jumping out of that homeostasis position that we're kind of comfortable in. And so even me I'm telling you, I will be looking at the information and if I can do it from Florida.

Jeff Seckendorf  25:06  
Well, you're gonna be in. You're in diving Heaven down there. So it's kind of easy. Yeah. So yeah. So if you're interested in the scuba program, it's UTD scuba If you're interested in me and what I'm working on, I have a website up called the Institute of purpose, which I love, love. I know the Institute of purpose. Yeah. And it's filled with content on people talking about basically, why they wake up in the morning. It's really interesting.

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  25:33  
Finding their purpose. It's what it's about. Hey, Jeff, thank you so much for spending the time with us. I will be going to your website and checking out your podcast. And if you're interested in learning what more exciting things that Jeff is doing, be sure to go to the show notes because all the information is gonna be there on how you can reach out to Jeff and check out his podcast, the car talks and everything else. That's exciting as a car, man that is speeding up and not slowing down. Jeff, second door. Thank you, Jeff. Appreciate you,

Jeff Seckendorf  26:09  
Max. I really really am grateful to have been

Max Sturdivant/Dr. Fitness  26:13  
there. Thank you for listening to this episode of Your Health Moment podcast. If you enjoyed what you've heard, you can visit our website, for past episodes, show notes and all the resources that we mentioned on the show. Feel free to connect with me on social media to send me a DM and let me know what your thoughts are about the episodes that you've been listening to. And don't be shy about requesting any other show topics that you might like to explore.

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