Shaun T is one of the world’s most famous fitness coaches and has revolutionised the way people workout at home. He first started his fitness career in 2007 with his best selling at home workout program Hip Hop Abs which married his love of dance and working out without a single crunch or sit-up.
He then released Insanity in 2009, which is a 60 day cardio workout regime that revolutonised home workouts.
Since then, Shaun T has been travelling the world to transform the lives of others with his workout programs, podcast and personal appearances to promote healthy fitness.
In his new book T is for Transformation, Shaun T shares the many tragedies that haunt his younger self. His mother raised him and his brother, Ennis Thompson, separated from their abusive biological father and was then with a man who molested Shaun T on several occasions for four years.
He calls this man his ‘stepmonster’. The man would arrive home drunk, trick Shaun T’s mother into thinking he was in the bathroom but would enter 8-year-old Shaun T’s room in the night to perform oral sex on him. The abuse didn’t end until he was about 12 years old and began puberty, which was the very reason Shaun T claims his ‘stepmonster’ finally left him alone. He wasn’t a child anymore.
Even a deep, dark rut sometimes looks safer than an unknown future
At 14, he moved out of his mother’s house and into his aunt and uncle’s a time he describes as when he was ‘finally living.’ After that, he discovered his love of sport in high school and went on to star at Rowan University in track-and-field where he received a degree in sports science and to later begin his career in fitness.
By opening up, he hopes to help readers transform themselves into their ‘best self’ by overcoming mental obstacles that cause. We’ve picked out Shaun T’s best life lessons here.
11 life lessons from Shaun T anyone can use to evolve and grow
1. Embrace the chaos
Life is full of chaos no matter how much you plan and prepare. There will always be something that comes up out of no where when you’re trying to plan a birthday party or schedule out your day. Shaun T calls this ‘bananas.’ He writes that the chaos of life is something that comes in bunches and might require quick changes in order to address them. Not only is this an uncomforting thought for some people, it’s often difficult to finish tasks and make decisions when chaos comes into our lives. Shaun T recommends making the chaos work in your favour, either by learning about each element of the situation or focusing on what aspects of the situation you can control, that way your decisions can be made to benefit you.
Take out tip: Focus on what you can control and let the rest happen
2. Be comfortable with discomfort
This lesson is all about reaching outside your comfort zone. This is similar to embracing the chaos, but instead of letting life’s bananas catch you off guard, Shaun T suggests blatantly putting yourself somewhere new and uncomfortable. This could be physically, such as holding a plank for longer or starting up a cycling class. It can also be anything like trying new foods or travelling to a new exotic area you wouldn’t normally choose. The whole point is to understand your own comforts and transform yourself by embracing your ‘discomfort zone.’ This way you will begin to find new passions and favourite things in your life.
Take out tip: Purposely do things that scare you
3. Go boldly forward
Shaun T uses this lesson to explain that ‘even a deep, dark rut sometimes looks safer than an unknown future’. But you have to move forward into your future no matter what. After you have become comfortable with your discomforts, he wants you to work bravely to reach the goals that you want to achieve. This might require a deep amount of planning and learning along the way, but always remember that nothing will move unless you force it to move. While taking small steps to achieve your larger goals, do it with passion and determination. This way you will be able to move on from your ruts and build a life you want for yourself. Go boldly in the direction of your future.
Take out tip: Recognise a rut when you’re in one and take a small step each day to get out of it
4. Strike the Superwoman
It’s hard to believe in yourself and your future when you don’t have the confidence to. In order to begin building self-confidence, Shaun T suggests ‘striking the superman pose.’ Hold your head high, distance your feet shoulder width apart and put your hands on your hips. As Amy Cuddy mentions in her Ted Talk on body language, the Superwoman (aka. Wonder Woman pose) is a high-power pose and can change the way in which you feel about yourself. Doing this pose everyday can start to give you the confidence to make that public speech or nail that job interview. The purpose of this pose is to help you start to build the self-confidence you may need to begin to transform your life.
Take out tip: Learn the body language of confidence and do it, even when you don’t feel confident
5. Know your life soundtrack
What is that voice inside your head saying about you? Is it positive or negative? Not only is body language important to build confidence in yourself, but so are the words you are saying to yourself. If you are constantly berating yourself for making mistakes or calling yourself fat when you look into the mirror, it’s time to change your soundtrack. You can do this by practising already written up positive affirmations daily, or just working on your own to make your inner voice more accepting and inspirational. Once you begin to treat yourself with respect and kindness you can continue to build confidence to reach your life goals. You can read more about positive affirmations and how they can make you successful here.
Take out tip: Look into the mirror each day and tell yourself the specific reasons why you’re hot and amazing. Stop negative self-talk in its tracks.
6. Take control of time
This lesson teaches you that selfishness is okay and sometimes necessary when it comes to life. The clock is a wonderful tool that allows us to track our days and plan events, but it more often controls our own schedules. It tells us when we can’t make it to the gym or that our personal plans have to wait because of a work deadline. Shaun T advises us to ‘divide up the clock.’ He says to keep a notebook handy that can keep track of the time you spend on activities and when you change plans. This way you will know where all your time is going and the habits you may have when changes arise. You can then begin to take steps to rewrite your schedule to better budget your time and dedication to yourself.
Take out tip: Plan you-time in your diary the same way you plan non-negotiable work events
7. Get lost, just because
You can broaden your horizons by travelling or experiencing new things. This is what will allow you to grow past the person you are momentarily and discover new things in life you may enjoy. You can travel on a whim to a new country if that’s what it takes, but you can also take this opportunity to read a book on something you know nothing about or by ordering take away from a restaurant you have never ordered from before. Doing this will open you up to new experiences and build flexibility in life to better handle changes when they may come. These things can be either within or out of your comfort zone because what’s most important is that it is something entirely new to you.
Take out tip: Do more entirely new things and you will build up your courage and confidence when new uncontrollable surprises arise in your life
8. Put your fears on the line
One of the biggest things in life that will hold you back is your fears. For ShaunT, this was the fear of abuse being directed at his mother or brother if he were to speak up about his ‘stepmonster.’ Your fears will never go away unless you address them and work to get over them. This might mean lifting weights in your community gym if you’re too afraid to go because other people are there or teaching a community class if you’re afraid of public speaking. The larger the fear the more you’re going to have to work in order for it go away. The faster you challenge them the less your fears to hold you back.
Take out tip: Do the thing you fear the most
9. Allow yourself time to goof off
Your brain needs a break from the constant stream of attention and concentration you experience during the day. This could be a walk in the local park at your lunch break or time on the internet to browse if you can’t leave the office. Don’t get upset if you find yourself flipping through television channels or magazines because that is also a much needed break from concentration. Doing this will also allow you to open your mind to new things. Who knows, maybe you’ll find a brand new recipe in a fashion magazine to try that you would normally have just skipped past. Goofing off gives you the time you need to get back into reality and potentially find new passions in life.
Take out tip: Take breaks in which you do what you like. Have fun like no one is watching
10. Know what really pisses you off
Negative feelings aren’t always bad. Sometimes they can help you figure out what you really care about and where your emotions run deep. Shaun T suggests writing a list of the top five things that piss you off and discover what common theme connects them. You can then channel that anger when something might piss you off again positively to get you out of your funk. You might want to build even further past that to find an exercise plan or volunteer work that can help to channel the now positive anger. By knowing what pisses you off you will never become ’emotionally dead.’
Take out tip: Get angry about things that matter to you
11. Let yourself ROAR
If you’re doing a Shaun T workout or other video workout do you yell back at your instructor when they’re yelling at you to push you? If so, you’re doing exactly what Shaun T wants you to do. Never let yourself bottle up too much stuff. It will cause stress and conflict in your life when it shouldn’t. He suggests letting your cork loose to relieve tension, cheer yourself on or just to let the world know how angry you may be. He calls this ‘scream therapy.’ If you do this, remember to do it in an environment that you can hear it and build yourself up from it. Don’t let this practice become another negative record playing in your head. Use it to cheer yourself on.
Take out tip: Whether it’s through writing in a journal or doing some boxing training, don’t bottle up your emotions
You can find more lessons in Shaun T’s new book T is for Transformation available on Amazon for £12.12