Interview with Scott Hansel – personal trainer and bodybuilder
Could you please introduce yourself briefly – who are you and what do you do?
Hi, my name is Scott Hansel and I compete in physique bodybuilding competitions. I just did my first show this past October, and loved it! I got 2nd place in my novice class and 3rd in my open class! I’m also a personal trainer and work for a local gym in Minneapolis Minnesota. Helping people and seeing the results they get from training is so rewarding, I’m also going to school for business management to further my education because my goal is to have my own gym someday.
Some years ago you used to be quite thin and nowadays you are a fitness instructor and you take part in bodybuilding competitions. What motivated you to do this change in your body? Was it only a matter of being more attractive to girls or there is also a deeper reason?
Yes, I was always very thin growing up, I was adopted from South Korea when I was four months old into a very loving family, but I grew up in a small German town in New Ulm Minnesota, where I encountered a lot of ignorance and racism. Being really skinny and tall and different looking made me a prime target for bulling. I ended up changing from a private school to a public school, because back then teachers did not know how to handle bulling. Transferring schools helped a lot, but I still had a lot of resentment and hurt from those that bullied me, I found my outlet through partying in high school and continued until I was 21.
At 21 is when the partying started to get out of hand I decided I needed help with my alcohol and drug abuse. I was also a pack a day smoker from 16 to 21. I always hated myself and hated my body and never thought in my life I would get any bigger. That started to change once I entered treatment; I learned how to love myself and how to start becoming the person I am today. In treatment we got to lift weights at the YMCA (family gym) I really enjoyed having an outlet for all my emotions and stress that I was dealing with in treatment. We could only use machines though and not free weights.
After I got out of treatment in 2010 I was just an average gym goer, I just liked working out for the feeling it gave me, my diet still was terrible and was eating hot dogs and yogurt for about a month. I then moved for school and lived in a small town of about 10,000 people (a little smaller than New Ulm). That’s when I had this big dude in the gym ask me if I wanted to train with him and he said he could turn me into a beast. At this time I was 130 pounds (58,5 kg) and 6’ tall (183 cm). I told him no I’m happy just doing what I’m doing, a few days passed and he asked me gain, and this time he said a lot of guys failed his program, that got my attention, because I love challenges. I told him I’ll try it and that first week I literally I had to pick each leg up and set it on the floor I was that sore. He taught me a lot about lifting and free weight exercises, and I put on about 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of muscle training with him in a month, and slowly but steadily kept on putting muscle mass on. This really helped me start to love my body, so no I didn’t do it for the ladies it was more about the self confidence I got from having a fit body.
But I still lacked proper nutrition, my diet consisted of 3 chicken pot pies and 3 big cans of beef stew a day. I ate that for one year, and then started eating healthier. I didn’t go vegan until November 2013 after I went to personal training school and my instructor there was vegan and she really woke me up to what was really going on with the whole meat and dairy industry and how it was can cause cancer and how the American government is all about money and not people’s health. I then decided to give the vegan lifestyle a try because I wanted the health benefits and didn’t want to die from cancer or any disease. I then watched some videos on factory farming and was horrified that this was going on and I had no idea this was happening, it then became more for the animals and less about me.
When you started with bodybuilding, you used to eat all kinds of food and a year ago you switched to vegan nutrition. Aren’t you afraid that with vegan nutrition you cannot receive enough nutrients in order to keep building muscles?
I’m not really worried about the nutrient part for building muscle because most every plant based food has some protein. I also had my instructor from personal training school whose passion was nutrition and believed everything can be cured through nutrition. I was very blessed to have her as an instructor. This personal training course not only got me certified as a personal trainer, but also as a certified nutrition consultant.
So, do you get enough protein, calcium and B12 through your vegan diet?
Yes, I drink a lot of kombucha that has B12 vitamins, also greens are the best for calcium, as dairy is acidic to your blood, causing your bones to actually release calcium into the blood stream to buffer the acidity of the blood. As for protein it is just a myth that you need lot of protein. Supplement companies and the meat industry made this up so people would buy meat and protein supplements, an athlete needs anywhere from 1.2 to 1.7 g/kg of bodyweight. There has never been any condition as a protein deficiency.