Red Leaf Community Spotlight: Shane Cavanaugh

If you’ve been hanging around the blog lately, you’ve probably noticed that we’ve been featuring a lot of our community partners. Today we were fortunate to sit down with Shane Cavanaugh, a personal trainer and CrossFit coach at Summit Fitness and Body Evolution CrossFit in Indianapolis, Indiana. We’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Shane as a trainer and friend and are excited to pick his brain on all things fitness, nutrition, and healthy lifestyle. Everyone, meet Shane.

Thanks for sitting down with us today, Shane. We’ll start with the basics. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to love fitness?

Thanks so much for asking me. I come from a really small town and growing up, I played three sports and always loved being active. When I went to college, I started doing bodybuilding workouts and kept up with that until my junior year when a friend invited me to try CrossFit. From that point on, I was hooked. I tried to go back to bodybuilding workouts but I just didn’t feel like I was working hard enough! I did CrossFit workouts on my own for a while and eventually started attending a box. I’ve been doing CrossFit ever since.

Anyone who has done a CrossFit workout before knows exactly what you’re talking about! It’s that whole “learn to love the pain cave” thing. Did you always know you wanted to be a trainer after that point?

I actually majored in Finance in college, so I guess the answer is no. I started managing a gym after college and did everything from marketing and sales to operations, and I enjoyed that, but wanted to see if the traditional Finance career was for me. As you can imagine, it wasn’t. I worked in a big corporate office and the environment was kind of like a call center- all of the interactions we had were with people who were angry or complaining about something. As a trainer, you’re working to improve people’s well-being. And even though people still get discouraged, you’re working alongside them to build a positive outcome. That’s what I love so much about it. After I left the finance world, I started training again and haven’t looked back.

I also worked in the corporate world and can completely relate to that feeling. So tell me a little bit more about your training style. How do you make someone feel comfortable if they’re new to training?

99% of people just want to look and feel better, and my training philosophy is that “something is better than nothing.” For example, if you’re tired or just not in the headspace to hit an intense session, it’s better to come into the gym and give it 60% effort, get your body moving, and stay consistent than it is to sit at home in front of the tv. I work hard with my clients to find that balance where if we have 2 intense sessions planned for the week, we also have at least 1 session that targets mobility and just flushing the muscles. People can psych themselves out so quickly on a particular movement or workout, and at the end of the day, I always try to show people if you come in and do what you can do, to the best of your ability that day, you will feel better no matter what. And odds are, you’ll probably look better, too.

You obviously take a lot of care in customizing your programs to each individual. What do you feel makes your training style unique?

The first and most important thing is that I always listen to the client, and in many ways, their training plan is a collaboration. Some people want to be told exactly what to do, no questions asked, and I can provide that. But I believe we make the most progress when we work together to build something that suits their unique needs. So for example, if a client comes in and says, “hey, this muscle group is really sore today,” I’m going to adapt the workout for that day regardless of what I had planned. Ultimately, as your trainer, my goal is to keep you in the gym and help you reach your goals. Whether that’s weight loss, hitting a PR, learning a new lift, whatever it is…we’re in it together and with some consistency and trust, we can get there together.

That’s fantastic, Shane. And it’s really important because so many people see trainers as these super-human machines and get intimidated. What are some healthy habits that you’ve built into your daily routine that anyone can apply to their own life? 

Something I’ve been paying more attention to lately is screen time and trying to limit that in the evenings so I can sleep better. When I first started coaching, especially waking up to teach 5 am classes, I wasn’t sleeping much at all. But sleep is so essential to longevity, recovery, and general health. That’s a simple but powerful change anyone can make to their routine. The other thing is focus on what you’re doing, not what the people around you are doing. When I started training competitively in CrossFit, it was easy to get caught up in the world of social media, seeing times or numbers that other people got on workouts, and feel really discouraged. At the end of the day, you have to focus on what you can control, and disregard the rest.

That saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” just came to mind and it is so true. So for those looking to hire a personal trainer, what could they expect from working with you? 

I start everyone off with an initial consult and movement screening to get an idea of where we’re starting from. During this time we also talk about their goals, if there are any movements they aren’t open to, and if there are any injuries or conditions that we need to be cognizant of. From there, I will present my recommendations and we’ll work together to make it their own. For example, I’ve had clients who hate cardio and do not want to sit on a machine for 30 minutes and that’s fine. I’ll definitely advise them to build some walks into their week, but during our sessions we’ll focus on creating that stimulus through other methods (ex. strength sessions where we manipulate rest time, tempo, etc).

It goes back to what you said earlier, it’s a team effort and you’re going to do what it takes to keep them in the gym and help them reach their goals. I think that’s so powerful. Okay, so how can people get in touch with you/where can they train with you?

I train in-person and virtual clients, so there are a few ways. If you don’t live in Indy, I do individualized programming (including some nutrition coaching) via virtual coaching. For that, I do video consults, text and email check-ins, and I provide the custom programming. If you’re in Indy and looking for an in-person trainer, I am currently doing 1-on-1 personal training at Summit Fitness and Body Evolution CrossFit (both on the north side). I also teach CrossFit classes at both of those locations as well. For either option, if you are interested in learning more about my training programs, you can DM me on Instagram at @shanecavanaugh3.

Thank you so much for sharing that, Shane! So I have to ask, as is customary, about Red Leaf. You’ve been using the Cranberry Lime Pre-Workout for a while now. What do you like about it?

Honestly, before Red Leaf I wasn’t a big fan of pre-workout because so many of them have so much caffeine. Especially for me, my heart rate is high enough from the high-intensity training that I do that I don’t need my heart jumping out of my chest. I like Red Leaf because it’s only 40 mg of caffeine so it’s enough to give me a boost before my workout, but I don’t feel jittery and I enjoy the flavor. I even use it sometimes if I’m dragging before the evening classes and need something to give me a little energy before class that won’t screw up my sleep. I’ve really enjoyed it.

Awesome! We love hearing that. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us, Shane. Your perspective on training is so refreshing and your passion for helping people achieve their goals is evident! 


If you are looking to take your fitness game to the next level, please contact Shane via his Instagram (linked again, here) and he will get you started! Stay tuned for more community interviews in the coming weeks.