We love listening to stories and we find inspiration from people in all walks of life and across industries.
In this blog post series, "About us", you have the chance to learn more about the people behind Thailand’s premium studio for personal and semi-private training - HAUS No3,
This week we had a chat with our co-founder and head coach at HAUS No3; Henrik Olofsson.
Read below to find out how he ended up in Thailand, his opinion on CrossFit and what he thinks will be the next trend in the fitness industry.
Hi Henrik, please tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up in Thailand.
Henrik: "I was born in Sweden and moved to USA when I was 19 years old. My goal was to be a professional ice hockey player and this was what I had always dreamed of when growing up.
After some time I realised that playing ice hockey wasn't everything in life and I started to enjoy the actual training part more. So, after spending a few years traveling around I eventually ended up back in USA to study exercise science (at Gustavus Adolphus College).
By that time I had already worked in Hanoi, Vietnam as a freelance personal trainer for one year. I really liked the Asian culture and when my mom got a job in Bangkok I decided to go and visit her over the summer. This was in 2010 and I've stayed here since. After two years working as a personal trainer in Bangkok I met my wife and the rest is history (haha).
I feel really fortunate to call Thailand home; with the people, the food, the climate. There are many reasons why this is one of the most visited countries in the world."
Being a veteran in the fitness industry, what advice do you have for aspiring personal trainers?
Henrik: "Find a mentor, someone you can learn from to short track your own development and prevent having to learn only by your own mistakes.
As a newbie in the industry, you should also try to get as much hands on experience as possible. This is essential for learning and it can be done from either internships, mentorship programs or taking random hours at different gyms here and there before finding your own style.
Another thing that I think is worth pointing out is to focus on learning the principles of movement and don't be distracted by different training methods (such as HIIT, CrossFit, yoga, Pilates, functional training, etc). With this approach to coaching you will see that all methods share the same basic movement principles. For example; Yoga has a lot in common with weightlifting (alignment, spine stability, mobility, etc). Once you start to see the connection of human movement through this way you can appreciate, learn and utilize new skills so much faster and you can apply this with the people you work with no matter their background or goals. So instead of conducting workouts you get really good at seeing and teaching movement.
As for advice on fitness certifications - I will always recommend fitness professionals to learn more about FMS and the system behind it. On a personal level, FMS has probably helped me the most as a personal trainer and coach. I'm a big fan of the FMS system and how it can help to help you measure and re-test movement in an objective way. Needless to say, we are very excited to bring FMS (Level 1 & 2) to Bangkok and HAUS No3 later this month (June 23-25th).
You were named the "Fittest Man in Thailand" 3 years in a row (from CrossFit Open, 2014-2016). What has this title meant to you?
Henrik: "I worked really hard to become a competitive CrossFit athlete in the Asian region and CrossFit Open was always a great motivator for me to stay focused on a specific goal and to keep training.
The title itself is really only a recognition of what your fitness was like at that point of time and to me it means nothing unless you do something useful and fun with your fitness. But of course, being a CrossFit athlete has without a doubt opened a lot of doors for me in the industry."
With your background in CrossFit, what are your thoughts about this popular training form in general?
Henrik: "Well, first of all I have to say that I still love to do CrossFit myself, simply because I enjoy the competition aspect and to challenge myself. But I'm also very aware of the risks when I train. However, in general I think most people fail to look at CrossFit for what it really is; a sport requiring high levels of skill and experience.
I like to draw an analogy between CrossFit and racing cars; to drive a car really fast requires a drivers license (training experience), regular maintenance (mobility and prehab), manovoure skill (technique and skill) and a strong engine (work capacity) or your car will either break down, run out of fuel or crash in to a wall (stagnation, injury, etc).
So, throwing an inexperienced, unfit and eager person in to CrossFit might make them have fun and enjoy the ride for a while but it can also lead to regression. Not that it happens all the time but I think it's important to consider the risk vs reward.
So are you saying that you wouldn't recommend CrossFit as a form of training?
Henrik: "As I mentioned, CrossFit can be a lot of fun and have life changing effects on people. So I wouldn't go that far to say that I would never recommend it to anyone. But what I can say is that before you try it out you should get a proper assessment and be well informed about the methodology and the CrossFit culture.
CrossFit workouts can be exciting but also very unforgiving if you don't have the prerequisites needed. And no matter what the text book says, reality is that most people doing CrossFit are prioritising fitness before of health without even knowing it. This contradicts why they are even there in the first place, since chances are they started CrossFit to achieve better health. But hey, some people think it's worth the occasional "hiccup" and if you chose to look at CrossFit as a sport there's always going to be a calculated risk involved. You'd be hard pressed to find any sport that is risk-free.
What does your current training regime look like?
Henrik: "Currently I'm experimenting a bit and learning new things for both fitness and self development. For example; I've been doing a lot more heart rate based training combined with fasting lately and I've signed up for some trail runs, adventure and obstacle races.
Last year you spent a lot of time in Singapore - please tell us briefly about what you did there.
Henrik: "I helped with the setup (concept development and training system creation) of TripleFit - a performance gym and retail destination in Millenia Walk (CBD area).
They have a very innovative concept and I'm still involved in the gym over there (traveling to Singapore on a monthly basis).
Being a part of opening a gym of that size and magnitude was a great experience and the response from the members and public has been great."
Having worked around Southeast Asia, where do you see the fitness industry heading 3 years from now?
Henrik: "This is tough to predict of course. But if I look at many factors such as history and the development in other regions I think we will see a further split of training styles, so an even more niche.
Of course, as with our ambition for HAUS No3, I also think that the actual customer experience will continue to develop and offer a complete package (retail, ambiance, aesthetics, customer service) rather than gyms simply selling training services.
I also think you will see the business model of gyms offering high intensity training to slow down as people realise that more and harder isn't necessarily better.
Options for guided meditation, mobility and breathing will probably also become more and more common in gyms and on group class schedules.
I think the utilization of fitness tracking and data collection will also be more prominent, contributing to a more individualized training geared towards the actual needs and interests of the customer"
What inspired you to the unique concept of HAUS No3?
Henrik: "Me and my wife took our time to develop the concept and to build our studio. We've been fortunate to travel and train with some great coaches around the world and I've always had my eyes on what the leaders in the industry are doing well.
So as far as the inspiration for our training systems goes, this has been a developing process that we will continue to evolve all the time and as we grow.
When it comes to the aesthetics and looks of HAUS No3 - we definitely didn't get a whole lot of inspiration from the fitness industry.
In our opinion, almost every gym in the world follows about the same style, has more or less the same equipment and speaks the same language in their marketing and branding. It just feels like the fitness industry is full with noise and there is little differentiation. It end up becoming a fight of who can scream the loudest between gyms and who has the biggest marketing budget.
We didn't want to join that fight and now we don't have to explain how and why we are different to people. Our studio speaks for itself, people get that we are unique without us having to tell them.
If you visit our studio and observe how we communicate it's obvious that we are detail oriented, provide a personalized, professional training experience and that we focus on quality in our work. All those things give a sense of trust for our guests.
We are very happy of how HAUS No3 has turned out from idea to reality and we think we've managed to create a nice space to both train and spend time in."
Do you have any future expansion plans or projects for HAUS No3 in the horizon?
Henrik: "At the moment we are focusing on one location and instead doing that really well.
Other than offering our custom design training services we are looking to bring some additional retail and of course our own premium, handmade equipment line, FYSIK, to a wider audience."
Tell us something that most people don't know about you.
Henrik: "I haven't told many people that I actually failed my first practical exam to become a personal trainer. This was while studying at the Norwegian School of Sport Science, and I remember the reason why I failed was my programming being a bit overambitious in terms of number of exercises programmed.
I felt confident already back then that I was destined to work in the fitness industry so it was a big blow for my confidence and a wake up call that I certainly learned a lot from.
But in retrospect I still think they failed me only because they wanted me to pay for the retest (haha)."
If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Henrik: "I want to say North Korea but my wife wouldn't approve on that trip (haha). So South Africa would be my second choice. The nature, surf and food there would be amazing to experience."
Have you done any purchase recently for under 2000 THB (57 USD) that has helped you significantly in some kind of way?
By using this journal on a regular basis I've improved mood, gratitude, productivity and daily reflections by tenfold. It's amazingly simple but so powerful. In fact, I like it so much that we made a bulk order and we now carry the journal at HAUS No3 for guests and visitors to pick up their own copy (1590 THB)."
Thank you for sharing all of that, Now, down to the final question;
If you could only do 3 exercises for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?
Henrik: ""Ok - I will only answer this question with a gun to my head as I believe there will always be circumstances that changes the reasoning behind exercise selections. But anyway, I will give you what you want:
Overhead squats - if I can maintain the mobility and stability that is necessary in the entire body to do a well executed overhead squat, I'll be an old but strong and well functioning man.
Pullups - A good compliment to the pattern of the overhead squat, challenging overhead mobility and relative strength in a very simple and honest way. If you can maintain +12 pull-ups as a baseline for a male when you age it will most likely mean you are both strong and lean.
Hill sprints - Unilateral, explosive, low impact, anaerobic/aerobic conditioning all in one. There aren't many hills to run in Bangkok but a the staircase of a condominium building works almost just as well.
We hope you enjoyed to read some opinions and thoughts from Henrik; our co-founder and head coach at HAUS No3.
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