At Paceline, we’re all about the intersection of fitness and finance. So what’s more apropos than fitness entrepreneurship? That’s the thinking behind our Fitrapreneur franchise in which we ask those who’ve been able to turn fitness or wellness into a profession how they did it, what inspired them, and any advice they have for others. Next up, Athletic Brewing Company’s co-founder and CEO Bill Shufelt.
“I’m an accidental entrepreneur,” says Shufelt. He was trying to optimize his high-performance lifestyle in every way possible—from his career to his workouts to his family life—and realized that alcohol was a “ceiling on everything.”
“I just wanted to be myself, be present, be a high-performing modern adult,” he says, adding that there wasn’t anything like the non-alcoholic beer Athletic Brewing Company now creates on the market at the time. So, he set out to fill that gap for himself, and what turned out to be a huge community of like-minded individuals. Today, Athletic Brewing not only produces dozens of varieties of NA beer and sparkling water but also gives back to the planet through their Two For the Trails program, which we learned more about in the following interview.
Keep reading for solid fitness and business insight from Shufelt. And if you’re inclined to give the NA beer a try, be sure to hit your streak and cash in on the $10 off two or more 6-packs offer in the Paceline App!
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and concision.
What obstacles did you face on the way to fitrapreneurship?
Literally everything is an obstacle as an entrepreneur. The saying, “Nothing is ever easy,” applies to nothing better than being an entrepreneur. I have so much respect for anyone who’s ever started or worked at a small business. But it’s also a lot of fun. Those same things make it the most rewarding thing. And every challenge you tackle is a moat behind you. Our team definitely lives by the motto, “The obstacle is the way.”
What’s your current fitness routine?
I love everything. It depends on how much time I have. If I have 10 minutes, it’s a hundred burpees in the living room. If I have five hours, it’s go hit a trail and run as long as I can. But on a day by day [basis], I run three or four days a week on average about six miles [and on the] weekend [I do] a longer run. I do a lot of Peloton-type workouts. And then at least once a week, I’m probably doing like 200 burpees as my weight workout.
Where would you like to be in five years?
I love thinking that any cadence of five, 10 years, I want to look back and laugh at where I was in the previous period. [I want to] constantly [be] reading, trying to be fitter, reverse my aging, and just improve myself and try to surround myself with intellectually interesting people who challenge me every day, whether that’s fitness or my career or growth at Athletic Brewing, the communities we can reach. I want to go up in every direction.
What’s the best piece of business advice that you’ve ever received?
I think it’s “surround yourself with people that challenge you and are going to make you better.” Also, Blake Mycoskie, the founder of Toms Shoes, really emphasized purpose in what you’re doing. And given how hard entrepreneurship is, you’ve got to make sure you absolutely love it. And the mission and purpose of what you’re doing has to be worth it for your feet to hit the ground at really odd hours of the day [or] to work on accounting at 11 o’clock at night.
What’s the best fitness or wellness advice you’ve ever received?
I take a lot from a lot of different sources, be it Rich Roll, Andrew Huberman, or any number of high-performing people. I think one of the most important lessons for me in my life is don’t go zero to 60 in anything. [Make] incremental changes you know you can keep for the long haul. Greatness isn’t achieved by doing one-day sprints. Greatness is achieved by showing up every day and building on what you were doing the day before, the year before.
Does fitness play a role in your business life?
For sure, both fitness of the body and the mind. I meditate and sweat every single day. And I think that keeps me going. Both the peaks and the valleys can be equally disorienting, and if you have your body and mind in the right place, you can take all that in stride with perspective [and] calmly.
Do you practice a specific type of meditation?
My meditation routines are different in the morning and night. My morning [meditation] is all about goal setting and loving kindness. And then the evening [meditation] is more gratitude and reflection and winding down the day.
What advice would you give to someone looking to turn fitness or wellness into a career?
I would make sure the fire burns so strong that you couldn’t possibly turn it off. Like, no matter what you’re doing, you should be lost [in] thought on this specific item [and how] to make it a career. And I think once you’ve found that you’ll definitely know. The road won’t ever be easy, but that’ll be [a sign] for sure. And even if it doesn’t seem like there’s a profitable or business case around it, if you’re so passionate about something, the business will materialize.
What are your thoughts on Paceline’s mission?
I think it’s great. I’m a huge believer of people getting off the couch, making small changes to add up over a long horizon. I was introduced to Paceline through the fitness community authentically. You’ve definitely got a great community of super fans out there. And I just think it’s great, the long-term impact [Paceline is] going to have.
Is there anything else that you want the Paceline community to know about you or Athletic Brewing Company?
I’d encourage people to approach non-alcoholic beer with an open mind. It’s a category with a certain stigma, but then once you take the 6-pack challenge and put it in your fridge, it’ll probably blow your mind how much you enjoy having good, non-alcoholic beer that you can have with a weeknight dinner, post-workout, or anytime. If anyone wants to learn more, our handle is @athleticbrewing and we have tons of cool stuff going on in the company, especially our million-dollar-plus Two For the Trails grant that we just sent out this year.
Tell us more about that.
Since day one, we’ve always donated 2% of all sales to park cleanups and trail building—anything from urban recreation to deep backwoods trails, like [in] Yosemite. But this year [donations were] over $1.2 million and [are] going all over the country [and] into five international countries as well. It’s one of the biggest environmental programs in the country and it’s just hard coded into our DNA.